Antwerpen Adventures

Onward to Antwerp!

After spending a few days with my lovely sister in Frankfurt, we were more than looking forward to meeting the parents, especially Aretha in Antwerp!

We bought the train ticket beforehand, of course we weren’t YOLO enough to buy the ticket on the day itself. The Frankfurt Main Station is called Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof where there are trains that take you across Europe! 

The platform was really easy to find, there were English signs and the staff there is very helpful. You can definitely get a coffee and sandwich at the station as well. Just a reminder that trains are disgustingly on time there so do make sure to be early!

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All aboard!

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It was pretty cool because above every seat was a little screen that showed the destination of the passenger. Initially we were wondering why some didn’t have words displayed on the screen, then we realised it was because those seats had no passengers! LOL it took us a while to figure it out as we didn’t know the train was making multiple stops.

The good part about boarding the train early is that you get your pick of baggage space. Yes, you can take your baggage up with you but the allocated spaces for baggage are only at certain areas in the train. I, for one, like to be close to my baggage so I can watch them (this is the Singaporean in me).

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Us being very afraid to be separated from our baggage hahaha

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Fast forward to Antwerp – we arrived at the Antwerpen-Centraal railway station. Look at the beautiful structure *faints*

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The yard outside our apartment! This is shared among all the units there.

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Growing old together.

This was the lovely back entrance to our apartment which is away from the main street. Perfect place for taking photos!

We rented a two bedroom apartment as Aretha’s apartment had no space to house all of us. But I’m not complaining because our apartment was amazing.

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Perfect for you travelers if you like cooking while on holiday!

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And that’s Judith cooking breakfast. (One of the perks of vacationing with parents heh)

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If you travel with me, you’d know that I am especially particular about the toilets. I mean, it’s a very personal space where you take a shower and what’s the point if you’re trying to clean yourself in a dirty space? Clean and spacious toilets are my favourite hahaha

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All boxes ticked!

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Master Bedroom

This is a two-bedroom apartment so there was a master bedroom for the parents, and another twin bedroom for Val and I.

We always book our apartments on Airbnb as it is definitely a lot cosier and much cheaper than hotels. Although the apartments rarely come with breakfast, this is a good opportunity to either cook a home cooked meal or to eat local food.

On our first day, we went to explore the city area which was a 10 mins walk away. We chanced upon a cafe called Coffeelabs.

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Looks super spacious from outside!

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They serve breakfast food, coffee (duh) as well as mains for the afternoons.

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Coffee to start the day.

Coffee was very creamy and not acidic at all. I love coffee in general. I’m not going to pretend i’m a coffee connoisseur because i’m not, but there are definitely coffees that I like more than others.

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Guacamole on Toast with Tomato Salsa & Salad

My dad ordered the only noodle dish on the menu. It came with egg, cauliflower and chili padi, which he cannot live without. It was not too bad but… it tastes nothing like asian noodles. As you can tell, my dad’s asian roots are very real.

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Happy parents, happy daughter :’)

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Time to dig in!

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This was our view as we were walking back to our apartment in the evening. What I love about european cities is the architecture. The christmas lights were the icing on the cake.

We mainly shopped around where we ate that day and didn’t go too far out of the city because..

WE WERE GOING FACTORY OUTLET THE NEXT DAY!!

We rented a car from Europcar and collected it from the Antwerpen-Centraal railway station the next morning. When we got to the Europcar outlet, they requested for his passport, which he didn’t know he had to bring along! Thankfully I have photos of my family’s passport in my phone from when I was booking tickets for them.

Lesson learnt: It is always wise to have a photo of your ID/passport in your phone so you can whip it out whenever required! Plus you don’t have to worry about losing  your passport.

My dad and the lady serving us were suitably impressed that I had that information on hand. It’s always good to have identification wherever you go to any way as it might come in handy (case in point).

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Road Trip! (Well, kinda..)

The drivers in Antwerp drive on the left side, so it might take a little while for newbies to get used to. But my dad didn’t have a problem because he has been driving for decades, so we were very safe in his hands.

We drove to Maasmechelen Village, which was about 1 hour and 15 mins away from the central station by car.

