Across Europe: Prague, Amsterdam and Antwerp

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans

Author and references

At this round ... I will write? of Prague, Amsterdam and Antwerp.
As soon as the fares for summer travel were issued by RyanAir, then in November 2016, I looked for the combination of flights that was right for me, that is? how to leave from Palermo or Trapani and see Prague and Amsterdam. After starting the consultations, I found the combination that I considered most? feasible: departure from Trapani to Prague, 3-day stop in Prague and from there? departure for Brussels Charleroi, from where with a rental car I would have reached Amsterdam about 270 km away. Total cost of flights for 3 A / R 500 ?.
In virtue? of the return flight time and of the distance mentioned above, I wanted to add an intermediate stop that was more? close to the airport, so that? not to be up early ... definitive choice for the night before the return trip: Antwerp.
After a few days I start with the hotels. In Prague not? it was complicated, but in Amsterdam I had to deal with the high costs of accommodation at any level!
So I found the hotel? U krize? in Prague in the Mala Strana district, under the Petrin hill and 10 minutes walk from the Charles Bridge. Cost, including breakfast, for 3 nights: 330? tourist taxes included.
In Amsterdam I found the Meininger hotel which due to the fact that it was not very close to the center (5 km, but attached to the sloterdijk station from where all types of public transport depart) had a higher price ? affordable ?: 474? for 4 nights breakfast and tourist tax excluded.
In Antwerp the Holiday Inn Express Antwerp City north. 2 km from the center, close to the highway, price for 3 including breakfast 102 ?, perfect.
During the aforementioned reservations, offered me a transport service to Prague from and to the airport by car, driver complete with a sign with my surname written on it at a cost of 32? total! but yes, come on ... I like the sign !!
Pi? forward in time, at the beginning of June, I took care of the car rental, which specifically, this time I wanted to try to rent it with Ryan Air, if only because, as their advertisement says, they really have prices or really advantageous conditions. So for a car like Opel Astra or similar for 5 days I paid, including their comprehensive insurance in collaboration with AXA, 175 ?. Incidentally they were the only ones to offer the car at these prices with unlimited mileage.
The pi? ? done...

1 day

What? we arrive at 12 August 2017, our flight will leave? from Trapani to Prague at 19.05 and will arrive? at about 21.30 pm.
We arrive in Prague on time, and as soon as we leave we find a guy the size of a wardrobe holding a sign with my surname in his hand. He immediately "pulls" our trolleys from our hands and, speaking a little Italian, takes us to the car. In just under 20 minutes we are in front of the hotel. Although the booking indicated that tips were included, I considered giving my big friend 10? tip ... I think I know what they'll need, judging by the smell of beer I've already smelled? as soon as I approached him!
The hotel? a not very modern structure, located between a pub and a restaurant, the reception? little one, but the welcome, in spite of what I had read about the coldness of the people of Prague,? was very hot: they immediately asked us what they could offer us and smiled to everyone! The room for us is on the first floor,? arranged on 2 levels, equipped with mini fridge, air conditioning, wardrobe ... not bad, just a little dated, but it can? to go.
Now let's fix things up a bit and go to sleep.

