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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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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This weekend: 19th, 20th and 21st August

Over the whole weekend Bollekesfeest will be taking place (4-day beer festival, plus local food products) started on Thursday evening at Steenplein, Groenplaats, Suikerui and Grote Markt. This is fast becoming a very important and enjoyable annual fixture on the Antwerp calendar, even though the event only began in 2007 (so 2016 is the 10th edition!). Great fun, also for kids, with activities and entertainment for younger ones on the Steenplein part of the festival. Buy the Gazet van Antwerpen on Thursday, Friday & Saturday and you will find a voucher for a free beer. (pic courtesy of Stephanie Hughes. Grote Markt image by Daniel Ruiz-Ceccenello).

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Dancing on Steenplein at Bollekesfeest

Friday

The Redball Project is a public art event that has travelled through 25 cities around the world and comes to Antwerp Central Station today. I can’t tell you much more about it at the moment; you need to sign up via email to receive info/ notification.

*UPDATE:  #redballproject will be at the market/ Het Paleis on Saturday and at MAS on Sunday.

On Friday evening at 5pm the Repair Café returns to ‘T Werkhuys in Borgerhout. Bring your broken items (e.g. clothes, furniture, tech) and maybe they can be fixed for free, or if you like fixing things, you might be able to help someone else. There’s also going to be a share market -bring things to give away that you no longer want. If you take part you will be able to pick three items from others who are doing the same.

Saturday

Here’s one that’s a bit different if you want an unusual alternative to Bollekesfeest …bat watching at Rivierenhof. Free, but reserve beforehand by email rivierenhof@provincieantwerpen.be or call 03 360 52 18. Starts at 7.30.

If you haven’t checked out any of the movies showing as part of Cinema Urbana (Zomer van Antwerpen) Saturday might be a good time to do so: there’s a showing of The Martian at Plantinkaai by the river. It’s free and starts at 10pm.

Sunday

If you are enjoying Bollekesfeest (see above) but by Sunday are feeling the need to finish festivities at a more relaxed location, then the Wild Jo’s Market might be the perfect destination. It’s on Vrijdagmarkt which is a really pleasant, smaller square which can be found off Reyndersstraat or Hoogstraat, so it is just a walk away from the rest of the beer festival.

It’s the third Sunday of the month so it’s the Strip & Boekenplein (graphic novels/ book market) on De Coninckplein

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At Park Spoor Noord it’s World Picknick Day. Bring your own picnic basket -there will also be snacks for sale, and some sports sessions provided by Sport Club Het Eiland.

(image courtesy of Sport Club Het Eiland)

 

 

 

From 4pm -7pm at Rivierenhof, it’s Yoyogi again -an open performance opportunity for anyone who would like to come along and demonstrate their music, dance or performance skills, or to watch others. It’s free and there are also various workshops (e.g. kungfu, acro-yoga, ropeskipping, tai chi).

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Colour Collective

Design Market Ieder Zenne Meug is taking place on the Kattendijkdok today from 11am -6pm and you could then stay put at the same location to round off your weekend with some classical music: this free concert by trio Colour Collective will also take place at Born In Antwerp (Kattendijkdok), starting at 7pm. It’s recommended that you bring along a picnic blanket, camping chair or cushion to sit on. (image courtesy of Colour Collective)

… And the Redball will be at the Diamantpaviljoen, at MAS…

The weather should be pretty good for Friday with warm temperatures, although there might be showers in the evening. Alas, it’s likely to be cloudier, and less predictable in general over the weekend, with the possibility of showers both days. Temperatures remain good for Saturday, but fall a bit on Sunday.

Miscellaneous

To help you find the places mentioned in this blog, check the Google map for this post.

Storytime slide

A heads-up on Story Time in English which will start September 14 and will take place every Wednesday from 1:00- 2:30pm, for children aged aged 4-11. Each week will have a different theme/story, and there will also be activities, music and snacks based around that theme. The cost is 5 euro and the max number of kids is 25. Contact Kay via the Facebook page to register your child in advance. Location: Centraal Cafe, Sint-Pietersvliet 11, Antwerp 2000 (Image courtesy of Central Collective)

Kids will also enjoy being taken to the summer edition of Sportopia in Park Loods (Park Spoor Noord). The winter version of this was good -my kids enjoyed it on more than one occasion, although it can get busy. It costs 6 euros per session, but is less than that if you have an A-Kaart and free to under 4s, or those with 10 points on their A-Kaart. Open 10- 6pm Wednesdays- Sundays. Finishing up soon (28th August).

