Wednesday 26 to Sunday 31 October - 'Five go to Antwerp and Rotterdam'
(or if you'd prefer to start this holiday at the beginning, please start with "in the midnight hour")
Lovely breaky again at JVR108 - our luxury pad in Antwerp, then a dash for the 34 bus to Berchem station, followed by a swift change onto the No.9 tram to the Deurne district of Antwerp. Here the Belgian architectural freedom was very evident, with every house on every street being vastly different to its neighbour, which makes for a delightful mix of styles. And we just loved this fresh bread vending machine!But our quest wasn't for food (for a change) but for our tour of the 1958 Renaat Braeme House which we'd booked for 10.30. Our guide for the morning, Walter, a retired architect, arrived by bike and a beaming smile and gave us a wonderful personal tour of the house, along with a film showing lots of footage of Renaat Braeme and his other works. The delight was that his original furniture, art and studio are all as his wife left them.
the ingenious letter box he designed was a gem
as were the pipes coloured to indicate hot and cold water and waste! And his collection of art from his beloved Mexico. The house is currently lived in by a custodian appointed by the trust.
and after the tour,Walter led us across a couple of streets to walk through the Arenawijk social housing estate Renaat Brame designed
and of course by then we were all STARVING, so headed to the Belles Epoque area behind Berchem station and the lovely Brasserie Mays with a Thai touch and delicious home cooking
Then a stroll around the magnificent Belle Epoque houses lining the streets of Zurenborg
Back into the city centre now and a quick zip round the immense cathedral with its 7 naves.
and our first real Rubens - who of course famously made his home in Antwerp
but amazing as great art can be - we were getting worried we hadn't yet sampled any Belgian chocolate - and a speedy Google promised us that Burie was the best so we sped along to their shop in the fading light
and discovered a treasure of chocolate treats (including the famous Antwerp hands, which appears on loads of buildings and statues - read the legend of the Brabo and Antigone).
loved this baby shop window next door!
Finally, after a great coffee from a trendy espresso bar and a walk round a really cool neighbourhood, we arrived at the famous Sint Anna tunnel - offering a traffic-free walk/cycle way under the Schelde River since the 1930s with its original wooden escalators. Loved it.
But by now, you've guessed it, we were hungry again!! Back to JVR108 for a refresh then back into the city and another great place to eat is sussed out
De Groote Witte Arend - a great friendly bar with fantastic home cooked comfort foodour amazing local speciality beef stew, frites and cabbage along with house beer
Cheers - team photo at last!!!
but there's more to tomorrow as we move to Saturday in Rotterdam