2 day

Sunday August 13 2017
At 8.00 we go down for breakfast, which they serve in a small place, but we all fit comfortably. The breakfast ? abundant in quantity, but not very rich and varied. As for our habits, it was more? that's enough. Near the hotel I make an ATM withdrawal of 2000 kroner (about 85?) Which will be used to pay for the little things that don't need to be paid by credit card. Then we go straight to the center: at 10.00 I booked a free tour and at 14.30 pm one for a fee - 10? adults, under 16 free - with the guys from "white umbrella tours Prague". So ... these guys offer to be your guide by taking you on several possible tours, one of these? free: that of the city? old and of the Jewish ghetto and lasts 3 hours. You can book them directly from their Facebook page, they will send you - via email - tickets, receipts and the day before the reminder why? do not forget! The appointment ? always at a corner of the town square? old, right in front of the Cartier shop. So ... in our case, Daniele Caravaggio accompanied us, an Abruzzese boy with a degree in history and really prepared that if you don't see him you can't believe it ... a well of culture !! Besides being very nice ...
The tour ? been more? that interesting and just concluded we all have more? who gladly offered some money to Daniele: well deserved !!
To get to the center, from our hotel, you pass through the magnificent and very crowded Charles Bridge ... Wonder! With all its 30 statues and related beliefs / legends, the great Vltava river that crosses it in its passages ... you will be amazed every time you cross it, why? I'm sure you will do it more? times. After crossing the bridge, after a maze of alleys and about 5 minutes, you arrive at the clock square or city square? old ... and here, there would be a long time to write: Friends, make yourself comfortable ... but don't worry, try? to synthesize!
Let's start with the Town Hall of the city? old and its clock tower: Too bad we found it packaged and being restored !! But the part relating to the watches was perfectly visible. It was built at the beginning of the th century by a master watchmaker and a professor of mathematics and astronomy and did not immediately work? very well ... the result that we can appreciate now about the perfect functioning? quite recent: it was repaired and completed in some parts after the bombing of the Second World War. I can't explain how it works here ... but trust me,? truly a work of great engineering, don't miss it!
On the other side of the square, we can appreciate the beautiful Gothic style Church of Santa Maria di Tyn, built in the fourteenth century and still today, after the seventeenth century sub? a fire that saw its interior restored in a Baroque style rather than the original Gothic,? in excellent condition. Unfortunately, being positioned behind other buildings, from the square, if you can? appreciate only the upper part ... too bad.
In the center of the square stands the statue of Jan Hus - Bohemian -, who lived between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, was first a priest-professor and then rector of the prestigious university? of Prague, condemn? the church publicly accusing her of being corrupt, was in fact a sort of forerunner of Martin Luther ... finally he was accused of being a heretic and burned at the stake. The movement of Hussite Christians survived. The church of San Nicola is also worth a quick visit ... but you will see that you will turn it so many times that you will not miss this square? nothing!
Start of the tour at 10.00 all in one breath until past 13. To give some hints: Kafka, Jewish Quarter and its cemetery and synagogues, Wenceslas Square, state theater with historical notes on Mozart ... in short, a beautiful tourist - cultural container!
So lunch break, which we, on the advice of our guide, ate at the restaurant "u Parlamentu" in valentinska 52/8, a few meters from the town square? old. They offer the menu with an all-Italian section and the staff understand our language well, and already? this ? worthy of appreciation, then the excellent dishes, more? what else with meat or soups. Excellent sausages. For 2 courses each, drinks and side dish we paid 48? pi? (always remember!) 10% tip.
After lunch just in time, we run to the appointment at 14.30 pm, always with Daniele (!!) for the second guided tour "Prague Castle and mala strana" ... I don't want to go into detail, but the castle and the cathedral of San Vito ... I added them to the list of the top places I have visited so far ... and I assure you that I have seen something! Don't miss the John Lennon Wall. End? after 18.00, then we go back to the hotel, we relax for a few minutes and then we continue the evening.
Since? the lunch ? been - for what? say - abundant, we just satisfy another of our curiosities? food we had in Prague, and in one of the many ad hoc places that precede the Charles Bridge, we buy the famous "Trdlo": a sort of puff pastry cannoli that you can stuff with us? you want: various creams, fruit, cream, ice cream ... or all these things put together, which on average costs between 150-200 crowns (6/8?) but will it be enough? for dinner.
Meanwhile, we still enjoy the beauty of the city? old, as if that were never enough ...
The evening ? even more? a swarm of tourists ... maybe too many! But considering the period, I think it's predictable.
We go back to sleep

