The morning began with a scenic landing in the beautiful city of Antwerp, one of Europe’s biggest ports. The city’s medieval heritage struck us right away as groups embarked on the first of the day’s walking tours. The 13th century fortress of Het Steen greeted us off the ship. We continued over cobbled streets towards the historic centre. The Gothic tower of the Church of Our Lady was never out of sight as it towered over the rooflines. Morning tours took us to the imposing façade of the Central Station, constructed under King Leopold II, before we finished at the Plantin-Moretus Museum. Here, we were lucky enough to see a rare copy of the 36-line Gutenberg Bible from the 15th century. In the afternoon, we ventured once again into the heart of Antwerp. This time, the destination was the cathedral itself. The façade almost shimmered with Gothic stone carvings – it was difficult to tear our eyes away long enough to walk in the door! Inside, however, we were further captivated by three monumental panel paintings by Flemish Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens. Our guide gave us a quick, on-the-spot lecture on the history of painting to better demonstrate Rubens’ mastery of the medium. It goes without saying, the Baroque masterpieces alone would have been worth the trip to Antwerp! Back on the ship, we were treated to a beer tasting by beer sommelier Hans. After three healthy servings of beer with a delicious variety of flavours, the ship was a merry place to be on a sunny evening! Luckily, this merriment was to continue into the night as ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar had arranged for the MANdolinMAN, a fabulously energetic mandolin quartet, to play on board. Spirits were high as we sailed out of Antwerp. We will not soon leave behind the impression left upon us by the diamond of Belgium’s coast.
- Daily Expedition Reports
- 11 Jun 2023
Antwerp, Belgium, 6/11/2023, National Geographic Explorer
- Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
- Europe & British Isles
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