Antwerp

Guestblog: Marie-France Vodikulwakidi showing us ‘her’ Antwerp.

 

On a Saturday afternoon, Sien and I met up, and we took a stroll to the places I love in Antwerp.
First and foremost we stopped by Corto, a lunch bar with a homely feeling, where we had a succulent chicken pasta soup.

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Hanging out at the exotic market, in the same neighborhood, we took the opportunity to buy some scrumptious chouchous also called Caramelized Peanuts.

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To stay away from the crush of Antwerp’s main shopping area, the Meir, we’ve passed by the Stadsfeestzaal a neo-classic, very bling bling 20.500 m2 space, housing numerous shops. Always at the same spot, a recognizable group of skilled Israeli salesmen is so good at selling the magical products from the dead sea.

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To avoid the threatening weather, we hopped in the subway which took us to the main train station.

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I used to come to work by train but due to my irregular PR working hours, traveling in my own car ‘bubble’ seemed a much better option to me! This summer during the heatwave (unusual in Belgium, counting approximatively 200 raining days per year) Marilyn and I showed  the city around to a friend.  Antwerp Central station was on top of our list!  This railway cathedral  from the 19th century has been named by the american magazine Newsweek as the fourth most beautiful train station in the WORLD!

1400769_10152045948770837_2048453932_oCopyright Amir Feingold

We went to the same place with Sien to capture the hugeness of the edifice.

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As daylight faded we headed to Lombardenvest ( a posh-er shopping area) where all the christmas lights displayed reminded us that christmas is just  around the corner.

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Marie France

Antwerp · History

The Red Star Line Museum

It’s the 19th century. America’s industries are flourishing, promising Europeans, poor and rich alike, a new world and a better life. With their whole life packed in a few suitcases, millions of people sail to the United States and Canada. For many people, the trip to the New World begins in a warehouse in Antwerp. Red Star Line ocean steamers pave the way to a new life for about two million men, women and children between 1873 and 1934. It is in this warehouse that the Red Star Line Museum opened its doors only some days ago, telling the story of millions of Europeans who were courageous or desperate enough to leave their old life behind and look for a better existence.

 

1. A brief history

The Red Star Line was created as a trade name in 1873, and was co-operation between the International Navigation Company (Philadelphia) and the Company Société Anonyme de Navigation Belgo-Américaine (Antwerp).  A complex of three brick-red buildings faces the Rijnkaai (Rhine landing stage), a section of the docks in the old Antwerp harbor district. For more than sixty years the Red Star Line ocean steamers docked right there.  They took on passengers by the hundreds from all over continental Europe, all pursuing the American Dream.

Belgians, too, were among those who sought a new future on the other side of the ocean. However, Belgians figured only as a small portion of the Red Star Line’s passengers. Belgian emigration to countries outside of Europe was relatively limited. Antwerp was however a particularly popular port of emigration among Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. These people constituted a sizeable proportion of the Red Star Line’s passengers. To take one statistic: of the 2.8 million people to exchange tsarist Russia for the United States between 1899 and 1914, 40% were Jewish. In many cases, these were people of very limited means who were assisted by several Jewish relief organisations in Antwerp. Many Eastern European Jews emigrated because of the socio-economic situation, but also because of the climate of discrimination against them and outbursts of anti-Semitism – the pogroms. One of the more famous passengers of the Red Star Line is the future prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir.

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2. The museum

The former warehouses of the Red Star Line were reopened as a museum on September 28, 2013. The main focus of the museum are the travel stories that could be retrieved through relatives of Red Star Line passengers. Visitors follow in the footsteps of the emigrants. The exhibition shows the different stages of the journey. Eight themes are presented over two floors: a travel agency in Warsaw, a train compartment, the city of Antwerp, the Red Star Line building, the deck of an ocean steamer, the interior of a ship, arrival at Ellis Island, and a new future in the US. The exhibition depicts how the average European emigrant would have experienced his or her journey at the beginning of the 20th century via attractive images, striking scenography and authentic objects. A strong focus is placed on the personal stories of Red Star Line passengers. Six star witnesses are central to the story. Some of them are still alive, for others the well-documented story is told by a descendant. The witnesses include Albert Einstein and Irving Berlin, two icons of the rich Red Star Line history.

