Living in the south of Holland, it’s easy for us to travel to Belgium, even without a car. Around 10:30 on a Saturday we hopped on a bus from Eindhoven Station and took the hour ride to Antwerpen (Americans call this city Antwerp). The bus dropped us off in front of Antwerpen Central Station, one of the world’s most impressive railway stations with its huge dome, tall towers and its richly decorated interior with more than twenty different kinds of marble and stone.
This was the perfect opportunity for me to test out my early Valentine’s Day gift – a Canon EOS M10 Camera!
Of course the only day throughout this entire Dutch winter that it truly snows all day, we had planned to explore this Belgium city. Normally, I wouldn’t let a little weather get in the way of my travel plans, however the snow and cold really did make it quite miserable to wander and sight see as much as we would have liked in Antwerpen.
What to do instead? How about a day of indulgence in the food and drinks that Belgium does best? So we spent our Saturday drinking Belgian beers, eating Belgian chocolates and taking in the local culture.
Some of the places we explored:
Grote Markt (Great Market Square) where you can see City Hall, Brabo Fountain and Guildhalls. Many restaurants and bars are scattered around the market.
Markets Antwerpen is known as a ‘market town’ with a tradition of open markets. From local everyday markets, to weekend, monthly and seasonal markets. We checked out the Exotic Food Market which was near our hotel.
Some of the places we ate/drank:
Backyard a cozy atmosphere in the market square with many tasty menu options. Staff was attentive, friendly and helpful. They have a great selection of Gin which helped us kick off our day-drinking. We had G&T’s made with Monkey 47.
Brasserie Stadscafe a conveniently located restaurant which incredibly fast service. Though it was busy, the open floor plan gives enough space and it seems to be a good restaurant to bring a larger group of people. Bill enjoyed mussels while I had salmon. Both were delicious and perfect portion sizes. It’s close to the water so I would imagine on a nice day, you could enjoy a nice view.
If you’re in Belgium, you should be drinking any Trappist Beer or perhaps try a local craft brew, De Koninck
Gollem for the beer lover. They have over 400 bottled beers and at least 30 on tap. Go here to try some local Belgian beers or even enjoy a snack or burgers and frites.
Billie’s Bier Kafeteria Another great selection of craft beer in Antwerp. They have 11 taps and over 110 beers in bottle with a selection of some of the best national and international craft beers. With downstairs and upstairs seating, you can find a cozy place to sit, maybe settle in and play one of the board games scattered around. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see Billie the dog (we didn’t get to see him!).
Here we tried one of the highest rated beers in the world, Westvleteren. According to Bill, the brewery’s three beers have acquired an international reputation for taste and quality, Westvleteren 12 being considered by some to be the best beer in the world.
Paters Vaetje seemed to be a local spot for meeting a friend and enjoying a beer or two. Though limited seating in both the downstairs and upstairs, the small bar has nice character and a good beer selection. Fun atmosphere though I wouldn’t necessarily have a bite to eat here. We bought some Belgian chocolates from a nearby shop and enjoyed those instead.
t’Elfde gebod (The Eleventh Commandment) While Antwerpen as a city seemed a bit quiet on this Saturday afternoon, t’Elfde gebod was packed with people – tourists and locals. Religious statues and original modern art are scattered through the building. It truly is a unique place to enjoy a drink. Though we waited a few minutes for available seating, the staff were friendly and spoke English. If you want to walk into a place and truly feel like you are in a completely different European bar, this is it.
Overall, despite the snow, we were able to take in some Antwerpen’s charm. Though it seemed to be a quieter weekend in the city, we guessed that the cold weather had something to do with it. Despite this, it’s an easy city to travel to and even easier to get around by walking. I’d definitely like to return on a warmer, sunnier day and venture out to take in more of what Antwerpen has to offer.