3 day

Monday? 14 August 2017
After breakfast, we cross the street in front of the hotel and climb - literally - rather than using the funicular, up Petrin Hill: quite a hike! Arrived at the top, we visit the beautiful rose garden, then we arrive at the tower, where you pay 6? To get to the top. I chose to walk up, I didn't use the elevator, and? it was as tiring as it was suggestive. But when you get up ... you will have all of Prague in front of your eyes: Wonder !! To be able to take some pictures, sure? a battle, why? space ? reduced and closed by windows and a lot of people, but there are 3-4 open windows from where you can take good pictures. So we go back down and go back to the city? where will we go to see the famous Dancing House, a modern work of recent construction, designed by a Croatian architect Vlado Milunić in the middle? from the 90s where previously there were the ruins of a building bombed during the Second World War. The structure clashes a bit with the surrounding environment, but maybe? that's how they thought it should be ... To visit it you can access it from the ground floor and by lift you get to the seventh floor, don't you? expected ticket, but once you get out of the elevator, you will understand that c '? anyway the "trick": to get to the terrace you have to go through a bar, but if you don't consume you can't go outside to take pictures ... um ... these things make me a little irritated: they could also put a vademecum on ground floor, rather than letting you discover it like this! Vabb? ...
We are walking towards the center, but to get there from here you have to cross a good part of the city? new, and here you realize where the Prague people are, how? the city? far from the historic center, of its being alive beyond? tourism. We find them in the square in front of the "Quadrio" shopping center, where the rotating head of Kafka is located, a work created in 2014, a little more high of about ten meters and made up of 42 rotating steel rings weighing about one ton each which in the intentions of the author - David Cerny - wants to represent the personality? multiforme of Kafka, in fact. To be seen.
We continue why? we want to deepen the short visit to St. Wenceslas Square mentioned the day before during the guided tour. Let's start from the top, then from the National Museum (also closed for restoration) and from the exciting plaque dedicated to the Hero of the Prague Spring, Ian Palach, the young man who set himself on fire to protest against the Soviet communist regime and the invasion of the tanks in January 1969.
A little more? at the bottom stands the equestrian statue of San Wenceslao, in fact, supported by 4 saints and dominating the entire area below. The square has more? the shape of an avenue, tant '? that many compare it to the Champs Elysees,? full of places for shopping and dining and it is really worth a nice tour.
Going down we return to the center, and we are directed to the Pivnice Stupartska restaurant, in Stupartska 745 street, recommended to us by friends and well reviewed, I must say that it really satisfied us. Clean, excellent cuisine and prices always in line with others already? visited: about 15/20? for a 2-course lunch plus? side dish. After lunch, we are in the nearby town square? old, always full of people and more artists? or less talented, let's linger a bit? nearby ... and after we will go to make a? pit stop? in hotel.
Do we go back to the city again? old, with the obvious atmosphere of someone who soon has to leave an enchanting place like Prague, but with the tarlino in the brain that tells you "quiet, sooner or later you come back"! Do we regulate every corner, every perspective that we want to keep in our memories. precious, cos? as if we wanted to strengthen them.
For dinner I wanted to taste the famous Prague ham, which in the square some traders prepare it on the grill and you buy it and consume it at the tables they make available. For? you must know that when you go to buy it, they will never give you less than half a kilo! Yes, they display the signs where the price? indicated in 89 crowns (just under 3?) the hecto, but have the pieces already? cut and they won't give you less. So I paid 2 euros for a plate of excellent ham, which abounds for 3 people, even 18 if you want, including bread and a coke.
Last spin, some souvenirs like the inevitable Starbucks cup that is right in front of the astronomical clock, or the t-shirt at the Hard Rock Cafe, not far away, in the adjacent Male Nemesti ... other little things ... and we go back: an early rise awaits us.