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For more information on the Red Star Line Museum visit the website.

Red Star Line Museum

Montevideostraat 3
2000 Antwerp
Belgium
tel. +32 3 298 27 70
redstarline@stad.antwerpen.be

Hotel · Israel · Tel Aviv · Tourism · Travel guide

First visit to Tel Aviv?

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“Shalom” and welcome to Tel Aviv  תֵּל־אָבִיב  تل أبيب-يافا

This is “Marilyn’s-all-you-need-to-know-about-TLV” guide for your first visit:

General

Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel. It has a population of 410,000 of which over 50% are aged between 25 and 45 thus making Tel Aviv one of the youngest cities in the world. The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in central-west Israel, containing 42% of Israel’s population. Tel Aviv was founded by the Jewish community on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa in 1909. Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged into a single municipality in 1950, two years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Tel Aviv’s White City, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, comprises the world’s largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings. Tel Aviv is an economic hub and it is the country’s financial capital. Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai, and is the 31st most expensive city in the world. With 2.5 million international visitors annually, Tel Aviv is the fifth-most-visited city in the Middle East and Africa. It is known as “the city that never sleeps” and a “party capital” due to its thriving nightlife, young atmosphere and famous 24-hour culture. Like they say: “Jerusalem prays, Tel Aviv plays” (more info: WikiPedia)

dsc_3054Practical

When you land at Ben Gurion International Airport – yes there’s free WiFi – please consider the security procedures and be patient: it’s nothing personal and unfortunately in Israel it’s no paranoia but a must to keep us safe. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the English edition of Time out on your way out by the luggage pick-up. To get to Tel Aviv you can either take a taxi that shouldn’t cost more than 150NIS* or the train for about 15NIS (*New Israeli Shekel). Rates for the shekel are: 1EURO=4,7NIS or 1USD=3,6NIS. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the exit of the airport. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking airport escort services and/or vans, buses or other vehicles.

Accommodation

you can book a hotel room varying from a top leading hotel chain to a hostel (our favorite hotel is of course the Brown Hotel and you can get special discounts and upgrades if you book via us) or rent an apartment via AirBNB or Tellavista

Transport

walk, bike (sharing bike service Tel-o-Fun) or drive: taxis are easy to find and not too expensive although they may try to raise the price when they notice you’re a tourist. Renting a car is not too expensive either but makes more sense if you plan to visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea etc. In the city I’d suggest the “monit sherut” which are those little yellow taxibuses (share taxis) ; the main lines are the 4 (Ben Yehuda&Allenby Street) and the 5 (Dizengoff&Rothschild Street). They follow the bus track but they stop wherever you call them to. Cost: 6NIS and the money can be passed on from and to the back through the hands of fellow passengers. Have a look on the map to get a better picture of the city.

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Top neighborhoods

definitely visit the Rothschild area, Neve Tzedek and Jaffa

Food

check out our TOP 5 food post and keep in mind many places are open late night and some even 24/7

Bars & nightlife coming soon

Some Hebrew words

  • שלום shalom hello & goodbye (and peace)
  • מה נשמע ma nishma? how are you?
  • תודה toda thank you
  • בבקשה bevakasha please or there you go
  • סליחה slicha sorry (not as widely used as should be)
  • בסדר beseder ok
  • יאלה yalla very important word yalla yalla yalla meaning let’s go or move it
  • Sababa is probably THE word that will get you everywhere and it mainly depends on how you say it. Literally it means cool but just use it in the tone of your mood. So if you’re happy just say Sababa in a happy way, and if you’re not just say Sababa in sad way and so on.

Climate

Tel Aviv has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with mild rainy winters. Humidity tends to be high year-round due to sea breeze. Girls: this means that from June to October you mostly sweat so just forget about your hairdoe. In winter, average temperatures typically range from 9 °C (48 °F) to 17 °C (63 °F). In summer, average temperatures typically range from 24 °C (75 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Heatwaves are most common during spring, with temperatures as high as 35 °C (95 °F). There are barely any days in the year without sunshine, and even during the winter there are many clear days. 300 days of blue skies!

