Saturday, May 16, 2015


Our nice sunny weather didn't last, we woke this morning to gray, drizzly skies.  It didn't look too threatening, though, so we set off about 8:45  to have a bite of breakfast.

We'd noticed a big market set up in the square outside our hotel--actually we heard them setting up at about 4 am this morning!

View from our window:

After a cup of coffee in our hotel room we walked across the street to the market.  There were lots of food vendors to choose from, and we shared a basket of delicious strawberries and a pastry.

By the time we'd finished cruising the market the mist had turned into a light rain.  We decided it would be a good idea to stop back by the hotel and change into our rain jackets and get our umbrellas!

We walked over to The Cathedral of Our Lady-a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Construction on the  Cathedral was started in 1352 and completed in 1521.  It was destroyed by fire in 1533, rebuilt soon after--only to be plundered and looted during the Eighty Years War (1566) and the French Revolution (1794).  Finally, in 1816 many of the stolen art works were returned and once again the Cathedral was restored.  It has since undergone complete interior renovations in 1965 & 1993.  

The Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp

Statue of Peter Paul Rubens in the square by the cathedral:

Statue of the Builders near the front entrance, a tribute to the builders of the cathedral

The interior:

There are many tombs from the mid 1600's to the 1800"s

Carved wooden confessional, from the 1800's:

One of the many chapels:

The carved wooden pulpit--amazingly detailed:

There are still some areas with frescos from the 1600's:

The stained glass windows are beautifully detailed:

Painted ceiling of the dome above the main altar:

Of course, one of the main draw is the beautiful Rubens

Decent from the Cross, 1612

Raising of the Cross, 1610

Before we left we took a look in the crypt beneath the nave.  The cathedral built in 1300's was built on the site of a Chapel from the 900's, and there are some tombs dating to 1020.  So far about 9 tombs have been excavated:

After our interesting visit to Our Lady, we decided it was time for a bite of lunch.  We picked a tiny little restaurant around the corner--it was actually attached to the back of the church.  This was our view from our table:

We each had a bowl of vegetable soup and shared a cheese plate:

The owner of the restaurant visited with us, and gave us some "insider"tips on places to see in his city.  He even marked them on a map, and told us which tram to take.

After our lunch it was back out into the rain!  We roamed the streets around the Cathedral.  The architecture in Antwerp is beautiful:

We found this beer store--375 Belgian Beers!  Doesn't David look happy?  Of course we went in for a look--but didn't buy anything.

We continued our walking, making our way towards the river.  

This is Het Steen, a medieval fortress built during the middle ages.  

We walked through Het Steen--only a small portion of it is open.  It's now used as a children' educational center.

In the steady rain we made our way back to the area around the Cathedral.  We enjoyed the pretty narrow streets and the brick buildings:

We decided it was time for a "duck & cover" stop to get out of the rain--and have a beer, of course!  We picked a nice looking pub, and settled into a good spot under the awning.  We met the most delightful young man, and ended up sitting and visiting with him for almost 2 hours.  He was very interested in US/World politics, and especially interested in our views of our political system.   He insisted in buying our beer--we meet the nicest people when we travel!

By now it was almost 5 pm, and we'd walked miles & miles!  We decided we'd go back to our teeny-tiny hotel room and rest up before dinner.  It was good to get dried out and warmed up!

We went back out for dinner about 7 pm, headed for a restaurant that a local couple had recommended to us yesterday.  We found it with the help of our trusty iPhone Apple Maps.   Unfortunately, we should have had reservations--as no tables were available.  Darn!  The menu looked very interesting……

We wandered down a few side streets, and chose a nice looking little cafe that was fairly busy.  We had a good dinner of ribs with a honey/beer BBQ sauce:

And a local specialty--Flemish Stew:

After dinner we made our way back to the hotel--but not without a glitch!  For some reason Apple Maps kept us walking back and forth--as in "walk 15 feet south on  Rubenstraase".  Then it would say "turn around and walk 15 feet north on Rubenstraase"!  After walking in circles twice--I gave up.  We found a taxi stand nearby,  hopped right in and were "home" in no time-- $10 VERY well spent!  

It had been a very enjoyable day in Antwerp--even with the mist and rain.

Tomorrow in Antwerp:  A visit to Peter Paul Ruben's house, and a tram ride to the outskirts of the city to visit a very pretty neighborhood of Art Nouveau homes--as recommended to us at lunch today.

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