4 day

Tuesday? 15 August 2017
When I bought these tickets Prague / Charleroi, the flight was at 8.30, but some time before the Ryanair date I send me a notification email to tell me what? been brought forward at 6.15am (!!!) but how adorable ... (?)
So ... wake up at 3.30 and 4.00, 15 minutes earlier than the agreed time, we are picked up by another "slim" with a minivan to take us to the airport that we reach in 15 minutes. Not ? still indicated the gate, the shops are almost all closed, except the bar. Once the gate is indicated we get in line and immediately a little nice girl starts measuring the trolley! Now ... ok the size, but many of us, especially on the return, have something more? and in the front part of each trolley a few millimeters rises ... but do you think there? what more? it matters ? however the weight, why? that can? affect the attitude of the flight, not 2 mm of depth? in addition, where in the hatbox this will not be able? never affect the housing of the suitcase !? Result: 90% of trolleys stowed! Never seen so much useless precision ...
We arrive in Charleroi in advance, so much? that we wait for the Hertz office, where we booked the car, to open, since? ? closed and it's not even 8 am. A very cordial girl who speaks excellent Italian opens on time and immediately gives us a nice car and some valuable advice. We immediately head towards Amsterdam.
Unfortunately the weather? bad, and for all the almost 300 km that will have to? travel rain? always! All made much more? complicated by the thousands of trucks that fill the road all the way! However, around 12.30 we arrive at our destination, behind the hotel we find a parking which, you won't believe it, seems to be free, possible ???
We leave there? the car with all the luggage and we go to eat something for lunch, given the time and check-in is scheduled from 14 pm It is still raining and on foot we reach a neighbor - not so much - burger king, a quick thing ... to collect your luggage and check in at the hotel.
The hotel ...
A huge building with hundreds of rooms, at the reception a large group of very young boys, very modern style. I ask to add breakfast for all of us for all 4 days, which costs 7,90? per person per day, they give us the room, but they ask us to wait about ten minutes why? they were finishing fixing it. The room ? very small, with 3 single beds (yet through booking I had specifically requested to have a double bed!), without a wardrobe, the window could not be opened. In 4 days they never cleaned the floor or changed sheets or pillowcases or made beds, except folding the duvet and putting it on top of the bed. Redoing the room consisted only of changing the towels in the bathroom. Which they hadn't even done on the last night! So I went down to the reception where for the umpteenth time I asked if there was someone who spoke Italian, in order to expose him this problem, this time even more? intolerable of the other days, but nothing. With the help of the translator I expose the problem and to a guy at the reception, he widens his eyes and calls a colleague of his who, miraculously, understood some Italian. Read what I complained about and saw all the photos I had taken every day to document the state of the room
( and itself? climb up to bring the bath towels and vacuum.
The breakfast was abundant, but poor in assortment, nothing sweet, and once finished you have to clear the table, throw away the leftovers and take everything to the dishwasher ...
A strong point, however,? the presence, right next to the hotel, of the metro / bus / tra, / Sloterdijk train station ... something very appreciated.
As for getting around by public transport - metro, tram and bus - we opted for a pass valid for 96 hours (4 days) from the moment of the first check in, what? cost 22 ?. While for my daughter we took 4 a day of 2.50? the one also valid these 24 hours from the first check-in. We were able to use the metro and tram with extreme ease ... a blessing! To easily disentangle between exchanges, directions and various stops, I installed an app - Amsterdam rail Map lite - which made me everything more? simple since? ? extremely intuitive and well done. You can follow your route in real time and understand when to change or get off ... I highly recommend it.

Once we put down our bags, we couldn't wait to escape from that room and see the city, in the exact order I wrote it ...
In about thirty minutes, changing the metro line once, we arrive at Amsterdam Central Station, which as many know. besides being a beautiful work,? also the point from which the city expands? from the sea towards the interior in a concentric alternation of canals and roads ...
Once out of the station, we are immediately in the beautiful Damrak, a street full of shops, but once it was the bed of a river. Immediately we hit a huge red brick building: the famous, and once very prosperous, building of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange built in the early 900s.
Continuing further you arrive at the famous Dam square, once the site of a large and rich market, now a meeting point for everyone, tourists and natives! Here stands the beautiful, but sober, Royal Palace, the New Church, an obelisk dedicated to the fallen of the Second World War and the Madame Tussauds wax museum. On the left side, continuing the Damrak, begins the Rokin, a beautiful shopping street, while on the right side the Raadhuisstraat branches off, which we follow for about a kilometer until we reach the Anne Frank house. Once we arrive at our destination, do we immediately get a real idea of ​​it? we feared: the line to enter? very long !!
Unfortunately I underestimated this, and when "only" 3 months before I tried to buy tickets online to avoid these endless queues, were they already? long out of stock!
I recommend that you consult the official website in good time - and avoid yourself so time and effort, if you want to visit this exciting site.
From there we took a nice ride to the Jordaan district, the picturesque "artists quarter", really very nice ... you get lost!
It's time to have dinner, I had thought of going to "Buffet Van Odette", in Prinsengracht 598, 1017 KS, but after 20 minutes of pleasant walk along the Prinsegracht canal, arrived on the spot, we bitterly discover that without reservation you eat, panic! Let's go back to the center, along the Singel canal, but? all full and in some cases? already? late, so we have to settle for street food ... let's hope it will go better tomorrow.
It's after 23pm, back to the metro, then to the hotel, where we will arrive at around midnight.