Excursion Depending on the length of your stay you can of course visit other places in Israel like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Eilat, the North (Galil, Golan, Tiberias, Acco, Haifa) etc. I suggest a day trip combining Jerusalem and the Dead Sea with a rented car or guide with a vehicle. In the North I’m a fan of the Tiberias lake (sweet water) and the beautiful green nature.

about Israel Area: 22,072 km², population: about 7 million inhabitants – 76,1% Jewish; 16,2% Muslim; 2,1% Christian; 1,6% Druze; 3,9% other, official languages: Hebrew and Arabic – though English is widely spoken and more and more French too, date of Establishment: 14th of May 1948, currency = New Israeli Shekel NIS or  ₪

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Antwerp · Architecture · History

Antwerp from both sides.

They say “the river Scheldt (Dutch: Schelde) owes its existence to God, and Antwerp owes its existence to the river Scheldt”. Thanks to this river Antwerp is the 2nd largest harbour in Europe and the 4th in the world. Both the Right (the historical city) as the Left Bank of the Scheldt are unique places to visit. There’s the vivid historical city center, with tons of shops, restaurants and tourist attractions on one side, and there is nature and 20th century nostalgia on the other side. With its Casino’s, the restaurants and even a small beach the Left Bank was indeed a popular place for entertainment.  There’s not much left of those glory days now, but you can still feel the swing of the 60ies and the 70ies when you go for some delicious moules-frites (mussels with fries) on the terrace at Sint Anneke beach, while enjoying the view on the historical city across the river. The Sint-Anna pedestrian tunnel, build in 1932-1933, is a true beauty (if a tunnel can ever be called beautiful) which is definitely worth a visit. Let me just tell you with some pictures I took today what I can’t express with words:

(c) sien josephineAbove: The statue of Pieter Paul Rubens, Antwerp’s most famous painter, keeping an eye on the Groenplaats (historical city)

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Above: view on the guild halls on the Grote Markt (16th Century) (c) sien josephine

Above: detail of the wrought iron gates which used to indicate the line between the docks and the public street (late 19th century) (c) sien josephine

Above: easy Antwerp transportation: these city bikes take you everywhere as long as you dock them in another station within 30 minutes.(c) sien josephine

Above and under: enjoying a nice stroll on the boardwalk along the Scheldt between Antwerp’s North and South side

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Above: time for some nice Belgian fries, while enjoying the view on the Cathedral (under)(c) sien josephine

Under: view on the Left Bank from the boardwalk.(c) sien josephineUnder: the entrance of the Sint Anna pedestrian tunnel (build in 1933)   (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine  Above &under: inside the pedestrian tunnel (the wooden escalators also date back to 1933)(c) sien josephine

Under: inside the pedestrian tunnel: 572 meters long and 31,57 meters underground.(c) sien josephine

Under: the Left Bank in the windows of the Sint Anna pedestrian tunnel exit

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Above & under: view on historical Antwerp from the Left Bank(c) sien josephineUnder: Sint Anneke beach (by (c) Jens Mollenvanger)

(c) Jens Mollenvanger

All pictures are copyright protected 

(c) 2013 Sien Josephine

History · Israel · Tel Aviv

Jaffa, the port(al) to history.

Ever enjoyed a Jaffa orange? Its excellent and sweet taste is known throughout the world. However, not a lot of people know that the oranges are exported from a city with a richer history than the content of Madonna’s bank account. Even fewer people know that partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges are an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite the political tensions. All politics aside, Jaffa’s history left me feeling like i just came out of an unknown bed in which i had a great time: confused and excited.

