VISIT ITAKA LANGUAGE SCHOOL

 

ITAKA Zuidrand language school is pleased to announce that it will hold its annual ‘open door’ event on September 12th and 13th in Edegem. We will offer various activities throughout the day in the garden of the music academy. Visit our Facebook page or website for more information.

Tel: 03 457 59 22 (during the school year)

GSM: 04 86 53 09 15

Email: info@mijnitaka.be

A Spanish Class at ITAKA

Registrations are ongoing. Please rest assured that, in accordance with the government advice, all COVID-19 protective measures have been put into place. Please see the website for course offerings. The 2020-21 school year begins in the last week of September.

The school caters to adult learners, particularly for those over 50 years old and seniors. Courses include English, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Art History, Music History. The school has a no stress philosophy, which means no exams. ITAKA Zuidrand has four campuses in and around Antwerp.

WE HOPE TO WELCOME YOU AT THE OPEN DAYS!

 

 

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Molly’s – Antwerp’s oldest Irish pub

AudreyAudrey Molewska runs Molly’s Irish Pub on the Jezuitenrui. Nessascityblog got to ask her a few questions and the answers revealed not just some facts about a local business – but a story with a big heart.

 

Hi Audrey! Can you start by telling us about Molly’s -where and what sort of pub it is?

Molly’s (Jezuietenrui 4) is currently Antwerp’s oldest Irish Pub. A little off the main streets of Antwerp, we’re very much a hidden gem. We’re not so much a tourist bar; mainly more for the expats (although EVERYONE is welcome at Molly’s!).


interiorThe greatest thing about Mollys, in my opinion, is the sense of family: for a lot of us this is our “home away from home”, and the friends we make here are our family. Then there’s the regulars – those countless number of wonderful people-  friends- who have frequented this pub, some for more than twenty years. We’d never last without them. Our prices are fair, the Guinness is great, we showcase proper trad music, plus there’s more sport to watch than you can shake a stick at! Whoever crosses our door gets a warm Irish welcome that will keep them coming back for more. The staff care, the customers care….we’re family …Dysfunctional sometimes, but what family isn’t?!

 What about you? Where are you from and what’s your work background?

I’m from Swords Co. Dublin, Ireland and I moved here in 2012. It was a classic case of “Woman In Love Follows ‘Love of Life’” and sets up home here. I worked in a number of well known Irish bars  (bringing twelve years experience with me from home) but I never found the right fit for me. Staff and management in the larger bars never seemed to care about the customer, being more about the turnover. Something as simple as not knowing a regular customer’s name is unacceptable to me. I decided I needed to have my own place in order to stop working for people I couldn’t respect, and be able to really start giving people what they wanted…a PROPER IRISH PUB. I won’t claim to be the only one these days, and I’ll give a shout out to others operating with the same ethos: The Highlander, The Northerner, An Sibhin, and The Corner House. 

 

What do you like about living and working in Antwerp? 

jesuitenrui
Jezuietenrui, where you will find Molly’s

I LOVE living in Antwerp! My first six years were spent living in Limburg, and then Kasterlee (both beautiful places) but when I finally moved to Antwerp, it was the missing link! Finally, I had the support I lacked before, the city life that revived me, the acceptance and help I never properly received (in my busy life I’ve never fully mastered the language despite my attempts!). It’s never easy, but it’s easier than before!

I love how cosmopolitan Antwerp is. The people are so helpful and friendly.  In these times I see us all, as small local businesses, trying to  band together, regroup, and try to support one another!  Perhaps the “family element” of Molly’s is evident in a lot of places in Antwerp!

How did Molly’s survive the shutdown, and how is re-opening going?

With difficulty like many. Finances were a constant juggle, alongside supporting a family. We missed our customers and our family. We stayed in constant touch with regulars and friends to check on their health and to see if they needed help.

familybar
Near re-opening time, we put out an S.O.S to our lovely regulars to see who could provide some skills and help to make a “NEW MOLLYS” for our customers….the response was overwhelming!

We now have a whole new look; it’s spotlessly clean with a new-look terrace, and we plan to keep making more changes as the months go on.

We’re all hoping (touch wood!) that there will be no second wave – all being well, what are your future plans for Molly’s? 

 

As stated, more renovations and possibly an extension in the future to provide our customers with an authentic Irish Kitchen. This is “phase 1” as we call it….hopefully there’s more to come!! And to all who helped: you know who you are – Molly’s would be lost without you!

flag

 

Find Molly’s on Facebook
Email: mollysirishpubantwerp@gmail.com

 

 

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Special post: The Yellow Window

The Yellow Window Coffeehouse can be found in the old part of the city. Like all local catering businesses it has been much affected by the Corona Virus regulations and lockdown. Currently offering take-away, The Yellow Window should also be on your list of places to pick up a great coffee as restrictions ease as the coffee and the cookies are delicious.

Meet Dominic, who runs The Yellow Window.

Hi Dominic! Can you start by telling us about The Yellow Window-where and what it is?

IMG_20200601_142143
Dominic at The Yellow Window

The Yellow Window has been open since November of last year, located at Vlasmarkt 8, 2000. The Vlasmarkt is just off the busy shopping street Hoogstraat, where there is a range of international bars and restaurants.