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Plus I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular. They had the usual brands like Coach, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker etc. They close at 7pm every day so be sure to head there early if you are planning on spending a whole day shopping! Shopping was not too bad, I expected better deals but I managed to bag myself a pair of nike trainers! I paid EUR59 for it so that came up to about SGD100.

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Public benches with blankets – how considerate!

Although I’m not sure I would use those blankets. But if someone was really really cold, I’m sure it would come in handy.

So… daddy loves his selfie stick. And I’ve noticed that this is not very common out of Asia. But he loves it, and he also loves taking family photos.

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Val and I killing time while waiting for dad to prepare his selfie stick (hint: look at the background)

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And Tadaaaaaah! Finally!

We had to return the car at the end of the day, but not before filling up the tank. So dad and I sent the others back to the apartment first with all the shopping so that the whole family did not have to take the train back after we returned the car.

It was quite late when we got to the gas station and we realised that they are not opened 24 hours, unlike in Singapore. However, we were able to make payment by card at the pump.

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“How in the world does this work…?”

Unfortunately, all of our cards didn’t work because we required a PIN (yes, even for credit cards),which obviously we didn’t have because we never need a PIN in Singapore for using a credit card. So in the end, we left the gas station without filling up the tank and decided to return the car with half a tank of petrol and email them the next day explaining the situation. (Eventually they charged us a whole tank on the credit card that we provided upon collecting the car. -.-)

Lesson learnt: Don’t wait till the last minute to fill up the tank especially if it is late at night. At least if we could return it in the morning, there was a higher chance of driving by an opened gas station where we could pay cash. Or… make sure you get the damn PIN for your card before leaving the country.

We finally got back to the apartment in the cold. It was such an adventure – trying to navigate my dad in this foreign country, accidentally told him to make a right turn and we ended up in a bus depot, cutting perpendicularly across a lane and at that moment the traffic light turned red and we were stuck in the car with the next car staring head on into the passenger window.

If you can imagine, the cars were all ——————— | ————

That odd one out? Yep, that us. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully the drivers in Antwerp were patient and we didn’t piss anyone off.

Another highlight of our time in Antwerp was our meaty meal at El Bife

It was recommended by Aretha and WE WERE IN THE MOOD FOR MEAT HOHOHO

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Who’s ready for some meat?

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It is owned by a Belgium – South American couple and their staff come from all over the world. Although it doesn’t look very big from the outside, the restaurant has two storeys and if you’re early you’ll be able to get a table. Closer to 7pm onwards the place will start to fill up! My dad made reservations to double triple confirm that we had a table when we arrived. Typical dad – and I do that sometimes too. Especially if the place is really popular and you’re only in the country for a few days so it’d be such a shame to miss out.

But that’s just me, some of my friends are more chill about these kinds of thing and that’s perfectly okay too.

When you come in the restaurant, the grill is right by the entrance.

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Look how red the meat is YUMS

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Escargots – (Snails – EUR8.00)

After finishing the juicy escargots, we held on to the dish of oil to drizzle over our meat! The oil was so fragrant without being too salty.

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Garnaalkroketten (Shrimp Croquettes – EUR8.50)

We also ordered the prawn croquette. They came as two pieces per serving and were super crunchy on the outside, and the filling was extremely smooth that we didn’t felt like we eating prawn bits. We didn’t want to fill up our stomachs too quickly so we had space to devour our meat!

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Bread and dips were given too. The herbed butter is perfect paired with the meat. (Don’t be impatient, pictures coming right up!)

Now, for the star of the show!

We definitely over ordered. Val and I ordered one T-Bone and one tenderloin to share.

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Ossehaas – filet de boeuf + 250gr

The tenderloin was served on a hot plate and was slightly tougher than the T-Bone. This dish was EUR27 for 250 grams.

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CÔTE À L’OS  Runderribstuk – 1p.+750gr

The T-Bone was served on a wooden board and was MONSTROUS. It was bigger than the size of my face. The T-Bone cost EUR27 which is super worth it judging by the size of the portion! This is heavier not only because there was more meat, but this also takes into consideration the weight of the bone. If you are served 750 grams of meat, you might explode. 

