My first trip to Antwerp was with Alexandra in 1999 to buy an upgraded wedding ring for Sharon (as a bribe for moving to London). Alexandra was very excited for the trip and was excellent at keeping the secret – her bribe was a trip to the zoo. It was pouring rain and I had found a diamond wholesaler through the internet and we met at a McDonalds. He gave Alexandra an umbrella and we went through a maze of alleys into a building and down a hallway into a small office. Outside of a couple locks on the door, looked like an standard office until he unlocked a desk drawer and probably had a couple of million dollars of diamonds neatly organized by size and quality. He was Israeli and big NBA fan and my knowledge of basketball got me a “friends” discount. Everything he said regarding the size, quality, appraised value, and mall retail cost was 100% correct….so very successful trip.
About a year later, my parents came to visit us in London so we were able to get away for a couple of quick weekends, the prior weekend to Vienna and this weekend to Belgium. Unlike the glorious couple of days of sunshine that we had in Vienna, a week later in northern Europe was pouring rain. We flew to Antwerp and spent most of the day touring and then a short train ride to Bruges.
We generally went running from place to place in the central area of Antwerp near the Grote Markt to avoid the rain. Spent a lot of time in waffle houses and pubs – chocolate covered waffles and beer is one way to deal with the rain.
I had never heard of Bruges before we moved to London – but a lot of people recommended it as a trip. A old city with canals – but different from Amsterdam and known more as the “Venice of the north” than the “Amsterdam of Belgium”. Definitely worth a visit even though it is very touristy in the central area of the city. Even though Belgium is a small country, it has several distinctive regions that speak different languages. Both Antwerp and Bruges are in Flanders and speak Dutch.
(This was written during the Great Shutdown of 2020. My memory isn’t this good, used internet searches to fill in a lot of holes. If there’s huge fat foot below me, it not my fault – that an advertisement I can’t control).