Hannah here: We set off on our month long Europe adventure on Sunday after a chaos filled week of moving all of our belongings into storage, camping our at Dave's sisters place, and also packing for our trip. Our DFDS ferry set off on a beautiful glassy sea, leaving Dover (and moving house stress) far behind. We devoured fresh croissants, giggled like excited school children, and sat captivated by the gently rolling view of sea, sky, sea, more sea, a little cloud (etc) out of the front windows of the boat. From Calais; Antwerp- our first destination- was only a couple of hours drive which went smoothly, with a chant of “drive on the right. The right. The right” every 30 seconds or so.
Our Airbnb loft in Antwerp was incredible. Its owners run a circus school in the building so drama and colour abound; from the double height ceilings, to the plush red velvet chairs and the huge chandelier, and the enormous mosaic and rows of cinema chairs in the entrance hall.
Antwerp itself is also pretty cool, but the cool takes a little digging out. It strikes us as friendly and accommodating, small and exceptionally culturally diverse, although that might have been the area we were staying in.
Some snaps. (/a billion snaps)
Things we learnt in Antwerp.
The cool kids go to CaffeNation, which services excellent coffee.
Caffe Internazionale is also really cool and serves enormous salads and pastrami confections. (as are Instagram recommendations, thank you Kateclarklond)
Caffe Mattic has a certain bohemian, 70's vibe about it, at the bottom of Kammenstraat- a cool street we spent a bit of time exploring. (although coffee not as good as CaffeNation). Cafe lovers? Us?
Last minute, desperate shout outs for cool places to go on social media channels is in fact a very respectable way of exploring a new city you've done no research about (due to moving house the week before)
Head to the Fashion museum for an exhibition which is more like sculpture or installation art, than fashion (which your toddler may find very boring). Again, thanks to facebook friend Lizzie.
Antwerp is all up on colourful, pretty gender neutral kids shops. Refreshing.
Coffee tends to be served on cute little wooden trays, always with a little sweet treat on the side (heart shaped waffle, iced gems etc) I definitely did not squeal with delight each time.
The photography museum’s very wide variety of exhibitions is brilliant, as is the old fashioned Photo Booth in the foyer (child like photobooth behaviour optional)
Don’t go to Antwerp between Sunday-Wednesday. Lots of things will be closed, including the street you were most looking forward to visit (Kloosterstraat- vintage heaven). Sob, sob.
Moisquito’s are evil in Antwerp. Even indoors.
Think Twice vintage shop is pretty brilliant and cheap, too.
Fien’s loft in Antwerp is possibly one of the coolest places you could stay.
Fiens loft in Antwerp is also sort of a toddler death trap but it's manageable if you don’t mind occasionally wrecked nerves and vocal chords. "Not the staaairrs!”
The Time Circus floating vegetable garden and farm at the bottom of a crane near MAS is possibly one of the coolest places you'll ever set foot on.
It's really hard to drive in the centre of town. Darting on and off tram lines when you're not entirely sure if you're driving on the right side of the road is a little... exhilarating, shall we say.
Its residents are strangely conservative about road crossing. Green. Man. Is. God.
Its residents are also exceedingly friendly and helpful. Thank you, kind people of Antwerp for helping us to navigate ticket machines, tram stops, and unintelligible requests for "the vintage bit?"
Up next: Amsterdam, baby.
P.S- So, I was totally on telly the other night. Scary/Exciting.
Thank you, you've all been totally lovely.