Road Trip - Second Stop Antwerp



Leaving Amsterdam we headed south to Antwerp, the second stop on our road trip and the diamond capital. Risky business taking your girlfriend of four years if you ask me but hey what do I know? 

It was quite the treat to check out of one hotel and head straight on over to the next. Something I could get used to (damn you restricted annual leave).

I'd never been to Antwerp before so we had plenty to go at for our two nights there. I've put together a few recommendations if you're heading there yourself, nudge nudge wink wink to the ladies who've been in relationships for a little while.

SleepKaai 11
This place is an absolute dream. Beautiful minimalist interiors with super comfy beds and sinks too nice to spit your Listerine into.  Extra points for the panoramic views of the River Shelde which, I should add, can be enjoyed from the comfort of your glass fronted shower room no less. I like to watch the ships pass as I shampoo these days.

Do take note when you book though, we didn't realise we'd booked a studio and not one of the flats that come with fully equipped kitchens and look to die for. Although our studio was amazing it was ever so slightly on the small side. We didn't have a wardrobe which, if you were staying any longer than a couple of nights, might get annoying. (No YOUR suitcase was the size of an average household refrigerator). 




Visit: Grote Markt situated in the heart of the old city quarter. It's a great place to start from with the City Hall and monumental buildings surrounding the Brabo statue and fountain. Although not a huge square you'll find lots of restaurants and bars tucked away on the ground floor of the buildings in this area. The architecture alone makes it worth a visit and it's a great starting part to get your bearings from. 



Visit: MAS In this ten storey high museum you can learn about the city's rich past and take the escalators to the top to enjoy 360 degree amazing views of Antwerp...Even on a cloudy day. With some permanent exhibitions and others temporary, it's worth checking to see if there's anything new and exciting that floats your boat. 
There is a charge for some of the exhibitions but others are free and surprisngly the view from the top is completely free. 




Visit: MoMu Antwerp's Fashion Museum which collects and exhibits Belgian fashion. 'Margiela The Hermès Years' was being exhibited during our visit so a few sneaky iPhone snaps where snaps weren't allowed later, plus a bit of drooling, I'd had my fill of a collection that had "comfort, utmost quality and timelessness as its basic elements."

Sadly the Hermès Years exhibit ends on the 27th August so in the unlikely event that you're reading this and in Antwerp right now...Hurry!!

I have a confession to make. We visited MoMu by accident during a search for FoMu, the museum of photography. Not realising, until I was staring at tailored slacks, that we'd entered and bought tickets for the wrong museum. An easy mistake to make. All was not lost as we did make it to FoMu eventually. I'm happy to report it was worth the walk, plus I'm taking the MoMu detour as a sign from the universe that I need more tailoring in my wardrobe.




Shop: I hadn't expected the shopping in Antwerp to be quite so marvellous as it is. All your usual high street favourites like H&M and Urban Outfitters, plus high end stores like Louis Vuitton and Chanel (if only eh) with a perfect sprinkling of unique boutiques in between. Lots of gorgeous home accessories to browse through and plenty of places to buy jackets for those who haven't packed a jacket (Oliver).

Second confession - I can't find the name of the store pictured below, bad blogger, but little shops like this were dotted all round Antwerp. 


 



Eat: Würst for a quick bite to eat this place is perfect and situated just off the Grote Markt. Serving a more refined and pure version of the Bratwürst you can choose from a 'Dog Monsieur' with soft bun, old beemster ham, würst, ketchup, mustard and pickle. 
Or go for the same as me and try a 'Mexico '86' with corn bread, guacamole, Mexican salad, cilantro, merged würst, sour cream, halapeños and nachos. Sit on the tables outside if the weather's being kind and wash it all down with a glass of red.



Eat: Graanmarkt13 hidden in the basement of this high end concept store you'll find a restaurant serving honest and healthy dishes cooked by chef Seppe Nobel, winner of the "Best Vegetable restaurant 2015 of Flanders" voted by Gault Millau.

A three course dinner menu is changed weekly to incorporate nourishing seasonal produce in a cool and modern environment. In a nutshell this place is heaven. 
To start we had seasonal cabbage with anchovies, celeriac and sepia. Our main course was sole served with three different vegetable preparations. Finally dessert was bread pudding with barley ice cream and chocolate. 
Ok well finally was freshly baked madeleines brought to the table perched on a little recipe to take away, should you fancy a bash at baking your own.

If a restaurants ethos is 'Come hungry, leave happy' you know you're on to a winner.


   


I hope you've enjoyed my top picks from Antwerp. A perfect destination for a city break and somewhere that's on my list to return to some day. I would love to stay in a Kaai 11 flat next time and ahem, make it to the diamond district.

Thanks so much for reading, feel free to comment if you've any Antwerp recs worth sharing. I'm all ears.

Elaine xx

P.S are we friends on Instagram?

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