The newest edition to the Antwerp skyline is this new museum building located between the old docks and Antwerp city center. Museum Aan de Stroom (map), which loosely translates to “museum on the river/flow/current” opens its doors in about 3 weeks to this post (May 17, 2011). The 62m structure is made up of corrugated glass and a computer generated pattern of red sandstone, which twists a quarter turn at each floor, creating a giant spiral staircase, and will tell the story of the city, its harbor and its inhabitants.
I took the train from Brussels to Antwerp, and was absolutely stunned by the recent renovations done to Antwerp Central Station. I had always been meaning to go check it out (like when I was in Belgium over Christmas), but kept putting it off, and now I see I was quite wrong to do so. Newsweek even put it at #4 of world’s greatest train stations, and rightly so!
Original construction began in 1895, and the station had long been a terminus station, meaning that trains arriving on its 6 tracks had to reverse back out (not the smoothest of designs, especially considering the Paris-Amsterdam line runs right past Antwerp). Renovations began back in 1998 (while I was still living there), and the €1.6 billion project was finally finished in 2007. The station now boasts 4 levels… with more terminus tracks and through tracks built underneath the original 6. A massive tunnel was dug out under the city to allow the high-speed trains that service Amsterdam and Paris to also stop at Antwerp CS. The images I took cannot convey the beauty that this station has managed to keep, modernizing a magnificent structure without creating clutter and damaging its original splendour.
ps- the only other station I have been to that made it on Newsweek’s list is New York’s Grand Central (#2), and although yes, the main hall is magnificent, everything else is sheer crap. Antwerp Central Station makes Grand Central look like a bus stop. Visit it if you ever get the chance, they also do tours, which I now will make sure to do next time I’m there.
The day after Christmas took a trip to the Linkeroever (“left bank of the river“), the neighborhood across the river Schelde from Antwerp city center. I’d actually never been here before, also checked out the St. Anna Tunnel opened in 1933 which is a pedestrian/cyclist tunnel. Looking at them blue skies now makes me a little home sick, here in Shanghai its only ever “foggy” (smoggy).
That last picture is of my last meal in Europe, taken at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam. And so concludes my Belgian/Dutch holiday.
My roots lie in Antwerp, but many of my friends live around Brussels… so rain or shine (or snow), there is a lot of driving back and forth. Honestly, there is nothing better than snow on the ground and a rental in your hands. I just thank them lucky stars that my rental car had German plates, as winter tires are mandatory in Germany but not in Belgium.
The snow was amazing, all the years I spent in the Benelux and I’ve never seen such a blanket across the entire country (the south got up to 60cm). I was there for 10 days, and it snowed every other day… truly amazing. First white Christmas since the 60′s, and the most snow since WWII!
One morning I also went for a little hike through the Sonian Forest (Zoniënwoud / Forêt de Soignes) located just south of Brussels, which was simply amazing.