ANTWERP: Central Station & Café au Lait

September 17, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Antwerp - Central Train Station - Jennifer Mahon, Travel Keeps Me SaneAntwerp - Central Train Station - Jennifer Mahon, Travel Keeps Me Sane


AN AFTERNOON IN ANTWERP


Another city that really wasn't anywhere near the top of my wish list, but hey, I found myself in Belgium for the weekend with a Belgian Rail Pass (10 single journey trips within Belgium for 77 EUR!) and figured, why not?! I expected nothing of this city, but Antwerp somehow managed to snag me in the moment I set foot off the train. 


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE....


ANTWERPEN-CENTRAAL
Most will arrive here via the Central Station (from Brussels, it takes about 35 minutes) - and I have to say, I've never seen a train station as impressive as this one. Even if you're not travelling by train, it's worth it to seek it out and admire from the inside out. The original building was built between 1895 and 1905, and it's no wonder that it also goes by the name Spoorwegkathedraal (Railroad Cathedral) and on Fodor's World's 20 Most Beautiful Train Stations

 

Arriving at Antwerpen-Centraal - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyArriving at Antwerpen-Centraal - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Arriving at Antwerpen-Centraal ​


Stepping off the train, and greeted with this - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyStepping off the train, and greeted with this - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Stepping off the train, and greeted with this


Trying to find the exit, but amazed at this 'cathedral' look - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyTrying to find the exit, but amazed at this 'cathedral' look - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Trying to find the exit, but amazed at this 'cathedral' look


Central Station's domed ceiling - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyCentral Station's domed ceiling - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Central Station's domed ceiling


Outside of Antwerpen-Centraal - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyOutside of Antwerpen-Centraal Outside of Antwerpen-Centraal​ 


Beautiful stone facade of the train station - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyBeautiful stone facade of the train station - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Beautiful stone facade of the train station


Walking away but I can't take my eyes of this building - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyWalking away but I can't take my eyes of this building - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Walking away but I can't take my eyes of this building 



YOU'VE GOTTA SEE....


DE MEIR
I had no idea that Antwerp was not only the Diamond mecca of Europe, but quite the shopping area too. De Meir is Antwerp's shopping zone, the place where you can find pretty much anything. Though most stores are big chain shops, they're all situated in beautiful old buildings and you'll find a few monuments here as well like the Royal Palace, the Osterrieth House and the De Kleine Koning building.

 

GROENPLAATS
One of the largest squares in Old Town Antwerp is the "Green Place" (it used to be a cemetery, hence the name), then a parking lot (what a shame!) but now is a cute square with wonderful views of the Cathedral of Our Lady and surrounded with restaurants and cafés. A great spot for people watching!

 

GROTE MARKT & STADHUIS
The eye-catcher of the Grote Markt (town square) is the Stadhuis (town hall). It's comprised of several majestic buildings and the main one is usually covered with colourful flags - a beautiful sight! In front of the building is the Brabo Fountain - legend has it that this Roman soldier cut off the hand of a giant and threw it away.....and where it landed, Antwerp was built. Any truth to this legend? I think not, but it makes for a good story!

 

HET STEEN
On the banks of the Scheldt River is the Het Steen (literally meaning "The Stone"), a former waterfront castle now converted to be Antwerp's Maritime Museum. Impressive looking from the outside, probably worth a look on the inside (others say so), but we didn't go in - remember we were only in Antwerp for a few hours!

 

Crossing the street to head over to Meir, Belgium's largest shopping avenueCrossing the street to head over to Meir, Belgium's largest shopping avenue Crossing the street to head over to De Meir, Belgium's largest shopping avenue


Impressive buildings everywhere you look - Antwerp, Belgium, Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyImpressive buildings everywhere you look - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Impressive buildings everywhere you look


One of the entrances to Shopping Stadsfeestzaal - Antwerp, Belgium - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyOne of the entrances to Shopping Stadsfeestzaal - Antwerp, Belgium - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography

One of the entrances to Shopping Stadsfeestzaal 


My travel buds are shopping for shoes, and I'm taking pics of lights....! Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyMy travel buds are shopping for shoes, and I'm taking pics of lights....! Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography My travel buds are shopping for shoes, and I'm taking pics of lights....! 


