I think part of my actual soul was left in Antwerp this last October when I visited there. I showed up with very little idea of what to do, like I think I had one coffee shop and one leather shop I wanted to go to, but that’s it. Some how it became my favorite stop on my small run through Belgium and the Netherlands.
My boyfriend and I used BlaBlaCar to get from Brussels to Antwerp. We were dropped off near the outside of the city, then winded our way to the inner city to drop our bags off at the Airbnb we rented. I initially panicked when we started walking because my phone was dead, his phone was dead, and all we had to help us plan anything was the Antwerp USE-IT map.
While we wandered around we found an amazing leather shop, record stores, vintage book shops, and of course we spent some time in a coffee shop! So the first one we went to was an Illy coffee shop. We were basically there because we were so tired. Getting to the Blablacar was an ordeal, then we got dropped off on the edge on the city and had to walk in for miles. We first stopped at a really beautiful park, and the after almost falling asleep dragged ourselves to the closest coffee shop. The Illy one was nice, very clean and almost reminded me on a hotel. I had my eye on another cafe though.
It was called CoffeeLabs. I had a Maplecino (a cinnamon and maple cappuccino), there was a plant wall, a very impressive and fresh menu, and a very cool aesthetic. When it’s warm out there is ROOFTOP access. Everything was perfect, I swear I just wanted to move in. Please please please go check out their menu, even just the coffee menu and you’ll want to spend your whole day there. It was here that I think I started to believe this was The City, the coolest one. There was a group of girls sitting near me at a table and everything about them just screamed “effortless cool girl chic” and I remember writing in a journal OMG I NEED TO WEAR WHITE SNEAKERS RIGHT NOW. As we are returning to the part of the year I saw that group of cool girls last, I am completely going to try to replicate their outfits.
What else is there to do in Antwerpen? Drink beer. Drink beer and drink local beer and drink kind of local beer from the town over. And drink more beer. So John and I drank beer. It was great, this was definitely a city of carb overload as we had a lot of frites as well. There are fries and mayo on every corner- how can you resist. Also, I need to get to the bottom of this: Why is the mayonnaise in Belgium better than the mayonnaise in the United States? I have no idea why it is/why it would be, but it just is. Can someone answer this for me?? Please??
John and I mainly wandered around, using the USE-it map as our guide. we have two and a half days here. We went and saw a movie, which was really interesting. It was in French with subtitles. The trip had put so much pressure on us to DO DO DO, but I feel like in Antwerp we just lived like we would normally, and I think that’s part of the key way to fall in love with a city. When you can see yourself doing errands in a city and enjoying it, take note of it. That means something.
Anyway, lets take a step back from life advice from a twenty-two year old, and talk about another guide I used. I love catching up with the youth of a city (wow what an old person thing to say?) but I feel like TripAdvisor gives you what 40 year olds enjoyed. USE-it maps gives you really places and local things to see, but I found a guide that takes the local grittiness one step further. Shitty Antwerp. A hilarious guide that has actually grown a lot on a year. But if you’re looking for a wilder time in Antwerp I’d suggest this guide for you!
Man, I could honestly go on forever about this city. Since I know I’ll go back someday, and fingers crossed it someday really soon, I’ll hold off on gabbing on about my wistful memories. Please let me know what you love about Antwerp.