Thursday, September 25, 2008



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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

C for Culture

Antwerp sure is a city of poets. My next project here will be a poetry blog.
Do you want to read my poetry? Do you write poetry?

Feel free to enter this contest!

The translation contest
Apr 12, 2008 - May 31, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Commenting on comments

It's about a year ago since I've blogged here. Why should I take it up again now?
Well... about a year ago, I disabled the comments on this blog after I got really annoying reactions after I'd translated a magazine article about extreme violence on Antwerp public transport.
One year later, I've come to the conclusion that taking the public transport in Antwerp is no picknick ...
One year ago, a man died after what seemed to be a trivial tiff...
There was much a do about the deadly incident in the media, one paper taking sides in favour of one party, another magazine taking sides in favour of the other party. In the end, the result is the same: a man died for no reason.

In the seventies and eighties, I used to be a keen fan of our public transport. During the nineties, my appreciation slowly but surely changed.
People seemed to have changed. Though there was less harassment and violence than today, I felt less at ease while taking a tram or a bus. I could feel the tension between travelers, whether old or young, local or foreign and drivers seemed to be extremely tense while driving ...

Just a few days ago, I called someone on her cell phone. She was sitting on a bus while answering my call. I could hear a man making totally unnecessary comments on the conversation we were having, he was interfering to the extend we had to break off our conversation!

Now, I am asking myself, in what kind of world are we living?
I count my blessings, being able to drive my own car, enabling me to arrive at my destination unstressed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

C for Centraal

Radio Centraal is a very small alternative radiostation in Antwerp. I discovered the station soon after they started broadcasting, so I've been listening ... for 26 years to their wonderful programmes. Here's the reason why:

When I was in my teens, it was my favourite sport to persuade my dad (he's 80 today and still an amateur Einstein) to find one way or another to extend the antenna of my old Tandy radio so I'd be able to listen to as many radiostations as possible. The result was a weird looking construction of plastic ribbons tied to the wall of my room on the second floor of my parent's house. As a result I was able to listen to Radio Centraal, something not many people could do living in the 'distant' district of Wilrijk.

Here are a few reasons why I wanted to capture this particular radiostation: good reggae music, programmes in Spanish and various exotic languages.

A few years later I discovered an ex-classmate of mine, while he was presenting a programme on biology. Well, this was the explanation why he knew everything about stick insects ...strangely as it seems, this was fascinating for me, because at that time we kept stick insects at home, though sometimes, the little creatures escaped and hid in our curtains, when dad (the absent minded professor) had forgotten to close the terrarium properly ...

2007: my car suddenly decides it wants early retirement and I'm forced to buy a new one. Much to my surprise and lots of 'fingerspitzengefuel' (sort of using your fingers to finetune) I'm able to capture Radio Centraal manually .
My boyfriend claims to be able to listen to Radio Centraal in his car as far as Loenhout (which isn't that far from the Dutch border, though I suspect him of wishful thinking) In all honesty I have to add that he, during his student days, has been quite active in the radio amateur business.
At that time he was living in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and anything concerning radio was a hobby to him. He did have very decent receivers and enhancers ... So one day, he discovered Radio Centraal while living in Holland ...while looking for a decent Reggae programme.
Currently we are living in a southern district of Antwerp and we still enjoy Radio Centraal.
Though I remain convinced that without enhancing and tampering with the right equipment, it is virtually impossible to listen to Centraal outside the old city bourders.
To make a long story short, whenever I listen to the radio while driving, it's a challenge for me to keep capturing the signal as long as possible!

To all the volunteers and radiomakers at Centraal, 106,7 FM, loads of succes! Keep up the good work!


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Sunday, April 01, 2007

City views: shopping

YouTube by Nihiel

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Check out my Guestbook!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

C for city of books

Ever since I learned to read, I've been addicted to reading!
I joined two local libraries from a very early age on. A few years later, I had a huge problem: I'd managed to read all the books they had in my age category ...

