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A twerp in Antwerp

Antwerp, Belgium

Well, sorry to sound really geeky, but Antwerp has a far nicer station that Brussels. It looks like some sort of classical building, but inside it''s been seriously modernised, so a nice mix.

Antwerp is a very fashionable, shopping city. It has statues everywhere, for some reason, and clearly there's a lot more here than just tourist stuff. These elephants are on their way to the zoo :)

I walked down the main shopping street: it is impressively grand, as are the prices in some of the shops. I hadn't really read up on what I wanted to see, but I quickly found Rubens House.

This was very impressive, remarkable even, until you learn that it was almost completely rebuilt in World War 2. Only a few bits of the outside are real. Equally remarkable, but in a different way, and it did take the edge off.

The more I saw and heard of Rubens, who Belgians are very proud of indeed, the more I became to doubt the basis of the art we see in galleries. Rubens over-eggs his work, not because it's useful, but because that was what the rich wanted. The result is a style so overelaborate and contrived that any talent he might have had is concealed. He was clearly a man who was at home with politics and commerce, and worked the world to his advantage, but there must have been many more talented artists who didn't, and are forgotten today.

Anyway, I carried on down in the direction of the main squares. The cathedral here, which is also in the last shot, is way more impressive than that of Brussels: it soars up, and inside it carries on soaring, with even impressive ceilings. It is of course filled with overdone work by Rubens and his ilk, but never mind.

The main square is impressive, in the same vein as Brussels, but can't qute compete. It has a good try though! Nice fountain too.

I kept heading in the direction of the river, and eventually got there: it's called the Schelde, and it's roughly Thames size, perhaps. Quite impressively big, and the fact that the city is only on one bank makes it more striking still.

There's a maritive museum on the front, housed behind an impressively fairy tale castle.

Anyway, by that time it was getting wet and late, so I hid in an Italian restaraunt for a bit, then took a tram to the hostel. It looked quite good form a distance, lakes around it, and lots of greenery. Appearances can be deceptive, because it's a complete dump. The whole place smells, there's one internet machine, showers are miles from the rooms, and there's only one per sex anyway, dorms are huge, and as for breakfast, it might as well not be there. Bread and jam and cheese and tea basically.

While a lot of the faults are down to the location, so many of them could be solved by better management, very simply. There's no vibrancy at all. I could run it better.

permalink written by  martin_b on June 27, 2007 from Antwerp, Belgium
from the travel blog: 10 days in Belgium
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