A weekend in…..Antwerp

One thing I do love about the fact that we live with the American work schedule is that there are Bank Holidays practically every month. None of this waiting forever and three coming at once malarkey.

Each year starts with Martin Luther King Jr Day  and last year I was slightly indisposed; having given birth to Joseph that day. So, this year we decided to make the most of it. We picked Antwerp because after our recent 6/7 hour driving expeditions, we wanted something much closer and far less stressful in terms of journeys. Plus, what do you know about Antwerp? Not much, in fact I knew nothing so that’s exactly why we went. That said, I massively began to doubt my choice when the terrorist cell in Verviers was foiled just three days before.

If you haven’t been, you have to go. We absolutely loved it, but being hugely honest, James and I would have enjoyed it so much more without the children cramping our style. Saying that, we’d prefer to do a lot of things without our miniature tag-a-longs but c’est la vie huh? The city is just beautiful. Normally Airbnb stalwarts, this time we found an amazing winter deal at the Hilton that we couldn’t let slip through our fingers so lived it up in a super nice hotel for the weekend. We didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the champagne quoffing clientele but who cares?!

{Top tip – Always check the hotel’s own websites, often the big ones like booking.com and hotel.com don’t have the best prices. And if they do, they just have a finite amount of rooms at that price}.

The central location was amazing for all those urgent “Muuuuuuummmmmy I need a wee wee. NOW” pleas, although not the easiest to find when you have the biggest car in the world, racing with trams and navigating the brand new one-way system with a 4 year old Sat Nav.

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The cafe culture was über cool and the restaurants looked right up our street. That’s the pre-children, not accessorised with a pushchair, not needing a highchair, street. Joseph bounced between us during meal times and the German facilities we take for granted like multiple highchairs, play areas and kind staff ready to ply children with treats and sweets were hugely conspicuous by their complete absence.

Having decided to go fairly last minute, I didn’t get a chance to order my trusty Lonely Planet (although I will do retrospectively to add to my collection!) so surfed the net until I found Citypath Antwerpen. It’s a great website with detailed walking tours and information about the sights and museums. We didn’t get a chance, but I’d have loved to have gone to The Rubens House, to see his collection, studio and home. The red brick rectangular building above is the MAS. It tells the story of the people, the past, present and future of the city of Antwerp and looks so interesting, but not such a fun idea with children. Well our children anyway….

Antwerp

The shopping was some of the best I’ve seen in Europe and we walked for miles whilst we were there. Just looking at the buildings, the people and wishing James and I could settle down for the afternoon and people watch from a bar stool like we used to. That said, we did have a lovely time with the children. It’s just, you know, sometimes you just want to drink wine and be utterly selfish rather than sit in a freezing playground watching the swing/slide action.

If you get the chance, put it on your Bucket List. It’s definitely one of my European favourites.

Lucy

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