Both had distinctly different tastes but were so yummy. Charred perfectly on the outside and tender on the inside. We struggled to finish all the meat but were overall extremely satisfied with the meal. (We also told ourselves we were going to stay off meat for some time hahaha.)

I like my meat medium rare so if you are like me, remember that if it is served on a hot plate, it will still cook for a little while due to the heat. So I always cut the meat open to assess the doneness before removing the meat from the hot plate.

P.s. they are only opened for dinner from 5pm to 10pm

We told ourselves we would lay off meat for a bit but guess what? We went back there with Aretha, Piet and Piet’s dad the following night. This time we were smarter and didn’t over order.

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(Selfie stick shot again.)

This was by far the best dinner that we had the whole Europe trip! It was value for money, and nothing is better than good food and company.

You can find them @:

Address: El biphenyl High Street 5 2000 Antwerp ( Belgium ) Location

Tel.: 03/226 84 03

Opening Hours: 1700hrs – 2200hrs (Mon – Fri), 1200hrs – whenever (Sat – Sun), closed on Wed

Website: http://www.elbife.be/

You can’t leave Belgium without trying the Belgium Fries that they are so famous for! Luckily for us, there was a really good shop, Frituur n°1, selling nothing but fries just outside out apartment. Best part is that they are opened till 4am every night (except Sundays – 12am).

One thing that I learnt from Aretha about Belgium Fries – what makes them so delicious (and sinful, don’t forget) is that they are double-fried at two different temperatures. This creates different textures in these strips of potatoes, making them extra crispy and golden on the outside but fluffy on the inside.

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Fries for breakfast!

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Look at the amount of fries they have and the boiling pots of oil!

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Decisions, decisions…

Look at the variety of sauces they have! Yums. We were expecting the usual tomato ketchup, chili sauce, mayo but boy, were we wrong.

We had quite a good laugh. We were wondering why the first topping/sauce was EUR3.60 when tomato ketchup was only EUR0.80. Obviously we didn’t understand what “Stoofvlees” was. We asked the cashier and she said it was some sort of meat gravy. Might as well give it a try! We were curious why it cost 4 times more than ketchup.

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Dad plays a very important role in my food photography, clearly.

When the cashier passed us our fries, we nearly fainted. That mountain of goodness was something I’ve never seen before.

Cashier: Do you want the small or the big sized portion?

Us: Big please.

Cashier: What sauce would you like?

Us: Stoofvlees.

Cashier: Would you like mayo as well?

Us: YES.

That’s how we become fat everybody.

You can find them @:

Address: Hoogstraat 1, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium

Tel.: +32 3 232 63 77

Opening Hours: 1100hrs – 0400hrs (Mon – Sat), 1100hrs – 0000hrs (Sun)

To conclude the trip, Aretha and Piet brought us to a park for a walk near her apartment. It was a lovely temperature, cooling and just nice for an outdoor stroll without worrying about being an ice popsicle.

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Orange skies & naked trees

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A new friend was made 😀

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Photoshoot with the production crew & model.

My family is so cooperative I love it. It initially started off as me taking a being-carefree-in-the-forest-during-autumn shot but Val was having some trouble trying to get the leaves high enough so the photograph wouldn’t look lame. Then Piet was such a doll and offered, “Hey, I could throw some leaves! That would add to the effect!” My dad decided he couldn’t miss out on the fun and joined in. Although the photo wouldn’t really make sense if you look carefully. The family had fun nevertheless.

Having family around is like having all your best friends around you, but even better. That photo is a good representation of the people in it. When the sisters attempt to do something, my dad is always around to support us. His backpack contains all the essentials like water, medication and raincoats etc., always prepared for any emergencies. Piet gets along very well with my family and takes good care of Aretha. He always offers to help and go the extra mile, not just for Aretha but for her family as well. And Val – She’s the baby of the family and always not afraid to have a little fun.

Finding someone who treats my sister right, makes Piet family as well.

That’s what family is. We all have different roles and personalities that are worlds apart. But at the end of the day, we are one. Ups and downs, challenges and disagreements but also fuzzy feelings of love and contentment.

Till next time!

<3,
A

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