Day 6 started on a bit of a finicky note and continued throughout the day as little Munchkin was teething so bad and was beyond miserable. Fever, diarrhea, cheeks so red it beat my wine flush, and while Tooth #5 is a bump in the gum and just barely visible, Tooth #4 is practically emerging. You can even see the line in the bump :( That said, the entire lower gum looks like a slalom field as of this afternoon, so looks like a few others also want to make an appearance, but I think we have a bit of time on those- just hopefully not in time for the wedding. This brought our day to an earlier end than we anticipated, but we still got a fair bit in.
After getting some banana into our squirrel, who somehow managed to stuff the whole thing in her cheeks for safe keeping, we got ready and hit the road. First thing's first, we needed waffles.
Current waffle ranking:
Food market waffles: 3 Beyonces. No regrets, delicious, and could eat them all day long, however was missing a dip of melted chocolate. It's only a 3 relative to the memory of the waffles we had in Namur in 2017.
Bakery waffles: 4 Beyonces. The waffle itself was super super delicious and almost reminded us of Namur, although much denser, and as mouth watering as it was with the melted nutella on it, it almost deserves 5 Beyonces. But it's still no Namur drowning in the melted Belgian chocolate.
We made our way back down to the train station from yesterday. I'm not entirely sure why we walked all the way there yesterday but didn't actually walk the extra 200m to check it out. Wow. Was it ever grandiose. Built in 1905, it was pretty extravagant. Antwerp is actually one of the largest ports in the world, second in Europe, and is one of the fashion capitals of the world, at one point competing with London, Milan, etc. Not sure how this city was never on my radar and I hadn't even really heard of it, but apparently it's kind of a big deal, starting with its train station.
The Grand Station is also the entry point to the Diamond District. 84% of the world's diamonds come through Antwerp with a turnover of 54 billion dollars. It's mainly a Jewish neighbourhood and every other shop is a top hat store or a kosher bakery. The amount of jewelry stores side by side boggled my mind as to how anyone actually makes money with the insane amount of competition. Baby does like shiny things!
Walking down through the district, around the grand station, and down a few curvy roads, we came to the back wall of the zoo. Now, we heard that this little intersection of roads was unofficially nicknamed the Giraffe Square since you could often see a giraffe head peering over the wall. We looked like SUCH tourists clearly wandering up and down the street in hopes of noticing a yellow trunk. I even sat down to feed the baby and pretend we were there for other reasons and then laughed at the other idiot tourists clearly checking their phone to see if they're in the right place. After we were there for far too long, we took a picture of the giraffe pens to acknowledge our efforts and walked back. Maybe a shitty photoshop with a cartoon giraffe is in order.
This is where all hell officially broke loose and baby had enough. She started spazzing her back and screaming so hard we didn't even know what to do aside from up her meds. We started heading back to the Airbnb, but crossing the main square plaza outside our window, there was a giant festival we decided to stop by since we had a few spontaneous minutes of peace. This festival, the Cultuur Markt, seemed to take over every main plaza in the city core with 23 venues. Each venue seemed to focus on an art such as theatre, musicals, comedy, art, etc etc, with performances throughout the day. Luckily as we were walking back, it was almost 2pm and Mamma Mia was on at 2, so of course we stopped to grab a drink and I wandered over to a very disappointing trio karaoke-like ad for the upcoming show. That's when we realized, looking around, the whole thing is a giant advertisement for things happening in the city throughout the year and the gazillion tents all set up with people handing out flyers included all sorts of contests for tickets. Probably would've been a neat event to check out as a local, but unfortunately didn't do much for us since we also had no idea what anyone was saying and leaving the following day.
Anyway, our few moments of peace ended abruptly and we headed back to the room. We hung out here for 2 or so hours to give everyone a chance to recoup, because when I say it was hot outside, it was HOT and wasn't helping to defuse the situation.
We looked up the MAS (Antwerp history museum) we went by yesterday for opening hours (everything seemed closed on sundays! For such a fashion capital and large city, we couldn't get over the fact that most stores were closed on Sunday. We still had 1.5 hours to explore the museum and were pleasantly surprised when we got there and were told it's free to enter since it's Sunday. Not going to lie, we were relieved it was free since it wasn't what we expected. When we heard it was a museum of Antwerp's history, we were looking forward to learning the significance this main port had throughout history including the great wars - considering it was brought up when we were in Ypres.
Apparently "Antwerp's History" focuses mainly on agriculture and the city's food supply, and waste management, shown through a combination of art and historical artifacts. If ever you want to see poop in an airtight bag on display in a museum, come to Antwerp. One of the displays was an untitled piece that was literally a shopping cart in a mountain of sugar.
Clearly they're trying to educate people on healthy, sustainable lifestyles, but when you see a timeline for a city's history where all of World War 2 is summed up as "Second World War; Holocaust, bomb violence" and is treated the same way as the year that a cookie was first made, it really makes you stop and think.
Another floor in the museum was dedicated to the city's history as a port, including a ton of models and artifacts, but our visit was cut short as they were closing the exhibits. Overall, the museum wasn't what we expected, but it was neat to check out nonetheless.
From the 8th floor we climbed up to the 10th and out onto the roof that provided a 360 panoramic view of the city. Mandrake had zero interest in this, however, and wasn’t shy to be vocal about it so I waited inside, hiding from the heat and feeding her.
Finishing up here, we realized there really wasn't much we could do with her at this point and it was time to call it quits. En route home we stopped by the market, grabbed some beers, and headed back home where she got a second wind and all of a sudden got super chummy, crawled all over the place, played with and explored everything she could get her little hands on, climbed furniture and just giggled at everything. She was still running a bit of a fever though so we shoved her in for a bath where she felt infinitely better and played for a little while. We were hoping this would make bedtime easier, alas that didn't last. After a bit of a screaming session though, she was passed out and we were wiped. And with that, comes our conclusion in Antwerp.
Overall, we give Antwerp 3 Beyonces.
We can think of a few people who would really like this city, it just wasn’t necessarily our jam for a number of reasons. Unless you’re into shopping or partying, we found this city didn’t have much to offer in terms of history or views, at least not after having been in Ghent and such. We did find it hard to find things to do (at least, baby friendly stuff) even though we hit most points on “must see” blog posts and although we had a fantastic time this weekend because we will always find a way to have a good time, it didn’t feel unique to this city and won’t necessarily have anything stand out in memory. Which is very rare for us, to be honest. No regrets, it was a great ending to our solo week as we gather our things to go pick up 2 Moozes at the airport in the morning to join our herd.
So long Belgium!