Wednesday 6th July, 2022
I was up and out relatively early to Gent-Dampoort station for the train to Antwerp. The intention was to get breakfast there, and I had booked a locker so I could leave the "big bag" and have a wander around Antwerp before check-in at 3pm.
The train was on time, and I got a seat this time and I arrived at Antwerp just after 11am.
Antwerpen-Centraal is majestic, with simply stunning and beautiful architecture - but I still do love Gent-Sint-Pieters! I didn't have time to do a walking tour of Antwerp - I did fancy a bike tour but they only run at weekends as far as I can see. However, I did notice that the walking tours do all stop at the station (INSIDE the station) so that it can be appreciated.
After a late breakfast/early lunch stop I went to Rubens' House (Rubenshuis) which is wonderful and contains many of his works. I had read in an online review that the audio guide was "verbose and too detailed" so I decided to go at my own pace - however, there were no signs or labels so I was a little in the dark! (Literally - parts of it are very dark with the shutters closed). However, I did enjoy it, apart from slightly scary custodians who bark at you if you go the "wrong way".
After that I had a wander around the Grote Markt and environs - it's not as pretty as Gent but charming in its own way.
The Citybox hotel was modern and efficient - everything at check-in is automated - but the room was big and well appointed (if you can get past the bare concrete posts - which are a design feature!) I had a client call at 3.30 (2.30 London time) so went and got a bottle of water from a real human in the cafe attached to reception.
Later on I went for another wander this time to the port to see Het Steen and the river Schelde. I had had a vague recollection from school Geography that Antwerp was a port despite being "far" from the sea!
There was much excitement (and not of a good kind) in the area around the hotel with many roads being closed as there was a big fire at the University of Antwerp - it was unpleasant being outside with all the smoke and so it ended up being a quiet night in the hotel!
Last night in Belgium as tomorrow I head for Germany!