When I first talked to Gattina on the phone the other week, I immediately knew we were going to get along just fine. We set a date to meet each other in Antwerp. I would pick her up at Antwerp Station at eleven, and when I walked to the station, it was raining. All week, the weather forecast had announced 90% chance to get rain for Thursday so I was not really expecting sunshine and blue skies. I hoped at least we would manage to keep it dry and go for a walk around town. I wanted to show her some of my favorite places, and no matter how beautiful a city is, it’s just not the same when you’re hiding under an umbrella all day!
There was never any shyness when we met at the station. I recognized her immediately and we hugged each other, walked arm in arm under our umbrella’s.
Like old friends.
First thing on the agenda was to find a place to have a good cup of coffee, the best way to get to know each other a little better and avoid the rain at the same time.
Gattina HAD to ask the waiter to take pictures of us. Ewww, I dread that! Posing for a picture is pure torture for me, but the man was a professional, he did a great job.
When we continued our walk after that, the rain had stopped. We put our umbrella’s away, and we even got some blue skies and sun later in the day. We both had our camera’s but we had so much to talk about, we did not really take a whole load of pictures. And when we did it was like: “ Look, a Ruby Tuesday! or “there is a nice Window Views!” “ That would make a nice Odd Shots!
I took her to the not so obvious places, like the beguinage, a place where time has stood still. I showed her the hidden places where you would walk right past if you did not know of them. The Madonna’s on the corners of the streets, and other places I’ve discovered while I was out on one of my photo walks the past two years.
It was past noon, and it was time to find us a place to have lunch. Again, I hate ending up in a tourist trap, so I wanted to find something nice. My first two options were all closed. But then I spotted a place called “ ‘t Goe Leven” which means “the good life”. Now with a name like that, you can’t go wrong I figured, and the place looked very homely and cozy. Good music too, from a genuine Wurlitzer juke box which I HAD to photograph by the way!
You can have tapas there and other small servings of classic dishes like Bouillabaisse or salade Niçoise. The food was delicious. And it must have been interesting to eavesdrop on us. We had geek conversations, we talked about blogging and photography, we shared stories from our lives, and it all came so natural! It’s so weird when you meet a blogger, how well you know each other and how familiar everything sounds. It’s like catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. The conversation was laced with remarks such as “ Oh yes, I know, I read that” or “I saw that in a comment” stuff like that. Hard to believe it was only two hours ago we first met in real life!
Time fled by, and we never had any awkward silences in our conversation. I wanted to show her my favorite place for coffee, and we could even sit outside!
Before we knew it was past five in the afternoon, so it was time to walk back to the station. We were not just around the corner like she thought we were, we had another half hour walk ahead of us. But I still could not resist dragging her inside some “must have seen” places like the Vlaeyckensgang and the Antwerp Festive Hall.
We arrived at the station just in time for her to catch the train back. We said goodbye, but we both knew it would not be the last time we get together.
We’ll do this again, and I can’t wait to visit Brussels and discover the hidden places she has in store for me!
PS: Read Gattina's post on our meeting here.
I'll show more pictures in tomorrow's post and in the next few days, okay?