After Budapest, we settled back into Brussels for a night and then took a train out to Antwerp for a day. Before I had even arrived in Belgium, I knew that Antwerp was on my list of cities to go to, especially given its proximity and areas of interest to me.
Though not necessarily an area of interest to me but a fun fact, Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world, and after we rode into the picturesque graffiti-laden walls prior to the Antwerp train station and then one of the top-ten most beautiful train stations in the world soon after, we saw many diamond and jewelry stores right outside of the station. We came to find out that the area near the train station was actually a few blocks away from the diamond district, and was not the diamond district itself.
Our first stop was the Peter Paul Rubens House where the artist Rubens lived for most of his life and garnered inspiration for much of his work. The house was restored well and had not only his art, but also many of his predecessors and understudies as well to show works of the period. It was a great way to see how varied art from the time Rubens was alive actually was. There was a lot of sculpture amidst the walls adorned of paintings and design, and then some of royalty, some of animals, a little bit of both mixed in between. The garden was beautiful considering how nice of a day it was when we went.
Soon after we walked to the Grand Place, which actually looked so similar to the Grand Place in Brussels that when I showed my host mom pictures, she thought that I took the pictures there instead of in Antwerp. Unfortunately, my phone in Belgium is quite terrible at doing anything I want it to, including uploading pictures, so perhaps I will put them up at a later date! Anyway, the Grand Place was surrounded by a lot of restaurants and well-dressed people (which actually really impressed me overall throughout my day in Antwerp).
After resting in the Grand Place, we took a "hop-on, hop-off" tour bus to the Red Star Line Museum. The Red Star Line was a big shipliner that brought immigrants from all over Europe to the United States and Canada hoping for a better life, avoiding unemployment, famines, World War II, dictatorships, genocide, among other serious issues.
The museum was very enlightening and was my favorite part of my trip to Antwerp by far. After visiting Ellis Island in New York when I was nine or ten years old, seeing a museum about the step before was a newer concept to me. The exhibition went through the entire process of checking all of the passengers for health clearance and making sure they were clean to the entire layout of the ship.
At the end of the day, my mom and I went to see a panoramic view of Antwerp and eat dinner at a local restaurant which served any kind of food you could imagine. It was the closest thing to an American diner (except a little more upscale) than anything I've had in a while, so it was a comforting experience.
In the future, I could see myself visiting or even living in Antwerp as it is an up-and-coming city with lots going for it now and even more in the future.