So in my very early teens I joined the main library in the centre of Antwerp. I was a very regular visitor till I got my first job and was able to buy books myself. Now I own, together with my partner, who also is a real bookworm a quite extensive collection of various books, covering multiple interests.

Whenever you visit Antwerp and you are in search of good reading material, there are some places you should visit!

When you're into libraries, here are some good ones
The Permeke librabry is the main library in Antwerp

Friday, December 15, 2006

C for citizens

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Antwerp comedians, Gaston Berghmans

This is a picture of Gaston Berghmans, Antwerps most famous comedian!
He turned 80 years old earlier this year. His funniest, most hilarious and best know sketch is a phone conversation during which Gaston plays an approximately 8 or 9 year old child answering the phone at a time his parents aren't home.

I wasn't able to find any footage of the average sketch, but let me assure you, every person in Antwerp knows the following sentence by heart: 'Joske, Joske Vermeulen, meneir, Trammezandlei 122 Schoten!!!' (when the boy is asked who's answering the phone.)

However I did find one picture on Google which gives an idea of the original ... During the sketch the character 'Joske' is repeating the address above so many times that even today, mail is being sent to the address mentioned above!

But beware, though the Trammezandlei is an existing street, it runs through 2 communities: Merksem and Schoten ... Number 122 actually is a house in Merksem! For the sake of phonetics and the funny prononciation in Antwerp dialect, the comedian chose to use the part of the Trammezandlei that runs through Schoten... But in case you would want to try to write to Antwerp's most known address, I bet every postman here will know what you mean ;)

Antwerp comedians, Nigel Williams

Nigel Williams is an Englishman living in Antwerp. He also is one of my favourite comedians. Whether he's an English Belgian or a Belgian Englishman, I can't make up my mind ... I just love the man's humour!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

City life ...

What's happening in my neighbourhood.

(source: YouTube)

City life

Commenting the election's result ...

Last Sunday we had local elections in Belgium.
I live in Antwerp, a city that used to have a long tradition of a large amount of socialist voters and subsequently, socialist mayors.
Before I go any further here, I'd like to explain the names of the main parties in Belgium into terms so they can be understood in English speaking countries.
In the US, you have the republicans and the democrats. US republicans would be called liberals here in Belgium, where as the democrats would be the socialists.
For the UK, the socialists are Labour, and our liberals would be called conservative. UK liberals however would be considered left wingers.
Why am I writing that Antwerp painted the town red again last Sunday and why am I happy about that?
In the early 80's a party called Vlaams Blok emerged out of the Flemish nationalist's party Volksunie. Now Volksunie has always been a democratic party. Some of the members at that time didn't seem to agree anymore with the concept of a democratic party. Some of those members had a former Nazi or neo-Nazi background and were/are linked with paramilitary organizations ...
I don't know how come, but some people seem to have a very short time memory. Had they forgotten about World War II? I don't know. What I do know is that in the late 70's and early 80's, the amount of hours of history lessons one would have in highschool, were cut ... Coincidence or not? Who will tell?
Antwerp is the 2nd biggest town in Belgium. Since the 60's, there always have been living a lot of foreigners. During my childhood, I felt very happy in this melting pot of Moroccans, Turks, Indians, Pakistani, Chinese and last but not least the large Jewish community we have in our town.
From the beginning it was clear that the party then called Vlaams blok had very strong views on foreigners. If it were possible they'd like to send any foreigner back to the country he or she originally came from, even if their families had been living here for generations ... Needless to say they didn't score many votes the first time they took part in the elections. Of course some foreigners create problems, but so do some native Belgians and where would you send them?
Secondly, the original party had a party program booklet, containing 70 issues that would concern the whole of the population in case the party ever would gain power! Women were encouraged to give birth to as many children as possible. Working women ... well their future would be very insecure. Every woman's place would be behind the furnace! Relationships without being married? Don't even think about it! Are you gay? Tough luck! According to the little book, being gay is a big sin!
Those were the views of the party as they were presented to the public. Many people at that time still agreed that voting for Vlaams Blok would mean voting against yourself.
Over the years, only the view on foreigners remained and were adjusted after the party had been convicted on account of being racist.
Here comes in the short time memory of the public again! In any big city minorities seem to be an issue. Many people, in some districts of Antwerp, over 40%, voted for the party Vlaams Blok which had recently it's name change into Vlaams Belang (also as a result after a trial involving racism).
During the years past, none of the other parties ever wanted to collaborate with the party. So we always had socialist mayors. Some were popular, some were not, some did very good work.
The current mayor, Patrick Janssens, has done a good job and had a very good campaign! Though Vlaams Belang is still big in Antwerp, it seems times are changing!
Last Sunday I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the socialist scores! They're back again to their old scores and suddenly I feel more at home in my city and in Flanders in general!
That's why I also painted the town red a little bit while watching the election results on TV