We serve  breakfast and lunch dishes accompanied by high quality coffee which is supplied by a local micro-roasting company: Cross Roast. We have three aims: tasty food, great coffee and impeccable service (with a smile). One thing I learned over the past ten years of working in catering is that the customer always appreciates a friendly attentive waiter or bartender, and it’s something I personally appreciate when I’m out for dinner or drinks. 

What about you? Where are you from and what’s your work background?

I grew up in the midlands of Ireland (lots of green fields and cows) from the age of ten, although I’m originally from the UK. Ireland is home for me and I love it dearly. I always knew I wasn’t going to stay in Ireland after school, as I had that desire to travel and see the world. After school, I returned to London to work for two years in bars. I loved living back in London but It wasn’t going to be long term. I then went onto Spain to work two seasons in bars, nightclubs and restaurants (with way too much partying!). I then returned to Ireland for one year, working in a hotel.

I moved over from Ireland in 2015 and have been living in Antwerp for the past five years. Originally I intended to stay for six months to a year, but from the moment I arrived in Antwerp I fell in love with this beautiful city. 

What do you like about living and working in Antwerp? What are the challenges?

IMG_20200601_142332There’s lots I love  about living in Antwerp. There is beauty on every street, from the very accessible Meir shopping street, to the beautiful buildings throughout the city. The parks, the museums, the bars, the beers, the food, I could easily go on and on and on! 

Before I came to Antwerp, I didn’t know much about the city, the languages or the Flemish people, and I was nervous that it was going to be difficult to communicate with customers, or in the shops but I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of the community speaks English. I have met some of the nicest Flemish people during the past five years. 

The biggest challenge I have found since being in Antwerp is trying to learn the language. I do my best in certain situations and I can understand more than I can speak. Having my own business has motivated me to learn and understand more and more everyday. 

How has the pandemic and the shut-down affected The Yellow Window?

Other than the fact The Yellow Window was only opened for three full months before the shutdown, the effect has been huge! I have had to re-think and reorganise my business plan for the future. 

IMG_20200601_142347
The Yellow Window interior: soon customers will be able to come back inside

I have many ideas, with some already in place. I have been exploring many options for the future and I am very excited with what’s coming up at The Yellow Window. 

Now that the next phase of the government’s plan is going ahead on June 8th, I can look forward to (I hope) regaining a more steady flow of customers, even with the long list of restrictions. 

One thing I will say is – watch this space!

Lots of people seem to have become enthused about baking during lockdown. Do you have a great recipe for us to try?

IMG_20200601_142519
home baked cookies at The Yellow Window

Before the lockdown I never saw myself as much of a baker; now, I have made many batches of cookies over the past few months. I tried different recipes I pulled from the internet, making many mistakes along the way but I have landed on a recipe that is working well for me. I can’t take the credit, as it’s not my recipe. It’s this one from Sallys Baking Addiction. Sally’s recipes are very clear and easy to follow.

 

 

Find/ contact The Yellow Window:

At Vlasmarkt 8, Antwerp 2000
On Facebook

And on Instagram.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B808bENplUZ/

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Guest post: Renting While Muslim

This post originally appears on Wasapninworld blog and describes the writer’s experiences of looking for a home to rent in the Antwerp area a few years ago.
It is not a very heartening read; we would all (I hope) like to live in a fairer country than the one described here, but as the writer of the post told me, “it’s one way of starting conversations” -and clearly this is very much a conversation that needs to continue in Belgian society.

Screenshot 2020-05-26 at 12.31.02

I had lived at my parents house most of my youth life and then moved into my own property when I got married. I then moved abroad and my residence was always provided by my employer. All rights, contracts and viewing was always prior to my arrival to our new country and home. That was until I relocated to Belgium which was my first job in Europe outside of the UK.

We were allocated a relocation specialist who helps newbie arrivals find a new rental house/apartment and ease them in the country. We should have been greeted by the relocation specialist when we first arrived in Belgium but our relocation specialist was busy and could not meet us. During our first initial meeting we would have been given a new Belgian mobile phone Sim card, get help searching for apartment/house, be taken to the supermarket so we can be accustomed to the new area, and finally have a lovely dinner or lunch- all of which never happened with us because our relocation specialist was busy when we first entered Belgium. So neither did our first trip to a supermarket, and we were never given a new Belgian number so we could be contacted, nor ever shown any apartments for rent. We did all that ourselves. We checked into our hotel (allocated by the employer) and stayed there for a few days looking at our shortlisted viewings which we had done while we were in the UK. After being a few days in Antwerp, our relocation specialist messaged us to request if we could meet for coffee (instead of dinner/lunch) as there are no halal places in Antwerp. This was our first visit to Antwerp and we did not know anyone there but a quick Googling told us that there are plenty of halal places to eat. It was clear for us that the relocation specialist did not want to meet us, so rather than make a fuss we politely declined and that was the last we heard for a while.

Our experiences are limited to Antwerp renting while Muslim in Belgium. Below are just some of the scenarios that panned out.

At first, we decided to stay as close as possible to my new work place, which was located in a very white suburb of Antwerp.
NOTE: My rental deposit of 3 months’ rent is covered by my employer, who are also my reference. My employer happens to be a very reputable work place in Antwerp for over 50 years and my salary was well above minimum requirement.

