Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Antwerpen, Belgium

First, let me share the toilet in Ted's house--I love it! And 'sew' fun for a quilter to have.

My final shot at Ted's before I joined up with my hubby and family and the softball group (only 165 people!). I didn't have a patch cord for my camera (I borrowed one from Ted's husband while there), so I wasn't able to post the rest of my trip. I mean, who wants to look at a blog with no pictures? :) So all of this is a bit dated.

I led a group of 18 to Antwerp for the day. What a nice 1 1/2 hour train ride from Schiedam (near Rotterdam) to Antwerp. I've done this 3 other times, so told people to sit back and relax and they don't need to worry about the stops in between and to get off the train when it completely stops in Centraal Antwerpen station. It's a big, beautiful building with a curved ceiling and awesome stained glass windows. I am SO glad Ted went with me on this trip, because I went to the bathroom and when I came out, she kept saying, Karen-this is it, we need to get off! I said-no, we need to be IN the building! Then I saw the sign that said, Centraal Antwerpen BUT we weren't in the building! I told our group to hurry and get off and thought I'll just have to figure out where we are when we are off the train--but this is NOT what we normally do! So, we all got off in the nick of time (it only stopped for 1 minute). Then we climbed all the stairs to the ground level and THERE I saw the OTHER train that we normally take, sitting at the top of the station, inside! We apparently were on a train that went on to Brussels!

Okay--my day didn't start off well--but it will get better! :) The very first thing you encounter when leaving the station is the Diamond District. How lucky for us, huh? Well, not this year as our dollar is worth so little this time! $1 = 57 cent Euro. Not a good thing--but it's fun to look at windows and windows of diamonds. I took the group to Diamond Land for a brief tour on how they get the diamonds. While they did that, Ted and I did a little other shopping and touring and of course, had to have a freshly baked Belgium Waffle--complete with powdered sugar. Messy, but worth it! I told the group that we were going to be on the hunt for a quilt shop we had heard about. The one I normally go to, Calico House, (no website) was closed because they were moving. We heard this other shop, Lana's Patchwork was only a 20 minute walk from the train station. So, after the group did the diamond tour, 6 joined us for our quilt shop hunt.

ARE WE THERE YET??? one half hour later, we are still walking in the damp, drizzly rain and wondering how much farther we had to go. Well, after 45 minutes, we found it! Lana's Patchwork.

It was a nice shop, and more than just a quilt shop. It had lots of nice yarns and various needlework supplies, as well as American fabrics, (lots of Kaffe Fassett). Bummer--we can get those at home for a MUCH cheaper price! It's a wonder people quilt over in Europe at all. About $25/yard is what they pay for OUR fabric. No wonder they do a lot of handwork and quilting and spend a few years on a quilt. There's no way they could make several a year like some here do.

We ended up taking the tram back to the center of town where we walked along Meir St. (a pedestrian shopping street), and to the old town center. We saw lots of chocolate shops (and bought some for family back home) and lace shops and all kinds of little cute shops. De Kathedral is a gorgeous Catholic church that should not be missed while in this part of town. We headed back to my most favorite restaurant in Antwerp, the Argentinian Beef place, where they have beef shish kabobs that absolutely melt in your mouth. And of course the yummy fries that they have all over Europe! Did you read that we HEADED there? I pointed it out across the street while we were first walking in the city to the group. However, when we got there to actually eat.........................................

it was boarded up!! LOL I may have to give up my tour guide job--I wasn't doing so well! We took a walk around the corner and found a similar place, so not all was lost. We all made it back to the train station in time to head back to the Netherlands--minus a few bucks/euros. :)

1 comment:

Nana's Quilts said...

#1 - The toilet seat is fabulous. Are they real pins in some sort of plastic? Love it!

#2 - Adore that train station, although I understand that it has been under construction for something like 18 years. Will it ever finish?

#3 - Diamonds weren't affordable even 2 years ago. Alas!

I'll be sure that Karen knows of both of these shops - I suspect that she does, especially as her husband Marc is a major Kaffe Fasset fan.

Nana Marne