Only a short drive away, Antwerp was on our list because supposedly Jon’s ancestors hailed from the port city. Known as the diamond capital of the world, we weren’t sure what to expect from this northern Belgian city.
With thousands of diamond stores packed into the small district surrounding the beautiful train station, we opted to stay in the heart of old town. Surprised by the charming cobbled streets and brightly painted buildings, we spent our weekend exploring all Antwerp had to offer including specialty beer stores, waffle vendors and a large central cathedral. We posed in front of the city’s first stone fortress, Het Steen, and watched as a the spring festival marched through the city square. Floats, musicians and traditional dancing passed by to inspire mother nature to bring a good growing season and successful harvest.
We couldn’t miss a tour at the iconic De Konnick Brewery a little outside of town. Interactive and engaging, the brewery tour and tasting was full of Belgium history and references to “The Hand”, an old merchant sign that indicated he was required to pay toll which is now the symbol of Antwerp.
Of course we had to check out the local delicacy…lots of Belgian mussels! We also picked up some delicious chocolate to snack on the way home. Antwerp surprised us, in a good way!