A few months ago I was approached by a gallerist from Antwerp, who asked me if I'd like to do a map of their city, to be exhibited in their space this summer. Being the second largest port in Europe, having a lot of history and a beautiful old town, I was intrigued. Start of January we; my other half and our 3-month-old visited Antwerp. With stroller, warm gloves and hats we ventured out every morning from our Airbnb in the Old City.
On the first day we ascended to the top of MAS and enjoyed the view over Antwerp. Large sun flooded spaces on every floor invite to stay longer and quite a few people seem to use the space to work on their laptops.
After a street-food lunch we walked further north of Eilandje to get a glance of Zaha Hadid's Port House; space craft-like towering above an old fire station, majestically overlooking Kattendijkdok. The reception area featured a photographic map of Antwerp which made me realise how the biggest part of this city is a working port, rather than residential. Looking closer, shipping containers can be made out, neatly aligned like lego blocks.
We walked along the many cobblestone streets, window shopping and admiring brick-stone facades, including a little medieval alley called Vlaeykensgang. We took the tram to Antwerps' De Koninck brewery, and admired art deco buildings of Zurenborg. As our feet got tired we sat down in Pater's Vaetje, a typical 17th Century house, located just next to Our Lady Cathedral to sample tasty trappist beers.
The last morning we crossed the Scheldt river through a long foot tunnel, accessed by art-deco lift and escalators, to be greeted with a view of bland tower blocks and abandoned playgrounds which made the air feel even colder than it was, but the view of Antwerp skyline on the other side made the crossing worth it. One last waffle, a last look at Antwerp Central station dome to wave Antwerp good bye, for now.