"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Monday, November 02, 2009


We got very wet at The Hague yesterday, but today Antwerp was dry and bright.

This was a holiday (because All Saints fell on Sunday)--and on Mondays nearly all museums are closed in this part of the world. But I don't think the Diamond Museum ever closes, and that's where we began.

There were displays of historic diamonds and interesting stories connected with them, and information on the entire diamond trade, from the properties of diamonds to the mining of them and cutting and polishing and sorting and selling and marketing and jewellery-making. We watched a diamond polisher at work (the ones he was polishing were for industrial use, in oil drills.) I talked to him about old cuts and rose cuts. He said when he got into the trade there were 30-40,000 workers, now more like 300 or 400. Big, big multi-carat stones are in demand, 4 carats to 40. But 80% of all diamonds pass through Antwerp at some stage of their development.

From the museum we walked the main shopping street. In a department store I found the hand-mitt flannels/washcloths that I like so much and bought a couple to match our master bath towels.

Talk to the hand.

We're in Belgium, and that means Chocolate everywhere. We stopped in the Leonidas shop and each purchased something to lift our blood sugar levels. I chose some of the chocolate rolls below, with raspberry marzipan in the middle.

Chocolates and other sweets are works of art here. Here's a sampling from shop windows.

Chocolate marzipan hedgehog.

Autumn theme: leaves and nuts and Halloween ghosties.

Pink marzipan pigs (every shop had some variation of these.)

Fruit sweets.

This sweet dog was minding the flower shop.

A study in colours.

A study in black and white.

In the Grote Markt, sunshine on the facades.

Old-fashioned transport.

The tops of the buildings are ornate and wonderfully adorned.

St. George, after skewering the dragon.

More rooftops.

Decoration on the well across from the Cathedral.

A different view.

The cathedral dominates the skyline, and one hears the chimes regularly, they play every quarter hour. We spent hours in their vicinity so heard them ring all the changes. Several times.

Looking up.

It's difficult to fit the whole building into the frame but I did fairly well.

Some distance away from the Cathedral I found it reflected in this ballet poster.

Another view, this from the viewing bridge.

Statue on the bridge.

River Schelde.

The castle is a seafaring museum.

The building in the middle is the Vlees Huis (Meat House), which belonged to the butchers' guild. Its brickwork resembling streaky bacon.

This shop offers 260 types Belgian beer. I'm mostly interested in one type--framboise.

For dinner we ordered the traditional moules et frites (mussels and fries). One of us tried the local Antwerp few. The other had Belle Vue Framboise.

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