My brother, his wife, and their two boys (same ages as our girls) were vacationing in Amsterdam in September, and asked if we could come meet them for a weekend in Antwerp, Belgium. My friend Shelby was also visiting at the time, and knows them well too, so we decided we’d all go. We’d never been to Belgium before, so why not?
This was our first time taking the Eurostar train under the Chunnel to the continent, and it was great! We had so much more space than on a flight (especially on the budget airlines we usually fly from London to Europe). They gave us a meal, too, and you can also BYO.
We took a train from Clapham Junction, then transferred to the Tube, and then caught the Eurostar from King’s Cross St. Pancras International station.
Shelby and I lugged all the luggage and the kids from home to the station, and M came straight from work. This was literally everything he had with him:
Beer for the train, bike socks, and house key. Guy knows how to pack light.
The train goes up to 186 mph, and before you know it, the French countryside is flying past your window. You go through both UK and French border control before you board, so when you arrive at your destination in France or Belgium, you don’t have to stand in another line for that.
There wasn’t a ton to do in Antwerp, as it’s a fairly small city, and we had four children under 5 with us. Someone was always hungry, or needed a nap, or needed to run around for a while, or was tired of walking. Such is travel with kids. So we mostly walked around, snapped photos, searched for playgrounds, and ate.
The legend associated with Antwerp is about a man who cut off the hand of a giant and threw it in the river. The word Antwerp means “hand throwing.” There’s a statue of the mythical Silvius Brabo in front of City Hall, and there are plenty of other references to this, such as cookies and chocolates in the shape of a hand for sale in the souvenir shops or served alongside a coffee.
We walked around the old city centre, took a ferry ride, and sampled plenty of Belgian beers, chocolates, waffles, mussels, and frites.
We went back more than once to this square that had outdoor seating around a playground, so the kids could run around and play while we waited for our food.
The breakfast portions were not small.
More photos from the weekend:
After two days, it was back to England for our crew.
And our final stop was this super cool swing outside King’s Cross station.