Random words, prettily strung but it does capture the gist of a whirlwind 7 day trip perfectly!
That prelude also explains why apologies are needed for the sudden absence - internet access as you can guess was sketchy throughout the trip but it was such a gloriously refreshing vacation that I have absolutely no complains!
Antwerp was a gem of a city. Easy to explore by foot and just beautiful especially this season with the dazzling christmas lights. I also fell in love with an elegant, warm brasserie quite simply named The Bistro which we chanced upon while strolling towards the Rubens House just a few steps away. We started the chilly but sunny day pacing across Ruben's studio surrounded by his lively and inspiring works, saw his personal art collection and viewed paintings bearing the touch of his pupil, the equally masterful Anthony van Dyck, then only a young nineteen year old.
Unfortunately the second level was closed for refurbishment and so it was a short visit followed by a luxurious early lunch!
The Bistro is one of those places where you can't help trying to discreetly ogle every plate that passes by. 'Look, what do you think he's having? It looks like fish. Which one is it on the menu?' or 'No, see that? It looks so good. I think it could be a salad. But its so pretty!'. 'Wow, that steak. Oh my god. Sooo delicious...'
I have to admit, if you were a fly at our table, that would have been the running commentary, as un-intellectual as it sounds. The food tasted as good as it looked too. The father and son duo seated next to us actually turned around excitedly to give two thumbs up when they cut into their dish of lamb. The plates were all dressed up with such vibrant flourish that this was definitely my idea of a very happy meal!
After that it was a short walk to MOMU, the fashion museum where there was an exhibit of hats by the famed British milliner, Stephen Jones. Having collaborated for runway headgear with the likes of John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior, Azzedine Alaïa and Comme des Garçons, it was unsurprising that the displays were over the top, fantastical and fuelled by flights of fancy! It was amusing that a big group of white haired ladies in their 60's were also taking in the exhibit at the same time, tottering behind a guide that was explaining the extravagant designs.
Being us, we had to pop into Le pain Quotidien for some steaming hot chocolate accompanied by bites of brownies before stopping in envious contemplation in front of Dries Van Noten's black and gold store windows. Later, a brisk walk to the river Scheldt and up the lookout flanked by dignified lions. A puzzled pause while gazing upon the Brabo statue, a quiet moment in the Cathedral of our Lady and we wrapped up the day with hot fries in a paper cone doused with mayonnaise!
I could tell you all about our close shave with the student riots in London or the Kashmir protests we witnessed in front of the Berlaymont in Brussels but let's leave all that for another time? I have a decadent box of Marcolini truffles awaiting...