Friday, April 27, 2018

A Guide to Antwerp!

The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium
Bonjour, and welcome to Antwerp! Well, to my Antwerp guide but I’m afraid that’s as close as I can get you to the actual place. I think I mentioned a couple of posts back how much I fell in love with the city – I had absolutely no expectations going there and didn’t know anyone who’d been there either who could give me the low-down, but within the first 24 hours I was totally and utterly in love. In fact, make that within two hours. I’ll start with the hotel, because that was our first port of call and played a big part in how deeply I fell for ole Antwerp.

The Hotel
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So, De Witte Lelie. I’d looked at lots of photos before we’d arrived – as you do – so already had a rough idea of what it looked like but was totally unprepared for how lovely it was going to be in real life. As well as its incredible décor – which, seriously, is second to none – it’s one of the most welcoming hotels I’ve ever been in. There are only twelve rooms but there’s no sense of claustrophobia or being kept an eye on, it’s very much like staying with a very laid back host family who just so happen to have the house of dreams. The rooms are gorgeous, some have wooden spiral staircases in the middle of them (I know, amazing) and are quite dark and rustic and cosy whereas others, like the Presidential Suite, are more modern and airy. Breakfast was, much to my delight, heaven. There’s everything from meats and cheeses to pastries and croissants to eggs cooked to order. There are two beautiful lounges in the hotel as well which make for the perfect place to relax and read a book; we actually sat up late one night and had a wee cup of tea by the fire and talked for hours. Honestly, I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it and couldn’t recommend it more as a base for any Antwerp adventures! I, as always, found them through Small Luxury Hotels of The World - truly, you need to get your butt on there if you haven't already if you have a penchant for quirky, beautiful and all round wonderful hotels.

WHAT TO DO
The Little Magpie Antwerp The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium
The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Antwerp The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium
What to do, what to do, what to do. We did a lot of wandering on foot, which is the best way to get to know the city for sure. Going up and down all the little streets, in and out of all the shops, down Vlaeykensgang - a little alley which dates all the way back to 1591 - with many, many cafe stops thrown in along the way. We walked down to the riverfront one day to see Steen castle and, whilst we were there, made a wee stop off at St Anna's Tunnel which goes right under the river to connect the left and right banks of Antwerp and is definitely worth a look, especially for the old wooden escalators - which have been there since it opened - that take you down to it (and take you back in time simultaneously). Of course, no visit is complete without a visit to Grote Markt which is home to the city hall, lots of beautiful traditional 16th century Guildhalls, Brabo Fountain and an ice rink in Winter. Just off of the main square is The Cathedral of Our Lady which dates all the way back to 1352 and has beautiful views across the city. We didn’t get the chance to visit whilst we were these – which I will live to regret – but The Chocolate Line is a chocolate shop that sells every kind of chocolate under the sun and is meant to be up there with the tastiest in Belgium. Ooh - also - make sure and visit Central Station which is a truly breathtaking building! The weather was very much against us when we were there and, although we still had lots to do, I’d really love to go back in the  Summer. One lovely lady told us that the streets are filled with food carts, live music and performances and people sitting outside in the sun drinking; "if you live in Antwerp, there’s no desire to go anywhere else in Summer", which I thought was truly lovely.

