Special post: University of Antwerp students discover a passion for perfume in their vodcast.

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As part of their English Professional Communication course within the University of Antwerp Master in Multilingual Professional Communication, Dutch-speaking students were asked to create a podcast or vodcast explaining how Antwerp entrepreneurs define luxury. Sixteen groups of students took part, and Nessascityblog gets to showcase one chosen vodcast (all about Le Labo Perfume store on Wapper) here! This assignment was set by Prof. Tom Van Hout and assisted by lecturer Stephanie Hughes. Congratulations to Rani, Ellen and Lotte: the students who made the selected vodcast, which you can read about and watch below.

Why did you choose Le Labo?

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perfume ingredients at Le Labo

For our assignment we had to find a venue that defined ‘luxury’. Upon entering the store, we were immediately overwhelmed by the kind of luxury that Le Labo embodies. We chose Le Labo for its simplicity as it is not lavishly decorated. The only element outside the store is a simple sign with Le Labo on. We share the opinion that this is a way of expressing luxury; one you might not expect. For example it does not contain a fancy interior with a lot of drama and champagne at the entrance. Le Labo obtains luxury by creating an experience for their customers, by focussing on what is most important for them: the scent. This focus on the experience is what got us hooked.

In your opinion, what makes Le Labo special?
Le Labo draws attention to their scents. They do not want to use overly-decorated bottles, promotions or advertisements. As they state on their website, they share the opinion that there are too many bottles of perfume, and not enough soulful fragrances. They emphasise the importance of the soul – formed through the intention with which a product is created and the attention with which it is prepared. In other words, Le Labo believes that the main focus should be on the experience. You can choose your own scent and they will hand-blend your bottle on the spot, while you can watch the whole process. The store also stresses their use of natural elements. Le Labo really wants to go back to basics, and they also make sure everyone is able to enjoy their perfumes by taking potential customer allergies into account.

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The team with Marty at Le Labo on Wapper

What advice would you give anyone wanting to make a podcast/ vodcast for the first time?

As a team, we were extremely lucky to find a place that we all really liked. From the beginning, we felt a strong connection with Le Labo. Additionally, Marty (the store supervisor and lab technician) said to us: “all three of you were really open and you could see your interest and excitement from the start. If you did not have that vibe, we, from Le Labo, would not have given you the freedom we gave to you now.” We stumbled upon this place that struck a passion within. Immediately, we wanted to know more. Therefore, we believe that one of the most important things is that you choose a subject that you are actually passionate about. If you are, it will be both a fun and educational process that you are eager to work on. Your passion and interest will also be noticed by people in the end result. Furthermore, it is important when you work in a group to know each person’s strengths and weaknesses. It is important to be able to complement and help each other throughout the process. Each one of us has different specialities and these complemented each other smoothly. As a result, we were able to create this fun group project that we are all very proud of.

Watch the vodcast made by Ellen, Rani & Lotte here:

The three students who created the Le Labo vodcast are:

Ellen Weeremans
Hi, my name is Ellen. Before I started my Masters in Multilingual Professional Communication, I studied an academic bachelor in Linguistics and Literature: English-Theatre, Film and Literature. MPC (Multilingual Professional Communication) sparked my interest as the course expand on concepts such as marketing and communication. For me to turn away from literature and start to learn something new entirely was exciting. I could now deepen my understanding of concepts that I had not heard about in the last three years. This was was both extremely scary and appealing. Right now, we are in the second semester and already I feel that I have learned so much more than I thought I would.

Rani Konings
Hello, my name is Rani. I studied Linguistics and Literature in English and Dutch. I am currently following the Master’s program in Multilingual Professional Communication (MPC) at the University of Antwerp. For me, MPC was a logical choice. I wanted something different and more challenging. The combination of professional communication and marketing gives you a wide range of possibilities. In my opinion, this Masters is an excellent way to direct your language skills to a more professional level. It prepares you well for future job opportunities.

