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.

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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.

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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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This weekend in Antwerp: 23rd, 24th & 25th August

Friday

ghostwalkAntwerp Ghostwalks are a well reviewed Antwerp city walk to the darkest and spookiest streets of the city, although they are known for their humour as much as for the horror, and this week you can catch a ghostwalk in English -sign up via email (info@ghostwalk.be) for 12.50 per adult and 7.50 per child.

IMG_20190625_211259_resized_20190627_091432217Just in case you didn’t get enough beer at the Bollekesfeest last weekend, the ABC Taproom (Seefbier brewery) is launching a new one. How considerate! Come and taste the new summer beer from 4pm at the brewery on Indiestraat in the Cadixwijk.

Zomer van Antwerpen’s Muziek in de Wijk goes jazzy this evening on Dageraadplaats from 7.30pm (free).

Saturday

It’s the summer edition of  Left Festival on Linkeroever -a large open-air flea market, plus some music, kids’ ents and a bar to enjoy while browsing. Free, 9am -5pm

ABC (Antiques, Books Curiosa) at Den Beulebak is a monthly market in the university area, from 11am- 5pm. Free.

‘T Waagstuk is a lovely old bar serving a wide variety of Belgian beers on Waagstuk. It has been closed for refurb since 2016 and many will be delighted to see that it is opening its doors again this weekend, on Saturday at 4pm.

Sunday

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Cultuurmarkt flags on Meir

It’s the annual Cultuurmarkt all around Antwerp today. Meir (museums, heritage, literature), Steenplein (dance, circus, movement), Groenplaats (theatre & musicals), Grotemarkt & Kaasrui (music, arts centres, film) as well as other locations, will all be busy with 100s of local cultural organisations showing off their performances, workshops, courses, activities and other opportunities to become involved in the artistic and cultural life of the city, as well as their programmes for the upcoming season (eg. theatre, dance, and exhibition programmes). Many organisations from beyond Antwerp come to the city to share what they do.

It’s a massive programme and there are many activities for all ages which can be tried out at various stands. Activities and organisations with kids’ activities will be indicated with the familiar “vlieg” symbol. You can either plan what you’d like to find out about, or just head in to town and see what you come across!

Lambermonmartre is another popular Antwerp regular summer event: an outdoor artmarket where local artists sell and promote their creations in front of KMSKA (Leopold de Waelplaats) from midday until 5pm. There’s always a small bar, and a stand selling fresh cake and sandwiches too, as well as some live jazz/ swing music.

It’s going to be a very warm weekend -especially on Saturday and Sunday when temperatures could reach 30 degrees. Bring your sun screen and your water bottle!

Miscellaneous

Next Wednesday is the last of the month, so you can visit Antwerp museums for free. You can see which ones are free here.

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Race For The Cure Antwerpen
(pic courtesy of Think Pink Belgie)

For the last two years I have run Think Pink Race For The Cure Antwerpen with friends and with my son. It’s on Linkeroever and participants can choose between a 6km run, or a 3km walk. You can sign up here -it’s always a great day, and a very worthy cause (breas cancer awareness and research).

The complete Antwerp summer programme (Zomer van Antwerpen) was released on 28th May at http://www.zva.be/. Helpfully, there are English and French versions of the programme in downloadable pdf form.

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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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Easter Weekend 2017

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Here’s the Google Map for Easter 2017

Thursday

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MAS

If you catch up with this blog on the day of pressing, you might like to know that there is a ‘Kijkavond’ on the roof of  MAS this evening. This is organised by urania.be  will go ahead if visibility is good, in which case it should be possible to see Mars and Jupiter.  Free.

Friday

Recently refurbed and re-opened Fish & Chips store on Kammenstraat opens a free art expo  at 6.30pm.

Saturday

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Grand Bazar

If you are shopping during the day with kids, there are some activities for them at Grand Bazar Shopping Centre between 11 and 5pm ( e.g. Easter basket and egg decorating)

swaajplogoSwaajp impro theater offer a double bill  with Meeza Impro group for a mere fiver at Zaal Zirkus at 8pm

Sunday -Easter Day
Easter Day is all about brunching. You might remember that back in March I wrote about the work of Maddilyn Goodwin and the Sunburnt Country Project  which takes place on 19th May at Singel.   WILD restaurant in the old town is hosting a fun fundraising event in the form of a brunch, at 11am- 3pm, to help establish the costs of building the concept. Guests can experience the culinary side of Australia while helping these passionate artists come together to expand the cultural offers of Antwerp. There will be Australian-inspired food, sweets, drinks, live music and a bit of trivia! Prices range from 6 euros to about 15, depending on what you have to eat/drink. You can come for a full lunch or just swing by for a drink.

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Maddi Goodwin -A Sunburnt Country

If you are in the old town, swing by Steegsken 6 for a small garage sale which is well worth a visit -throughout April, on Sundays from 11 -6pm.

Easter Monday

It’s a holiday and shops are closed, but there are two markets which will be worth checking out: Goegekregen will be on Theaterplein all day, with the usual fair of vintage, retro and second-hand clothes, toys, books and household items. Meanwhile in Borgerhout on the Krugerplein, there is the Easter edition of Krugermarkt (selling second hand goods and their own handmade creations) offering activities for kids (races and an egg hunt). There is also a brunch which you can join in for 15 euros pp by registering via mail at borgernatives@gmail.com Krugerplein is a pretty square with space for kids to play, or to have a picnic.

Last chance to take kids to the pop-up indoor play above Mercado, on Groenplaats ….

clouds-1293230_640The weather is set to be cool and mild but not as warm as some of the sunny days we have enjoyed recently. Saturday will be the warmest day, but with chances of showers too.

Miscellaneous

Wednesday 19th April is Buitenspeeldag (Play Outside Day). There will be play activities and equipment for kids at Permeke Library and on Sint Andriesplaats between 1pm and 5pm. Free.

You can still register for the Antwerp 10 Miles next weekend.

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