WHERE TO EAT
The Little Magpie Antwerp The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium
I have so much food fomo from our time there. Not that I regret anything we did eat, I just wish I had the ability to eat six meals a day instead of three as there were SO many lovely looking restaurants we couldn't squeeze in a visit to. One I will definitely definitely recommend to you is Falafal Tof. We ate there on our first night as it was recommended as being good for gluten free (it is) with me having a falafel salad box and Kirsty having a wrap and oh my god those FALAFELS. I still think about them now. It’s hard to imagine a falafel that’s anything but, well, falafel-y but these were something else. And the wedges, oh those sweet sweet potato wedges, please promise me you’ll get some if you go. So that meal, including drinks and sides, came to a grand total of 15e. Wonderful, huh? We loved it so much that we actually went back the next day for round ii. Right next door is Sultan's Coffee Shop which serves up all my favourite specialty drinks – matcha lattes and turmeric lattes, you know the kind – which I’d been struggling to track down. I know, I’m such a little asshole seeking out a matcha latte but I think I have a slight addiction to those green mugs of goodness. They also do lots of vegan food and cakes there too FYI! Another amazing, and really well priced meal we had was at Super Natural, which is just along the street from De Witte Lelie, and served up lots of delicious Thai and Japanese food - there were a few vegan and gluten free options here too. And Bubble Waffle Cafe! Newly opened and serving up some amazing waffle creations for your pleasure. The Hong Kong bubble waffles are a lot lighter than your usual waffle so you don't feel too naughty/bloated after eating them. We didn’t get to try it ourselves but we’ve also been told Het Gerecht, Meat Factory and Fish A'Gogo are great!

WHERE TO SHOP
The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium The Little Magpie Guide to Antwerp Belgium
And, of course, we shopped. There are SO many amazing independent shops and boutiques that are filled to the brim with unique and verrrry exciting products. You know sometimes once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all? Not here! They were all completely different and just as good as each other, much to the dismay of my already bulging suitcase. I’d recommend a visit to Mme Bovary for unique jewellery, plant pots, gifts and cards (make sure to say hello to the lovely Barbara whilst you’re there), The Other Shop for great books and for cards that are completely different to the usual, IMS for more magazines than you could ever dream of from all around the world and to Monique Stam for interiors. I’m not kidding, I think – big claim – that it’s one of my favourite shops I’ve ever been in, I could easily have spent another hour in there. The décor is out of this world - it’s like walking around someone’s house admiring everything and secretly wishing it was yours, except this time you can actually pick things up and buy them. Believe me, I’ve tried that at friends houses and it’s not as socially acceptable as you'd think. There are a whole number of other great interiors shops – Bazar Bizar and Sissy Boy (which I think might be a chain but does amazing, well-priced interior goodies) are two more worth noting - so make sure to take the time to have a browse around as many as you can, even just to window shop as they put so, so much time and effort and creativity into their displays!

And there we have it, a whistle stop tour to Antwerp! It’s one of the most excited I’ve been about a place in a long time and I honestly can’t wait to go back. I hope this mini guide helps if you ever decide to go there yourself!

Amy

Photos by my wonderful wee Kirsty McLachlan

15 comments:

YZ Chan said...

Great guide! I really enjoyed Antwerp when I was there a few years ago. Your post makes me want to go back!

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Alex L said...

The pictures are so cool it sounds like a nice place to visit !
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Stephanie Lachance said...

Everything about this post is stunning!! And this was also a great guide - even though I probably will never have the opportunity to visit haha!

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Courtney Hardy said...

Antwerp is such a cool city, and there is a lot of sights to see there.
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7SEVENDAYS said...

loving the green on green outfit

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The Gold Lipstick said...

Absolutely love it!

Mireia from TGL
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Teresa Hamilton said...

Love your outfits! You look very gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the post! Hope someday I could visit Antwerp.
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Laura said...

Antwerp looks so cute! I'd love to go one day so I'm definitely saving this guide for future reference!

Also, that hotel looks AMAZING! That interior! <3

Laura // Middle of Adventure

Eloise Alice said...

ahh love this post, so cute and the outfits are so inspiring

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Lisa Autumn said...

Oh this place looks amazing! Need to visit ASAP!

x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

Anna Nuttall said...

OOoh Antwerp look so beautiful. I only ever passed through here and didn't get a chance to walk round. Thst is something I will do next time. xx

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Alexis Ren said...

love this post and your outfit is inspiring.

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Holly Emilia said...

Wow, Antwerp looks incredible and I can't believe I have never considered taking a break away there! It must have been so nice to stay in such a small and stunning hotel, especially when it has a killer breakfast - yum! The shops look heavenly too, can't wait to take a look at some flights now, thanks so much for the inspiration.

Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

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Nice and interesting info


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