Sunday, August 13, 2006

C for comments ...

As you can notice, the last time I wrote an article on this blog was on July, 28th.
Since then I've been busy taking topic unrelated comments of my blog. I'm aware I tackled a very sensitive subject by translating an extensive magazine article by a well respected Belgian journalist, who had to courage to try and put things in perspective.

No, I haven't been threatened by extreme right wing parties, but I have spent the last days just taking loads of topic unrelated comments of my blog. The comments kept popping up in all of my posts. Even the posts that had nothing to do with the incident I was describing.

For now, I feel sorry for those who want to write serious comments, but I want to preserve the integrity of my blog of what is left of it. So for now on, it's no longer possible to comment on my blog. Those who want to contact me, mail me, say what you have to say but don't send me your silly links. They will be deleted or ignored, so why bother bothering me then?

Well for those who need it,

Love and Light,

Friday, July 28, 2006

B for buses .... The article on what really happened on busline 23

Please read the related post on this subject!
(source: Humo nr.30/3437)

The body of the victim barely showed signs of violence: 2 bruises and a torn fingernail

Prime Minister Verhofstadt announced certain laws allowing prisoners to leave prison before they've completed the whole of their sentence should be reviewed.
Mayor Janssens of Antwerp assessed the crimes as dreadful and absolutely intolerable.
Cardinal Danneels praised the bravery of the victim.

But what did really happen that Saturday afternoon on bus 23? Please stay put in your chairs while reading this article.

The evening before the incident, France had beaten Togo in the World Cup. Initially this was the topic the youngsters where talking about, while they were waiting at the busstop in front of one of Antwerp's colleges. They're making plans what to do during the school holiday's. The day before, they've all taken their final exams.

Laughter at the bus
Between the busstop at the Hospital where the victim (traindriver) got on and the Astridplein there are 4 stops. It's a one km drive (3/4 miles). Normally it takes about 7 minutes. The bus is full. Most seats are taken. A few people are standing.
The youngsters were on the backseat, or near to the back seat. Also the traindriver is sitting nearby.
The 6 kids are noisy. Too noisy to the taste of the traindriver. He's on his way to the nearby Central station, where he would have started his shift on the Thalys. (high speed train between Paris and Amsterdam).
He gets up and shouts at the kids: 'Can't you keep things quiet?'

What follows afterwards is not a clearcut situation. Most of the witnesses had to admit that they had noticed very little of what had happened at the bus before what was later referred to as 'the murder'. Those who had seen something come close to confirm the declarations of the youngsters.

One of the boys offered his apologies to the traindriver. Apparently the way he apologized didn't please the man. The traindriver looks very annoyed. The boys then continue their animated conversation...

For some reason or another we couldn't stop laughing, one of them explained later on.
The traindriver returns to the group of youngsters, while pointing his finger at one of them and tells them to stop: now!

