We started our morning with breakfast at the market in front of our hotel--we had a bratwurst with fried onions!
Our first stop of the day: The Rubenhuis--the home of Peter Paul Rubens. It is, of course, now a museum.
Just as we approached the ticket office a big tour group got in line in front of us--aarrgghhh!! Neither of us have much patience with big tour groups. Inevitably, the tour leader will "park" their group in front of a painting or exhibit as if they own it and proceed to drone on and on for several minutes. There's no getting around them--but this one was especially large and obnoxious! (OK--rant over!)So we exited the "house" portion of the museum and visited the gardens first--it was nice and peaceful out there.
Ruben's original home:
After we'd given the group time to move on we started our tour. It's a beautiful old home with much of the original furnishing still intact and several of Ruben's paintings are displayed.
Kitchen area with fireplace and, of course, paintings by Ruben:
Salon--notice the embossed and gilded leather walls--they were beautiful:
The wood work in the house was amazing--look at this door!
I couldn't find any information on this spectacular ebony wood chest--but it was just stunning!
Pretty storage cabinet and linen press:
Every room had a very ornate fireplace:
The intricate newel post on the stairway:
Views of the garden area:
After our time in the original part of the house, we moved on to the "new" part of the house, where the was a temporary exhibit called "Rubens in Private. These were several of his later paintings, many of them were of family members
These next three is a series of self portraits.
Peter Paul Rubens and friends:
We enjoyed seeing Ruben's house and the exhibit--at least what we could see of it with the tour groups!
But it was time to leave, so we started out for the area of Our Lady Cathedral, where we were going to catch a tram to the outskirts of town to visit a beautiful neighborhood of Art Nouveau homes. We walked to the area where we thought the tram stop was--but ran into another "roadblock"--several of the tram lines were not running today due to a marathon taking place in the center of Antwerp. Sheeesh! So we consulted our tram map and attempted to follow the line to a stop outside of the core area. We continued to find roadblocks--literally! At just about every intersection, there were barriers with police guards--and no trams running. We walked for over an hour, and for what seemed like miles and miles.
WE GIVE UP! Our feet hurt, we were both irritable and we were definitely tired of wandering around looking for tram line #11. Time for plan B--lunch and a beer!
We found a nice little cafe in a pretty square by a church. We settled in for a long leisurely lunch, enjoying some lovely guitar music and singing by a gentleman nearby. Kind of "James Taylor" like--just wonderful!
We ordered a goat cheese salad and a veggie stir fry to share--both were delicious.
David enjoying his lunch:
Soon we noticed a crowd had gathered, and then we noticed a few policemen. Hmmmm-seems like we have parked ourselves in the middle of a demonstration. For Heaven's Sake!!!
The red and green banner says "stop Islam" and the other big flag had flags of several nations. I felt very offended that our flag was included. Islam is not the problem, Muslims are not the problem--TERRORISTS are the problem!!
David asked one of the policemen about the protest--and he said it was very anti-Muslim--not anti-terrorist. Just sad…….
The crowd was getting larger and soon the speeches and chanting started, so we thought it was a good time to leave.
We had a good laugh about how our day had turned out, and decided to head back to our hotel and rest our weary feet. We relaxed until about 6 when we walked across the square to have a bite of dinner.
We chose a lovely little restaurant, and perused the menu. We each chose the lasagna--maybe we just needed some comfort food?
Sure enough, true to the rest of our day, the lasagna was truly awful--barely edible. We did enjoy the bottle of wine though. The $55 meal tab? We didn't enjoy that at all!
We laughed all the way back across the square to our teeny-tiny hotel room, where we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and packing for our early train to Bruges tomorrow.
I might have said a little prayer to St Christopher. I'm not sure he's listening to me……….
Tomorrow: A train to Bruges, one of our favorite small towns. We are staying just one night, and then we leave for Ghent.