Posted by & filed under Travel Country: Belgium.


I woke up at 9.45am and felt pretty good. I had slept well, as it was a quiet and dark room, with no disturbances. I’d already squashed the mosquitoe that had been in the room the day before, so I didn’t have to worry about it biting me and waking me up in the middle of the night, as they normally do! I went down to breakfast which was pretty good. There was a choice of cereals, juices, bread rolls, cheese, meat slices, yoghurts and tea and coffee and there was one solitary hard boiled egg left. The hotel charges five euros for breakfast which I guess is reasonable.

It was a beautiful sunny day outside, about 20 degrees and I wanted to go to Cogels Osylei, the Art Nouveau area in Berchem. When I was doing research on Antwerp before I left, I’d spotted the Cogels Osylei area on the official Antwerp tourism website and thought I’d definitely have to go see that. So, I headed off anyway and got the 8 tram to Berchem. At least I got to see another part of town on the way there.There is one main street called the Cogels Osylei, which is full of Art Nouveau buildings but the surrounding streets have a lot of Art Nouveau style buildings too. So I had a walk up that street and around the area and took a few photos. Some of the buildings on the Cogels Osylei were beautiful, with their unusual shaped facades, stained glass windows and swirling, black, wrought iron railings. I stopped off at a cafe nearby and sat in the sun for a while. I liked this area. It was pretty and peaceful.

I headed back into town and asked in the tourist office, if there were any guided tours of the city. The lady there told me that the guided walking tours were only being run on a weekend but there was a guided bus tour that I could do. The next tours left from the Groenplaats at 2.45pm and 3.45pm and cost 12 euros. I wanted to get something light to eat, so I decided to go for the 3.45pm tour. I had a delicious assortment of Bruschetta in one of the cafes on the Groenplaats.

The bus arrived and there were audio headphones you could use, with the commentary in different languages, English included of course. There weren’t many people on the bus, only me, another couple in front of me and two loudmouth guys behind me. Luckily they left after a few stops, so we had peace and quiet afterwards. I found the tour informative. The bus drove around the main areas of interest:the Groenplaats, the harbour, the Museum of Fine Arts, Central Station, the city park and back to the Groenplaats again. It was nice to sit upstairs in the warm sunshine for an hour.

After the tour finished, I went into the Cathedral. It cost 5 euros but it was worth it, as there were quite a few of Reuben’s paintings displayed. He’s Belgium’s most famous painter. It’s a nice cathedral but I’ve seen nicer. The cathedral in Koln is something else. Still it’s always nice to see other museums and churches to expand your experience and knowledge.
It was time for a beer! I had a Westmalle Dubbel at one of the cafes on the Grote Markt. It was pretty warm sitting outside but oh so nice, people watching by the fountain at the town hall. There was this old woman who came in and had a drink. One of the waiters stood and talked and listened to her for ages. My God, she never stopped talking the whole time she was there. Not many waiters/waitresses will make the time to stop and talk to older people like that but it was good to see. This waiter had patience and a listening ear.

I went for food after that. The barman in the Irish Times recommended that I go to Da Giovannis for food. It’s an Italian pizzeria and was always packed every time I passed by, which is normally a good sign. My God was it packed when I went. It’s sort of like a wham, bam, thank you m’am place to eat! The turnover of guests and tables was quick but the food was quite good. I had lamb chops, salad and fries. At least it was better than my mussels the night before.

I went for another walk and decided after a while to try the Irish Times, to see if their internet worked, as I wanted to check my emails on my laptop. It did, luckily, so I was in there for about an hour. By the time I came out, it was nine o ‘clock and getting dark. I took another walk as I wanted to see what the city was like at nighttime. I always think a city looks different at night. It’s like a cloak comes over it, that’s made of material which sometimes seems dull and lifeless, but when when it catches the light, it shimmers like a jewel, showing another side to it. And this was the case with Antwerp. I liked it. I took the 10.16pm number 8 tram back towards the hotel and wanted to catch up on my journal, so I went to one of the bars by Pacificatie, (the nearest tram stop to my hotel) and had a beer. Just as I sat down, a disco bus passed by, packed with people, who were jeering out the back of the open bus. There were disco lights inside, flashing different colours, with loud music. There were a few laughs from some of the people sitting outside.