Lotte Van Ende
Hello, my name is Lotte. I have a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Literature (English – Spanish) and am now studying the Master in Multilingual Professional Communication at the University of Antwerp. I chose MPC mostly because I was ready for something new and challenging. I have not regretted this choice for a single moment as MPC offers a very wide range of subjects. I am learning to communicate at a professional level and also get to know more about marketing and management. For me, studying MPC really prepares students for the future and opens the door to many different job opportunities.

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Special post: Fine Wine Junkies -An Antwerp Start-Up

By Bart Meeus, founder of Fine Wine Junkies

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Bart Meeus

If you love Antwerp and you love wine, then we have good news for you!

At the end of last year I launched a new wine concept called “Fine Wine Junkies” which could become a new standard for how to consume and experience wine in the Antwerp region.

Fine Wine Junkies is a start-up which saw the light after I experienced that acquiring the right wine at the right moment was not always easy. As a matter of fact, the lack of services enabling enjoyment of a fine wine, stylishly presented and brought to your home (or other location) at the right temperature, made it clear that there was a gap to fill in Antwerp: bringing fine wine to fine people’s homes!

finewinebagsFine Wine Junkies aims to stand out by offering clients a wine list which is far from what they may have previously experienced: no big classic vineyards or big names; a very limited French range of wines; a focus on new world wine countries and last -but not least – competitive pricing form the core values of FineWineJunkies. The wines offered originate from countries like Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and of course Belgium. Belgians -due to their modesty- often overlook the fact that that we ourselves can and do make great wines, right here in Belgium .

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Genoels-Elderen

Fine Wine Junkies is above all an Antwerp brand, but also a proud Belgian company, and thus offers some of these fine Belgian wines. At this moment we partner with Genoels -Elderen, one of the better-known wineries here in Belgium. We offer their complete range of white, red and bubbles. But there will be more: as we speak, we are working out new partnerships with a range of smaller and less well- known wineries in Belgium. We expect to offer some very exclusive and difficult-to-obtain Belgian wines in the near future. As the seasons change throughout the year, so the menu will also change in order to offer wines appropriate to each season.

The next question is: how do we bring fine wine to fine people’s home?

Fine Wine Junkies is available via both UberEats and Deliveroo, and customers will have their fine selection delivered to their door in under thirty minutes.

Alongside the direct-delivery service,  Fine Wine Junkies runs a regular webshop: www.finewinejunkies.com, where larger quantities can be ordered and delivered within three days.

In 2019 Fine Wine Junkies will further explore B2B concepts on which we are presently working. Those new concepts will offer a diverse range of services perfectly fitted for B2B purposes to companies.

Broadening our market with direct-delivery, regular e-commerce activities, B2B concepts and even a wine tasting bar, should mean that Fine Wine Junkies becomes a byword for fine wine in Antwerp.

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Find Fine Wine Junkies on Facebook and Instagram
(Images for this post provided by Fine Wine Junkies)

 

Starting up in Antwerp?

Well, naturally, you will need an idea: a product, a service or a combination of both; a financial plan to cover the start-up phase; a marketing plan (most probably based on market research you did) and a commercial plan regarding how to sell your products or services to your clients.

Cities like Antwerp are happy with people who want to translate their creative ideas into businesses. It’s good for the image and the well-being of the city. If you are interested, begin your start-up journey at Ondernemen in Antwerpen.


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Special post: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550

NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.

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A trip to the Plantin Moretus museum (left) provided the inspiration for this guest post by Daniel McBrearty.

Are you deluged by data, fazed by fake news, or stressed out from trying to find a teaspoon of facts in a sea of information? What you need is some historical perspective, and Antwerp’s Plantin Moretus Museum is the perfect place to find it …

Christophe Plantin, a native Frenchman and Humanist who became a powerful Antwerp businessman, could reasonably be called the Steve Jobs of the 16th century. He founded one of the three most important printing presses in Europe, and by 1550 he was one of the biggest publishers in the world, with sixteen operational presses and employing fifty people. The technology he used, along with much of his considerable wealth and countless books, are lovingly preserved in the Plantin Moretus Museum, on the Vrijdagmaarkt.

