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  • Writer's pictureKaren O.

The best of 3 bees… (Part 2) in 2 bits

Don’t ask me how I come up with these headers, lol I just do and most times in the shower 😁.

Hello Belgium in 2 bits, Brussels (French-speaking part of Belgium) and Antwerp (Dutch speaking part). This trip is a business trip but what’s a business trip without some extra time to take in the city’s vibe.

I am not really looking to do much on this trip but work (that’s how my brain functions on business trips – office and hotel). Somehow, the city sucks me in and I just go with the flow.

I arrive Brussels by air in the evening, check into the hotel, have dinner and go to bed since I have an early morning train to Antwerp for my meeting tomorrow. On arrival in Antwerp, a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt, the beauty of the central station stirred up the city sight-seer in me and that is how my 24 hours adventure began.

Antwerp Centraal

Antwerp Centraal – Inside

I step out of the train station and start walking in the direction google suggests to my meeting place. I look out and totally fall in love with the historical architecture.

The Square is beautiful and the church behind is in sync with everything historical in its surrounding. Interestingly as I walk on, my meeting place happens to be in the same direction as the church and as I get closer, I realize it is “Cathedral of our lady”. Pieter Appelmans (1373 – 16 May 1434) was one of the architects of the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, together with his father Jan Appelmans. It was constructed to be the largest gothic style church in Belgium. The construction started in 1352 and it was designed to have 2 towers. In 1521, after nearly 170 years, the new church was ready but the south tower was never completed. I’m not a history teacher, we have google for this so I’m just going to skip to the part where instead of heading straight for my meeting, I stop, stare and take pictures 😆 (I was here).

Monument dedicated to the Appelmans

Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp

Outside the Cathedral is a statue of Nello and Patrasche, the heroes of the 19th-century novel A Dog of Flanders, written by British author and animal rights activist Marie Louise de la Ramée, under the pen name Ouida. A 19th-century novel that found fame in Japan before it became known in Flanders, where the story is set, and the Cathedral of Our Lady plays an important role in the novel. Ok I’m not a story-teller either (🤔 maybe I am) but hey this is about my escapades, focus!

When I first see the statue I think “Nagini”? Then I read the inscription and realize it is a dog. I did stand there for a while taking in the beauty of the cathedral while wondering why a dog looks like Nagini somewhat. Oh shit I gotta go, I have a business meeting.

I hurry along still trying to find my destination on google map and soon I come across another beautiful square. Omg can the beautiful distractions get any worse? I look at my clock and I’m still early, I have about 30 mins to spare and my destination is 7 mins away so I decide to make the detour and explore the square.

It’s the Grote Markt – Great Market Square – housing the Antwerp city hall, guild halls and the Brabo fountain

Grote Markt Antwerp

Antwerp city Hall

Brabo Fountain

The infamous Silvius Brabo, a mythical Roman soldier who killed a giant, called Druon Antigoon. This mean giant asked money from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the river Scheldt. When people didn’t want to or couldn’t pay the toll, the giant cut off their hand and threw it in the river. Because of this, Brabo couldn’t take the pain of the people anymore so he fought, killed and also cut off the hand of the giant, and threw it into the river, imitating what the giant did to the people. The fountain reflects the moment when Brabo throws the giant’s hand into the river.

My host is really amazing and after the meeting he offers to show me some parts of Antwerp around the office by foot, so we set off to see what we can in the final 20 mins I have left. He takes me through cobblestoned streets and old buildings to the Saint Paul’s Church or Sint-Pauluskerk (in Dutch), a former Dominican church, now Roman Catholic, located at the Veemarkt in Antwerp by the River Scheldt. The church’s amazing surrounding sculptures and interior paintings host many works of art by major artists such as the Antwerp painters Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Cornelis de Vos, Gaspar de Crayer, Frans Francken II, Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Theodoor Boeyermans, Artus de Bruyn, Arnout Vinckenborch and Matthys Voet, over 200 sculptures, beautiful baroque altars and sculpted church furniture considered to be amongst the most beautiful in the world.

There’s much more to explore but I only have 24 hours and I have to go back to Brussels.

I didn’t have much time to explore the entire city but I saw enough to make me want to come back and really scout every nook and cranny of Antwerp, enjoy its food, its people and its history.

Time to hurry back to Brussels before dark….

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