5 day

Wednesday? 16 August 2017
We finish having breakfast and at about 10.00 we take the subway, always for the Central Station, from where after a nice walk we arrive at the singel flower market ... I expected it more? large, but still offers beautiful colors and lots of souvenirs at attractive prices.
After we go to Vondelpark, where, sitting on the grass we have lunch in modality? picnic with a couple of excellent Dutch soups bought in take away packages from En Zo Soup, in kerkstraat 146: for 7/8? they give you excellent soups with meat, fish or vegetables, a nice slice of bread, all in a nice package that guarantees the containment and the maintenance of the temperature. Do we even allow ourselves a little? of final relaxation after lunch ... read quick nap! The park is not? very great, indeed, pi? small than I expected, but? cute, very clean and c '? many people. A short distance away is the blue boat company boat stop, for which we bought online, in combination with the Van Gogh museum tickets at the price of 27? adults and 10? the under 12, a cruise in the canals that you can? to do in a day and in an hour of our choice. So let's go, let's validate the tickets, and after more? of half an hour of waiting we leave aboard this large boat covered by a glass roof. They give you headphones and you can hear the guide in Italian who describes the various points of interest and any related anecdotes. After a while I went out into the small external space at the stern and so I was able to take some beautiful photos. The hundreds of houseboats are beautiful !!
After the tour in the canals, we cross the street, right in front of the Hard Rock Caf? we continue under the Rijksmuseum and arrive in Museumplein, where the "I Amsterdam Sign" stands out, that is the huge red and white inscription where thousands of people try to be photographed, in many cases risking the neck bone to climb to the top of the letters, without great success!! But it has to be done ... and somehow we take a couple of photos too ...
It is getting dark, we go back and, once in Damrak, we indulge in some cheap shopping from Primark and in the many shops nearby for some nice souvenirs. Right there? a few steps away we notice the line of people who want to buy the famous French fries from Mannekenpis ... so much counted by many friends who have written about them abundantly. Well, after 10 minutes straight, why? they are really fast, we take 2 cones of fried potatoes with their delicious sauces and I must say that they are really special. We took the size small, but we struggled to finish them. 2 medium cones with sauce and 2 cokes for 15 ?. A few meters c '? the Central Station metro, you go back to sleep.