As well as physical artefacts, the Museum has done a wonderful (and timely, given the impact of the internet on our own times) job of placing Moretus’s considerable influence in a historical context. Their current exhibition, “Baroque Book Design”, fuses the work of Rubens and others -as part of the city’s the publishing industry- with insightful observation on social conditions of the time.

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Antwerp was at the centre of an information revolution

After Plantin’s death, the business was taken over by Jan Moretus, his son-in-law, and the family continued to dominate European publishing for the next 150 years. The printing press was a real challenge to the Catholic church, which had relied on the inability of an illiterate public to interpret the Bible without the help of priests. Gutenberg’s invention broke forever that monopoly of belief.

Books – now twenty times faster to produce, and much cheaper- became more widely available. An information revolution as big as our own, was underway. Schools of language, medicine, science and religion serviced a knowledge-hungry public, and created huge demand, which the Plantin-Moretus family was more than willing to supply. With a technology based on pouring lead into stamped copper moulds to make type, which was then manually assembled into pages, their team of craftsmen produced, over several years, a staggering 500,000 copies of one small book of language exercises – this being just one of countless volumes from the house.

Revolutions of belief soon led to violence, followed by a formidable backlash from the Vatican. Europe was beset by rebellion and repression. Catholic Spain and the Protestant Netherlands went to war, and Antwerp caught right between them. As well as Bibles in many languages, The Plantin Press had been publishing translations of Latin and Greek philosophers, and works which spread new scientific research. But a crackdown from the church forced an end to the dissemination of such dangerous ideas. The Plantin-Moretus family, however, were clearly astute diplomats as well as businesspeople, managers, and technicians. Not only did they survive, they became at various times, official printers and typographers to the Dutch, the Spanish and the Church.

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The museum is also a favourite of my daughter

Then, as now, the real benefits of the new technology were not immediately felt by common people. In fact it took several hundred years, and much argument and bloodshed, before they led to real improvement in living conditions.

As well as his beautiful drawings and engraved copper plates, the Museum possesses many paintings by Rubens, who was one of the favourite illustrators used by the Moretus family. Everywhere you feel his portraits gazing at you. His subjects included (as well as the nobility and the clergy) workers at the house. For me, they show an honest astuteness which lesser artists lack – rather like a modern artist such as Milo Manara, he has the rare ability to capture something of the soul of his subjects.

Entrance to the Museum is inexpensive (6€ or 8€ depending on age), or free with an A-kaart. Staff are friendly and helpful, and on a weekday the space is fairly uncrowded. You can take refreshment in one of Vrijdaagmaarkt’s excellent cafes and restaurants and then stroll back in with no problem. Photography is permitted without flash.

So, if the internet revolution has left you dazed and confused, or if you simply fancy an entertaining, thought-provoking few hours, I highly recommend Plantin-Moretus Museum. After all, we’ve been here before, and it helps to be reminded of that.

Daniel McBrearty is a father, jazz clarinet and sax player, singer-songwriter and electronics whiz who has made his home in Antwerp since 2001.

Music website :  www.danmcb.com

Audio electronics : www.mcbeeaudiolabs.com

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Special post: Leandro Targon @ Hardrock Cafe Antwerp.

 

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Leandro Targon

 

Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?

I’m from Mendoza, in western Argentina. My city is the proud wine capital of South America and lays at the feet of the Andes.

I first came to Belgium in June 2016 for holidays and during that trip met my spouse, who is from the Netherlands. Ten months later we were married in Antwerp!

Tell us about your job.

I’m the Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. I simply love my job: I’m responsible for the 100% of the sales figures of our cafe (groups, leisure, corporate and individuals) and contracting with business partners. Being the spokesman and image of the brand in the Flemish region, I plan, budget and execute the yearly event calendar. I’m also responsible for the marketing communication of our cafe.

You are right at the heart of an area very popular with tourists. What’s that like and how is the tourism business faring in Antwerp at the moment?

