We sailed out of Amsterdam in the early evening, heading for the Amsterdam Rhine canal, and from there to Antwerp on the River Scheldt. It’s a boring run for the most part, passing green fields, man-made rock walls and hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines. But pretty soon the green fields were replaced with industrial establishments. One had a catalytic cracker, burning off some chemical as it hit the atmosphere, and the penny dropped. These were chemical plants – which makes sense. Bayer and what have you. And the container ships docked at wharves testified to a deep water port.
As usual, there were a few tour options. We decided not to take the trip to Bruges since we’d been there before. A guided tour of Antwerp seemed a bit unnecessary, so we did our own thing, with the help of the electronic “this is where you are, this is what it is” device provided by Scenic. The device has a GPS locator, so it knows where you are. When you’re close to a particular location (eg a cathedral recorded in its database) it pings at you and plays a short explanation of what you’re looking at.
The weather was awesome. Blue skies chequer-boarded by con trails making their own clouds. The heart of Antwerp turned out to be much more interesting than we expected. The church of Our Lady dominated the sky line, with a number of squares around her base, all lined with tourist shops and restaurants.
There’s a public area called the ‘green place’ filled with stalls and pavilions selling nothing but fabric. As usual in European cities, at the first hint of sunshine all the restaurants pulled out their outdoor furniture and lined up the tables and chairs on the pavement.
I spied a GSD puppy and couldn’t resist taking a picture.
On they way back to the ship we came across a large church without queues and decided to take a look inside. It’s St James church. The altar was in typical flamboyant baroque style without being completely over the top, and the stained glass was lovely, as was a wooden carving of Jesus and a couple of fishermen. Sometimes it pays to break away on your own rather than stick to the script. Entry to the church was free – a nice find in these mercenary times. But we enjoyed the experience so much, we left a sizable donation.
Seems we missed out by not going to Bruges. There was a religious festival on, with procession, an event thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.
Join us next time, in Veere.