Antwerp is only an hour's drive, 100 km, from our apartment here in the Netherlands. To give even me some perspective, it took us an hour to get to the airport from where I used to live in Atlanta. That's nothing! But when you think about it being in another country from where we live now, it just seems farther away. But it's not!
If you need to cover your eyes, do it now and skip this collage....
but if we can't take a joke, right!?!
This was the first corner where our cameras got busy as we walked towards city center!
Robin had already warned us about it when she was there recently.
By now you know that the market square is the center of these wonderful European cities.
The town hall and the guild houses mark the perimeter of the square.
The huge Christmas tree was up, ready to be trimmed, probably the following week.
And see that statue (bottom left above)?
Yup. That's the giant's hand being thrown into the Scheldt River.
The giant, Druon Antigoon, severed the hand of anyone who wouldn't pay his tax to cross the river.
Eventually, he was slain by a young Roman soldier named Brabo,
who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river.
Thus the name of the city, Antwerpen = hand and werpen = hand throwing.
And with that history, we were ready for our koffie met appeltaart!
Energy for the Church of Our Lady, to be exact....
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, a Roman Catholic church.
One of those churches you see from almost everywhere in the city!
And then you go inside. Very Roman Catholic!
In fact, more Roman Catholic you cannot get.
Besides, the country itself is a Roman Catholic country
(compared to the Netherlands, which is Dutch Reformed).
So, Madonna niches were everywhere as we walked around.
Everywhere means everywhere!
(Does it make up for the first collage???)
Don't you love how some things really catch your attention?
Umbrella in Dutch and French is parapluie.
See how it stands in the shadows of Our Lady!
Robin had also told us about the Goossens bakery from 1884.
The site tells you to be prepared for a long line. They're not kidding.
But it was totally worth it.
And how can you resist these penguins just waiting to be captured!
By then our appetite was fully whetted.
Astrid had been dreaming of mussels for as long as we were planning the trip!
She can have them! And I enjoyed my pork medallions.
Lovely. At De Kleine Post.
We then took our time, as it started getting dark, to walk back to our car.
Lots of window shopping, getting ready for Christmas.
We got a good night's sleep at a nearby hotel and prepared for the next day. To be continued....