Jaffa - view from north

According to legend, Japhet (the son of Noah – the patriarch who saves himself, his family and all the world’s animals when God decides to destroy the world because of mankind’s evil deeds), founded Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew). Jaffa has seen rulers from all corners of the world. From archeological discoveries and ancient documents, historians learned that Jaffa existed as a port city some 4.000 years ago. During that time it provided Egyptian and Phoenician sailors. From biblical accounts that mention the trade of cedars from Lebanon for construction of King Solomon’s Temple, to the story of Jonah and the whale, over Greek legends of the beautiful Andromeda and Perseus and the Biblical visions of Apostle Peter, the history of Jaffa seems like a never-ending story. Alexander the Great, Roman legions, Richard the Lion Heart, Muslim sultan Saladin, Napoleon and General Allenby all conquered the city. The port of Jaffa played a huge role in medieval pilgrimage to Jerusalem and in the increased Jewish immigration in the 19th and 20th century. In short: throughout time, people were very attracted to this economic, religious and vibrant place.

By the beginning of the 20th century the population in Jaffa had grown considerably. A group of Jews left Jaffa for the sand dunes to the north and started a settlement outside the congested city. This settlement, known first as Ahuzat Bayit (lit. “Homestead”), grew to be the city of Tel Aviv. The increased immigration also led to tensions between the Ottoman empire and the new arriving population. In the midst of the First World War, believing their military security to be at risk, the Ottoman authorities deported the entire civilian population from Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The Jews were to be resettled in Egypt, Jerusalem and cities in central and north Palestine. They were not allowed to return until after the British conquest of Palestine.

After the British took control of the area, tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations of the city start to become more frequent. This led to a wave of attacks: the Jaffa riots in 1921 (leaving many Jewish residents to flee and resettle in Tel Aviv), the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine (inflicting great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa) and the 1947-1948 attacks (following the 1947 UN Partition Plan). Because of these attacks, thousands of people fled from Jaffa, leaving nothing behind but cats and dogs. Poverty threatened the continuation of Jaffa as a thriving city. In 1968, the Government of Israel and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality decided to establish a corporation for the Development of Old Jaffa. It’s primary task was to avert the total destruction of Old Jaffa’s glorious past.

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Old Jaffa has since become one of Israel’s biggest tourist attractions. The city now consists of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Its narrow alleys are lined with artists’ quarters, art galleries and shops filled with jewelry, archeology (whether real or false is to be contested) and of course, oranges. The sight of the ancient port and the rocks, set against the back drop of the modern city of Tel Aviv, the romantic paths and gardens in Old Jaffa and blue Mediterranean waves nearby, excite all senses. Today the city of Jaffa is more vibrant and cultural than ever, with terms like avant-garde and bohemian chic written all over its streets. It is a home to contemporary theater and art, tons of restaurants, antique stores, souvenir shops and of course the famous flea market. All this resting on Jaffa’s historical heritage which will never disappear.

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UP: All things for the home at One Bedroom יהודה מרגוזה ,12,68136 Tel Aviv-Yafo.(c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine (c) Sien Josephine

History · Israel · Judaism

Jerusalem of Gold

The Italians say: “Vedi Napoli e (poi) muore” or:  when you’ve seen the magnificence of Naples you’ve seen everything, and it’s safe to die. Italians obviously have never been to the Old City of Jerusalem. Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Jerusalem is marked by religion and conflict. During its long history, it has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jerusalem is also a holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The spiritual power of this city is omnipresent. It’s hard not to feel even the littlest emotion stir inside you when you touch the stones of the Western Wall, when you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or when you see the sun touching the golden Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem has been on my “things i absolutely want to see in my life”-list ever since i was a kid. We entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate (inaugurated in 1538!). This gate is named after the port of Jaffa, from which the Prophet Jonah (the guy who got swallowed by a whale) embarked on his sea journey and pilgrims debarked on their trip to the Holy City. For us it was simply because Highway 1, the connection between Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Jerusalem, leads to this entrance. Our “pilgrimage by car” took about an hour an ended in a modern garage. I am very thankful to live in the 21st century and not having to do the whole Jaffa-Jerusalem road by foot, cause when you enter the Old City it’s all little cobbled roads and rocky steps. Not to forget about all the people crawling like little ants in between hundreds of food stands and small souvenir shops selling crosses, menorahs and djellabas. Obviously business is not divided by religion here. If you visit Jerusalem be sure to wear comfortable shoes and be well-rested, for it is a workout if i have ever seen one.