We are indeed at the core of everything that happens in Antwerp. Tourism figures are growing considerably every year in the city, but at the moment there is a big focus on the business traveler, weekdays and weekend visitors from neighbouring areas who come mainly for shopping, people interested in the cultural aspects of the city, and plenty of foodies. Like many in the hospitality industry, we’re aiming for major growth in the long-stay leisure traveler segment, mainly the international one. That is certainly one big area of opportunity compared to other destinations in the Benelux, and hopefully with the increasing number of cruise ships calling at the port of Antwerp, there will be much better results.

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Leandro with Santa at the kids’ Christmas Breakfast

Can a place like Hard Rock be something that is both for locals and tourists, or do you think of them as being very separate demographics?

Combining the two of them is the exact key for what an authentically genuine Hard Rock Cafe must be. We are a worldwide well-known reference for tourists, and as such our cafes are an attraction. But the strength of our business resides in the local community; both Flemish and expats. Therefore our events and initiatives welcome everybody, without putting our guests into boxes. Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp is our house, and that’s how we like to be seen.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

2019 is a year full of ambitions for us as a cafe. In March we will have been open for two years and that is something we’re immensely happy about. My personal and professional goal is to enhance our fans’ experience, and create genuine experiences that rock. Undoubtedly it will be an amazing year!

What do you like best about living in Antwerp, and what do you miss about your home country?

I totally love that Antwerp is such an international city; a hub for business, its also offers plenty of heritage and culture, as well as amazing shops and museums to visit, and I love the fact that is so beautiful. I’ve lived in many countries before coming here, and been out of Argentina for more than seven years… I wouldn’t say I really  “miss” something about my country because I receive visits from friends and family at least once a month, and I go to Argentina twice a year. The nature over there is breathtaking, so I try to reconnect with that every time I’m back.

Hard Rock Cafe is on Groenplaats, Antwerp.

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Special post: Buon Appetito!

 

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Pasta dishes prepared by Whisk & Scoop

 

 

In this week’s special post I had the chance to pose some questions to talented cook, Luisa Melandri, co-founder of Whisk & Scoop  with Alessandra Bianco who brings authentic tastes, aromas and gastro- experiences all the way to Antwerp, from her home country of Italy- delizioso!

Hi, Luisa! Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?
I’m from Ravenna, a small city in Emilia Romagna.
I arrived in Belgium almost 10 years ago with my family, accompanying my husband who came to work here.

I know you have always been a food-lover. But when and why did you decide to turn it into a business?
I’m definitely a food lover, especially good food! My family and the people in my life – in Italy and Belgium – have always appreciated my cooking style: simple and traditional. Living abroad, I couldn’t help but notice that even what was branded as Italian was not always truly so. So, I asked myself why not try to share my simple and traditional approach with others?

One of the things I’m known for is my ragù; commonly known here as Bolognese sauce. This is actually what started it all. I make it for others like I would do for my family: fresh, simple, flavourful and full of love – the qualities which make Italian food so good! So, when I met Alessandra, who also  shares these values, we thought why not spread the love? And that’s how Whisk & Scoop was born!

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Luisa (left) & Alessandra in the kitchen

Tell me about what Whisk & Scoop does.
Whisk & Scoop is how we bring a little bit of Italy to our community, and we want everyone to know what that’s like! While I (the scoop) mainly deal with savoury dishes, Alessandra (the whisk) does desserts and sweet treats. She’s quite the artist, making beautiful and delicious cakes, pastries and cupcakes. My specialty is lasagna, which at this point in the year will warm your heart and your belly.


heartdessertFOur main activity at the moment is preparing food on request. Lately we have also organised small lunches and tasting sessions where we show our customers how to prepare simple,  traditional dishes from various regions of Italy. We began by preparing pasta with pesto and farinata from Liguria. Our next session will be inspired by Piemonte, as Alessandra is from Torino. We’ll be preparing bagna caudia and porcini risotto. All the recipes we prepare have been passed down from generations, and with Alessandra’s roots from Campania and mine from Toscana, we can guarantee authenticity and tradition.

