The Streets of Antwerp

Waking up in Ghent is an experience in itself. Our room at the B&B we were staying in, was only a couple of floors up, however the night before, I had purposefully left the curtains of the two large windows open, so as to be able to see the sun rising over the medieval streets. I say ‘we’, but I really mean me. The bf started grumbling as soon as the first shaft of light hit the pillow, so I had to get up and close the curtains, however (and this had been my intent all along) I took the opportunity to take a couple of photos before going back to bed.

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The cobbled streets were silent and deserted. As I watched the alley across our room, an early-bird (possibly a baker judging from his overalls) locked his house behind him, got on his bike and pedalled off to work. Cars, of course, are not permitted within the small historic streets of Ghent. Only bikes. And boats of course. Did I mention the fact that Ghent is full of canals? Like Bruges, some actually call it the Venice of Northern Europe!

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More of that later. After another short nap, I heard the landlady tapping at our bedroom door, signalling that she had left our breakfast tray outside. As I opened the door, the scent of newly-baked bread almost made me swoon (she later told me that she went expressly for it at the baker’s at around 5.30am each day – blessed lady!). There were pots of jam, some delicatessen items, hot milk, eggs (we could prepare them on our small stove in the kitchenette as we preferred), etc… I must say it was one of the best breakfasts I ever ate. Obviously compounded by the peaceful medieval view from the breakfast table! As we ate, we planned our day, which we were going to spend in Antwerp.

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Antwerp, another Flemish medieval city in Belgium, is actually a port city, and its port is one of the largest in the world, ranking second in Europe. Its origins date back even before the 14th century. It has a large number of historical landmarks, not to mention cultural ones, since the artworks created by its famous 17th century school of painting (not to mention other arts such as weaving), were sought after throughout the world. Unfortunately, we knew we would be unable to visit as many of the places we were interested in as we would have liked, since we only had one day to spend in Antwerp, however we fully intended to try our very best.

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After taking the train from Ghent to Antwerp, while leaving the train station, I was immediately enchanted by the beautiful flowering streets of this sweet city. Colorful flowers and plants flourishing in the warm spring sun, decorated every corner, as people from every imaginable country, ethnicity and nationality thronged the pavements. Shops sporting popular brands abounded, however to be honest I was more drawn to the tall medieval gothic-style buildings which majestically reared their sculptured facades right next to them! It seemed like there was so much to see! Everywhere I looked, the past sat right next to the present, and the mad cacophony of everyday life vied with the dreamy awe galloping through my senses.

Suddenly, incredibly, I heard a burst of classical music. It was a grand piano! Yes, right there in the middle of the street! A street-artist had somehow transported his enormous polished piano amidst all the flowers, gothic palaces and grand stores, and was playing a sonata as though his heart would break. Tourists, locals, and passers-by thronged around him clicking away madly at their cameras and mobile phones. Talk about live street-art!

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And we hadn’t even visited any of the places on our itinerary yet!

… more to come in a later entry!

P.S All photos are originals, taken by me on site.

 

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Another Joke presented by… THE MALTESE GOVERNMENT!! *sigh*

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This is hilarious, seriously, the Maltese government, no matter which political party is manning the post, is a total joke. I admit, they have their good moments, like finally opening up their eyes and realizing we now live in the 21st century and finally bring us to step with the rest of the world by ‘introducing’ divorce (yes divorce in Malta only became legal a couple of years ago), making same-sex marriages legal (last year), and providing a choice for children who wish to take another subject at school instead of one which promotes only the Christian religion, under the misleading title ‘religion’ (this is still in process).

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However, every silver lining is to be found in the middle of a very dense and smokey cloud… metaphorically speaking.

The latest joke is this – apparently a certain study showed that more of half of the over-70s in Malta are suffering from high blood pressure (most old people do – unfortunately it’s one of the ‘perks’ of getting old). One of the reasons for high-blood pressure is also a salty diet, that is, eating salty food.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150303/local/health-authorities-to-discuss-salt-content-reduction-in-maltese-bread.558236

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Since the problem is that middle-aged and senior citizens seem to disregard the fact that due to body changes which happen later in life, one’s physical synapses and metabolism change, and that therefore one cannot continue to eat the same foods one ate during one’s youth with impunity, the obvious solution here would be to educate the masses. Maybe provide free classes or other information in order to make people aware of the importance of a balanced diet.

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BUT NO – The Maltese government, in a funny twist of mind-numbing and mind-bending trapeze-scrambling, has decided that since old people eat a lot of bread, and this is ‘salty’, new laws stating that the percentage of salt used in dough should be written, in order for the bread one buys in shops to be ‘more healthy’… seriously… WTF?

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I love Maltese bread. It’s fresh and crunchy and really different from the bread I bought while I was in other countries lik Britain, Ireland, France and even Italy. There is no bread like Maltese bread – PLEASE LEAVE IT AS IT IS! THIS IS PURE STUPIDITY!!

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What’s wrong with you people??

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