When we got on the ship several people asked “Why Zebrugge” and “Why Antwerp?” Especially “Why two days in Antwerp? This is the Celtic Explorer, the Celts left Belgium more than a thousand years ago.” Sailing down the Schelde River leaving Antwerp no one is asking that. It is one impressive city and we docked on the river right in front of the old town. Saturday when I woke, I saw the last twinges of sunrise over the Cathedral tower.
As an added bonus, some of the Dutch crew, who, because we spent the night in Antwerp, could get off the ship for a while and go home to their families in nearby Amsterdam. When we are in Amsterdam, they are too busy turning the ship around for a new group of cruisers.
I’ve already written three posts from this beautiful city but thought to tie up some loose end World War II in one of the several min-century styles. Sailing out along the Schelde River that is what we saw, but the old town itself is charming. We got off the ship Saturday morning and stepped right into a fairytale old city. To be sure it is seaport with signs of a wild Friday night. On side streets we found smashed beer bottles and spent condoms (I did not take a picture.) But the overall impression was of wonder with the sun flashing off some of the gold figures on top of the gables in the various squares.
I’ve already, in the last three posts, written a lot about our Saturday. We did take the tram out to see the new Palace of Justice by British Architect Richard Rogers. I find Rogers a mixed bag. I like some of his work but not others. The palace with its titanium sales seems out of place in this city, but I had to see for myself.
After sunset we had a stroll through the old town.
On Sunday we went to Mas, not the Catholic type but a city museum with an observation deck at the op, unfortunately surrounded by glass with grubby fingerprints all over it that made photography a challenge. But the exhibits were well done, there are permanent exhibits, like Antwerp the Seaport and Antwerp celebrations and festivals, but also temporary exhibits like on the work of the French architect le Corbusier. I have always found his work exciting on paper and in models bot would hate to live in one of his designed communities.
We decided to walk to Mas rather than take the tram. The lady in the tourist information office marked a route for us on the map. Looking at it Suzi thought we could cut the diagonal by going down some back streets and we were rewarded. We found St. Paul’s Church, a Gothic building despoiled by the reformation iconoclasts and refitted in baroque style. We were drawn by the organ music, got in in time for the recessional. When the priest got to the back of the church, he quickly cast off his vestments and ran to the front to better hear the postlude, which was worth the stop.
Leaving the church, we found Sunday Morning in the red-light districts. Sleepy sex workers were just setting up in their windows, turning on their red lights and adjusting their underwear to show enough without giving too much away. Some kind of moved seductively, others were busy on their mobile devices, whether playing games, watching video or checking for later appointments I do not know. One of the sex workers was obviously pregnant. I don’t know if that is a turn on or not. Right at the end of the red-light street is the Seaman’s mission building.
On our way back business was beginning to pick up. I saw one scene where a very happy looking man was leaving one of the shops, the woman gave him a peck on the cheek a cute smile and a wave from the door as he left. It looked so domestic. The man was dressed as if for church. The woman not so much.
Sail out along the river gave us a final look at this beautiful city.