1. We found this lovely house with a garden. Arranged to see the property and loved it. We agreed to take it but were told that there are other viewers and the decision would rest with the owner. We were told within days that the owner of the property decided to rent with someone else.
2. Arranged to view an apartment walking distance from the above property. There were two apartments available in the same block. It was a brand new apartment block. We were met by the same estate agent as previous. We liked the property and agreed to take it. We were told that the owner will let us know. The owner happened to be the uncle of the estate agent. Weeks went by and we heard nothing even after asking for an update. Emails and phone calls were not returned.
3. Arranged to view another apartment in the same area. Saw the apartment and agreed to take it. We were told someone would get back to us. Every time I would ring to speak to the estate agent, he was never available. We never did get that call back or the apartment.
ForRent4503738_6404. With the above experience rather than go for a viewing ourselves we decided to ask the relocation specialist to visit on our behalf. When we asked about a particular property, she strongly discouraged us, as it is the centre of the town and there are works due to take place right outside of the apartment that we were interested in, which will cause major traffic and will last for months. Heavily reliant on local knowledge we decided against pursuing this further. (We later learnt that the roadwork did go ahead but was not a major traffic issue and only lasted about a month or so, much lower than the impression given to us)
5. We decided to search further away from the work place. A balance between the city centre and the suburb. Rather than pay for extra hotel accommodation we decided to go back home and search from London. We found a brand new block of apartments where three apartments were available. We rang and agreed to take the property without seeing it. We were told they would not rent without us seeing the property. I explained I was in London and it’s difficult to travel with a 3 year old child who is not well. The owner insisted. We had no choice but to make a last minute trip back to Antwerp. As expected, we liked the property and agreed to take it. We were told we would be informed of the update very soon. Within hours of leaving the property we were told that all three apartments had been rented out and they had not realised but other family members had rented them out without them realising it. (Note: These properties were unrented for 9 months as they were advertised on the rental website available for rent.)
6. The message was clear we were not wanted in certain parts of Antwerp. We then decided to search in the city centre or other areas that were predominately occupied with ethnic minorities. We looked at and investigated many properties but did not feel the quality was up to our standards. We also tried to rent in the city centre and during numerous calls; we were told they would not rent to Indians or foreigners. We were shocked to hear this as they did not know we were non-white foreigners because I sound British because I am. They were mentioning it as a selling point.
7. As a last resort I had to ask one of my new white colleagues to ring on my behalf and look at the property. Once we both agreed, it was acceptable I arranged to view the property without my family. I agreed to take the property because at that point no one would rent to us. As it turned out the landlord was very nice who is Jewish in faith and who had rented his property to a tenant who was Muslim in faith. Sometimes the glimmer of hope comes from communities that know what is like to be different.

All the while there were at least 4 other new colleagues coming from different parts of the world who very quickly were able to find and rent. Maybe it was a coincidence that they were all white but I clearly think not. Throughout this experience it must be added that everyone we interacted with was polite, smiling and courteous. On face value, there was no indication of anything being wrong. However, someone who has lived as an outsider all my life you quickly learn to read the body language and the other signs that are very hard to conceal. I know my British accent has made it much easier when interacting with the local indigenous population in Antwerp. I later learnt when making friends with the African, Moroccan and Turkish community of how frank and open the remarks can be. They had been told that renting would not be provided if their wives, mothers and daughters wear the headscarf or if they cook their local food in the apartment.

ForRent589068_640I clearly do not look white British but I do sound it and my wife wears the headscarf. On face value, we pass by as Moroccans or Turkish depending on the lens of the looker but our accent tells a different story. However, our face value determined our renting while Muslim experience and that was of racism and Islamophobia. The invisible cloak of freedom and equality was marred by another invisible cloak of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and the colonial mentality of being better than others are. Europe/Belgium has a problem of race and identity and the sooner we face up to it the sooner we can work together to eradicate it. To highlight the seriousness of the problem a report was published in 2017 where “Job applicants with convictions for violence are more likely to be taken on than those with Arabic surnames, criminologists have found. Applicants with a violent past and a Dutch name stood a better chance than those with an Arabic name but no history of violence, said researcher Chantal van den Berg.”1

I have lived as a ‘Paki’ in England and as an Englishman in Pakistan. We have always been outsiders to where I have been posted for my jobs. Identity is something I have had to question and have come to the conclusion that the world has more in common with each other but we focus on the smaller differences rather than the similarities. In the back of my mind, I thought at least it is not this bad back home. Back home for me was the UK but I had not lived there for over a decade due to work but little did I know that it too had changed for the worse when we relocated back in 2017. More information to follow soon.

On a positive note once all the renting problem was resolved at least until the next time we had to move, I found the local Antwerpians of all shapes, sizes and colours to be a lovely bunch so much so much I would much rather live in Antwerp than my home city of London.

 

1: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/racism-in-europe-a-tale-of-two-brothers-9483

Report discrimination

Meldpunt – Report discrimination (Flanders)

and

Unia

 

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Pregnancy in social isolation: a special post by Laura Owen

Pregnant in Antwerp in coronavirus times.

Day 150 of pregnancy

 I woke up this morning, sunshine blasting through the windows: I’m feeling good. I finally have that “second trimester superwoman energy” that I keep being told about.  I’m on day 150 of this pregnancy, but things couldn’t be weirder with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing.

