Antwerp is one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve been to this bright, vibrant, fun city – that seems to be just the right size – twice before; once in May 2012, and again in July 2013. There’s no better place to sit on a public square, eat a vat of fresh mussels, and indulge in the world’s finest beer. (If you think any other beer is better, then you’ve never been to Belgium.) So I was circumspect about touring the old part of the city on foot in January, when the weather was windy, wet and cold. I began the day with a quick sprint through the bad weather in order to grab some photos at first light in glorious Centraal Station, sometimes cited as the world’s most beautiful railway terminal. I was not disappointed. After our visit to the University of Antwerp, I was equally ambivalent about our arranged walking tour. Again, I was pleasantly surprised: MSCM 398 persevered through the storm, led by our intrepid guide Bea, who did her best to shield us from the elements.
By the end of the day, the storm had broken, and we saw some rays of sunshine fall on the golden clock that graces the tower of the Cathedral of Our Lady. The tour ended at a fabulous chocolate shop, which Bea recommended, and then our group splintered into twos and threes to make our way back to the hotel. It was my pleasure to join Helen and Brianna for a much-needed espresso, and then I made my way solo back to the Hotel Leonardo, and to dinner just half a block away at Bier Central. Don’t let the time of year hold you back: Antwerp is always a great place to visit.