When you travel and you don’t really have a clue what to expect or where to go (or you only have a copy of just another typical travel guide), you can easily get stuck in tourist traps and mainstream shops. But all we really want is to get to know and experience a city like a local. That’s why i thought it was a good idea to share my Treasure Map: some of the shops and bars/restaurants in Antwerp i like to spend time at. Since there are a lot of these places and so little space to write about them in one article, I’ve decided to go all Peter Jackson on my script and turn it into a Travel Trilogy. This is the first part.
A SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN ANTWERP – “No one ever started a successful treasure hunt on an empty stomach!” (I’m pretty sure some pirate somewhere must have said this a long time ago), so let’s start with brunch. I must admit I like to eat a lot of junk and take-away, but my Saturday/Sunday-brunch has to be healthy. That’s why I prefer going to De Biologisch-Dynamische Bakkerij (1). The menu offers organic and vegetarian (sorry meat-freaks) salads, burgers, granola, walnut cake, speculoos, homemade lasagna and everyday another fresh homemade soup. These are but a few things the Biologische Bakkerij has to offer. Want more? Take home one the many sorts of bread (made of sunflower seeds, Tibetan barley, whole-wheat bread, …) or one of the many varieties of artisan cakes.
(1) De Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerij – Volkstraat 17 – 2000 Antwerp
Onward to the shopping streets, even though winter sales are still on display. When I was in University i used to work in a store for years; I must have created an aversion for anything that has to do with the word “Sale”. Still, there are some boutiques in Antwerp that don’t attract sales-crazy people and in which I can look around and try on things without putting my life in danger. At Fresh15 (2) for example, you can find the beautiful brands of Sessun, IRO, Humanoid and on some Saturdays you can also find the beautiful Merrymaker Ruth van Soom in this store. (By the way Fresh15 has another store Fresh34 which you can find across the street from De Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerij.) Another store I like a lot is Step by Step (3). The window filled with barbie-dolls is a real attention grabber, even more so is the range of brands they sell here: Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, Band of Outsiders, Current Eliott, Joseph and (yes thank you Lord) my personal favorite: GGDB sneakers (Golden Goose Deluxe Brand). If you’re looking for something more different, exclusive and most of all graphic, you really should consider visiting concept store The Public Image (4 & 5). Get Glam Rock and Roll on a Skateboard (I can’t find a better way to describe the collection): Your Eyes Lie, Kid Vanilla, MinkPink, Staff By Maff, Actual Pain, Andrea Crews, Pantheone, Blood is the New Black, Jeffrey Campbell shoes and jewelry by Melody Ehsani (to name a few), TPI introduces brands as if it was presenting breakfast. Yes, TPI owner Nele Moens is on a (rock ‘n) roll (or as they say in Antwerp: ‘goe bezig’).
(2) Fresh15 – Lombardenvest 15 – 2000 Antwerp
(3) Step by Step – Lombardenvest 18 – 2000 Antwerp
(4 & 5) The Public Image – Wijngaardstraat 16 – 2000 Antwerp
Legs all tired from shopping? Need some caffeine? Wanna listen to some records while enjoying your coffee? Go to Coffee & Vinyl (6). What’s in a name? Owner Lars Cosemans, never shy for a joke, moved his old record-store (called Vinyl) and added a little coffee bar, so people could sit down, relax and listen to their favorite records. It doesn’t stop there though: the bar is also a gallery. Now on display is art by Frederik Schnieders. Free WiFi, great coffee, cool art and good music. What else?
(6) Coffee & Vinyl – Volkstraat 45 – 2000 Antwerp
For something decorative or something to read i recommend two places! (Studio) Helder (7) offers the most original and practical design. The shop oozes creativity. That’s probably because the team behind this store (an accessories designer and an interior architect who both worked with renowned fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester) use their talent as a platform for presenting their own creations. You can buy a Crying Candle here, which cries tears as the wax burns, or Y-shaped tabletops as a multi-employable base for a coffee table, cabinet legs or even a book shelf. There’s so much to explore in this shop, it’s like a little adventure. If you want to feed your intellectuality some more go to ‘t Stad Leest (8). It’s a huge bookstore which offers you a look inside the favorite books from the owners themselves! Nice personal touch. And open on a Sunday.
(7) Studio Helder – Vrijdagmarkt 13 – 2000 Antwerp(8) t Stad Leest – Steenhouwersvest 16 – 2000 Antwerp
Upcoming things to do in Antwerp:
- January 22nd – January 27th: FOMU BOOKSALE – the Antwerp Museum of Photography is selling it’s stock for ridiculous prices (Waalsekaai 47 – 2000 Antwerp).
- January 24th: N8N PRESENTS THE RUS NERWICH QUARTET at (the bar/restaurant with the most beautiful name) Josephine’s – this is one live show you don’t want to miss. They’ll bring their new live show ‘The Wondering Who’, followed with an aftershow DJ set by N8N remixed. Reserve your tables now or just join in for good music and drinks (Gentplaats 1 – 2000 Antwerp).
- January 26th: DOUBLE TROUBLE X GUS & SENSE X MAGIC at Magic Club – dance the night away on the best dance-classics, brought to you by Gus & Sense (Desguinlei 94 – 2018 Antwerp).
Special thanks to
Ruth Van Soom (just for being you), Brecht Baert (for coffee in golden cups), Nele Moens (also for coffee but most of all for being an inspiration), Lars Cosemans (great apple-pie) and Bart Deweer (for holding his pose while choking on a cookie).
about Food & Drinks. A BYOB-free invitation to Antwerp’s bars and restaurants.
All pictures are under copyright protection
(c) Sien Josephine 2013