Do you think food has a special role in bringing people together? How does that work in expat communities?
We say that people are happiest at the dinner table with good food, good company and good wine. I believe food brings people together, which is the basis of our culture and many others and this is what we want our customers to experience. Especially in expat communities, it is the elements of assimilation and cultural exchange that allow others to get to know a little more about yourself and vice versa. What you like says a lot about yourself and -as the saying goes- you are what you eat!whisk&scoopF

Which of your dishes are especially popular with customers?
My specialty, as mentioned, is lasagna while Alessandra’s is crostata, a jam tart. What’s also very popular at the moment are her egg-free treats.

If you could choose one dish that you love, or which represents you, what would it be?
The dish I love most is rigatoni with a good tomato sauce because it’s simple, nourishing & filling.

Give us a quick, easy recipe to enjoy over the festive season!

flag-1486376_640Nonna Leon’s Pasta ai Fagioli
1. Finely minced parsley, 1 garlic clove and half an onion and fry them in 3 tbsps of olive oil until golden.
2. Add half a can of borlotti beans, 1.5L of water and 3 tbsps of tomato paste
3. Cook for 30 minutes on medium-high heat
4. Using a hand-mixer, blend until smooth
5. Add the remaining borlotti beans and Maltagliati pasta and cook for 10 minutes
6. Season to taste and plate up!

                                             & ENJOY!

All pics courtesy of Whisk & Scoop

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Antwerp memories: buskers and street musicians in Antwerp – a guest post by Dave Llewellyn

Dave Llewellyn was part of the scenery on the streets of Antwerp between 1988 and 2012. Before the Metro played recorded music if you walked through Diamant, Plantin or Groenplaats the chances are you threw a couple of Belgian Francs (or latterly Euros) into his guitar case. Dave not only knows so many of the stories and the people who inhabit the Diamond City but is interwoven into many of them, as Antwerp became home for him and the families he started on the banks of the Schelde. Here he writes about his experiences and memories of his time in Antwerp:


My love affair with Belgium started with a portion of stoofvlees in Ieper that made it impossible to get the boat back to the UK from France, as we all got really bad food poisoning. Recovering before my family did, I realised that I really liked Belgian people so instead of heading for Oostende, I turned east towards the Diamond City arriving on a Thursday in 1988 just in time to rent a tiny flat on the Kattenberg in Borgerhout, from the priest on the Laar. I remember it was a Thursday because when I went out to get my car the next morning it had been replaced by hundreds of market stalls. Welcome to Belgium!

I had been a busker in France and looked forward to trying out some of my music for Belgian people. The first and most obvious difference I noticed was in the approach to bureaucracy and paperwork: France have a very “laissez faire” attitude to life. However, Belgian authorities need a paper for EVERYTHING, and in every “gemeente”. So having been stopped about five times by police on my first morning I found myself in the Diamant Metro where there were no police; just a couple of friendly security guards. We could finally make a living in the cultural car crash the locals call Antwaarp and become part of the blood that travels daily up the main arteries of the The Carnotstraat and the Leien, which when I arrived, still had the “kinderkopkes” on road surfaces into the centre, and the old town. 

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When I first arrived “straatmuzikanten” were  honoured as an art form and the quality was the best I have ever known; better than any other city I have ever played in. Each summer, the “terrasjes” would fill up with tourists and locals looking to be entertained whilst they relaxed in the sun with a “pintje” under the watchful gaze of Rubens who surveyed the square from his plinth in the centre of the Groenplaats.  Every busker would have their local and I settled in what at the time was called The Centra in the corner under the shadow of the Cathedral. It was run by a Dutchman who served trays of drinks on skeelers and I never witnessed him drop a thing in all the years I was there. Summers came and went, and in the winter we would go to a little buskers’ pub on the Kaai called the Muziekdoos run by Etienne who seemed to have been plucked straight out of 1967. The bar was cosy; the tables were barrels and they all had candles on them for ambience.  I remember one night when Stef Kamil Carlens in his pre Deus days had everyone dancing on the tables as he and another guy belted out a particularly bawdy Violent Femmes song. Those were the golden days.

