Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, July 07, 2008

Turnhout, Lier and Antwerp

Turnhout is a nice small town with the usual stores and markets. Saturday morning was the big vegetable market so we stocked up on the good things, went to the free "rock" concert in the city square on Saturday night and just generally hung out around town until Monday morning.
I failed to mention in writing about Maastricht that we have met our first group of Americans this year. Two couples from Florida did about the same thing we did last year, just a little earlier. One couple, Pete and Lil, bought their boat up in Friesland and the other, John and Karen, in southern Holland. It caused some confusion when a satellite tv repairman showed up at "the boat in 't Bassin with the American flag" and discovered there were two. We also met another couple from Canada who share ownership with an American couple we have yet to meet.
The reason for the digression is that when we pulled into the marina at Turnhout, who should be there but the two other American boats. I think all of the American boats in Belgium were there for the weekend.

We departed on Monday morning a retraced out steps south to the mighty Albert Canal, sort of an interstate highway for barges across Belgium. After about 10 km we entered the Netekanaal and were on our way to our next stop, Lier.

The doors open onto the Netekanaal.

We had a free day as our friends would not be arriving until Wednesday so Tuesday we decided to make a quick train trip into Antwerp. It's only a 15 minute trip and the train runs about 6 times an hour so we left around noon and were back in time for cocktails.
Our first introduction to town was the train station.

We were only in town for a couple of hours but we saw alot more monumental architecture. Highlighting the main square and towering 123 meters over it, is the Onze Lieve Vrouwkathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) containing four paintings by Peter Rubens.

It's one of the finest gothic cathedrals in Belgium and was built between 1350 and 1520.

Looking across the Grote Markt is the Brabo Fountain and more beautiful buildings.

Really, I could fill up a thousand pages with pictures of the amazing architecture and it still amazes me that they were able to construct these buildings with the techniques of the time. Lots of time and serfs helps, I guess.
After a look inside a couple of other curches, including one designed by Rubens (although mostly rebuilt after a fire), we headed back to the train station and returned to Lier.

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