Antwerp. Between Brussels and Rotterdam. Not that far from Milan but close enough to always say “one day…” without booking my trip.
That day came last March, when I received a call from Jasper, the editor-in-chief of This is Antwerp, inviting me to be part of D.A.T.E. – Discover Antwerp Through Experience – together with some other creatives from Europe. Ending our journey with an exhibition of six of them. Great illustrators, smart people and now friends, after a week together.
DAY 1 – I took an early morning flight with Brussel Airlines from Linate Airport to Brussels. From the airport there is a train to Amsterdam that stops at Antwerp Central Station.
The lovely Astrid was there waiting for me. A quick stop at the Hotel and then we rode our bikes to join the crew. I was so tired for the first two hours, I had no idea how to match names and faces. Sorry guys!
We had lunch at Coffeelabs and, after that, an incredible workshop with Stoffel and An from Kastaar print workshop.
20 minutes for a rapid shower and then off for dinner at Native, a small restaurant using local ingredients to create a really good dinner. Truly recommended.
DAY 2 – Wake up call – literally! – at 8am. A bike tour courtesy of Cyclant to explore and discover the architecture in Antwerp, including the newly opened Harbor House, designed by Zaha Hadid.
Lunch at Brel. Oh mamma, I still dream of their ravioli. Too good to spend time to photograph them!
When you are in Belgium, ça va sans dire, the keyword is beer. A tour inside the local brewery De Koninck was the best way to spend the afternoon before taking a deserved nap.
Moroccan dinner at Bizanaat. Then some sleep. Or maybe beer?
DAY 3- This was my solo day. After spending the morning with all the other guys, I decided to take some time for myself, exploring the city on my own and discovering some of the best coffee shops in town.
Normo – Really nice location and staff. Their main business is coffee but I’d like them to serve some iced tea without sugar during summer.
CaffèNation – YES! Coffee is really good, and I’m glad I’ve found a place in Milan selling their beans.
St. Vincent – This is the place. It’s a clothing store with a coffee corner inside. It’s so beautiful and cinematographic you can’t resist any single detail.
Kaffeenini – “Do you have any iced tea without sugar?” “Yes, we have strawberry tea” Finally! 🙂 One of that plus a bread pudding with mixed seeds as a refreshment after walking in the heat the entire day.
Dinner was in the beautiful place you can see below: Fosbury and Sons. The location where Josè, Marianna, Dennis, Alessandra, Siggi and Sarah exhibited their works last June.
DAY 4 – A relaxing day before the opening of the exhibition. I walk around the city, visiting the Graanmarkt 13 store, but I’ll try the restaurant for lunch next time I visit Antwerp.
A quick snack at Frites Ateliers, a Belgian fries shop opened by Sergio Herman. His restaurant The Jane is another reason I want to go back soon, being sure to book a table in advance.
DAY 5 – The last day in Antwerp deserves a single blog post all for itself.
Nadia, my travel companion for that day, kindly drove me to a place in the countryside. A mysteriousp place. It’s all about Alex Vervoordt. A really great discovery!