As planned on Sunday, I went on a short trip to Antwerp. Altogether it was maybe five, maybe six hours’ stay in the city. My original thought was to take the metro from Diamant (location of Antwerp Central railway station) to Grote Markt (the very heart of Antwerp historic city). But somehow, in the plain sun, I decided to walk a bit forward alongside a wide alley that after a couple of hundred meters converted into a spacious walking zone (Meir). Google says that it was altogether 1.6-1.7 km walking distance. Not an effort at all.

Looking at the buildings and the shops beneath, I vaguely recalled this street and my only earlier journey to Antwerp that I made years ago. Yes, I saw this same street on a late autumn evening. I remembered the same big shop windows at the feet of very representative buildings that seemed like small palaces located one close to the other.

Meir, a walking zone in Antwerp with numerous shops located in very representative buildings. More photos to come …

I do not remember with whom I was at that very moment in this street years ago. It was maybe 2004 or maybe 2005. With several fellow transport economists, we mixed work with pleasure. Actually, we came to Antwerp to see the maritime harbor. And indeed, we spent a whole long day observing the port handling operations moving by a coach from one place to another. I still remember a new big marshaling yard our port guide was very proud of.

We stayed full five days in Antwerp. I still recall the kosher hotel somewhere in the city center. I do not recall its location, but I remember it was my first time, and actually, the only one I was so close to Jews living and clothing traditional way. Our room was a very spacious one, studio-like, and besides a bathroom, it also contained a fully equipped kitchen.

Of this trip, I remember yet a short trip to Bruges and how we found ourselves on a boat riding us alongside the water canals in plain rain. The rest of the day we spent sitting in a restaurant barely seeing the city itself. No, it was not pleasuring at all. On the other day, we went to Brussels to visit some EU buildings and talk about the EU transport policy. No, I do not recall which of the numerous Commission buildings this was. But I remember, we ate our lunch in the local cafeteria and that I ordered a chicken. Not that I remember how it tasted. I just finished my basic course in French, and it was my first order ever in this language. Funny what things we remember years after. The evening we spent in the restaurant midst of the Grand Place sitting outdoors.

I was that impressed (and still I am today) of the Brussels Grand Place that as I came back to Brussels years later to a two-day conference, already on the first evening and very tired, I left my company at the hotel and went to see it again. And, the first time as I came to Brussels on the job for a whole week I came already on a Friday evening with an intention to spent an extra day in Bruges (>>>) to finally see what I did not manage to see the first time I was there.

Grand Place of Brussels at its full glance at a late afternoon hour (current view).