The Anonymous Widower

Antwerp To Bruges

I took these pictures as my suburban train went between Antwerp Centraal and Bruges stations.

Note.

  • The number of tall houses close to the railway.
  • My train eventually went to Ostend.
  • The route when through the town of Beveren, which gives its name to the Beveren rabbit.
  • Compared to a UK route, like Ipswich to Cambridge, the route wasn’t busy.

When travelling by train in Belgium, the station names are sometimes different on the displays and your tickets, due to Belgium’s languages.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Around Antwerp Station

I took these pictures of the magnificent Antwerp station in the evening light.

I certainly haven’t seen a better station in Belgium.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Late Flowering

I had thought that when I left Antwerp the roads would be a lot clearer than other Friday nights, when I’d done this trip.  They were but they were still crowded.

I should say that the main route from Antwerp to Ostend is to take the road to Gent and then the E40 motorway to Ostend. It is not as quick as it should be and sometimes is blocked either by accidents or just too much traffic.  So I prefer to take the E34 towards Brugge and then cut down the N44 at Maldegem.  It’s probably a few kilometres further, but on most days it is quicker and probably a lot safer.  When coming direct from Holland, I also cut across from Breda and through the Liefkenshoek tunnel.  That route is usually traffic-free as the tunnel costs five euro.

But within ten minutes of leaving my parking space near the station, I was on the E34 and heading towards Brugge.  The weather was good, so the top was down on the Lotus and I was enjoying the rather weak evening sunshine.  But the road was busy and it took me quite a few minutes to get out of the right-hand-lane with the trucks at a hundred or so kilometres per hour and into the left at a lot faster.

I often say that the Lotus Elan is the Second Best Car in the World. I did in this piece.

When you are in fast traffic it is in its element and it proves my description.

With the top down, the vision is superb in all directions and you’re never in danger of cutting anybody up, as you can use all three mirrors and even turn your head to check blind spots.  I don’t want a coming together at about a hundred miles per hour or more.  You don’t come out well.

When I made the left hand lane, it was either stick there with the mad Belgians in their BMWs, Mercedes and Porsches at speeds of over a hundred fifty kilometres per hour or tamely get stuck with the trucks.  I chose the mad Belgians!

But I did watch all the dials; turbo boost, temperature, oil, water and fuel.  They are so much more instructive than a set of anonymous lights, which generally go red for every sort of engine problem and then present you with a large bill for the technician to plug his computer into the one in your car.  Incidentally, the Lotus has its own engine management computer which is as old as the car.  Why can’t PCs last a bit longer?  I do wonder though what will happen when one of these computers needs replacing on a classic car in say thirty years time.

At speed with the top down, there is little wind noise in the Lotus.  There’s even less with the top up!  Could this be because the car is actually aerodynamically clean and doesn’t create all the vortices that occur on the average car, where interior space can’t be compromised for the dynamics and you tend to end up with all sorts of wings and spoilers.  Not that the interior space was minimised in the Lotus, but it was designed first and foremost as a fast and stable sports car.

And on the subject of interior space, the Lotus may be a very short car, but because it is front-wheel drive and it has been intelligently designed, it can pack a vast amount of luggage for such a small car.  All of the books, maps, tools and safety equipment actually fit in the space under the hood, which because it is manual doesn’t take up half the rear of the car and add significantly to the weight.  I can also get two soft cases and a Brompton bicycle in the boot.

I’ve tended to think lately that the cars acceleration is getting a lot slower than some of the modern BMWs and Mercedes, but on the road to Brugge, there are several sets of lights and she performed well.  Perhaps, they have a lot more power, but they also have a lot more weight.  Cars are getting obese like people!

At Maldegem, I slowed on the E44 and transferred to the main motorway before picking up pace again towards Ostend and Dunkirk.  The pace was less frenetic and the road was also a lot less busy, with a lot of British registered vehicles going towards the Channel Tunnel and the ferries.

But the car finally showed it’s superb design credentials in an unusual way.  There appeared to be very dark clouds over Dunkirk and it would have not been very prudent to raise the hood.  Luckily, there was a handy service area and I stopped, got out the car, lifted the cover for the hood, raised and clipped it into place and drove off, all in about twenty seconds.

Try doing that in anything with an electric hood.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Triple Decker Station

Antwerp Central railway station is considered one of best stations in the world.

In fact Newsweek called it the “4th most beautiful station in the world”. They rated Saint Pancras first, Grand Central in New York second, and in Chhatrapati Shivaji in Mumbai third. So I’ve now seen the top four!

Antwerp Central Station

Antwerp Central Station

It isn’t as old as some stations having been built between 1895 and 1905 and it was originally a terminus.

Antwerp Central Station - Trainshed

Antwerp Central Station – Trainshed

This view shows the outside of the enormous trainshed.

Inside it is no less spectacular and extremely unusual in that through trains between Brussels and Holland, now pass in a deep level station underneath the original.

Antwerp Central Station - Inside of the Trainshed

Antwerp Central Station – Inside of the Trainshed

When you look down, you see all three levels of platforms.

Antwerp Central Station - Three Levels

Antwerp Central Station – Three Levels

The train in the picture is a Thalys, one of the high-speed trains between Paris and Amsterdam.  Unfortunately at present they dawdle from Brussels onwards.

Antwerp Central Station - Looking Up

Antwerp Central Station – Looking Up

Note how it is good blend of traditional and modern.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Museum Plantin-Moretus

I said in my post, Letterpress Rules OK, that there weren’t that many printing museums in the world.

But in Antwerp, there is the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

Museum Plantin-Moretus

Museum Plantin-Moretus

The actual museum and contents are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

They have a large collection of machines, type and all the other things that proper printing entails.  For example, they explain how printers in the 16th and 17th centuries actually made the movable type.

Printing Machine

Museum Plantin-Moretus - Printing Machine

Note the virtually all wooden construction.

Museum Plantin-Moretus - More Printing Machines

Museum Plantin-Moretus - More Printing Machines

There were six machines in the room.  They were displayed down one wall with desks for the compositors on the other side of the room.

The building itself is immaculate with a vast collection of old books, maps and paintings, including a Gutenburg Bible and several portraits by Rubens.

Museum Plantin-Moretus - The Garden

Museum Plantin-Moretus - The Garden

It is a museum that is well worth a visit.  Allow more time than we did, as the staff were rather hasty in chucking us out.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Antwerp

On the way back from Holland, I stopped off in Antwerp.  Partly this was so that I got round the dreadful traffic at Rotterdam before the rush hour and also that my friend and I could see another city.  It was easy to get back to Holland on the train.

It is a pleasant city and there was a lot to see.

Antwerp

Antwerp

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Transport | | 2 Comments