Originally, it was never my plan to rush any country/city. But somehow there really was nothing much to see after spending one full day in Ghent/Brussels, and we thought, why not spend the last 5 hours before our flight in Antwerp, the fashion center of Belgium. With this limited timeframe, however, detailed planning was needed and here I lay out the (much anticipated, I hope 😉 ) grand finale of Belgium.
I loved the trains here, for youth like us, you can travel to any city for 6 euros one way. There were quite a lot of “THE First/Best” claims here and the first we saw was the “Prettiest” train station in Europe.
For that particular day, there was a Rotary event. As we headed for the pedestrian street with most shops, I saw this lovely chalkboard and as I arrived at the Italian Church, I looked down and there was a black, long limo. (Of course it was too rude to take a photo of it.) Someone died. My heart sunk a little.
But these once-off moments are the little bits and pieces that build up to a memorable and unique experience. Indeed, the Schelde River will always be there, and so will the clock tower. But these spontaneous snapshots were not here to stay. At this precise moment, the event must have ended, probably no funeral today and the cafe owner might have drawn up a new smoothie menu. And it’s comforting and special to feel that you were there at that particular moment in the universe. Isn’t it a wonderful thing in life that despite the static castles and clock towers, life is ever-evolving in big and small ways?
Now inside these marvelous architectures, was a huge champagne glass bar. And next to it THE First Skyscraper in Europe (Not exactly scraping the sky at that height though I suppose), the Farmer’s Tower 1932.
Since Antwerp was an important port, we saw a lot of related decorations all over the town.
This was the furthest walk because we were heading to a special floating swimming pool that was frozen into an ice rink in Winter! (On the way we passed by the red light district. OMG. It was just, shocking. I was too timid to take photos, but my friend should have it. The ladies were banging the window as we passed by. I simply cannot imagine how it’d be like at night, a small, curious part of me wanted to stare longer, but the startled part of me pulled us away from that street.)
That day was somehow the coldest ever, the wind was blowing from all directions pushing me forward and dragging me back at times. We decided to take a break, and walked in to the MAS. They have a wonderful view on the top (Also where I realized I lost my left glove 😦 sorry grandma) but the point was, the intriguing and slightly dark exhibition on Life and Death. (I don’t know why this motif kept appearing in Belgium)
In the introduction it asked the questions
“Where do we come from? Where will we go to?” As the first one addresses what was already happened, my curiosity for that is not as strong as for the second one. What happens after this wonderful, vibrant life? What would be left of me? Interesting questions to ponder upon in my free time.
It reminded me of one of my favorite poem by Robert Frost,
“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice”
Perhaps the only convincing and utterly calming answer to this is to make an impact that will last even years after I vanish. There would be a tiny part of me staying and watching as the world progress.
Finally we arrived! It was my first time skating in the outdoor and you could not imagine how freezing cold it was. Also, I am a bad skater for all sorts of reasons: poor balancing and coordinating skills, inability to lose control, pathetically thin blade on the shoes and the slippery ice…
I would rather be dragged around like this.
Afterwards we rushed through the plaza and heard the clock town ring and saw the fairy-like fountain. Honestly, these are really the same after seeing the 3rd one. Suddenly though, a carriage just passed by us out of nowhere. Wow, I think I really haven’t seen one ever in my life.
For lunch, I had the best ham and cheese sandwich I have ever had and this was my camera working the natural blurry filter upon entering the store.
Finally it’s 3 pm and we were back to where we started, the beautiful Antwerp Centraaaaaal Station. (They like to spell it with many As 🙂