Sunday, March 13, 2016

Antwerp, Belgium

Goodness! The time I have to spend updating my blog has been cut down to a few minutes here and there, I hate it and love it at the same time. I am still working on the trip I took back in SEPTEMBER of 2015 and it is MARCH of 2016! So, sorry about the slow goins, but I have two cats I have to work full time to support and surprisingly it is taking up a lot of my time. But I love it, so it's all good.

Anywho, Antwerp! Once again, I had no idea what to expect for this port, was it going to be a big city? A charming small town? Turns out, it has aspects of both. Antwerp is an international port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt, with history dating to the Middle Ages. In its center, the centuries-old Diamond District houses thousands of traders, cutters and polishers. Its Royal Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1663, is today a well-known European fashion academy, where the local designers, the Antwerp Six made the city a hotbed for the 1980s avant-garde.

We docked right in front of the city's charming and historic old town which is a small part of the large bustling city that surrounds it. We began the day with a walking tour of the historic district lead by a local guide, we passed by so many wonderful examples of classic, Dutch architecture.

We spent a long time in the Grote Markt (Great Market Square) which is surrounded by city hall, guildhalls, and adorable out door cafes. The monumental Brabo Fountain sits in the middle of the square and tells the story of a city legend, of how Silvius Brabo freed the city from the reign of a giant who was charging them tolls two thousand years ago. Silvius cut of the head and hand of the giant and thus the symbol of the hand has been used in Antwerp to symbolize the free water way, which was crucial to the city's survival.

We ended our walking tour with a quick stroll around the iconic Cathedral Of Our Lady. It is a gorgeous church with some rather famous paintings inside.

One of the most beautiful and intricately carved pulpits I have ever seen. I could have studied it for hours.

The Rising of the Cross
Peter Paul Rubens, 1611
This painting has been studied by anyone who has ever taken an art history class. It is the perfect example of many classical art techniques.
"The triptych marked Rubens' sensational introduction of the Baroque style into Northern art. The diagonal composition is full of dynamism and animated color. The artist had just returned from Italy, with the memory of Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Titian painting still fresh in his mind. The Raising of the Cross is the perfect summation of the unruly bravura that marked his first years in Antwerp." 

Speaking of Peter Paul Rubens, after our time at the Cathedral of our Lady, we headed to the home of Mr. Rubens! I can't remember of pictures weren't allowed at his home or if I was just too exhausted to try and document it all, either way I don't have any pictures from our excursion on my camera, but here are some from the internet so you can see what a stunning house he had! Not all artists were poor and starving during their life time.

It was fun to see the black and white floors, they are so prominent in Dutch paintings, it was interesting to see that those are the kind of floors that were used by the high class in their day. Art truly does imitate life.

Antwerp's  Great Market Square is quite the magical sight at night. Tonight we were lucky enough to be able to eat at a restaurant of our choice on shore. Most of the time, we are sailing by dinner time, but we are spending two days at this port so we could stay out as long as we wanted. We definitely took advantage of trying one of the local places on the square.

The restaurant my dad picked out for us was so adorable. It was tiny and owned by three young guys that were so friendly and excited to be running their own business. All of our entrees were amazing and were all accompanied by over flowing bowls of Belgium's famous frittes. We tried numerous other frittes the entire time we were in Belgium and nothing even came close to how amazing the ones we had that night.

Then it was time for dessert, this was the course I was most excited for, Belgian waffles in Belgium! I was expecting to get the dense, soft, chewy Belgian waffles I had enjoyed so many times at the adorable waffle shop, Brugge, since they were famous for their Belgian waffles. But what we got were light, crispy, airy waffles. They were still delectable, but it made me curious, so we asked the three young owners about the difference between the two types of waffles.  Apparently, there are two types of Belgian waffles, 1.) Brussel - light and crispy and made from a thin batter.  They take longer to cook and are harder to make correctly.  2.) Leige - thick and dense and made from a ball of dough with chunks of sugar.  These are the type of waffles that have taken Utah by storm and can be found at Waffleluv and Bruges waffle locations.  Tonight we had the Brussel type and they were delicious.  I got mine with chocolate syrup and ice cream, dad got strawberries and cream and mom got the traditional topping of warm cherries and cream. 

Tonight's towel animal was by far the cutest thing I had ever seen! My guess is that it's a koala bear, he was just chillin on the couch, lookin all adorable.

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