Things changed drastically for street musicians in Antwerp and for the audiences on the terraces when new countries joined the EU. Unfortunately this caused some tension, and personally I do not think that audiences enjoyed the newly arrived musicians that much. The street music scene changed. Many of the real musicians left to go ply their craft in other cities. Others successfully formed bands: Deus, Zita Swoon, and Kiss My Jazz among others.

Me? I did something else…     

*     *     *

This picture shows a seat on The Groenplaats, informally known as “Buskers’ Bench”. Like me , you’ve probably walked past it many times without giving it a second thought. For Dave, it is strongly linked with his memories of musician and songwriter John Swift (“that was his bench”) who co-wrote the 1960s hit I Can’t Let Maggie Go. Behind the bench is a cafe/ bar called “De Kleine Post” -this was formerly Centra, mentioned above.

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Guest post: Five Places to Read and Relax in Antwerp

Timo is a teacher of English Language and Literature at an international school in the Antwerp area, and enjoys reading, cycling, and playing, recording and mixing music in his free time. He was one of the very first people to subscribe to Nessascityblog, and remains a loyal reader to this day. Timo is Dutch/ American, but has lived and worked in Antwerp for over a decade, and also plays in a local band (110). You can listen to his music here.

I would like to share with you some good locations for reading in the central Antwerp area. If you live in an apartment in the city, as I do, you’ll find that it is important to get out once in a while. I tend to go for walks, and sometimes bring a book with me. Here are a five of my favourite “walking & reading” locations.

  1. Harmoniepark

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About a two kilometre walk from Antwerp Central Station, Harmoniepark (left) is nestled next to the slightly bigger Koning Albertpark; the latter was once Antwerp’s prime location for a hanging! Harmoniepark is great for readers, as it has extended, comfortable wooden benches, both in the sun and shade. The Feestzaal Harmonie building is currently under renovation – scheduled to finish in 2020 – after which it will function as one of Antwerp’s districtshuizen (or town halls). During the summer months, you’ll notice there are a number of free sporting activities taking place in this park, including yoga, for adults and for children.

 

  1. Permeke Library

The Permeke library – about a 5 minute walk from Central Station – contains several good reading places. If you want a quiet  indoor area to read or study, try the upper floor inside the library. You do not need a membership card to enter and use the facilities, and summer opening hours are from 10 am to 5 pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10 am to 2 pm on Sundays. Do keep in mind the opening times change in winter. A hidden gem is the vast CD and DVD collection in the back on the first floor. On sunny days, you can use the reading courtyard out back (leestuin)  and if you prefer having a coffee or even lunch with reading, you can visit Cafe Kubus right across from the library entrance. This is the only cafe I know of in Antwerp where you are actively encouraged to study and read.

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Kubus Cafe & reading courtyard at Permeke Library
  1. “Den Botaniek”  – botanical garden

Den Botaniek” is a tiny but beautiful botanical garden located next to St Elisabeth Hospital, about a 15 minute walk from Central Station. Sometimes referred to as “the garden of poets”, this is an oasis for readers who like quiet, serene spaces. There are benches throughout the park, and, if you want to stretch your legs, you can visit the greenhouse (a warm place during winter!) or admire the gorgeous Koi fish in the garden’s ponds. Den Botaniek is open to the public from 8 am to 8 pm during summer, and until 5.30 pm during winter.

 

  1. Antwerp Zoo
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Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp has been investing a lot in improving its zoo, and one of my new favourite spaces is the small square just inside the zoo’s main entrance. Access to this area is free. There are numerous benches, and it is surprisingly quiet, given its central location next to Antwerp’s main station. Do keep in mind that the gates to the free area close with the zoo’s closing hours. Inside the zoo itself, there are many places to relax and read as well. If you are interested in this, I suggest you look into their year pass options. If you have children, the family zoo pass is a good deal, given the zoo contains a large playground and several cafes serving relatively cheap food and drink, with a 10% discount for card holders or “abonnees”.

