I had every intention of visiting The Royal Museum of Fine Arts to view the collection of Flemish paintings, but learned that it’s closed for renovation until the end of 2017. I then discovered another museum located in the very square where I was staying: The Plantin-Moretus Museum, a stately 16th-century townhouse that chronicles Christopher Plantin’s printing and publishing career as far back as 1555. The printing offices, workshop and library have all been preserved in their original state.
As the daughter of a publisher who served the printing industry, I was drawn to this place, but must admit that my visit was tinged with sadness. How my now-deceased father would have loved poking around the small, dimly-lit rooms scrutinizing the artefacts and gazing thoughtfully at the collection of antique printing presses. Alone, I wandered from room to room, the old wooden floors creaking under my feet, imagining my dear father at my side. In one attic room there was a small mullioned window that overlooked the rooftops and courtyard and it struck me, as I peered out, that the view hasn’t changed since the 17th-century.
My remaining days in Antwerp were spent exploring, getting lost, battling high winds and rain (this is, after all, northern Europe in winter), taking refuge in shops, bookstores and cafés, listening to the guttural Dutch-Flemish language and noting how close its intonation and rhythmicality is to English (and how far from French), and generally soaking up the atmosphere of this lovely city. In closing, here are some random photos:
My last waffle and coffee at the train station. Bye-bye, I’ll be back!