A NEW DAY……Friday June 24th….I am going to start a walk to Antwerp….and see how far I get in this 80 degree (20-degrees C) weather. With overcast skies…very humid.
I had a healthy breakfast of toast and cheese with apricot jam. A little bit of black coffee. Rested and ready to move into this day.
I left Gent in light rain sprinkles but had no idea how the weather would actually turn out. It was very muggy so I walked to the Central train station and was again amazed at the beauty and history of it all…awe.
I headed towards Antwerp (I’ve seen it spelled Antwerpen, too) in the light rain. I waited for about 45 minutes… the weather was iffy, starting to rain even more…I gave up on the weather and then hopped the train. I sat fairly close to the door because of the weight of my pack…bruised on my hips (black and blue), a tad sore.
This young mother and her daughter (about 2-1/2-years-old) sat down next to me…it was sweet watching a young girl help her on the train with her baby buggy. They were the last ones on before the door closed…
I just love watching the kindness of strangers to one another!
On the train listened to this mother talk on her phone (even though I could not understand a word of her Flemish!) but she was being direct with the person on the other line and it seemed a bit heated. Emotions in any language show through. She really didn’t seem to mind attracting an audience.
After the phone she talked to her joyful child who was standing on the seat across from me and looking out the window and getting excited about the animals she saw in the open fields of green pastures we passed. This little girl was a jewel and seemed very smart judging by the interactions with her mother. She had a cough and made me think she was on her way to a doctor. I remember those days…(Stevie Wonder fills this air)…as I write…
Back to yesterday’s journey :
The demeanor of the mother and child was a very lovely relationship.
I asked her if there was a local Belgium child character that was one of color whom she could recommend for a gift. She said she knew of none. I replied that maybe her daughter needed to create one, being she is so smart and creative.
She just smiled back at me…as if given a blessing.
Anyway the train moved on quite fast down the tracks…and we reached our destination in the beautiful city of Antwerp. After I got off the train I asked her if I could take her picture, she was fine with it. Also before I got off the train I gave her a card to follow my adventure.
It was noon and I decided to stop at the Visitor’s Center to get a bearing on where I was and to plan my city visit.
This place is known as the diamond capital of the world. I am not their client. Saw a postcard that said “Every diamond in the world at some point, passes through Antwerp.” I saw a wedding taking place nearby with lots of young attractive Antwerpians.
OK, so I had a great salad and sandwich shop and stopped to fill up on energy food…it was great…and clean, my type of food.
Great…Did end up in a “Starbucks” just to get my location figured out…a young lady came outdoors and asked me if I needed anything I let her know “not right now.”
I was busy looking at the map and figuring out which museum would be first…and where I would spent the night. In this neighborhood would be fine…shops,people and local color. Seems like a tourist place…this place is a fashion capital…
Just some simple facts about this place:
Antwerp is the largest port in the world on the River Scheldt. Antwerp is a Flemish community of some 78 square miles with half a million people.
Antwerp has one of the oldest zoos in the world. (Think “Belgian Congo.”) There is a very high level of research and conservation here as well as a prominent Art Nouveau architectural element. I need to find the “Zurenborg neighborhood. I read it was a must see…
I found a place for the night and walked around the town…did a few minutes of walking after ditching my “ugly” tennis shoes in this fashion mecca.
I walked around a lot and decided I could not figure out what to eat so I had a very nice glass of French wine.
I have been researching WWII and the local history…wondering if the Catholic Church was protected by the German Nazis. The churches and cathedrals here in Antwerp seem to have been safe from so much destruction here in Belgium. In Rotterdam it was so different because something like 90% of the town was destroyed by the war.
I finished my day in a perfect way…counted my many blessings of gratitude.
I talked to Iris then went to sleep.