Both Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill both said something along the lines of, “Failure to plan is a plan to fail.” Words of wisdom related to travel!
Travel fatigue has set in, but we still wanted to go to Antwerp. We had read that the train station is one of the nicest in the world. So, if nothing else, we could ride the train from Brussels, which is around an hour-long journey, and look around the glorious train station, have lunch and then head back. The weather forecast was for afternoon rain, so we also figured we could walk around town for a bit. The train station is in the heart of the diamond district; the walk to the town square from there is about a mile. The plan was to walk until we got tired of walking, then turn around and go back, finding a place for lunch along the way.
The train ride was not quite as scenic as the one to Bruges but we did pass one interesting looking town, Mechelen. Mechelen is known for its 15th century tower, Sint Romboutskathedraal, which you can climb to get a view of the surrounding area – a mere 500 steps to the top! It is also known as a transfer point for Jews headed to concentration camps.
We had high hopes for the train station but were a bit disappointed. It is well laid out, but compared to the train stations in Germany, not as comprehensive in terms of services offered. I took a few pictures of the interior. As you can see, it is lovely, but somehow, we were expecting more. I guess you can’t believe everything you read on the internet!
Just outside the station, there are multiple jewelry stores. I am sure the business of cutting and selling diamonds takes place elsewhere, but there were certainly plenty of choices if you wanted to buy retail.
Not five minutes after we arrived, it started to pour down rain. This is where my original quote comes into play – we had not come prepared for the weather. Neither of us had either a jacket or umbrella, so decided to take the next train back to Brussels. We are going to Rotterdam next and tentatively plan on returning to Antwerp as a side trip since it is only a short distance away.