Last week Friday I took a day off work and went for a day trip in Antwerp. I combined a couple of things I love: bringing a friend a visit, going to a museum and tasting food and drinks.
At the MAS
Strolling on the boulevard along De Schelde, MAS is visible. It is a museum about Antwerp and its history, the people, food, art and of course its world-famous port of Antwerpen.
MAS building is a public space. The museum collection is only accessible by showing the entry bracelet. Otherwise visitors are able to just visit the museum and get to the panorama rooftop.
The collection is divided into themes such as: city history, food, people and life and death. The exhibition rooms were poorly lit and I didn’t bring my SLR with me. The pics were taken with iPhone, sorry for the poor quality and lack of light.
First part about history of Antwerp. There are various artifacts shown of the early settlement in Antwerpen. This is an armor found somewhere in the city.
The city history has a lot to do with Belgian and Dutch history in general. For me this is interesting as I reside in The Netherlands. This is the map of Habsburg Netherlands under Spanish reign. Nowadays these region consists of three countries: The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.
Portrait of Willem van Oranje (William the Silent, William of Orange), Dutch monarchy ancestor. He led Dutch revolt against Spain in the beginning of the 80 year war. Well, enough about the history, google it yourself if you are interested.
The following floor offers two things I love; an exhibition about food and its history in Antwerp; Antwerpen à la carte!
The collection tells a story about markets, shops, restaurants, cafes, food, kitchen utensils and various cuisines Antwerp has.
This is the timeline of food history there. It explains all about food; answering the questions about the where, when, what, where and by whom.
There are paintings of Flemish master with food theme and markets of Antwerpen. Fish and veggie/fruit stall at De Grote Markt. I don’t remember the painters’ name.
A tableau about prawn fishermen in De Schelde.
This is my favourite, Sunday afternoon at Saint Anneke (zondagmiddag op Sint-Anneke). This impressionist painting is oil on canvas by Louis van Engelen, made in 1887. It is a scene at the elegant cafe-restaurant Belvedère situated at the left-bank of Antwerp. If you look closely, you see the peak of Cathedral Tower.
This is the painting’s detail. The people in it are dressed fashionably for that era. The ladies are in Belle Époque style, men are smartly dressed. According to the info: at that time Sint – Anneke was the place to be for the bourgeoise and artistic folks. Nowadays, Sint – Anneke is the place to be for hipsters, with various comfy cafes and restaurants.
Not beautiful but a useful reminder; how much sugar is in our food?
MAS takes its visitors to think about food consumption: more and more people come to live in the city of Antwerp and other big cities in the world. They all need to eat. How could cities fulfill the demand for good, nutritious and delicious food? How about the taste and cuisine in relation to the migrants?
Then I proceeded to the part concerning the world-famous port of Antwerpen. The collection is amazing! Some information was about my country Indonesia during colonialism. It is interesting.
The screen on the background displays the development of Port of Antwerp, indispensable in the Middle Ages, it is one of the biggest in the world today.
The port authorities gets to deal with smuggling of fake articles. This is illustrated in this corner full of Belgian comic icon Tintin. Ooops, busted!
The last two storeys are dedicated to life and death. MAS present this from numerous cultures, faiths and beliefs in the world.
In this fascinating board game, originally from India and Nepal, the ladder heads to nirvana (good karma) and the snake plunges to the under world (bad karma). This is interesting as Indonesians know similar game which is called Snake ladder. Little did I know this original version is loaded with the good and the bad of life and death. Indian traders from Gujarat must have brought this along to Indonesia a long time ago.
This one intrigues me. It is a costume of Cham dance. Nepalese and Mongolian monks perform this ritual dance to expel bad spirits. The bull’s head represents Yama Dharmaraja, who decides where each dead soul would be reborn.
The food and drinks
After the museum visit, I met my friend Fe who took me to lunch at Elfde Gebod (eleventh commandment). This restaurant is located next to the Cathedral. Eating here is like dining in the church. We had this Flemish specialty, mussels cooked in Belgian beer, served with fries. Oh, to accompany this dishes was the refreshing Kriek (sour cherry beer). Lekker!
I love the effect caused by the light through the stained glass.
Happy me, snapped by Fe.
We carried on the hopping by drinking Jenever cream at De Vagant. A single shot is enough get warm. The Jenever (Dutch gin, distilled malt wine) assortment in this bar is extensive; listed according to alcohol percentage ranging from 15% up to 65%.
The advantage of exploring a city with the locals is discovering hidden gems. I have been to Antwerp a few times before but never heard of the 16th century alley called Vlaaikensgang. Fe showed me this calm spot in the city center.
My friend and I closed the day by watching a movie together. That day was well-spent. Thank you so much for the company Fe. Tot de volgende keer!