Tag Archive: Antwerp

My last visit was in 2003 but that was on official business so it shouldn’t count. In 1986 and 2000, I was there. First as a student, the next as a tourist. Most things remained the same, but for the price of West End tickets. As a newbie watching musicals for the first time, I was very lucky to be there when Les Miserables first showed some 3 months before my arrival in 1986. With my student discount, it was a steal watching it and quite frankly, I was beyond awed. I’ve never seen the likes of it till then. I’ve watched it several times since, both in West End and Broadway, and even back in my home country. This Cameron Mackintosh was my new hero. Fast forward 2019. Ticket prices have spiralled. Lowest-priced musicals still hovered from £30 upwards. Some at £200 and up. And I mean really upwards. If you’re aiming to watch only one or 2, sure you can splurge. But not if you’re meaning to watch more. And so, rather than stay longer in London, we moved to stay nearly a week in Amsterdam and then another week in Brussels before heading back to London and onwards for 8 nights in Bath and The Cotswolds. We made many day trips from our chosen city base using trains, buses and vans. This is our Trip Summary from May 19 to June 12, 2019.




Day Trip from London: Stonehenge




DayTrips from Amsterdam


Zaanse Schans

Volendam & Marken

Delft & The Hague



Day Trips from Brussels




Back to UK


The Cotswolds

Day Trip to Cardiff, Wales

The Gems of Antwerp

Over 80% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through Antwerp. Belgium’s 2nd biggest city has everything to do with the ladies’ best friends — from cutting to polishing to trading right within the city’s “Diamond Quarter” spanning one square mile. But we didn’t come here for the precious gems. We came here to check out the gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp — a house of worship as well as a museum housing Rubens’ artworks.



Judging by the many falafel food stalls we found here, there seems to be a big community of Jewish residents likely working in the diamond industry. It’s a big city and there were throngs of tourists offloaded from tourist coaches at the time we visited. Our tour guide Jasmine gave us some fascinating stories about Antwerp, including the residents’ aversion to the French language. Her advice? Speak Dutch if you can, English if you can’t. Never French. Don’t ask me why.


But if you’re going to Antwerp and have very limited time, you can skip the port area and just devote an hour or so in the Cathedral to admire the Rubens masterpieces hanging inside along with those of other Flemish painters. And if you still have some spare time and still hungry for more, try the Rubenshuis. This is the former Flemish townhouse, studio and workshop of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp. The artist was laid to rest in another church in Antwerp though , the Saint James Church. His “Our Lady Surrounded by the Saints” adorn the altar in this church.

Not just a triptych but all of 5 panels. Rubens have 3 major works here: “The Elevation of the Cross”, “Descent from the Cross” and “Assumption of Virgin Mary”. In his lifetime, Rubens reputedly kept going back to these subjects for his artwork. Smaller versions are to be found in the Louvre and in the Art Gallery of Ontario. No wonder Napoleon brought these art pieces back to France, only to return the loot in 1815. They have since remained here in the Church of Our Lady of Antwerp, where they belong. The REAL GEMS OF ANTWERP. Who needs diamonds?