Antwerp is indeed Belgium’s city of historical architecture. This little town is swamped in so much history with beautiful architecture of old buildings. I decided to prolong my stay with extra days visiting a friend in Antwerp and subsequently attend the yearly Vakantiesalon a travel expo after completion of the travel expo in Utrecht, Netherlands. I took some days off in Utrecht after which a friend picked me up for Antwerp.
My friend offered to pick me up from Utrecht and drive me to his house in Antwerp. This worked out well because at this point I did not want a repeat of the train experiences with my luggage. Thankfully it was much lighter because some of the marketing materials had been taken by those interested in travel. The road trip offered me an opportunity to see more of Netherlands outside of Amsterdam and Utrecht. Comparing it to Uganda, the landscape is miles apart when compared to Western Uganda which is all hills and mountains. In Netherlands we drove miles and miles on flat land where you are able to see miles ahead, I was reminded that most of these areas are below sea level as they were reclaimed from the ocean. Another reminder of my geographic classes in high school.
There was no physical border between Netherlands and Belgium where we needed to stop and drive through customs which was of interest to me. Back home, driving from Uganda to Kenya requires several clearances at the border post which usually leads to loss of several hours especially when it involves clearing a vehicle. My friend just mentioned to me that we are not entering Belgium but no major physical feature showed the same. I also learned that in this part of Belgium they speak Flemish which is a dialect of Dutch, something I did not know before. I always thought all people spoke French in Belgium.
I loved Antwerp but I found it a bit more crowded. The roads were generally narrow and hardly any places for cyclists in most of the areas. This I think to an extent explains why the people riding to and from work and school are generally fewer compared to the Netherlands. The old train building and several shopping malls located in old buildings was a highlight for me. I also found the prices for items generally lower compared to Netherlands so I was able shop more here. I took a day trip to Brussels and was glad I did not stay for more than a day. The crowding there was way out of order even for me who comes from Kampala – with its high population. The roads between shopping malls were really narrow, after sightseeing with a nother friend visiting from Denmark, I took a train back ‘home’ to Antwerp. I enjoyed my time here, had another friend meeting up in Antwerp from Gent which was also special for me. Generally it was a good trip my friend and his family were great hosts and I look to visit them again.