May 23, 2011

Antwerp revisited...


Antwerp again... This time a little longer though. I was pretty excited to show people around who were not so familiar with the city and also to discover and visit some new places. The thing I like about Antwerp is you can walk almost everywhere and even if you feel lazy sometime the tram system is near perfect bringing you to the most remote streets of the city. It is a pretty good luxurious feel you don't have at every place you visit. There are no excuses not to explore the city.


I have to admit that the number one item on my list was the whisky shop Anverness. I was hearing and reading about this shop for a while and couldn't wait to see it with my own eyes. When the hotel staff told us that we have to wait to check-in for a couple of hours I quickly left my stuff in the luggage room and rushed to Anverness to check out what the fuss all about is. The shop is not in a neighborhood you can accidentally pass by but was pretty close to our hotel. When I walked in Peter De Decker the manager of the shop welcomed us with a great attitude and left us to browse the shop for an hour. I was literally like a kid in the candy store and couldn't keep my calm for a long long time.

The place left me absolutely speechless. They carry a wide range of whiskies all carefully divided by countries of origin and also organized alphabetically by distillery within every section in a precision of a  public library. At the back of the shop there is a separate room they are using for tasting events with a huge table, a bar and a shelf with rare and expensive whiskies. After hours of browsing I simply couldn't decide what to buy but narrowed my list and left. When I came back after a few days I spent another hour there, chat with Peter about his shop and whisky in general and picked finally a beautiful 17yo Bladnoch bottled by Cadenhead. I will talk about this dram more in detail in coming posts. I have to say Anverness is one of the most impressive whisky shops I have seen in continental Europe and a must for every whisky lover visiting Antwerp or Belgium. Even if you are visiting Brussels or another city in Belgium this shop is worth the trip. The biggest highlight of my Antwerp experience was something else though...

Like I mentioned before in this blog M HKA is one of my favorite contemporary museums in Europe and this time they were hosting the breathtaking monumental show "A Syntax of Dependency:" of Liam Gillick and Lawrence Weiner. We walked down there on our second day. The installation was occupying the whole second floor of the museum and was one of the most inspiring large scale artworks I have ever seen in last few years. I am still thinking about it and feel extremely lucky that I had the chance to see it and walk on it. I strongly recommend to take a look at the video I attached below. I hope they will reinstall the project in different places in the future so more people can have the chance to experience it.
Chocolate World was an unexpected stop. We saw it's name somewhere and just looking at it's name we planned our visit immediately dreaming to drown in chocolate. It was kind of disappointing after we realized that the place was actually a chocolate factory and a giant shop selling goods for chocolate industry and professional chocolate makers. It was kind of fun though. Shelves and shelves full of chocolate molds of every possible object you can imagine, industrial kitchenware, sacks of cake sparkles and food colorings, different kinds of cocoa powder, etc. It wasn't what we dreamt of but it was amusing for sure.

In following days I visited Rubinshuis again after years and had great time. Needless to say I had a few good nights in de Vagant tasting new jenevers and paid a short but nice visit to the famous beer mecca of Antwerp, Kulminator

As you will remember from my earlier posts Fiskebar is one of my favorite restaurants in Europe and has just opened a new restaurant/bar space next door to their main location. Luckily I could manage to have two nights to have dinner both in their new place and in their old, main space and had again the most amazing sea food experience. This restaurant simply didn't fail me once since they opened.

I can say that generally I had good time in Antwerp. It was definitely a good start for our long trip. 
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