We knew it was too good to be true to stick to a 9:30-9:30 schedule with munchkin. Unfortunately a lack of a door in our one bedroom apartment in old town Antwerp doesn't keep the light out, so by 8 the famjam was all awake this morning. We looked up a few things worth seeing in Antwerp and one of the "non tourist"y suggestions was this cafe all the locals hang out in and is really worth a visit. It was a bit of a walk but was near the exotic food market that occurs every saturday, score!
We started walking and basically just kept walking with no directions. Got completely off track but got a nice tour of the city - honestly, I couldn't get the feeling out that if I just close my eyes and relax for a second, when I opened them, I could easily confuse where I was and assume I was in Montreal with the wide streets filled with Michael Kors and Hugo Boss. Antwerp is such a different feel than anything we've been to on this trip so far, and although the old town looks and feels like old Europe, the rest of it is more modern, which together with the busy vibe, definitely comes off as a bit of a Toronto/Montreal mishmash. Considering it's the second largest city in Belgium, it's rather expected.
By now, Munchkin was fast asleep in the stroller. She's gotten so used to it that we can place her in there as soon as she gives us signs that she's tired, and with the black out shade up she's asleep within seconds. So while we sipped the most disappointing cups of iced coffee we've ever had (mental note: if I ever try to order a nitro again, slap me. But not really, just kindly remind me "no"), I had to rock the stroller back and forth. This kid.... the SECOND after I stopped moving the stroller, you hear a squeak from inside. This has happened all day - she KNOWS.
We walked up to the exotic food market and it was everything from Moroccan, Indonesian, middle eastern, all sorts of fish and shellfish, all cheeses and meats, every asian cuisine you can think of, to Belgian waffles. It was HUGE! It took us a good hour to even walk all the rows of carts to scout it all out before deciding what we wanted. There were some omelettes and such carts, but for the most part, a lot of it wasn't what you'd consider standard breakfast foods, including not ONE, but TWO carts serving oysters and champagne at 10am on a Saturday... yeah... that's a thing.
We opted for Belgian waffles because we're pretty embarrassed we've been here for 5 days and have yet to have a Belgian waffle. Shame! We decided we'll have ONE and go from there..... we got in line, couldn't decide which flavour, and ordered one of each (total of 9 flavours). Baby didn't object while we did our little taste testing, she liked them all equally. Except chocolate, she missed out on that one. We did come to the conclusion that as delicious as these were, and the waffle itself is probably pretty up there in comparison, they don't come anywhere near the ones we had in Namur during the Mongol Rally that were dipped in liquid gold. We can both still taste it and automatically salivate when we even think back to it.
We went back to the market to pick up fresh bread, a bunch of cheese, dips, and various antipastos for the following next couple of days. We meandered back to the apartment to drop half of it off and took it upon ourselves to walk out to the Port House in this heat. The Port House used to be a fire station that now has a very modern and artistic new addition plopped right on top of it.
On the way to/from this fancy building, we passed through the equivalent of our Hintonburg, if you will. Up until recently it was a very industrial part of town, being right beside the port and all, but has recently been undergoing some major gentrification and has become one of the top neighbourhoods in the city. Everything is super new, shiny, and hip. Restaurants galore, and no lack of funny inviting signs, each location with cute decor and something to make it stand out from their neighbours. Lots of sculptures and street art scattered everywhere amongst the new condos and old port buildings.
The new Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) building is situated right smack in the middle of this neighbourhood, and is one of the main attractions in the city and it focuses on the history of Antwerp itself. We had actually discussed going to the Antwerp history museum when we were in Ypres since we read somewhere that Antwerp was a huge war site being one of the main ports into Europe. However, we didn't realize THIS was the history museum until wayyyyyy later. We would've 100% gone in, especially considering how hot it was and a break indoors would've been nice, but we were on a mission to find a shaded place to sit and eat our foods.
Baby has been sleeping this entire walk, and I took a peek to make sure all's good and couldn't resist a photo. Once again, it was all a span of maybe 10 seconds to get the photo, and she was wide awake. Game over. Ugh.
Another thing about this city unlike any of the other ones, there's not a speck of lawn by any of the houses or other buildings, everything is stone, brick, and concrete. There were a few streets with trees down the middle of the road, but most of the greenery I noticed was on people's balconies. We eventually made it across the water to a cute little park and with the view of the city skyline, where we enjoyed our meal before we realized we set up the tripod and never took a picture with our amazing spread.
We hung out for quite a while, watched a music video or some sort of ad being filmed a few feet over, packed up, and walked back to the apartment to drop the rest off. Here we decided to go explore a district south of the main downtown core. Another hip neighbourhood with shops and restaurants where we stopped for a drink or two and a bit of a break before making it home and putting Pumpkin to bed.