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(c) sien josephine DSC_3687 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephineThe Old city is divided into 4 quarters: the Muslim, the Christian, the Armenian and the Jewish quarter. Because there is a lot to see in the Old city of Jerusalem and we only had a few hours before the start of Shabbat we concentrated on two places of visit. The Christian quarter contains the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (or the Church of the Resurrection). It is said that on this place Jesus was crucified (Golgotha), buried (the Sepulcher) and even resurrected. The Sepulcher can be reached through countless other little churches, all connected to one another by narrow hallways. Without our Israeli friends guiding us through the city we probably would still wander around in this maze of holy stones, scented by heavy incense.

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(c) sien josephineUp: the Stone of Anointing, which tradition claims to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea.DSC_3675 (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine (c) sien josephine

In the Jewish quarter lies the Western Wall or Kotel.  The wall is a remnant of the ancient Temple wall. The Jewish quarter has had a rich history, with a nearly continual Jewish presence since the eighth century BC. The Wall has been subject of many conflicts. According to the legend anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”. A lot of people come to the Western Wall to pray and wail (therefore the wall is also known by its other name: the Wailing Wall). There is also a practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Wall. Fun fact: the Rabbi of the Western Wall receives hundreds of letters every year addressed to “God, Jerusalem“. He folds these letters and places them in the Wall. Twice a year the Rabbi collects the notes left in the Wall and buries them in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

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There’s a famous Jewish song called “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of gold”). The song was written by Naomi Shemer in 1967 and originally described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. A final verse was added after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification, after 19 years of Jordanian occupation. I believe the saying “Jerusalem of Gold” has a wider meaning, that expands to all religions and nationalities who are touched by the presence of this historical and holy place. It’s a place of emotional, monetary and religious richness. Of gold in every meaning of the word. It’s what people have fought over for thousands of years and are still fighting for. This is a place that has conquered my heart and i hope to return to its splendor and greatness lots of times.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv… tell a vibe

Together with about half the world’s population, I wake up excited for one of many morning rituals: coffee. Where? Which? How? With whom? And if you can add something sweet: lamalo (lamalo meaning ‘why not’ in Hebrew).

It’s been over a year since I quit smoking and I’ve developed this          pseudo-need for sweet. I used to not even like chocolate, and  now I feel this urge for sweet taste in the mouth. So my favorite pastry of the moment: chocolate yeast cake. Doesn’t sound as good as it tastes and no it’s not a fungus. In Yiddish it’s called Babka, for all of those with Yiddish skills. Even Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, but it’s not the easiest to bake: http://www.marthastewart.com/312994/chocolate-babka

My favorite Tel Avivi coffee place of the moment is called Ben Ami (www.benami.co.il) and it’s very well located. First of all it’s a two-minute walk from my home. It’s located on a junction of 3 streets: Nahmani Street, Melchett Street and Montefiore Street. What’s in the middle? King Albert Square and yes it is named after our Belgian king that came to visit in the early 20th century. The view from the cafe is on one of Tel Aviv’s finest buildings and it’s called the Pagoda. Built in 1925, it is one of the most typical constructions of the eclectic style, combining oriental and occidental motives. It was originally built for a rich textile negotiator from New York called David Moshe Bloch. The architect, Alexander Levi, originally from Berlin arrived in Palestine in the twenties but went back to Germany in 1927 and died in Auschwitz in 1942. No one really knows if someone is living there, but it’s very well maintained. Rumor has it, it’s owned by a Swedish jewish family that owns Puma.

When wondering what it is that I and so many others like so much about Tel Aviv, there are many answers. How can we describe this vibe to those who never came to visit? To those who don’t get to see this side of Israel in their media? Enter my blog! Tel Aviv gets so many adjectives; it’s young, vibrant, happening, cool, hip, in, hot, fresh but why? Some say it is because it’s the city of contrasts, clashes and paradoxes. The mixture of old versus new. Orthodox versus secular. East versus West. Europe versus USA versus Middle East. Tradition versus innovation. A synagogue versus a gay bar. An old colonial house versus a Philippe Starck tower. It’s this clash that gives the city its surprising and slightly uneven gait.

Let’s keep blogging and unravel the secrets of my dear city. Till later, Marilyn

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