Monday, 16 August 2010


A local saying is "The Scheldt river owes its existence to God, and Antwerp owes it existence to the Scheldt river".  Antwerp is the second largest harbour in Europe despite being about 60km from the North Sea because the river is so large that sea going vessels can sail into the vast port area.

Mary sent this card in 2004 when her husband was working in Brussels and they stayed here and visited "the lovely old city which had great food and beer", it was "easy and cheap to get around" and also "visited the diamond centre" for her birthday present.  I think I will have to try that one. 

I have only visited Antwerp by accident.  We were travelling back to catch a ferry from Holland and hit the ring road round Antwerp and the navigator, OK it was me, got confused by the exit letters so ended up driving into the city.  Now those views on the postcard look so calm and traffic free however not in reality. Despite the fact we were just looking for the sign for 'out' I found the narrow cobbled streets with small cafes and bicycles swooping over the road rather intriguing and the whole city was evocative of its trading past with people in exotic dress and the buzz of city life, including cars honking their horns at us as we slowed down. Eventually we found our way out, the driver with his foot down and over the lanes of traffic.  We will return at some time but I think by train.

What did we miss from this postcard, well all of it. The horse drawn carriages going past the Guild-houses, the trams in front of the 14th century Cathedral of Our Lady, the tallest building in Antwerp and home to four of Rubens paintings (he is buried in Antwerp in St James church), the zoo founded in 1843 and one of the oldest in the world.  Although I would not have visited the zoo as I prefer animals to be in the wild however they do have a reputation for conservation and research.

The card was sent with the 2004 definitive stamp of Albert II
Beautifully clear postmark, nice to see we are not the only country to have rather boring royal stamps.    

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