  1. Zaha Hadidplein & Willemdok area

I’m cheating a little bit here by combining two different places, but they are very similar in atmosphere and relatively close together. The Antwerp Port Building, designed by the late award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, is striking and controversial- some people love it; others don’t. There is a big open space underneath the building, with great views of the city and some of its docks. Personally, I think this area could do with a few more places to sit, but there are some stone benches by the waterside, providing a great location to read and relax. Do keep in mind this is slightly further out if you live in the centre of town; it will take you about 45 minutes to walk from the station, but it is well worth a visit. When heading back south and into the centre of town, you’ll find another reading haven: the attractive Willemdok area, with its many benches and great views of the MAS building.

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I hope you will enjoy some of these mostly free places and read in Antwerp. Next time you feel you need to get out of your apartment or house, why not carry book or e-reader with you, and perhaps even leave your phone at home?

 

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Take Five with Sonny Dhanowa

 

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Photo credit: Hans van der Linden

Meet Sonny Dhanowa from Trowbridge in the UK.

 

After studying Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Exeter, then working for ten years, Sonny (pictured right) decided on a total change of field and direction and pursued a new career in music and business. If you are familiar with the social media of Antwerp’s vibrant music scene, you may have noticed Casa De Sonny events on your feed. These evenings take place for free in Sonny’s stylish Italiëlei apartment, and showcase local and visiting musicians. 

Having been to one of these, I was curious to learn about what inspired Sonny to do this here in Antwerp …

So who are you and what are you doing here in Antwerp?

I’m Sonny Dhanowa from Trowbridge, UK (nearish to Bristol). I was living in Barcelona, Spain for thirteen years before coming here three years ago, and before that I was in London. I’m a DJ/ producer and general music lover. I’m using Antwerp as a base of operations while I kick start different music related projects.

 I went to a Casa de Sonny evening, and would love to come again. It seemed a very unusual event -what prompts someone to open the doors of their home for free and making no profit, as a hang-out for people who they do not know?

I’ve been promoting nights- on and off- for most of my adult life; from the standard party with DJs to more elaborate and unusual nights involving different cultural aspects such as bands /film /dance/spoken word. I was extremely fortunate to move into a nice large loft-style apartment when I arrived in Antwerp, so the decision was basically made for me. And as I’ve found Antwerp to be quite an expensive city, it was easy not-charging people entrance and tell them to bring their own drinks. I believe in uniting people through community projects regardless of age, race, gender, language … but also regardless of wealth. I also LOVE meeting new people!

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What should we be looking out for at Casa de Sonny, or on the Antwerp music scene in the near future?

As per usual, I’ll be holding an eclectic mix of events over the following months: singer-songwriters, comedy nights, African music nights, and even album launches from local hip-hop artists. From an Antwerp perspective, there is way too much going on, I actually have a hard time keeping up with everything!

My next night is on the 14th of July – Ants Jeffares (NZ) & Jo Laureys (BE)

What are your favourite Antwerp hang-outs and venues & why?

My favourite hang-out is my flat! But apart from the obvious, I love chilled out bars, Crossroads Café is a personal favourite -mainly because it’s the closest bar to where I live, but also because they have live music events and jam sessions.

 

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logo design by Zwarfprod

What are your current (or near-future) projects and aspirations?

I’m gearing up to release an album in September on a small record and apparel label I’m in the process of setting up: Blue Ghost Records and Apparel. 

With my long-time collaborator, Daniel Roberts, we form the duo, “Dekalog”. Our first release, “Een: Bread and Circuses”, is with Antwerp jazz singer, Fien Desmet, and Ghent/London based rapper Amazumi, and also features contributions from musicians from various parts of the world.

 

Intrigued? Check out these links to find out more:

Casa de Sonny on Facebook and on Instagram

Blue Ghost Records on Instagram

With many thanks to Sonny Dhanowa for this interview and for the images used in this post.

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Instagram

Facebook (Events in Antwerp: in conjunction with London Calling)

Twitter &  Pinterest