1st July is the date in which the rotating six months presidency of the Council of the European Union changes hands from one Member State to another. As it is now Austria's turn, celebrating was a must!
An incredible day in Antwerp – a bustling, beautiful city with one of the world’s biggest ports, lots of amazing culture (and shopping) and a long and international history.
Choosing the top 5 things to do was a real challenge for Yldau and Fabian, but happily they had a very special native guide: former traveller along the Mediterranean route Louis. Each of the top five activities offered a choice of two, and it was on our travellers’ Instagram followers to choose!
But first things first: Louis is super passionate about his work, so there was no question of skipping the Rotonde. A non-profit organisation, the Rotonde is a day centre and a campus where people with mental and physical disabilities can come to learn, experience and create, get work experience, do sports and even live. They also organise holidays abroad! Easy to see why Louis feels so strongly about it. Yldau and Fabian were deeply touched by the love Louis puts into his work there.
Having witnessed Louis at work, it was now time to get into action. First: lunch. Chinese or Jewish? Antwerp’s Chinatown is the only officially designated one in the country. While not nearly as big as, say St Francisco’s, it still packs in everything Chinese culture has to offer. Antwerp’s Jewish community dates from the late 18th century and today counts around 18.000 members. It comprises one of the largest orthodox Haredi communities in the world outside Israel. So, Gefilte Fish of Chinese Noodles? The vote went Chinatown’s way.
Second: Fashion. Choosing a cool second hand clothes shop wasn’t easy, as there are plenty of them in Antwerp. Riot Streetwear won the vote, and the travellers had to choose outfits for each other. What can we say? It was a riot.
Next: best view. Rooftop or across the Scheldt? Rooftop won and came in handy for having a birds-eye’s peek at the next dilemma: which famous industry, shipping or diamonds? It was just a bit of a shame that time was running out, as the rooftop belongs to a fantastic museum, the MAS. If you have more time in Antwerp than our travellers, check it out!
The port won the vote: Antwerp’s is second only to Rotterdam in Europe, so it is huge. No time to explore it all, obviously, but one museum in the old port district caught our travellers’ eyes and made it on the bucket list for next time in Antwerp: The Red Star Line Museum on migration.
The diamond district lost out in the vote but it certainly is worth mentioning that it is the global capital of the diamond trade, boasting no less than four bourses where the precious stones are traded.
After this power-charged exploration, Yldau and, notably, Fabian were relieved to hear that the last choice was between a taste of hot dog or fries. As this is Belgium, after all, it was only fair that de frietjes won. Because they might be called “French fries” but, as every Belgian knows, theirs are the best!