Susan & Richard's European Adventure 2013 travel blog

Antwerp city center

The legend of Lange Wapper

Paul Rubens Home

St Sebastian by Paul Rubens

Rubens backyard

City of Gent canals

Gravensteen Castle in Gent

Guillotine in the Gravensteen castle

Roses of Gent: jelly filled grape candy

Delft canal

Spent three days exploring Antwerp, Belgium. It has a population of nearly 500,000 but it seemed much smaller as we could easily walk across the entire city center and bicycle around the city using bike paths. Our campground was about two miles from the city center on the other side of the river. To get across the river there was a very long pedestrian and bicycle tunnel that went under the water. The tunnel was built in 1930 and was considered quite an engineering accomplishment. To reach the tunnel we had to take either an elevator that held up to 40 bicyclists or two very long escalators. The escalators were the original ones and the railings and steps were made out of wood. It was kind of cool riding our bikes through the tunnel.

We toured the Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) home and museum. He was a very prolific artist creating over 2500 paintings. He is best known for his religious paintings and for his paintings of robust, round and pleasantly plump women. One of his most famous paintings is that of Adam and Eve in which Eve is glancing wishfully at Adam's fig leaf.

Antwerp is a nice place to sit at outdoor cafes, drink beer made by monks at an abbey and watch the crowds. Fortunately, we had some nice weather so that is exactly what we did. Antwerp is also known as the diamond capital. Around the central train station there must be at least 100 diamond and jewelry stores. Supposedly, the prices are really good but since we don't care about diamonds we don't know if it is true or not.

We also visited the city of Gent and toured the Gravensteen castle. The most interesting part was the torture museum. Thumb screws, guillotines, stretching devices, and neck chains with sharp points were just a few of the tricks used by the ruling class back in the 16th century if you tried to rebel.

We left Antwerp this morning and are now in Delft, Netherlands about 50 miles south of Amsterdam. The trees around the canals are losing their leaves and the streets are quiet as most of the tourists have gone home. We are finding that some of the campgrounds have also closed for the season.

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