Next Wednesday, being the last Wednesday of the month, District Antwerp museums are free.

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This Weekend: June 17th, 18th & 19th

Friday

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Bar Gloed is on the 4th floor

For after-work drinks, many of the summer bars are now open including  CargoBocaderoThe Next LevelBar PaniekSmokey Joes Garage (previously Bar Josephine) Bar Gloed on the Keyserlei (Antwerp Tower) and Zomer Fabriek. A couple more will open their doors toward the end of the month.

 

 

 

 

Saturday

On the Grote Markt, MUHKA will be holding Acid Brass, presented by Jeremy Deller and the Festival Brass Band, 1.30- 3pm. In the event of bad weather this will be held on Theater Plein. It’s bass band music with a difference -I saw this once in Glasgow, many moons ago, and it was thoroughly entertaining to hear tracks like ‘What Time is Love?’ and ‘Voodoo Ray’ rendered by a full-on brass band. This is part of a MUHKA Exhibition on rave culture.

UEFA

UEFA: The Belgium -Ireland game is going to be the big match of the day. I have mentioned already some venues which are showing the games on big screens (Plein Publiek, Cargo, Dageraadplaats and Chatleroi). This one will also be showing on Groenplaats -kick-off is at 3pm. Alternatively it’s sure to be very lively in the Irish bars in town (An Sibhin, Kelly’s and The Irish Times) for this one …

(image Pixabay)

 

Sunday

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International Day of Yoga 2015 attracted over 1000 participants.

The International Day of Yoga  (copyright image courtesy of AWDC) in Antwerp is a wee bit further out than most events I include but I am putting it in because it is a must for those who practice yoga. It’s a big event and it is totally free. Don’t forget to register if you would like to attend. The event is suitable for those aged 12+. The host of the event (Reetu Mehta) will also be teaching ‘Mudras’ this year (hand gestures, used in conjunction with breathing techniques and chanting).

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Goegekregen fleamarket from 10am -6pm on the Kattendijkdok and Swan Market will be on Grote Markt again from midday until 6pm. Right near central station there is a second hand clothing sale on Van Leriusstraat starting at 10am.

It’s the third Sunday of the month, so there is the book and magazine fair in front of Permeke Library on De Coninckplein from 10am -4pm. Meanwhile, inside the library itself between 11-12 in the auditorium there is a read-aloud for kids aged 4-8, with a dinosaur theme.

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Middelheim Museum

Here is a unique type of tour of Middelheim Sculpture Museum: this tour is specifically designed for those with mild to moderate dementia (and their caregivers). It is free and you do not need to reserve. It is in Dutch. If you think you know someone who might benefit from this, do watch the film on the page, which is subtitled in English, and explains the purpose and style of the tour.

 

 

 

The weather is predicted to be mild/ warm, with light showers on Friday and Saturday. Sunday looks like being cloudy, but dry. (image: Pixabay)

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Miscellaneous

Here’s the Google map showing all the locations for the events mentioned here.

Zomer van Antwerpen has officially started (even if the weather isn’t quite on board …yet) On this page you can find two .pdfs with info in English about events.

It’s the last chance to get to Sinksenfoor (funfair) at Spoor Oost this weekend.

Here’s a complete guide to all the big- screen venues for watching UEFA in and around Antwerp.

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A shout out to the Antwerp International School whose school year finishes this week. Lots of love -and safe travels -to staff and students who will be heading to family and friends around the world over summer. And a special mention to wish all the best for those students who will receive IB and IGCSE exam results soon … especially the students from IB English B 😉

(image from Pixabay)

 

Check out Nessascityblog Instagram page with pictures from last weekend of Parkbrug, Markt van Morgen, football watching UEFA at Grand Bazar, views from The Antwerp Wheel, and Flying Pig on Steenplein. And of course the blog can also be found on Twitter and Pinterest.

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This weekend: April 15th, 16th & 17th

Friday

There’s free live music at The Irish Times (Steve Jones) at 10pm, and if you are around earlier, you can see Augustana (currently supporting Dixie Chicks at Lotto Arena!) at Cafè Ami at 3pm for a matinée. If you are looking for after-work drinks, Gusta is serving from 5pm with music from Böky Bros. Gusta is also a useful address to know if you need gluten -free and dairy-free resources.