The facade is so detailed on every single store on this street - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyThe facade is so detailed on every single store on this street - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography The facade is so detailed on every single store on this street


Handelsbeurs, an old stock market now closed and the city is wondering what to do with it - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyHandelsbeurs, an old stock market now closed and the city is wondering what to do with it - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Handelsbeurs, an old stock market now closed and the city is wondering what to do with it


On Schoenmarkt, making our way to the cathedral -  Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyOn Schoenmarkt, making our way to the cathedral - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography On Schoenmarkt, making our way to the cathedral


Groenplaats, a cute square that gives you your first glimpse of the cathedral - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyGroenplaats, a cute square that gives you your first glimpse of the cathedral - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Groenplaats, a cute square that gives you your first glimpse of the cathedral


Checking out things at Groenplaats - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyChecking out things at Groenplaats Checking out things at Groenplaats​


Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) - Antwerp, Belgium - Jennifer Mahon Photography, Travel Keeps Me SaneOnze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) viewed from Antwerp's Grote Markt (Great Market Square)


Antwerp Stadhuis (City Hall) - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyAntwerp Stadhuis (City Hall) Antwerp Stadhuis (Town Hall)


Fountain in front of the Stadhuis - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyFountain in front of the Stadhuis Fountain in front of the Stadhuis


Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Another view of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) 


Het Steen (Steen Castle) - Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyHet Steen (Steen Castle) Het Steen (Steen Castle)


Statue of Lange Wapper - a Flemish folkloric giant - Jennifer Mahon Photography, Travel Keeps Me SaneStatue of Lange Wapper - a Flemish folkloric giant Statue of Lange Wapper - a Flemish folkloric giant - in front of the Steen Castle


Walking along the Scheldt River on Jordaenskaai by the fish marketWalking along the Scheldt River on Jordaenskaai by the fish market Walking along the Scheldt River on Jordaenskaai by the fish market


Another cute square - Sint-PaulusplaatsAnother cute square - Sint-Paulusplaats Another cute square - Sint-Paulusplaats


Doors at Sint-PaulusparochieDoors at Sint-Paulusparochie Doors at Sint-Paulusparochie


Walking down Lange Doornikstraat because we hear musicWalking down Lange Doornikstraat because we hear music Walking down Lange Doornikstraat because we hear music


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE....


CAFÉ AU LAIT STREETPARTY
We kind of stumbled upon this, and so glad that we did. Café au Lait holds this streetparty once a year (every July) and we just happened to be there that day. At first it was mostly house music, so we thought "oh cool" and continued to make our way through the drinking and dancing crowd. But then, the DJ starts playing reggae - like dancehall shit that you only hear in Jamaica and for some reason it's blasting through speakers in this little alley in Antwerp. How could we not stop and join in the party?

 

And we come across thisAnd we come across this And we come across this


Still not quite sure what kind of event we've stumbled upon Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyStill not quite sure what kind of event we've stumbled upon Still not quite sure what kind of event we've stumbled upon


But there's quite a few people gathered in the streetBut there's quite a few people gathered in the street But there's quite a few people gathered in the street


Everyone is drinking, eating or dancingEveryone is drinking, eating or dancing Everyone is drinking, eating or dancing


Guess I'll join in!Guess I'll join in! Guess I'll join in!


Drinking and dancing in the street at 2 o'clock in the afternoonDrinking and dancing in the street at 2 o'clock in the afternoon Drinking and dancing in the street at 2 o'clock in the afternoon


Time to try some local streetfood Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyTime to try some local streetfood Time to try some local streetfood


Cheers-ing with strangersCheers-ing with strangers Cheers-ing with strangers


Love the vibe here!  Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyLove the vibe here! Love the vibe here!


Time to head back to the train stationTime to head back to the train station Time to start heading back to the train station


But maybe we need to grab something sweet first Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyBut maybe we need to grab something sweet first But maybe we need to grab something sweet first


Like a freshly made Belgian waffle Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyLike a freshly made Belgian waffle Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography Like a freshly made Belgian waffle


A waffle 'sandwich' Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyA waffle 'sandwich' ..... A waffle 'sandwich' .....


Filled with Nutella!Filled with Nutella! Filled with Nutella!


And another, topped with goodnessAnd another, topped with goodness And another, topped with goodness


Back on the train to Brussels.... Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon PhotographyBack on the train to Brussels....Glad to have put the Belgian Rail Pass to good use! Back on the train to Brussels....Glad to have put the Belgian Rail Pass to good use!


Photos taken | written by JENNIFER MAHON


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