So my topic is “A Day In The Life of a Pregnant Woman:  week 4 -coronavirus outbreak”. Because -as good as I feel-  I also feel a deep-rooted sense of anxiety that I can’t quite quash. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-11 at 14.48.04It’s a pretty strange time for all of us. Even if we have never felt anxiety before, these unprecedented times can make even the toughest feel anxious.

I know this is something that I am dealing with right now.

I am not usually one to share my worries and concerns to the masses on social media (that is a “treat” reserved mostly for those closest to me) but these exceptional times make me want to share how I’m feeling. I know I’m not alone in feeling insecure at this time and I think we all need to show sensitivity, and embrace the sensitive sides of others. 

When I woke up this morning, despite being allowed the luxury of waking up one hour later due to my lack of commute, my first thought was “something is worrying me … what is it?” Not a nice way to start the day. But that worrying feeling is something that we are all living with, especially if you are pregnant, looking after newborns or managing an ongoing health condition.

pgwoman-163617_640Sometimes I cry or become super emotional all of a sudden, without any warning. 

I can only imagine that what I am experiencing now is what those with permanent anxiety feel every day and I have never had so much appreciation for the way they carry on. But I digress – Of course, I am still able to function and I do so. 

So I start work from my home-office and plough through the day (the highlight naturally being lunch and break times, as I am sure any expectant woman can relate to!). I have scheduled Zoom meetings (no sweatpants for me!) and I plod on with my regular other tasks. 

I also keep up-to-date with the housework (with the help of my husband of course) – It’s amazing how much more washing and general untidiness you create when two people are living full-time in the house! Other than that, it is “business as usual” -whatever this “usual” now is. But throughout it all there is this unsettling feeling of insecurity, that I don’t know how to make disappear. 

It’s the little things such as not going out to do the grocery shopping; not being able to plan as much for our upcoming baby as I would like to; my husband not being able to come to doctor appointments with me; not being able to share our baby’s first kicks with grandparents; not knowing if I will be able to go back to the UK to see friends and family before the birth; not knowing when my parents and sister will next be able to come see me. The list goes on and on and  starts to cast a shadow over all that is positive around me. 

pregnancypost

Yes, I know that all that matters is that our baby and I are healthy (and so far- thank goodness -this is the case) but all of these thoughts worry me and give me a feeling of uncertainty that I am not used to.

I am used to being the friend that friends can rely on, and on relying on those friends in return. However,  right now I am struggling to find that same sense of comfort that I usually get from my friends – I am a tactile person by nature and week 4 of quarantine is getting to me because I can’t see friends and hug them.

In summary: Week 4 of quarantine is making me have more questions than answers. 

But – I am doing my best and being kind to myself. 

So that is the message I want to end this post with:  be kind, reach out to that person you haven’t spoken to in a while (they might just need it) but most of all – be kind to yourself. It’s OK not to feel OK right now. We all have our worries and anxieties and these are completely normal in such unprecedented circumstances.

Laura

PS: Find me on  Instagram @lauraowenonsea to connect and share positivity! 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-zNYKQnyyR/

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Leo Reijnders: An Antwerp artist with a mail-art project that’s perfect for lockdown.

Leo Reijnders is a local Antwerp artist from Borgerhout, who you may also know as De Wolkenbreier (The Cloudknitter) or from Antwerp’s underground radio station: Radio Centraal.

His current project is just right for the present situation and invites participation from all artists -whether you are a professional or enthusiastic amateur. Perhaps you would like create something artistic for the very first time?

Leo’s mail art project – “ALBENE” – is a collaboration with the Albanian Embassy in The Hague, and Dutch Art Collective, Quartair.

ALBENE 6

Want to take part?  Design, draw and send a post-card of your own creation to Leo. It won’t be returned, but it will be displayed in an exhibition at the Albanian Embassy in The Hague and in a Youtube film of the artworks. Here’s a film of a previous mail art project –Let’s Sky The Limit .

CardAddressThe theme of the mail art project is THE LAST SUPPER. The address to send your work to is:

LEO REIJNDERS – THE CLOUDKNITTER

Bouwensstraat 9
2140 Borgerhout
Belgium

 

Participation is not restricted to Antwerp or Belgium: Leo hopes to receive cards from all around the world, so encourage your friends and family in other countries to join in! Previous projects attracted contributions from 30 different countries.

Because of the uncertainty of the current situation, there is no hard and fast deadline, but you definitely have at least until September to get your cards in the post.

Card 1Additional links

Cloudknitters.be

Cloudknitters on Facebook

Leo Reijnders on Instagram.

Leo Reijnders on Linked In.

Leo Reijnders on Twitter

An interview with Leo on Borgerhout TV (in Dutch)

And here is another project that Leo is currently working on (pic below) at Transvaalstraat / the corner of Waterloostraat.

1c609126-aee3-4f93-9fc6-92d2c8bb94ae

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LUDDITES: a new book shop & wine bar on Hopland, run by Richard & Jorien.

Hi Richard! Can you start by telling us about Luddites -where and what it is?

