Sunday, September 21, 2014

Antwerp and Breendonk

This past Saturday, I embarked on another Belgian day trip with some of my friends to Breendonk and Antwerp. Our first stop was Breendonk, which used to be a concentration camp during World War II. According to our tour, there were 3,500 prisoners housed in Breendonk, 30 of whom were women. At this camp, prisoners were tortured and forced into demanding physical labor. Many of the prisoners housed there were resistance fighters and criminals, as well as Jews. Our tour guide told us that all of the prisoners were interrogated and tortured to give up information and of the thirty women tortured here, not one of them ever revealed a thing. The willingness of these prisoners to suffer to protect others is incredible and I have infinite respect for these men and women. Being at the camp, it was difficult to imagine what it truly must have been like and I am grateful to our tour guide for telling us exactly what happened inside the walls of the camp. Our tour guide acted as though he was the SS, trying to give us a tiny taste of what being in Breendonk must have felt like. Visiting Breendonk showed me just a small part of the suffering that occurred during World War II and I am overwhelmed to have experienced this for myself. Nothing can compare with seeing one of these camps in real life and my words cannot, and will not, ever do this place justice.

Our Tour guide Chris in Breendock

The exterior of Breendock

A wall containing some of the names of the Breendonk prisoners

After Breendonk, we rode onward to Antwerp, a port city here in Belgium.Upon arriving, we walked through the city and went out to lunch. Kat, Lexie, and I stopped to eat at the cute outdoor patio of a restaurant called De groote witte arend, or "the great white eagle." For lunch, I tried a sandwich with radishes, onion, and cheese with a side of fries and it was pretty good. The other girls sampled the salad and the tomato and meatball soup, which smelled incredible.

Lunch time!

Since we were only in Antwerp for the day, our next stop was the Museum aan de Stroom, or the Museum on the River. This museum, which opened in 2011, is a must see for anyone visiting Antwerp.For this museum, we opted for the guided tour and our tour guide was like a history book of knowledge, which made the tour extremely educational. The building has a terrace, called the Panorama, on the top where we got a 360-degree view of Antwerp and the river. Inside, each floor of the museum is divided by a different theme. Some of the topics addressed in the museum were Life and Death, which was my favorite, Power, and Metropolis. This museum did an awesome job incorporating multimedia presentations with the artifacts and pieces of art. I enjoyed the themes used on each floor, since they were unusual compared to the sections of many other museums. Since we only had two hours, we had a brief tour of each floor, yet I could have spent two hours on each floor it was that wonderful! If you are ever in Antwerp, the MAS is a must see! After our time in the MAS, it was time to head back to Leuven.

A Minerva car from the 1930's

A giant mask used in Carnival

Getting sassy with a statue

All in all, Antwerp and Breendonk were two great areas to combine into one day trip that was not at all overwhelming. I do however suggest that if you visit the MAS, try to go for more than jsut two hours, since there is so much to see. I enjoyed Antwerp so much, I am looking forward to planning  a return trip very soon!


  1. Hi Clem - I enjoy your blog - you are an entertaining writer! Glad to see you are having such a great time!

    1. Thank you, Aunt Chrissy! Belgium has been amazing so far! I am glad you like my blog! xoxo from Leuven