In 2016, my year kicked off in Spain. In 2017, I was in the Netherlands. I wanted to begin this year somewhere new and Belgium seemed like a good choice, so I decided to begin my “new year” in Antwerp.
The last time I was in Antwerp was nearly 30 years ago. I was travelling by train from Calais to Amsterdam and had to change trains in Antwerp. As far as I can remember, I never stepped out of the station, but I remember it as being a very beautiful building. On Saturday, I arrived in Antwerp by bus, and the bus stop was only a stone’s throw away from the train station, so I went inside for a coffee. My memory had not let me down. It’s a lovely station. It’s also rather unusual because it has four different levels and the platforms are stacked on top of each other.
The train station isn’t the only beautiful building in Antwerp. The city is full of them and, as I walked from the station to the Grote Markt, I saw a lot of interesting statues and architecture.
The Antwerp Christmas markets were also still open in several areas of the city, so there was plenty to see and do, including a light display on the wall of the Stad House in the Grote Markt. The theme appeared to be diamonds, but that’s not surprising bearing in mind the fact that Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world. I never knew that before I arrived, but it certainly explains why there are so many shop windows displaying so much sparkle on the other side of the glass.
The new year celebrations in Antwerp kicked off for real at 11 pm on Sunday night with a free music concert beside the river. I don’t know the name of the group but they were extremely good and when they finished at 12.00, the Antwerp fireworks began to light up the night sky and continued to do so for about 20 minutes. It was excellent, so I guess I picked a good spot to be at the start of 2018.