We’re at Hopland 34, which is in the city centre; the street that goes by the back entrance of Stadsfeestzaal. We’re a bookstore, wine bar, and hideout from the modern world, all rolled into one, and lodged in a beautiful 1902 townhouse.  We have classic wooden bookshelves and no wifi; hidden just upstairs is our wine bar, where you can lounge and read a book or converse with your friends and family over one of our delicious wines. The idea is that if you buy a book, or make any purchase of €10 or more, that first glass of wine becomes half-price. I find that wine drinkers get excited about that deal, whereas book readers are more indifferent and, if you are both, then you are over the moon.

Also, our book selection is about half Dutch, half English. We have about three thousand titles, so if you are looking for a book in English, look no further.

Luddites4
Luddites can be found at Hopland 34


What about yourselves? Where are you from and what’s your work background?

I moved here from New York, but grew up outside of Philadelphia, and studied mainly Classics and Literature. Naturally, there’s not much of a market for that, so I turned to contract killing. It worked for a while, but suddenly I was getting too much heat from the Feds, so I had to move to a city no American could point to on a map. Antwerp was an obvious choice. I had so many friends back home congratulate me on my big move to Germany.

Jorien was a librarian in a small Flemish town for a number of years, so she is keyed into the Dutch book scene, and has been dreaming about opening a bookstore since she was an adolescent. 


Ja, Antwerpen ist sehr schon: what do you like about living and working here?


It is cosy, perhaps sometimes too cosy. The city has this way of sucking in unsuspecting people, such as myself. I was only supposed to spend two years here, and when I first moved to Antwerp, which was during the winter, I didn’t think I would make it that long. But then the summer hit, and I experienced the beauty of the city: the long, warm nights sitting with friends on terraces, the thriving arts and music scenes, all of the great restaurants and shops. You could feel the collective sigh of relief from everyone after the first rays of the spring sun hit—followed, of course, by a mad dash to the closest terrace to bask in them. I realised that the city had been hibernating all winter, and that I had to re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about it. Now, it has been six years.


What do you read yourselves? Any good book recommendations for us to keep usLuddites3 occupied during lockdown?

Well, we try to cater book recommendations to the tastes of our customers; Jorien is exceptional at that because of all of those years working as a librarian. Personally, the last book which struck me as poignant and left me wanting more was Paul Auster’s 4321, in which he examines the four vastly different arcs one character’s life can take, based on small decisions by his parents. The first one hundred pages are a bit of a struggle, but then you get hooked (I guess I have a type). At 880 pages it is a whopper, so it is great if you are stuck inside with nothing to do. Perhaps also Crime and Punishment? We have this lovely Norton Critical edition of the novel, which provides a lot of footnotes and makes the classic much easier to digest. Now, I think, is the time to read those long books that have been on your list forever—those books that are marriages rather than flings—because if you don’t read them now- at this perfect moment for them- when will you? 


5) We can’t -unfortunately- avoid mention of the C word. It must have been gutting for you to have to close so soon after opening, because of Covid 19. How are you planning to cope over the next few weeks, and are there still services you are able to offer?

Good question! I’m frantically building a webshop (update: it’s now live- see links below) at the moment, but that probably won’t be up and running for another week or so. In the meantime, people can still inquire and order books (and wine) from us through our general email address (hello@luddites.be). We offer free delivery within the city of Antwerp, and delivery at cost everywhere else in Belgium. I’m also in discussions with a couple food delivery services, so in a few days you should be able to order our wines through your favorite food delivery app.

Luddites5

Lastly, if you want to support us now but would prefer the full Luddites experience, you can order gift cards through that same email address, and come visit us when our doors are open again.

 

 

Links & Contact


Website: https://luddites.be/

Webshop: https://shop.luddites.eu/

Facebook                                   Instagram

Email: hello@luddites.be

All images in this post courtesy of Luddites.

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Guest post by Grade 10 students of Antwerp International School: Environmentally Friendly Shopping in Antwerp

Where do you buy your groceries in Antwerp?
This blog post is about two different types of grocery shopping in the city, and will be of interest to you if you are keen to reduce your carbon footprint when you make your shopping choices.
By Vasco, Charlotte, Hendrik, Yumiko and Michelle 

Antwerp International School Grade 10 students went on a trip on Wednesday the 8th of January by train to the BeO Versmarkt and a Delhaize grocery store to contrast and compare them with one another: to study the pros and cons of both stores, and to also get a better understanding and learn new things based on what it’s like to shop in them. In this blog post, we will focus on the differences and similarities in looks, packaging, prices, and transport to, later on, conclude and give advice for more sustainable meal preparation.  We are studying a sustainability unit in our language classes so this experience connects to that topic.  

The Set-Up 

roots&grnaatappels
photo by Charlotte

When we first walked into the BeO store (image left), it was noticeably different from the grocery stores we are used to.  It was refreshing not walking into a store where you have to walk around for hours before finding the thing you were looking for. The store was really organized compared to normal grocery stores, partially due to the fact that there weren’t as many products and as big of a range of brands. The store wasn’t as big as Delhaize (grocery store) so there weren’t as many staff working, but that was no problem because it was easy to find staff if you needed help. the fact that almost nothing was wrapped in plastic and the food looked different from the processed food we are used to eating was a real eye-opener. You could tell that the food was organic by the way it was clearly not meant to look ‘perfect’, but instead looked like it came fresh from the farm.  The boxes that the food was placed in indicate where the food came from blue if the food was Belgian-made and in a different box with the name of the country on the label if it wasn’t domestic. But still, 90% of the non-Belgian-made products were produced in Europe. 

