Antwerp

On Saturday, I spent the day in Antwerp, a beautiful port city in northern Belgium. Though Antwerp had some very touristy areas, there were many lively local areas as well, which made the city seem like a fun place to live.

A street performer in Antwerp performs tricks with a flaming stick on a busy tourist street. Later the performer juggled the flaming stick, a blade and an apple, which he ate. I was impressed.

Pink balloons rise above Antwerp City Hall in the Grote Markt, or main square. A wedding party released the balloons just before the bride and groom drove away to live happily ever after (or at least in some approximation of happiness).

It was wedding day in Antwerp. A second newly-wed couple leave Het Steen, a medieval castle near the city center. The castle, known as The Stone, was originally used as a duke's residence, but was converted into a prison in the 14th century. Apparently it is the oldest building in Antwerp, having been constructed around the 7th-9th centuries.

A jeweler in a diamond store in Antwerp welds the band of a ring together before filing it smooth. Antwerp is a huge diamond center, and about 80% of the world's diamonds pass through the city at some time. In 2003, the biggest diamond heist in history happened in Antwerp where over $100 million worth of goods was stolen.

People enjoy various rides at a fair in Antwerp. The fair was large, having many rides, including a roller coaster and giant Ferris wheel. Carnival games were also set up, some with prizes that included big-screen televisions and computers. There was also a Disney-themed ride that likely included the extra thrill of copyright infringement.

People step over the opening in a fountain outside the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. The fountain consisted of a large, textured area that would periodically become flooded when the opening, pictured here, released water.

Lunch! We went to a little cafe near the city center, and I ordered Carpaccio and fois gras - thin, raw beef and goose liver served on bread. So good. So good. I might need to go back to Antwerp just to eat it again.