Saturday, April 1, 2023

A Bit of Antwerp

The weather has been mixed here, with rain yesterday and today.

We walked around the Old Town Thursday with no particular destination in mind. We also learned to our own satisfaction (although some would no doubt debate it - ) that there is no Flemish language or dialect. The language is Dutch, with variations in words and accents from the Dutch of the Netherlands. It seems analogous to American vs. British English. Certainly the English speakers here in Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium, talk with what we’d describe as a Dutch accent.

We ate lunch at this cozy little restaurant, housed down a back alley.

It was pleasant enough, if not spectacular.

Friday the rain and wind persisted, and we were again happy that we’d bothered to pack two travel umbrellas, saving arguments over who gets to hold it.

We spent a couple of hours in the Museum Plantin-Maretus, a marvelous house.- a mansion actually- that was the home  and business site of a very successful book printer.
There was a lot to see, including the two oldest printing presses still in existence.

There are lots of ups and downs here, very few of which would comply with modern building codes.

One of the friends of Christophe Plantin, the founder, was a fellow named Mercator. Plantin published his maps, as well as the first global atlas, a commercial success.

Plantin and his descendants also made a profitable business printing church-approved Bibles, and illustrated scientific books which were utilized by doctors and scientists into the 19th century. Plantin actually established printing firms in Paris, and also in Leiden, the Dutch home town of Brian’s stepmother. He was clearly a brilliant man and a successful businessman, despite the sometimes tumultuous times in which he lived.

We found it quite fascinating. We weren’t surprised to learn it was the first museum on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Later we went for a late-afternoon meal at La Torre, one of a number of Italian joints in the neighborhood. Again, okay but not memorable.

This morning we’re packing up, checking out, and taking a train to Bruges for the final two nights of this trip before overnighting at Frankfurt Airport prior to our homebound flights.

The forecast is for sunny weather tomorrow, which would allow us to see a bit of Bruges, one of the cities we were set to visit in March 2020, before Covid necessitated a sudden change of plans. We’ll see whether or not we need those umbrellas.

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