Friday the 5th of June
Finally the restful morning I needed! By the time I woke up, room service was knocking at the door so I made my way to the gym. For the first time this vacation, I don’t have much to document. Rather I can summarise my morning’s escapades in one word: shopping. Many years ago, the Meir was home to resident rich people. The tall and ornately decorated buildings have since been renovated and repurposed into trendy retail stores selling high quality clothes from brands such as Zara, Esprit and even Massimo Dutti. I spent my morning sifting through the clothes racks of almost every store and found my luck in Pull and Bear: a stylish pair of jeans! The style is substantially different in Europe than what I am used to. The weather requires for warmer and thereby more conservative clothing all year round, hence crop tops are an unusual sight. The style is much more classy and delicate as is typical of European fashion.
I was delighted when Cedric let me know he would be able to take some time out of his busy study schedule to take me on a tour around Antwerp. He said he doesn’t usually get anything done on a Friday evening anyway so would much rather get some drinks with me. He met me in the lobby of my hotel after school that afternoon and we went to his usual bar on the edge of the Groenplaats called De Kroeg. It was extremely popular with the youths due to its prime position and cheap beer. He played a very good tour guide taking me from the hangout by the edge of the quay to the Stadt Feestzaal that is today used as a shopping centre. Although I was tired, I wanted to continue touring around Antwerp till the following morning!
The city of Antwerp and the legacy of its name is a folklore tale that is taught consistently from generation to generation. As this is an aural tale I cannot guarantee its accuracy and will say there is likely a better documentation online but I will do my best to remember the details as told to me long ago and as discussed with Cedric. It stems from the early days of historically rich Belgium as its renowned ports were still being established. At the quay, the Giant would stand, his large hand held out to collect a passing tax as ships entered to dock. One day, the sailor Brabo was annoyed with having to give up his earnings so challenged his oppressor. He cut off the Giant’s hand and threw it as far as he could manage thereby freeing the city and earning its name. Today a statue of Brabo stands in the centre of the Grote Markt and the hand can be found where it fell in the city.