My second stop during my holiday travels was in Antwerp, Belgium which I was beyond excited for because it meant that I would be reunited with these two girls:
I departed the Rivera’s on an overnight train. I had every intention and desire to sleep during the ride but found it nearly impossible due to a number of reasons such as uncomfortable seating, sharing a cabin with two snoring men, etc. The train I took required me to transfer two times. During the last leg of the trip I had to transfer in Brussels (going to Antwerp) and was scheduled to arrive in Antwerp around 10:20 AM while the girls would arrive a bit earlier than me. However, I ended up being about an hour late because I accidentally got on the wrong train (going towards Antwerp, but stopped running about three stops prior to my final destination). I had no way of letting the girls know I would be late because our phones only work in Spain or with wifi, which was nowhere to be found. I finally arrived in Antwerp, walked around the train station for a couple of minutes, searching and hoping that the girls hadn’t left the station. I reached the top-level of the station, saw a number of coffee shops and thought… “Knowing Lindsay… they have to be in one of these… But which one?” I turned around and saw Starbucks and KNEW they had to be there – walked in, and there they were waiting for me. It all worked out because Lindsay told me she asked herself, “What’s the first thing Nicole is going to do when she gets here?” Answer: Find coffee. Find wifi. Done.
Our time in Antwerp was really awesome. The first day there, we got caught in some nasty rain, but after that, the weather was quite nice. We were excited that the Christmas markets were still up and even more excited to indulge in Belgium waffles and Belgian beer. We saw and learned a great deal about the city by going on a walking tour (which are the best way to explore and sight see). Our tour started near the cathedral. During the tour, we discovered that the cathedral is the tallest building in the city – standing at 123meters and that no building can be taller. Our next stop was to visit the City Hall, Guild Houses, and Brabo Fountain; all of which are located in Grote Markt.
The Brabo Fountain has such an interesting story behind it. Druon Antigoon is a mythical giant who lived and guarded the bridge of the Schedlt River. He exacted taxes (half of everything) that passed through the river. Those who refused to pay the tax, had their hand severed and thrown into the river. Eventually, a Romanian soldier named Silvius Brabo killed the giant, then severing and throwing his own hand into the river. Antwerp in dutch: Antwerpen which translates to: hand werpen which then translates to: (Old English) hand and throw.
Ari volunteer me to do a little project while we were at Brabo Fountain. He asked how I would throw a hand and told me to stand like Brabo. In the end, we discovered that the statue was poorly created because Brabo was using the wrong hand and standing on the wrong foot.
Other sites we visited included the Vleehuis (Butcher’s House) – now a music museum, Museum aan de Stroom, and Lange Wapper. Near the Butcher’s House, there is a dark tunnel which frequently flooded. Lange Wapper was a mythical creature that lived in the swampy waters and provoked drunks as they stumbled on their way home.