One of the fantastic things about living in Europe is the proximity to so many things to see and do. Living in Turkey, we were a little removed from that, but we always had to fly through central Europe when traveling back to the U.S., which we did every year thanks to our day jobs.
One year, we were taking an extended layover (just over a week) to visit some sights in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Austria. We weren’t spending much time, enough time, in any one place, but we’ve lived in both Holland and Germany before and we were just revisiting some places and checking out a couple of new things as well. As usual, we rented a car , so we were completely on our own clock.
We flew into Frankfurt, Germany and since it’s such a large city, we checked out how much we can do just using the U-Bahns and S-Bahns (local train/metro system). It’s pretty inexpensive to do a number of cities this way, in fact cheaper than driving. Unfortunately this time around we wouldn’t really be taking advantage of it. Next time, we will.
First stop was Belgium, where we had no intention of spending the night. This was more of a detour on our way to where I used to live, near Uden in the Netherlands. Our main mission in Belgium this time was to go the Plantin-Moretus Hous and Workshop Complex in Antwerp. Antwerp is one of my favorite Belgium cities, and the downtown area is gorgeous with its cathedral, cafes, and ubiquitous buskers.
The Plantin-Moretus house is a museum that was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Christophe Plantin was one of the most important publishers of his time in the 1500s. The museum shows his house and living conditions as well as a full workshop with an entire row of printing equipment, as well as a full library, and plenty artwork on all the walls. One of the funniest things that the tour kept pointing out was the leather walls. Apparently Christophe had a liking for it.
The museum is somewhat overwhelming. It is so chock full of important works, from Gutenberg’s bible to Ruben’s paintings, that it’s difficult to retain it all. The building itself is a great example of the architecture of the time. This is the type of museum that I like going to, someone’s real living and working quarters with the artifacts in situ. Fantastic.
Afterwards, we needed some lunch, so we had a sandwich. I don’t know why Belgian sandwiches are so good. I think they are some of the best in the world. ANd if you find yourself in Antwerp, you should definitely go to Antwich on Paardenmarkt. I had salmon and capers, but really you could have just about anything. So good. Then it was onto Holland, where we didn’t do much else but visit my old stomping grounds (school, house, etc.) and eat. In fact, my next entry will be a restaurant review of my absolute favorite Dutch restaurant, the Pannenkoekenbakker in Volkel.