6 day

Wednesday? 17 August 2017
Quick breakfast and immediately at the tram stop to get to the Van Gogh Museum, where for 10.00 we have the reserved entrance. I got off the tram and it started raining immediately, but it was a hundred meters away and we arrived immediately. Gi? c '? a long line, but luckily for us, who? in possession of online booking, access directly. Great, we're early too !!
The museum ? very bright and very modern, there are many windows that let in the light and see outside. go down with the escalators and arrive at the entrance where you have to leave the backpacks, take the audio guide which costs 5? and? free for minors. For? they don't register you, so if the minor takes 1 first and then another, maybe in 2 different files ... er, ok ...
Upstairs, where does the actual visit of the works begin, c '? a panel that, if you like, shows you in front of a blow-up of the famous self-portrait of the artist to take selfies and send them in real time to your e-mail box.
For over 3 hours we got lost in the magic of this strange but gifted artist. The audio guide? it was a blessing, many points of view and many details surely we could not have appreciated them in the same way. Before leaving, we make an obligatory stop in one of the corner shops inside the museum, I must say that, unlike many other museums visited, here the prices are definitely more? interesting, so we take some nice souvenirs with us.
Satisfied with what we have seen and experienced, we go out, but we discover that it is still raining! There are bars nearby, we sit in one of these so while we shelter a bit we have a crepe and a couple of sandwiches.
The weather does not improve, and I realize that this could be to our advantage ... we run to take the tram and get off near the Anne Frank house: I thought that the rain made the visitors of the house desist, that is those without reservations who, in queue, they have to wait until 15.30 to buy tickets.
Somehow I saw it well, the line was less than half? than that seen 2 nights before! We get in line aware that there will be? a lot to wait, but we don't know how to quantify the waiting time, so I think: let's see how it goes, if as soon as they open it goes too slow, alas? I have to give up. Meanwhile, it continues to rain, and this makes someone run away who, unlike us and many others, was not well equipped for the rain, not bad ...
Just a few minutes later, behind us, we hear someone speaking our language, we instinctively turn around and hint a smile of understanding ... of understanding, yes ... why? all the time we chatted pleasantly with this couple from Bergamo, Daniela and Gianfranco, as if we had known each other for a lifetime! The weather ? flew, at 15.30 pm they open and in less than half an hour we are inside. Tickets cost 9? for adults and 4,50? for the guys. The audio guide? free (yay !!).
Will it seem? banal, trite and withdrawn, but as much as you may feel ready and prepared, why? maybe we have read the book or seen dozens of documentaries about this unfortunate girl, can't you? don't get emotionally involved a lot! The little voice that narrates and explains the various passages?, Appropriately, that of a little girl, and this touches you even more ?! For a couple of good hours we are absorbed by our experience, really very touching. At the end of the tour we find ourselves at the ticket office with our new friends, it is still raining outside and without us realizing, we are there? another 2 hours to chat, laugh and get to know each other better ... this will remain? the best part of our vacation :? always nice to have and appreciate new friends !!
We say goodbye with a promise to keep in touch, and we leave. We head towards the area of ​​the esplanade canal - leidsedwarstraat, where the restaurants follow one another without end. We try to find a place at Pantry, very well reviewed and highly recommended by many traveling friends, but they do not have free places, so much influenced by hunger, we take a seat at Rancho, where we discover that a nice Italian guy works there who suggests and explains us the dishes and even gives us a discount! The dish of the day includes an appetizer, a meat dish and a dessert / ice cream, and it costs 20 ?, we take that and it was not bad. The evening ? pretty cool, too ... let's go back to the hotel.

7 day

Friday? 18 August 2017
After breakfast we go straight to the nearby train station and get tickets for Zaanse Schans, which cost 5? each and the trains are very frequent: every 20 minutes ...
In a little more? 15 minutes we arrive at our destination, exiting the station, go left to a street where c '? a chocolate factory ... imagine what a good smell! The bridge that you cross to get to the mill area? mobile, and we find it raised to allow the passage of a sailing ship with 3 very high masts ...
The mills are picturesque, they take you back in time! They are very well kept, very colorful. Do we see them all, for 5/6? some can be visited inside, but c '? too much row and drizzle, so I give up. We go to the shopping area and enter a shop where pretty girls in typical costumes, as well as kindly lend themselves to take some photos, sell a thousand types of cheeses making it taste and even see the processing live! They also sell chocolate, biscuits and many other typical products ... we take a couple of cheese sandwiches and have lunch in the garden next door. So any souvenirs in the shops there? around, some other beautiful photos and around 15 we return to the station to return to the city.
We make a "technical stop" at the hotel and with the subway we return to the center to make other laps and something to take home appears, beyond the Damrak, as far as shopping in Amsterdam is concerned, I recommend the souvenirs in nieuwendijk street, prices more? convenient and many shops, even prestigious brands, which if you want, contrast with the many more? tourism offering special herbal products ...
After an hour of wandering and shopping, unfortunately, once again it starts to rain!
We wear our very useful capes, but the rain? quite intense, so we take shelter under the awning of a shop just behind Dam square. that we are there, right in front of us c '? a Kebbabaro and we get some sandwiches. Next c '? a pastry shop, let's take a mega-slice of the famous Dutch apple pie (9 ?!) what? good, yes, but I expected more? ...
It hasn't stopped raining completely, but we head to Central Station to return to the hotel by metro.
I think it is right to let people know that in Amsterdam, in order to use the bathrooms in almost totality? of the premises you pay 0,50 ?. Even if you are having something, be it a beer or a meal!
So, I wanted to recommend some places to go to the bathroom for free: Hard rock in the area of ​​the Rijksmuseum, De Bijenkorf shopping center, in Danmark at the corner of Dam square: you don't pay and in the toilet area there? a fresh water dispenser and a sofa ... rarity? in Amsterdam!