Packaging 

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Differences in packaging. Image created by Charlotte & Michelle

One of the bigger differences were the packaging: for the Beo store there were containers filled up with all kinds of nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits, spices, and pasta but for the Delhaize store they were all in plastic bags.  Which after visiting the Delhaize store seemed very unnecessary, as so many plastics were being used for proportions not everyone wants. The BeO store had an amazing self-service system, you could bring your own glass containers or buy one in the store and fill it up with oil, vinegar or honey. This way you don’t spend money on the extra packaging while also being sustainable. A lot of other products also had a self-service system, such as nuts, pasta, and seeds. It was a really innovative system, you can buy as much as you need and not waste any food.  

Prices

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Top: Delhaize; Below: Beo

We did pricing exercises for similar products in both the BEO V and the Delhaize. The products we’ve compared are simple and well-known, such as red tomatoes and eggs. We saw a big price difference between the tomatoes. The tomatoes in the BEO cost € 3.45/kg, which is € 1.14 more expensive than a kg of tomatoes in the Delhaize, which cost € 2.59 (pic left, by Charlotte). There is a big difference in price between tomatoes, but luckily it’s not the same for the eggs. A box of 6 eggs in the BEO cost € 2.28 as you can get the same amount in the Delhaize for € 2.35, that’s € 0.07 cheaper. So, the idea that eco-shops are always more expensive than regular ones is not true.

In the picture you can see both the difference between the tomatoes in the Delhaize and in the Beo store. 

Transport

Did you know that food production is one of the main causes of CO2 releases in the world? 

Most eco-friendly stores are spread out around the country than the normal stores. The number of eco-friendly shops is significantly smaller compared to the average supermarket. All these factors lead to fewer people going to these shops and when they go they might need to travel longer distances which produces more CO2 pollution.

If there is not an eco-friendly shop near you, you could go to the Exotic Market that opens on Saturdays from 8AM to 4PM in Theaterplein which offers natural products from nearby farms. The products in this market can sometimes be cheaper than in the eco-friendly store. All this contributes to not polluting our environment because the products don’t travel long distances and the customers that use that market can bike there.

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Staff at the Beo Versmarkt

Conclusion

We concluded that the Beo shop that we visited is more eco-friendly than the Delhaize; a regular supermarket. For some people, it might not be the most convenient for them,  since it can take more time, money and transport to get to the few environmental stores depending on where you live in Antwerp. However, despite the challenges, a suggestion from us would be to do your groceries on a Saturday. You could look up ways on how to store and keep your products fresh for the week. You can prepare your meals so you don’t have to worry about having food on the table during weekdays. Also, you don’t have to do all your grocery shopping at an organic store, but every little step helps!

Could you take the time to make your shopping more eco-friendly?

Let us know in the comments!

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Antwerp People: pictures of the city taken by those who have made Antwerp their home.

These photos have been taken by people who live in Antwerp but who come from other countries. They spring from a post which took place in the Expats in Antwerp Facebook group; it resulted in the sharing of many lovely photos -some from serious photographers; others just snaps taken on mobile phones.

What do they tell us about how we immigrants feel about our adopted home? I don’t think there’s a single answer to that question, but they are certainly beautiful and personally I think that does show that when people come from other countries to make their home in a new country and – despite the challenges of doing this – they look for what is positive and uplifting in their new environment.

(1) By The River

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Down By The Schelde by Rohitash Kumar

 

Rohitar is from India and arrived in Antwerp nearly two years ago. He came to Belgium seeking a better life for himself and his family.

(2) Park Bridge

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Parkbrug (Park Bridge) by John Furnari

John Furnari: “I’m originally from Knoxville, Tennessee but moved to London in 2011 where I met my wife who is from Ekeren. In 2016 we decided to make the jump to Antwerp where we settled in the Jewish Quarter just off the Belgiëlei.”

You can see more of John’s photographs on his Instagram page

(3) An Antwerp Sunset

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Tram tracks leading to Sunset by Jenny Virta

Jenny is Finnish and has lived in Belgium since 2008, and in Antwerp since 2013. She came to Belgium for work purposes and may be moving on to new adventures again shortly.

(4) Playing in the fountains

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kids playing at Park Spoor Noord by Filipe Pedro

Filipe is from Portugal and has lived in Antwerp for two and half years. “Those moments watching children playing always made me remember my son and his beautiful smile, and always make me miss home.”

(5) Antwerp Rooftops

rooftopsbytheSceldebyAnna Kurmanova
Antwerp Rooftops by Anna Kurmanova

Anna is from Russia and moved to Antwerp a year ago, from Prague to be with her boyfriend. “This photo was taken from MAS in December 2018 on a sunny day. A friend of mine was visiting and I took him all the way to the top to have a panoramic view of the city.”

(6) Bike near MAS

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Bike parked next to the water by Charlotte Morphy- Morris

Charlotte is British, and moved to Antwerp about a year ago, due to her husband’s work. “My husband, sister-in-law and I had cycled down to the MAS to have a ‘sundowner’ as it was such a beautiful evening. I snapped the pic using my phone ! I guess I was in the right place at the right time. “

(7) Birds flying next to the Schelde

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Person walking by The Schelde by Silvia Stanziano

Sylvia is from Italy and very recently arrived in Antwerp – in the last month!

