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Printing and stuff

Antwerp, Belgium

Think I've already mentioned breakfast. I sat next to an American woman who had checked in at the same time as me.

It quickly came clear this was a very large mistake. She didn't like the hostel. She didn't like Begium or Belgians. She didn't like France. In fact, I'm not entirely sure she liked anyone in Europe. There may be some Americans she liked, but if so the list certainly didn't include an embassy staff who she seemed to think were engaged in some sort of conspiracy against her.

I did try to cheer her up with some positive comments, but I was pissing in the wind. God knows why she was in Europe, maybe she dislikes Americans even more.

Anyway, I eventually dragged mysef away from the nourishing breakfast and the eloquent uplifting conversation, and walked into the South West bit of Antwerp. A nice sunny day, and eventually I found myself at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts.

It's a mix of modern art downstairs (an excellent Belgian biased collection) and old stuff upstairs. While the new stuff was good, the old stuff was typically overblown Rubens and the like. No, I don't know what this represents...but at almost twice life size it's quite imposing!

After a slightly random further walk, very atmospheric though, I reached the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

This for me was one of the unexpected highlights of the whole trip. It's a courtyard house, that was the headquarters of one of the oldest printing houses in the world. And they kept everything. Every book, every receipt, every woodcut, and it seems almost every printing press even.

This place is astonishing, unlike the rebuilding of Rubens house, this is all original, down to the gilt leather covered walls in some rooms. Every room has some new wonders.

Below is the oldest print room in the world, filled with original printing presses, including the two oldest surviving in the world.

I spent a long time here. It's wonderful. Very hidden away though, you'd hardly know it was there from the outside.

After a further wander round the squares in the centre, that was about it. Some cinema in the evening (another wonderful Belgian cinema: I never realised we had such crap cinemas in England.)

permalink written by  martin_b on June 28, 2007 from Antwerp, Belgium
from the travel blog: 10 days in Belgium
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