We had no plans for the long holiday weekend, WHAT?! With only a few more years in Europe scheduling long weekends for travel are imperative, I know. Usually, a four-day weekend is an excursion to someplace warm, beautiful, enchanting – they are like the leisurely weeks at the beach in Gulf shores or Myrtle Beach , SC. The little country of Belgium has always been one of my favorites, having visited Brussels several times over the years I thought it might be interesting to explore the rest of the country. Belgians are some of the nicest people in Europe too, mix that with historical architecture and sites to see and you have a perfect weekend.
Our oldest daughter Katy had discovered Antwerp last year in her travels and said it was one of her favorites. While we were here over the Labor Day weekend we also visited several breweries and monasteries for Trappist Beer. Belgian beer is one Jon’s favorite beer – so that was an extra bonus. Be on the look out for next week’s blog on For the love of Beer and Belgium!
Where to stay ~
When I make last-minute accommodation bookings I tend to use Booking.com mostly because of the offers and cancellation policies. We stayed in the delightful B&B – Yellow Submarine B&B.
Make sure you are on the same sheet of “travel” music as your hotel/B&B – write a special request note. It can be asking anything that will help make your arrival easier, like where the parking is located, if it is on-site or off-site. What time you might expect to check-in, if internet is included, etc.
I wrote Vicky a request about parking because in some European towns parking is limited and can cost quite a bit more between €10-18/day extra. She was great and responded quickly and told me where to meet her and that parking was just around the corner from the B&B and included with the room. It was perfect too, because once we parked the car ~ we just walked everywhere!
The location of the Yellow Submarine is excellent! We were within walking distance to the old town area of Antwerp and a wonderful restaurant district near the harbor.
Our room was great and had wonderful views of the street and breakfast was so special with fresh squeezed orange juice too! Yellow Submarine B&B was a perfect romantic weekend place for Jon and I, however it is located a few blocks away from the very mild RED light district of Antwerp. We wouldn’t have even noticed except for some of the window activity, similar to Amsterdam.
Legend of Antwerp
Vicky was a plethora of information and a native of Antwerp. One morning at breakfast she shared the legend of Antwerp. A story of the “underdog” or David and Goliath. A giant named, Antigoon lived near the Scheldt river would impose a tax on fishermen as they passed through – after much despair the villagers who were upset, one in particular, a young, Silvius Barbo fought the Giant, cut off his hand (Dutch- meaning Ant werpen) and threw it into the river.
Walking the Harbor
When we arrived Saturday night, Vicky gave us a map and a list of places to grab a bite to eat. We decided to walk down to the Harbor.
There are several restaurants near the new MAS (Museum an der Stroom) this unique and special museum looks like a Jenga puzzle from far away. The entrance to the observation deck on the 10th floor is FREE and fun to see a panoramic view of the entire city. They seem to be constantly changing their exhibits too – this past year they had a chocolate exhibit.
Walking the city
Cathedral of our Lady Antwerp
Train Station – after walking about 8 miles around town I really wanted to head to one of the most famous train stations and get some pictures, but was wiped out. If you are in Antwerp, try to make it there for sure, maybe next time.
Market DAY in Antwerp!
Antwerp at night
I love exploring cities at night when we are traveling. The lighting and structures can be great photo moments ~ here are a few night lights I was able to capture.
Good eats ~ Burgers, steaks and more!
There is not a shortage of restaurants in Antwerp and we giggled at the amount of “burger” bars there seemed to be, let’s just say A…LOT! ~ Of course, YOU must have Belgian fries while in Belgium. So, we challenged ourselves to find a GREAT combo of burger and fries. Belgian fries are the best, they are double fried~
Totally not done with Belgium yet! On Monday we headed down south to the towns of Brugges and Ghent. These great little towns were equally as enchanting and I could definitely spend much more time in both. Look for more details in next week’s blog ~
Even though this was a last minute trip, it was totally amazing. I don’t worry anymore about having the perfect itinerary before we take off because we discover so much. Our long weekend was coming to an end but we had beer in tow and discovered a LOT on this adventure. Belgium and its’ people are definite keepers and I feel like another weekend will be in my near future.