For my birthday in October Sebastiaan surprised me with a weekend trip to Antwerp. I had never been to Belgium and could not have been more excited if I tried. But wait, I skipped the surprise part…
The night before my birthday I came home from class and was greeted with champagne and Pop’s (Sebastiaan’s dad’s) famous Dutch apple tart. I was a happy girl. I knew that Sebastiaan had something else in store for me (he’d been acting really strange and excited the past few days) but I had no idea what. We enjoyed a few drinks with friends and headed home. When I got home and went into out bedroom Sebastiaan came into the room with a basket filled with food and treats. I was a little confused, I mean I know I love to eat and all but a basket of food for my birthday? Really? Am I that much of a fat kid? Upon taking a closer look I realized that there was a bottle of wine in there (now we’re talking!) chocolates, waffles, fruit and cheese. Quite the assortment. I looked at Sebastiaan and I could tell by his expression that I was completely missing the point and therefore ruining whatever really cute and well thought out plan he had concocted. He sensed my confusion and said “do you see a theme? look where the chocolates are from.” Before I had the chance to read the box he blurted out “We’re leaving for Antwerp in 5 hours, pack your bags!” I was shocked. I squealed, jumped into his arms and ran to my closet. What does a girl where to Belgium anyway?
Sebastiaan is incredibly thoughtful and romantic but isn’t exactly the most organized and most apt planner I know…he has a lot of other talents! (I have to go home to him tonight remember)
We arrived in Antwerp a few hours later and I immediately loved the city. Antwerp is divided into two very distinct sections, the Old Town and the new modern district. The Old Town of Antwerp is where we spent most of our time and where most of the sights are located. It’s beautiful. Antwerp reminded me a lot of Amsterdam but with a delightfully slower pace. There are however still many things that are typical to the Dutch, or more specifically Amsterdam. Bikes are still a major mode of transportation, although I did notice bikes in Antwerp much fancier than those in Amsterdam. They were like a fashion accessory of sorts. I guarantee those bikes would last about 30 seconds in Amsterdam before the neighborhood homeless hippie clipped the locks and sold that puppy on the street for 15 euros. We did however note that we would be slightly ashamed to ride our less than posh bikes around Antwerp….
In Antwerp the locals speak Flemish which is basically a much prettier version of Dutch. (They’ve wisely chosen to leave out the whole guttural hacking up a lung thing) Good move. The food is very similar to that in Holland, lots of cheese, fried snacks and sea food. But the beers. Oh the beers. I’ve never seen so many different types of beer in my life! It was fantastic. We roamed the city, did a lot of shopping (the shopping in Antwerp is amazing! Sebastiaan definitely did not anticipate this…) and saw a few sights but really spent most of our time relaxing in cafes and especially this bar. They had a live improve jazz band that played every night and an amazing selection of beers. We could not get enough. Belgium is also known for their mussels cooked in both wine or beer so of course we had to try. It turned out that we were a bit late in the season for mussels but we found one nice place that still had them on the menu. We checked it out and it looked super nice and a bit more trendy than our tastes but we gave it a try. Wow. The mussels were absolutely delicious! I had mussels cooked in white wine and Sebastiaan had his cooked in white beer. Of course we also had some Flemish frites on the side! Delicious! As usual the weekend went by much to quickly and we were definitely not ready to leave. It was one of the best trips that we’ve had and such a wonderful birthday surprise!
Some more pictures from our trip below! 🙂