travelogues for... Belgium

Antwerp #3

The sun came out for us on our last day in Antwerp.

It was also Antwerpen Day or something of that sort. Everywhere we turned, buildings were decorated with the letter A, and the Grote Markt was full of tents selling soup, beer, and of course Belgian fries. There were bunches of red balloons about, statues donned red scarves and people were milling all about wearing one red glove.

Curious. We thought.

Later we learned why.

The legend goes that a giant named Antigoon used to patrol the waters outside of Antwerp, charging a toll to all sailors and tradesmen who wanted to pass through.

If someone could not pay the tax, it was said that he would chop off one of the poor soul’s hands and toss it into the water.

Until one fateful day, when a young hero named Brabo triumphantly slain the giant, cut off his hand, and threw it into the river Scheldt.

In Dutch, hand is combined with wearpen, to throw. Hence the name Antwerpen.

After learning of the folklore behind Antwerp’s name, we wandered over to the flea market.

Despite the sparsely occupied market, it was rich with beautifully preserved vintage wares.

Including one item, that I broke down and bought–a final souvenir from Belgium.

But, oh, how I longed to take a few of those worn leather trunks home with me.

For lunch, we ducked into a tiny cafe and warmed up with two bowls of soup.

As evening crept in, it was time to catch our train back to Germany, and back to Heidelberg.

Antwerp #2

Antwerp #1

A Nighttime Stroll

Along the canals…

In medieval Gent, Belgium.

Stephen Jones Retrospective

In Antwerp, at the MoMu, we saw an excellent exhibit of the English milliner, Stephen Jones.

Hats have always been a fascination for me. And I own several.

Though not as many as my husband.

We both enjoyed the whimsy and theatricality of the exhibit. Not just the hats, but the way they were presented–on oversized pale lavender hat boxes perfectly replicated to match the boxes used by Stephen Jones Millinery today.

Some cleverly stacked to project videos of various fashion collections off their white tops.

The show is separated into four major themes: Adventure, Science, Rococo, and Glamour. With many sub-themes in equally interesting names like flying,  spotlight, blossom, volume, shangri-la, contrast, home, north, and artifice. As retrospectives go, there was an incredible amount of work spanning decades.

Stephen Jones is an extraordinary talent.

It’s no wonder so many fashion designers employ him for their collections.

My favorite hat, which is perhaps an odd choice, is the silver turban (above), with a POW!-shaped eye patch to go with it. I feel like it would be such fun to wear to a party. Though I can’t say I’d have the courage to don it for anything other than a costumed affair.

Another favorite of mine is the French Onion Soup (above, left)

Some of the hats are quite literal.

But all are clearly well-crafted, and undeniably fun to view.

I hear it is a traveling exhibit, so if comes to your area, I highly recommend taking a look.

Gent in Three Days… #4

Belgium in Black & White

Taken over the course of four days in Antwerp and Gent.