Saturday

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image from AIS

A big shout out to the Antwerp International School in Ekeren! Today is their International Day where all the various communities come together to show off their nation’s food, drink, and culture. There’s much to see and enjoy -both indoors and outdoors. It only happens once every two years and is a chance to see the school at its very best!

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It’s a day to get planting, if you live in Antwerp. You can pick up a free sack of potting soil, courtesy of Stad Antwerpen, between 11 and 4pm today as part of Dag van de Potgrond -an initiative to encourage residents to add some greenery or flowers to their street. Pick up at Cargo Summer Bar (Park Spoor Noord) or at coStA.

Independent record stores celebrate Record Store Day today. In Antwerp, this will happen in Coffee & Vinyl from 10am and in Fatkat Records from midday with in-store performances.

Sunday

It’s Flanders’ largest running event: The Antwerp 10 miles & Marathon! Good luck to everyone running today. Here’s the schedule if you would like to go and cheer the runners on. You can cross the river by free ferry on the day of the run, between 11.30 am and 7.30pm (Steenplein -St Annastrand)

games

 

If you prefer a less energetic type of recreation you could Travel The World in 80 Games (that’s board and table games) at Atlas on Carnotstraat for free. It’s not far from de Coninckplein where the book fair will be taking place right in front of the library between 10am and 4pm.

 

 

 

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Rommel!

 

This week’s free flea market takes place at Skate Planet, near Sportpaleis between 10am and 6pm.

 

 

 

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fairytales at Rivierenhof

On Sundays at Rivierenhof, there are fairytale readings (in Dutch) for 5 euros from 2 -3.30pm. Reserve for your kid(s) via the link.

The weather is predicted to be mild (tops of 12 degrees) with the possibility of a some showers on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Some bright spells on Sunday too.

 

 

 

Miscellaneous ….

For beautiful Antwerp views …did you know that during the summer period the roof of MAS museum is free and open until midnight, Tuesday to Sunday?

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Steen

… and the project Coming World Remember Me has started and will continue until the 8th May. At workshops at Steen, you can make a sculpture out of clay to honour one of the Belgian fallen of World War One. These sculptures will form an installation in Ypres which will be opened in 2018. Each one will incorporate a dog tag with the name of a soldier. You will be provided with the dog tag.

It is free to take part but you need to register by calling 03 292 36 51 or mailing info@vredescentrum.be

Sporting A is offering free basketball coaching for kids aged 6- 14 years of age every Wednesday from 20th April until 25th May. It’s on in various locations from 2pm -4pm (except Sint-Jansplein where it’s 3-5pm).  No need to register, just show up if you are interested.

And a special mention to BATS Antwerp who featured recently in Fans Of Flanders and whose play Three More Sleepless Nights opens today, until 24th April (tickets here). Break a leg, Batty Ones!

 

Finally …

If you follow the blog on Twitter, you will know that I spent some of my weekend trying to counter some misinformation that was being spread by a Belgian blogger who claimed that the police had issued a warning to stay away from Meir. I tweeted the police who confirmed that this was not true. Members of my own family were on Meir and were clear that all was well there: it was sunny, and packed with shoppers as usual. The police had extra security in some places because of information they had received.

It was a useful lesson in cross-referencing, as one Tweet and a bit of Googling demonstrated that the blogger in question was spreading misinformation and alarm. In times where it is not unreasonable to be anxious about such things, we tend to focus on information sources that seem to keep us up to date (especially if you require the information to be in English). Although I demonstrated that the content of the blog post was false in this regard, the blogger has unfortunately declined to alter it.

I will do my best to keep you informed about the official advice as best I can; here and on Twitter. I am happy to correct any information that is shown not to be correct, so don’t hesitate to let me know if you spot a factual error. However,  Nessascityblog is for weekend event information and I’d like it to stay that way, so here are a couple of sources where you can check for yourself: if there are any precautions advised by the security authorities, I am sure that the Gazet van Antwerpen will report the news very quickly. If you need news in English, check out the very useful Flanders Today. Additionally, you can aways check the page of the Antwerp police, or follow them on Twitter. Another good source for security information in Belgium is the Crisis Centre, who are also on Twitter with tweets in Dutch, French and English. It’s always a good idea to check with sources like those before sharing anything that adds to the general anxiety or causes worry to our loved ones, especially those in other countries. The current situation is that the threat level is at 3, and there are no warnings to stay away from Antwerp city centre, or any other area around Antwerp.

… So enjoy a peaceful, spring weekend in Antwerp!

 

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