Day two of our camper van trip in Belgium and we had not learned from our mistakes in Bruges (mainly having to book a hotel despite our house on wheels), once again heading off into the wilderness without doing any research or booking a campsite.
Putting our blind trust in Google we arrived at a site on the outskirts of Antwerp – once again we had come across a facility free field! However this time there was an actual human being in charge who helpfully directed us to another site. Across the river and a few U-Turns later we had managed to get into a campsite with a toilet (and to my delight lots of fluffy doggies)!!
Camping De Molen was located across the river from the main city so we took a stroll along the river side which was filled with cute little parks.
Feeling like happy kids we grabbed an ice cream before heading into the tunnel under the river.
About 5 mins into the white tiled tunnel I wished I had a bike to speed things up.
After about 15 mins we emerged up a wooden escalator to a square with a basket ball court, Harley Davidsons, bars, a pizza cat and some nudey gnomes. This little area reminded me of parts of soho in New York and I was automatically in love.
Starving after walking in circles we stopped of at Thé Atro, a cute and colourful tea bar. Sitting outside sharing homemade hearty vegetarian food and sipping on hand-picked tea I was already hugely impressed by this modern city.
Feeling completely refreshed, we took our standard approach of looking at a map: completely ignoring and wandering, which on this occasion worked out. Antwerp’s winding streets were not only packed with history but also colour and artwork. This time I’m going to let the pictures do the talking.
If all this wasn’t impressive enough the shopping was also something to write home about with a great mixture of designer, street wear and independents. My favourite was Fish ‘n’ Chips and not just because of the name. This shop was covered in street art, had an awesome selection of brands, crazy displays, a photographic exhibition, hot staff and was selling alcoholic drinks on the way in. It was like shopping in a laid back East London bar.
Shopped out we headed to K. Zeppos for a beer. This narrow bar was a packed both inside and out but we managed to squeeze inside where I could peek into the kitchen. Though the food looked and smelled incredible we decided to continue exploring since we only had one day.
All of the wonderful eateries we had seen during the day seemed to have disappeared and we walked in circles for a while until we stumbled across Gringos Cantina – a tiny and hugely popular Mexican. We waited for a table for around half an hour, which was short compared to the people that kept piling in after us.
We were the only tourists in the house which, to me, is always a great sign.
The cocktails and food were both untraditional yet amazing. There was pineapple in my quesadilla, unexpected but awesome just like this little gem of a restaurant.
After an incredible day we walked back under the river to our lovely little home for the night. Antwerp is now one of my favourite cities in Europe, with a great balance of traditional character and independent spirit.