“I’m not a professional photographer though my dad was, and he passed a love for this art on to me.  I believe that in every shot we take there is something of ourselves, that often only we know … and this photo reminds me of my mood when I captured it: alone as the person with his back to me and full of hope as the faint rays of sun!” 
(8) The bike path by The Schelde

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Bike path next to The Schelde & The Big Wheel by Manoosh Majdzadeh

Manoosh is from Iran and moved to Antwerp about six months ago, having visited the city on a number of occasions while travelling. She works as an actress here. “The main reason I prefer living in Antwerp to any other city in Europe is the peace, the dynamic city life and the artistic side of it.”

You can see more of Manoosh’s photos here.

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BATS (British American Theatrical Society) is looking for a new home in Antwerp: can you help?

BATS is a very important part of Antwerp’s theatre scene  -both for English speakers from other countries who have made Antwerp their home, and also for native Belgians here in Antwerp.

My own kids have loved their annual pantomimes and my oldest child has been part of a Variety Show, and a panto. It is a place where people not only express their love of theatre, but also make friends and socialise. Please read the flyer below which is from BATS and get in touch with them if you can help!

Antwerp simply wouldn’t be the same without BATS …

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You can also find BATS online at the BATS VZW website; on Facebook; on Twitter and on Instagram!

View this post on Instagram

BATS is facing a difficult time. 😢Our home of more than 10 years is being sold so we need to find ourselves a new home. The committee is prepared to do everything in its power to find a viable future for BATS. But we cannot do it on our own, and we will need your help. BATS has been around for more than 60 years now, and in that time the club has seen a fair number of Belfries, so we don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to find a new Belfry to write the next bit of BATS history. Let us know what you think via the link in bio! And if you know of any spaces we can use, send us a message! We’ll be distributing flyers on the Cultuurmarkt this Sunday. Come find us. 🦇🦇🦇 . . . . #savethebats #savebats #batsneedanewhome #theatrespacewanted #theatreinantwerp @antwerpen #visitantwerp #antwerpen #weeneedyourhelp #lookingforatheatre

A post shared by English theatre in Antwerp 🦇 (@batsantwerp) on

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10 must-knows if you’re having a baby in Antwerp

Lauraandbaby
Laura Soave

This is for you if you are going to have a baby and you live in Antwerp-
a few helpful things to keep in mind by Laura Soave (pic right), who has recently had her second child here in Antwerp.

1.The Mecca of Parenting

If you need advice about your baby or pregnancy, or about  breastfeeding; if you want to find a baby massage class, do yoga during pregnancy or if you just want a chat about your sleepless nights with your newborn you’ll find everything you need at the Kraamvogel.

Kraamvogel provides a variety of services and support: the website is very clear in terms of finding what you need: it’s divided into 3 sections: Zwanger (pregnancy), Bevallen (delivery) and Kinderwens (getting pregnant/ starting a family). In the Kraamvogel (Volkstraat 7 – 2000 Antwerpen) you’ll find lots of books about babies and pregnancy too

kraamvogel2. All you need is help

If you are in need of a consultation at home or you would like support in deciding  whether to deliver at home or at the hospital, you can go on the website Vroedvrouwen.be to look for a vroedvrouw, a midwife. These are independent professional women and they provide a phone number that you’ll be able to reach during the week or weekend if you have difficulty with breastfeeding or other newborn-related issues. You can also contact organizations like Solidariteit voor het Gezin to get the kraamzorg. This organisation, like many others, will be able to provide you, for a fair price, someone that can help you during your first days at home with your baby. They will prepare simple meals for you, you can send them on an errand to the pharmacy or the supermarket. They’ll even do some cleaning in the house, if needed

3. If this isn’t your first Rodeo…

First-time parents cannot wait to buy new clothes, lots of toys, a new stroller. When you’re having your second child, it’s a whole new vibe. You’ll try to recycle whatever you can and at some point you’ll want to get rid of things. Whenever you want to give away things (clothes, toys, crib, etc.) you can bring them to Moeders voor Moeders, a charity organization located in Borgerhout that works with 160 volunteers. I have done a tour of the place myself and believe me, when I tell you, it’s huge and well organized in departments, there’s even a cafeteria where people who cannot afford it, can get coffee for 10 cents.

moedersvoormoeders

 

You can also go to the Geefwinkel creandersregenboog in Berchem, where you’ll find clothes (men, women and children) and you’re allowed to bring things but also to collect what you like or need.

4. To pump or not to pump: that is the question!

NoordbabyNot a lot of people know that the public hospital Sint-Vincentius in Antwerp doesn’t rent electric breast-pumps any longer, nor will you find them at the pharmacies. I found Noord Baby as the only place in Antwerp city centre that rents breast-pumps. The owner is a midwife and also organizes workshops on different topics (pre-partum classes, breastfeeding, and so on).

You can also contact your mutualiteit (health care insurer) to rent the breastpump (generally for a very fair price).


