In Europe most boat owners store the boat in a shed during winter. Especially sailing boats, which are not comfortable in winter. But also motorboats are not commonly seen during this period of the year. I like to spend the end of the year period on board, so we went away for 2 weeks. To be honest I just want to spend all my free time on board. I love the desolate winter atmosphere in some places. We combine it with dazzling cities to enjoy the X-mas and New Year celebrations. This year we spend X-mas in Rotterdam.
An X-mas tree is to big on board so my mother in law made these beautiful 3 wise men. She uses wool and felting technique for it.
The 3 wise men are:
* Gaspar (or Caspar). He is the King of Sheba. Gaspar represents the Frankincense brought to Jesus.
* Melchior, he is the King of Arabia. Melchior represents the Gold brought to Jesus.
* Balthazar, he is the King of Tarse and Egypt. Balthazar represents the gift of Myrrh that was brought to Jesus.
I still did not manage to find out who is who as the information on internet is contradictory… or my mother in law is color-blind! Number 4 is carrying a star to lead them so she did take into account the navigational aspect although it is not high tech.
New Year we spend in Antwerp. Our son and his girlfriend joined us for the New Year celebration. Most Dutch people celebrate the end of the year in casual style eating Dutch doughnuts. Belgians like to dress up. Our son, he is a stepson to me, likes to dress up so he was happy to come to Antwerp for a chic end of the year dinner. They were accompanied by another couple and we had a great evening.
We were moored at the Willemdock. This area is called ’t Eilandje or The Little Island’; and for good reason: Antwerp’s oldest port area is surrounded by water. Today, port activity is more concentrated in the north, but the feeling of a port is still very much present. You can still savour the historical atmosphere of the old loading dock with its monumental warehouses, lanterns, hangars and cobblestones.
Three major attractions are:
– Antwerp’s latest architectural jewel is the Port House. This funky and innovative building, with roots in the past, is the new headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority. The bottom part was once a fire station that was on the port’s outside edge. During renovation, this beautiful station was restored to its former glory. There is no clearer symbol of the immense growth of the port of Antwerp. Together with a striking and contemporary superstructure in the shape of a diamond – a monumental design of the famous architect Zaha Hadid Architects – the building makes up the entire Port House.
– Between 1873 and 1935, Antwerp was the gateway to a better life for more than two million people. The Red Star Line brought them from Antwerp to New York. The museum brings you their story. Of course, you will also find art in its more traditional form. For example, the Red Star Line and Antwerp, as a migration hub, inspired artists like Eugeen Van Mieghem and Louis van Engelen. What makes this museum more special is the fact that it adopts a very modern approach in the original Red Star Line buildings. The port warehouses in the past used for passengers’ administrative and medical checks, now telling their personal stories, are the highlight of the collection. Outside, the observation tower that rises above the warehouses, in the shape of a ship’s smokestack, affords an amazing panoramic view.
– Visiting the MAS means exploring the building from the bottom to the top. As you make your way up the escalators to the next floor, you discover that the museum is actually much greater than the building. You only need to look out the fabulous glass walls. A stunning view with a panorama deck, 60 metres above sealevel, is the climax of the tour.
Neighbouring this district is the Schipperskwartier, better known as the Red Light District.
‘Window prostitution’ is confined to three streets nowadays, and for the rest Schipperskwartier is a colorful working-class area and a young residential neighborhood. Nowadays, these are trendy areas full of authentic pubs, terrace cafés and great places to eat. It connects perfectly to the bustling city centre of Antwerp. Twenty years ago, when I was in that area with my boat, I never left alone in the evenings. The atmosphere was completely different. It was dirty, dangerous and raw. Entering a pub you had to be prepared that a fight could start at any moment or police would do a razzia. It was the place of dockworkers, skippers and mariners. I must admit it was also charming.
Twenty years ago I could not imagine that we would buy art pieces here. A very nice lady runs Nassau 42 Fine Arts. She exhibits only what she likes, art that makes you smile a little, with a positive spirit. You will not find controversial or shocking art here. Jacob fell in love with these boats immediately. He calls them “Twoats”. They are made by a Greek artist, Panagotis Pougaridis.
Not in this district but definitely worth the walk is the famous pedestrian tunnel between the left and right bank of River Scheldt. The old wooden moving staircases and it’s entrance buildings are a great piece of heritage.
On the way back home we saw how challenging River Scheldt can be due to it’s strong tidal currents and cross currents. Locals call it : “The devil is in the water”. Last year 6 inland barges grounded leaving the locks of Hansweert.
We were happy to reach our home port safe although the extreme low tide made us ground for a few hours as well.