One thing we noticed while traveling through Belgium with VisitFlanders was that no matter where we went, the people absolutely loved their own cities.
It was actually very charming to see how excited they were about their home and how much they enjoyed living here – they all thought that “their” city was the best in Belgium – but nothing could compare to what we found in Antwerp …
Other Belgians tend to think of Antwerp locals as snobby and arrogant, but we decided not to make judgements before we had seen it first hand …
City of Old & New
It turns out that the people in Antwerp really do love their city, but in their opinion they’re not arrogant – they’re just telling the truth.
There is a famous saying that goes “There is Antwerp – and the rest of Belgium is just a parking lot”.
But jokes aside, we could see why they liked it so much – Antwerp, also nicknamed “T Staad” (The city, another arrogant nickname), has the best of both worlds, the best of old and new.
It’s a vibrant city which is always looking for the latest trends and newest ideas, but their history and traditions will always stay close to the peoples’ hearts.
Antwerp is not as beautiful as Bruges or Ghent where the Old Towns look the same as they did several hundred years ago, but Antwerp has an interesting mixture of everything, with new and modern buildings standing next to old and traditional ones.
The people of Antwerp are, just like in the rest of Flanders, very proud of their city and history.
“Antwerp is always looking for something new – whatever is new, Antwerp wants it”, says Rick, our guide who has taken us on a “fashion tour” through Antwerp’s trendiest streets, where there is a cafe in every clothing shop, and young children go to fashion academy studios to learn about fashion.
There is no doubt that the people here are brought up from an early age to think in new and different ways.
He explains that because Antwerp was occupied and suppressed for such a long time, people found their liberty in other ways, like design and art, something which has stayed with them.
In between the fashion shops and high-end bakeries that Rick shows us, we find out more about the people of Antwerp and their history, from their struggles to their fortunes, legends and heroes.
Meeting The Locals
We had been paired up with a couple in Antwerp through “Comme Chez Moi”, a new website with a concept to connect travelers with locals living in the city.
After all, one of the most memorable experiences are always the people you meet. In Belgium, we had met so many wonderful and charismatic people, and Isabelle, her boyfriend and their friend were no different.
It was really fun and interesting to get a different angle of Antwerp from the one you get through guides and what you read, and getting to know the people on a different level – we definitely suggest you try the concept next time you visit Belgium.
(note: Special thanks to VisitFlanders for providing our trip to Belgium – our opinions are, as always, our own)