8 day

Saturday August 19 2017
We pack our bags and go down to breakfast.
Once the economic burdens have been paid, we (finally) leave this hotel and go to retrieve our car from the parking lot ... what should I do? still have confirmation if it was actually free: cos? ?, cheers!
At the hotel they asked me for 15? at night ... little consolation!
Right near the hotel we immediately take the highway which in little more? of 2 hours will take us? in our last short destination: Antwerp
The city? pi? great of Flanders, in addition to being an approach stop at Charleroi airport, it remained in my throat when, in December 2015, I visited Brugge, Ghent and Brussels, but I didn't have time to see it.
We arrive at 13.00. The hotel, the holiday inn express antwerpen city north,? near the highway and 2 km from the center, but not? well connected by public transport. ? modern and has parking which costs 17? per day. The room ? very spacious cos? like the bathroom. A triple with an excellent and abundant breakfast more? parking and tourist tax I paid 125 ?. Meanwhile, we discover that our dear friends from Bergamo, who from Amsterdam will have to continue their holiday in Brugge, will also stop in Antwerp at our same hotel and we will spend the afternoon and evening together. Great!!
In the meantime, we put down our bags and head towards the center that we reach in 20 minutes of pleasant walk. Discover the center of Antwerp? a real pleasant surprise! The square, Grote Markt, with the guild houses, the magnificent Renaissance-style town hall? gorgeous. Too bad there was a stage set up for a musical show that saw countless artists perform for all the time we spent there, not allowing me to do so. to take the beautiful photos I wanted of that square! Immediately behind the tall bell tower stands out - as well as? civic tower - of the Cathedral of Our Lady, admirable expression of the Gothic style which, in my opinion, deserves a bigger square. great...
Not far away, we go to visit the Castle of Het Steen, which overlooks the great river Schelde and? one of the most? of Antwerp. ? small, it was built in the th century to defend itself after the Viking raids, and later, until the th century, used as a prison. During our (free) visit, an exhibition of children's drawings was set up inside ... nothing else. It is worth taking a ride ...
We continue and reach the beautiful Groenplaats, where many stands are set up where they sell everything, and collective dance lessons are held in the center of the square. Along the perimeter many nice shops, including Hard Rock, Starbucks and Mc Donald ...
On the opposite side from the Cathedral, via Schoenmarkt branches off, which then becomes Via Meir, and? a beautiful walk in the pedestrian area in this elegant street full of beautiful and prestigious shops. Here we ate a very good chocolate waffel.
Meanwhile, our friends inform us that they have arrived at the hotel and are about to join us ... we meet at the Grote Markt square.
Once there we take a stroll around the center again and, given the time, we start looking for a good place to have dinner together. Some are already? full, others claim to have already? the kitchen closed (it's not even 21,00 ...!). Next to the cathedral, in Lijnwaadmarkt 2, we find? Het Vermoeide Model Restaurant ?, a nice pub / steak house style room that has 3 small levels inside which can be reached by a steep staircase where you can sit. We eat excellent meat of different cuts, but accompanied by excellent sauces, including rochefort, some fried chips and cheese ... all very good and pleasant atmosphere. Price per person about 20/25 euros.
The evening ? fresh and excellent company: Giancarlo and Daniela are a blast, it is good and we have a nice ride while continuing to chat and laugh up to the hotel.

9 day

Sunday August 20 2017
At 8.30 we all have breakfast together, the time to separate is approaching and? clear that nobody likes it. Shall we linger a little? with greetings and the promise that we will keep in touch, then we take the luggage and leave the hotel in the direction of Charleroi from where at 14.00 pm, on time, we leave for Trapani.
I hope I can help you on your vacation.
Good Fantastic Trips to all !!!
Peppe, Laura and Serena

Audio Video Across Europe: Prague, Amsterdam and Antwerp
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