We had a train to catch to Antwerp, Belgium that morning so there wasn't time for a proper Parisian breakfast. I kicked myself for not waking up earlier since it's not everyday you're in Paris with fresh croissants and baguettes at the ready. Andi called Uber for a ride to the train station. We could've taken the Metro, but thought it'd be easier to navigate by car.
We arrived to the train station around Noon and quickly determined which train was ours. We had about 20 minutes until it departed, so we enjoyed a quick breakfast of chocolate croissants in a nearby cafe. Andi ordered a fresh-squeezed orange juice which seem to be popular around Paris. I had an Americano.
The European rail system is so easy, I wish we had something similar in the United States. Within minutes, we boarded the train and found our assigned seats -- two comfortable lounge chairs facing one another with a small table in between. The entire process was simple and painless. Soon, we were on our way to Antwerp, Belgium.
Shortly after the train departed, a train attendant served drinks and lunch to passengers. She gave two options: a chicken dish or something else (?) which I think was vegetarian. Andi chose "chicken" so I picked the other, just so we'd have a sampling of both plates. Whatever mine was, was really tasty!
I love the way Europeans eat dessert with every meal. Our lunches were served with cute individual apple pies. Speaking of desserts, every cup of coffee or espresso came with a piece of chocolate. Andi and I called it "pocket chocolate" because we'd stash it away to eat later (which burned me in the end when I washed our travel clothing and accidentally dried one of those pocket chocolates).
Antwerp is half-way between Paris and Amsterdam by train, and it's also a place Andi's sister and her husband traveled to and recommended, so Andi and I decided to spend 24 hours there during our travels. Antwerp is a bit smaller, about 500,000 people, and claims fame as the diamond capitol of the world. Our biggest plans for our 24-hours in Antwerp were dinner reservations at inVINcible.
The train station in Antwerp was truly magnificent. We walked around there a bit, then wandered across the street to our hotel for the evening. Andi booked us a room at the Radisson Blu since it was in close proximity to the train station and we'd only be in town one night. No pictures, because the hotel and our room were exactly as you'd expect. Very nice! American-style. We typically like to stay in bed + breakfasts or rented apartments but for simplicity sake, this seemed easier. I have to admit, it was a bit of a relief to read signs in the English language since the people of Belgium speak Dutch.
Andi and I chilled in our hotel room for a bit, and then hit the town. It was about 3:30 - 4:00pm, so we walked through a pedestrian mall area just as the sun began to set. Twinkling Christmas lights all around made it feel truly magical. We continued to wander the streets of the old quarter and eventually stopped into a pub for a beer. Neither Andi or I are big fans of beer, but when in
One more stop at a cozy cocktail bar while we waited for our dinner reservation.
We arrived early for our dinner reservations, anxious to start. Andi and I were both hungry since we hadn't eaten much since the train and were now feeling warm and fuzzy since we'd been drinking to kill time.
Lindsay and Kyle recommended we have dinner at this restaurant and it did not disappoint. The restaurant was small with a bar of seats fashioned around the open kitchen. We sat and watched as the chefs prepped food for dinner. Andi ordered mussels for his first course and blood sausage as the second; I ordered the pasta (tossed in a wheel of cheese!) and the halibut. We shared our plates and enjoyed every bite. The food and the experience was wonderful.
For dessert, I ordered cheesecake and Andi ordered an boozy eggnog with a dollup of ice cream in the center. I can't remember the exact name of this dish, but it was delicious. We called it "boozy ice cream."
Tipsy and full, we wandered back to our hotel room and called it an evening. Antwerp is a beautiful, old city and I'm glad we took time to visit here. Tomorrow - Amsterdam!