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Friday, July 14, 2017

Day 6 - Antwerp, Belgium

Day 6 - 2nd May 2017

New country today! We underground-ed our way to King's Cross St Pancras to catch our 8.54am train ride to Brussels via Eurostar.
I would like to emphasize that immigration and security checkpoint is quite strict and the queue can be quite long. Mei Chi and I literally ran for our lives right after we passed by immigration to catch our train. We jumped into the first coach of our train that we see, and thank God we did that because the train moved around 1 minute later. If we were to be outside searching for our coach, we would've missed our train! But the bad news was we had to drag our luggages and passed by 15 coaches (that's at least 30 doors!!) before we finally found our seats.

So rushed that we didnt even take any photo of our train. Just a selfie of us in the train after we managed to recover from the exhaustion. lol

We reached Brussels South (Bruxells Midi) Station after 2 hours train ride, but because of time difference, it was already 12pm. We were greeted by bad luck again - rain! We tried to wait for the train to stop so we went to buy the Rail Pass, which is 10 journeys within cities that can be shared between a group of travellers. The pass looked something like the picture below, except that we bought it for 77.
As the train did not stop, we took the Metro to our Airbnb accommodation located in Bourse (Beurs) stop which costs 2.10/person for a single journey ticket.
Another thing to note is most of the ticket machines only accept coins (notes machine spoil or not available), so it is important to have loose change to purchase the tickets.

We reached our Airbnb and met our host. Here's our room that we booked via Airbnb. Pretty small but very cosy!

After a quick change, we immediately headed back to the train station and use the Rail Pass to visit Antwerp. The journey took slightly less than 1 hour via the fast train.
Note: We always asked at the Information Counter which is the fast train we should take, as some trains have more stops and might double the time of traveling.

Upon arriving at Antwerp Central (Antwerpen-Centraale) Railway Station, we were stunned by the beautiful building.
We walked through the door and only to see an even more beautiful architecture behind. 

No wonder it is voted as The Most Romantic Railway Station in the world! <3 font="">

We left the railway station and headed off towards the city. It was a gloomy and drizzling day. We walked the main street and passed by a lot of shops.

But as we walked, we realised the crowd thinned and soon it was a very quiet city. Shops were closed quite early (between 5-6pm). Also, we spotted quite a few armed soldiers holding big guns patrolling the city. Must be due to all the terrorist news and they are there to help ease the crowd. But to MeiChi and me, we felt quite scary actually to be surrounded by them, as though a fire-exchange scene were about to start. I guess we were both just overly paranoid.

Anyway, many of the buildings in Antwerp have the statue of Madonna (not material girl but mother of Jesus) built.  
 There's a horse carriage ride for the rich tourists to visit the town.

On our way to The Cathedral of Our Lady.
Peter Paul Ruben Statue and The Church of Our Lady

In front of the church is the statue of baby and dog covered in a blanket called Nello and Pastrasche, in remembrance of a children's book called 'The Dog of Flanders" where they traveled into Antwerp everyday with their milk cart and it was here in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady that they met with their dramatic end. 
 Restaurants and coffee shops were also either closed or very quiet.

Spotted a random cool carvings on a well.
We finally reached our target which is the main market square of Antwerp - Grote Markt.  

We thought it would be more happening here, but turns out it was very quiet as well. We didn't stay for long, and decided to call it a day and headed back to Brussels.

Spotted this lovely narrow winding lane!

We used another route to find our back to the station. As we walked further away, the Church of Our Lady stands magnificent against the background.

Random bridge.

Finally reached the Antwerp Central (Antwerpen-Centraale) Railway Station and took our train ride back to Brussels.

Overall, we arrived Antwerp quite late in the afternoon, thus we didn't really have time to enjoy the city when everything closes so early! The gloomy and drizzling weather doesn't improve the atmosphere. But, overall, no regrets as the train station itself was too stunning to forget!

*** to be continued.....

Read all about :
Day 1 & 2 in London - here.
Day 3,4 & 5 in London - here.
Day 6 in Antwerp - here.
Day 7 in Brussels - here.
Day 8 in Bruges - here.
Day 8 in Ghent - here.
Day 9 &10 in London - here.

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