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CITYTRIP | a small guide to antwerp

Eating, dining, wining, I won't dare to call myself an expert on Antwerp, but I did have a nice stroll along the Schelde this weekend.

Our not-so-good experience with a sushiplace made us stay-in the other night and enjoy some tapas from the nearby supermarket. I asked around for some nice restaurants and the following names came up multiple times... 't Lastig Portret (Blindestraat 1) houses art students and serves fresh, simple food for fine prices. Café Berlin (Kleine Markt 1) is perfectly located in the Southern Area, across the psychedelic and youthful Kavka (Oudaan 14) venue and a two-minutes walk from the Fashion Museum.

I can strongly recommend Norma (Minderbroersrui 30) for your daily sip of coffee. Barista Jens burns his own coffee while surrounded by mohawks, grannies and housewifes. Broer Bretel (Nassaustraat 7) is a homebase in the far North area, best accessible by (rented) bike (try the Central Station). Enjoy an espresso and take a stroll along the docks to spot some of the old sailor tattoos.

The Meir is the easiest way to fulfill your needs. All the big chainstores are located around this broad path, which leads you into the old city centre. Much more interesting are the stores in the Nationalestraat with CLOSED, Renaissance, Labels inc. and (my personal favourite) AllSaints. Copyright (Nationalestraat 28a) is full of books and magazines of the local fashion institute, great for wandering. The small China Town (Van Wesenbekestraat) is brilliant for horrible statues of cats and the weirdest snacks in town. And also don't miss out on the recordstores which are all centered around the Lange Koepoortstraat.

We stayed over in designhotel Sir Plantin (Plantin en Moretuslei 136-140) were the breakfast is expensive (€15 per person) but the beds incredible. It is a nice experience to wake up under the argus-eyed portrait of a historical Belgian painter. The hotel is just a five-minute walk away from the Central Station, though, there are probably hotels that are closer to the city centre and have a nicer staff.

Antwerp has so many opportunities to enjoy your night! We booked tickets for a New Years Eve in Café d'Anvers (Verversrui 15), not knowing it was in the heart of the prostitute district... The old church with its industrial outside and minimal music does guarantee some sore feet after a night of dancing. SCHELD'APEN (d'Herbouvillekaai 36) is a mixture of crazy art and brilliant musicians, but quite off centre and best when its summer. De Muze (Melkmarkt 10) has hippie hair and free jazz music every day. You'll find more live music in Crossroads (Paardenmarkt 115) and Kid's Rhythm 'n' Blues Kaffee (Grote Markt 50).

Now it's time for the real experts to give me some golden tips for my next visit. What do you enjoy most in Antwerp?

ph / Martha Stewart, afterdrk, Café d'Anvers

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