5. When your baby is born

Shortly after the birth of your baby,  you’ll be contacted by an organization called Kind en Gezin, who will arrange an initial visit with you at home. During the visit, they’ll test hearing and monitor the baby’s weight. They’ll also get you an appointment for the baby’s first vaccinations. You can either go for a general consultation, or just to take the weight and measure your baby (no appointment needed for this). All of these services are for free.

kindengexin

6. Home delivery and Shopping 

Orchestra and Dreambaby on the A12 are the cheapest big malls for toys, clothes, strollers, diapers, and more important items. But can also find lots of good deals at Kruidvat. Especially on baby products.

Personally I’ve always found practical to have diapers delivered home, together with other baby supplies. Parents do not always have time to rush to the supermarket to get the essentials (diaper disposal bags, wet napkins, diapers).

Let’s call it ‘peace of mind’: I only do this once a month via bol.com and get it delivered at home for free in 24h.

Don’t forget: if you have Mobile Viking as phone provider, you’ll receive a percentage of your purchases as phone credit. Pretty awesome!

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7. CPR for babies and toddlers

This can be a scary topic for new parents, but bear with me here, because it is important.

It’s a must for every parent. There are organisations which offer classes. It’s just one evening (4 hours- but you can also find longer courses that offer more detailed and developed training) during which an expert will teach you what to do in case you’ll have to manage a situation involving choking, drowning, burning, drinking poisoning substance or medications. There is also a practical session at the end with practice- mannequins. This is a specific class for CPR on babies and toddlers: Rode Kruis First Aid to babies and children in EN EHBO bij kinderen in NL

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8. Parental Leave (Ouderschapsverlof/ Congé Parental)

If you have a Belgian contract, once your insurance has terminated the payments for your moederschapsverlof (maternity leave) you can also apply for your Ouderschapsverlof (parental leave). You can do this easily by applying via RVA’s (ONEM) website. This website provides the paperwork you need only in NL and FR.


You’ll need to fill in the paperwork (to be downloaded on the website) and there is a part for the employee and a few pages for your employer. You’ll need to attach to your file a copy of your baby’s birth certificate too. This procedure usually takes about a month or so to get approved. You can also follow your file online, to see scheduled payments etc.


9. Find your Mary Poppins.

mary-poppins-2756841_640Use Bsit: this is a very handy app created in 2015 by two cool Belgian mums – Géraldine and Donatienne – who wanted to know more about their babysitters before meeting them for the first time. You set your price per hour; you choose for proximity or best reviews. The reviews are very helpful; you can read about other parents’ experiences with that same person. You also get to know things like: how much experience your babysitter has, how many sittings she has done, which languages she speaks, her age etc.

There are also a couple of other organisations that provide this kind of service: Kinderoppas and Nanny in Nood. These can be a little more expensive than Bsit, but helpful and professional in the same way.

10. If you’re going back to work…

You’ll find a very useful list of Crèches on this website. There is a section for people in immediate need of a spot, but usually finding a daycare that has a spot in Antwerp can take a while, so try to do it as soon as possible -many people in busy areas will get onto waiting lists after the 12 week scan. You can choose whether to opt for a Group daycare or apply for an Onthaalmoeder– these are mothers at home that take between 6 and 8 babies. This is a solution for parents who prefer a smaller environment for their child. But again, hurry!  There are often long waiting lists for any of these solutions.

About the blogger

LauraS
Laura Soave (nonnative blog)

Laura Soave is an Antwerp blogger and designer from Italy. Check out her blog: nonnative and find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter  

Would you like to write a guest post about your experiences (or knowledge) of Antwerp? contact me on nessascityblog@gmail.com. I’d like to hear your Antwerp story.

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Guest blog post: Glass blower, Frederik Rombach

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Frederik Rombach

Hi, my name is Frederik and I am the owner of Rombachs Glass. I was born in Belgium, and raised in Benoni, Johannesburg until the age of 14 . From there, my parents and I moved to the Netherlands where I learned to speak Dutch. At aged 17 I decided to continue traveling the world and spent time living and working in San Diego, and later on in Puebla, Mexico. Leaving the warm Southern Hemisphere I spent time living and working in Bergen, Norway. About 6 years ago I moved to Antwerp and decided to settle down here (…for a while at least).

Rombachs glass studio is the first public glass studio in Belgium that works solely with waste glass. We host demonstrations where we make sculptures out of waste glass such as boxing gloves, scorpions and all kinds of other weird stuff! We also host team-building events for large and small companies looking to have some fun together and make a communal object out of glass. If you feel like do something fun after work then you can also check out the workshops that we do in the evenings!

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We are also setting up an exciting new experiment where we help people learn Flemish through glassblowing. If you are interested in this trimester program then please get in touch for more information!

But that’s not all we do: we also make company gifts. If you and your company are looking for a lasting memento, and want something truly unique then we will be able to help!

So, from sculptures to events, and a mix of products in between, that’s pretty much what we do -and we do it all with waste glass!

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, ideas or projects you would like to pass on.

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a workshop at Rombachs Glass

Last but not least, on Sunday 14th of July we will be hosting our monthly Second Sunday, from 2pm – 5pm. We ask a 5€ contribution which is also your raffle ticket! At the end of the demo we will raffle off the pieces we made to a few lucky winners!

Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages and do come to see what we do LIVE!

Rombachs Glas GCV
Frieslandstraat 23,  2660 Hoboken BE
T  0032 4 86 95 96 54
www.rombachs.com

 

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