A train to nowhere #1: well, Antwerp in the end

One rainy September morning, I received a call from work to say I had the weekend off, which coincided with Sennas weekend off. Without a plan or any direction for our newly discovered weekend together, we decided to go to a cafe for a beer in Utrecht. We never made it there, instead we just caught trains with no idea where we were going. 5 hours later we arrived in the historic city of Antwerp. Sat here writing this now in Quinten Matsijs, the oldest bar in Antwerp, established in an astonishing 1565, our little adventure had its many highs, and one epic low.
We had the plan that we would sleep in the train station to save money and start a continuing blog of sleeping rough around Europe’s train stations. They close. So apart from sleeping on the street until 4.15 am with a stomach full of beer and no toilet, it was also very cold which we had not prepared for as we had no idea where we were going and did not pack appropriately. 

The train station is really quite beautiful, steeped in history with huge roofing and pillared walls. I would have loved to have slept there. There is a cathedral surrounded by bars and eateries, but the best bar, apart from this one of course, is straight outside said station. Bier centraal is found outside along a straight of bars. You exit the main entrance, walk straight forward away from the station, and the bar is on the right. They have a selection of 300 beers at your disposal, like a kid in a candy shop. The bar is quite rustic and the service is friendly and comforting. As my eyes wandered along the pages, I found Delirium nocturnum. Delirium tremens is one of my favorite beers so I decided upon this and a strawberry fruit beer for dessert. Senna took a golden draak. I would not recommend the nocturnum, not too much taste and lacking in any real bitterness, contrary to the description. They have a beer selection plate, four beer tasters to whet your whistle. The selection can be quite overwhelming, but four hours later we were ordering like seasoned professionals.

Play ‘Tonnen’ in the oldest pub in Antwerp
After a nice walk around the cathedral area and through the center, observing all the architecture and taking all the small side streets, we came upon the Quinten Matsijs. This small little bar on a lovely little alleyway is the oldest bar in Antwerp as aforementioned.  Its a quaint little spot with lovely staff and a genuine rustic feel. There is an old wooden table with holes and big steel throwing disks, which, when asked, you are allowed to play. The game is Tonnen, and its really fun whilst you are drinking. I am ashamed to say that Senna won (by pure luck and cheating).
   

We then spent the evening on a windowsill, or until 4 am at least. The morning we had ice cream for breakfast next to the castle. There are many places available to eat and drink around the center, but the best and cheapest places are usually on the outskirts of the historical area that is sign posted around. After breakfast we had to check the trains to move on, and after a few beers around, we returned to the bier centraal as it is a stones throw away from the station. A short stay, a quick trip and a wonderful weekend in Antwerp.

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