Thursday, June 9, 2011

Antwerp With Kids - Part II

In Antwerp With Kids - Part I, I recommended visiting the train station, the zoo, Grote Markt, and Sint-Anneke beach, and mentioned the fabulous french fries and street waffles found everywhere in this metropolitan seaport city in Belgium.  Well, there is another delicacy found on every corner in Antwerp.  Belgian chocolate.  World-famous, gourmet, sweet, rich chocolate.  Leonidas, Godiva, Neuhaus, Marcolini, and Guylian have shops all over town.  Jean Neuhaus opened Belgium's first chocolate shop in Brussels in 1857 (which still exists) and his grandson is credited with inventing the praline in 1912 when he filled an empty chocolate shell with sweet substances.  You absolutely must pick up a praline or two or five with your kids while in Antwerp.

Choosing Belgian pralines at Neuhaus in Antwerp.

Het Steen (The Stone)
The word "stone" in this case is used in place of fortress, or castle, and a cuter little fairytale castle you never did see.  Unlike most castles in Europe, Het Steen doesn't sit up on a hillside or charge admission.  It sits in between a boulevard and the River Scheldt and is open to visitors.  Wander into the courtyard and ramparts and imagine medieval life at the time this structure was built in the year 1200.

Stadspark (City Park)
This triangular-shaped park in Antwerp's city center is 35 acres of lawns, ponds, and walking trails and includes a large children's playground.  Most kids, including me as a child, like to climb all over this world war memorial at the park.

It's easy to get around Antwerp since most everything is within walking distance, but there are convenient trams, or streetcars, in town as well.  Many of the lines stop at the Groenplaats, a prominent square in the historic city center.  The square is bordered mainly with terraced cafés and it's a nice place to stop for a drink or a snack.  It is my 99 year old grandmother's favorite place to people-watch in Antwerp.  From the Groenplaats there are great views of Antwerp's Cathedral of Our Lady.  Evenings are lively at the Groenplaats.  As my husband and I sat there at a café with some friends one evening last summer, my son and daughter were corralled into an impromptu soccer game with some local kids in the square.  It went on for at least an hour.  Those are the kind of experiences I treasure the most about traveling.

Peter Paul Rubens in the center of Groenplaats square.

See also:  Antwerp with Kids - Part I.

1 comment:

  1. That is the best part about traveling! Getting "dragged" into something with the locals :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...