Most passengers don't take any notice: they are staring in front of them. They just ignore the traindriver as well as the boys. One of the kids starts to impersonate a donkey or at least makes donkey like sounds. The others join him.

They themselves admit this was very childish behaviour and they shouldn't have done it. But then again, the reactions of the man became extreme.
The man stands up again: they have to stop immediately. He points his finger at one of the kids again and yells: it's always the same, you Morroccans making trouble. One of the kids grabs the guy's finger and pushes it away.

The man's forehead becomes all sweaty. He starts to breathe faster and faster. He grabs the boy by the throat. The boy is 1.60m in height (5ft4). The man seems a giant compared to him. The man pushes the boy's head against one of the bus's windows and yells something that to witnesses sounded like: "You'll keep quiet now".
The boy swings his arms in an attempt to push the man away, but he doesn't succeed to move the 2 arms that nearly suffocate him. According to his friends, his face turned all read and he barely was able to breathe.

A 14-year old girl writes a letter that will be read during the traindriver's funeral.
Dear Sir,
I saw you, I saw you standing there, your arms in the air, in the middle of the bus. You didn't beat anyone. I saw them beating.
The girl was later questioned by the police. No she didn't see the man beating anyone. What she did she was, she admitted, was that the man grabbed the boy first.

Kick in the chest
The whole incident happened in a few seconds. The boy tries to cry 'help'. The man didn't lose his grip, or not instantly. One of the boy's friends kicks the assailant of his friend on the chin. The man still doesn't lose his grip. The friend kicks again, somewhat harder. Now the man lessens his grip. He loses his balance.

While being questioned, the friend of the boy declares:'He was strangling my friend, I had to do something.'

One of the youngsters pushes the alarmbutton. The bus stops, the doors swing open. The youngsters leave the bus as soon as possible.
One has to crawl over the fallen man and kicks him in the chest.

Taking for granted that the actions of the youngsters can be put into the category of brutal and senseless violence, the reaction of one of them is remarkable. One of the boys remains in his seat at the bus. Nobody seems to be taking any notice of him.

His lawyer states that this boy hadn't been involved in the incident. He had nothing to do with it. He got of the bus the next stop. All witnesses agree on this.

According to the D.A's office and the Monday papers, this boy had taken part in the incident and had fled together with the others.

His lawyer agreed that his client didn't report himself to the police. But why should he have? Only later did he realize that the incident was in the spotlights. None of the boys had realized that the man had died.

According to the first articles published in the media, the youngsters had been fighting among them on the bus and their victim had died in an attempt to settle the disagreement. After 3 weeks of investigation nothing of this assumptions stands. The boys weren't fighting, they were having a laugh. The reconstruction confirms that the traindriver was the first man to use violence.

Fight or flight
When 5 of the kids are strolling along the neighbourhood shops, the traindriver is still alive. He struggled to stand up, but is shaking on his legs and sweating heavily. A few passengers inform the busdriver. He stops the bus at the nearest stop, runs to the rear end of the bus and sees how the man collapses in a seat. He and a few passengers stare in 2 eyes which have lost all signs of live.

The youngster can't have known that their assailant lost conscienceness. Also the one who stayed on the bus couldn't have known. He left the bus when the man was still standing.

According to the autopsy report the body barely showed signs of violence. Two bruises and a torn fingernail were found. There was no trace to be found of the kick in the chest. Apparently the man died of a lord membrane haemorrhage. According to the report such a haemorrage can be caused by the 'fight or flight syndrome'. This is a natural reflex which gives a human extraordinary powers due to a natural shot of adrenaline caused by a state of fear or arousal. In the case of the traindriver this coincided with high blood pressure. This condition is also know among panicking divers.

The conclusion in the autopsy report is clear cut: the kicks the victim received from the boys did not result in his death. According to the lawyers there's only a small chance somebody will be convicted. Unfortunately the man brought himself in to a situation that caused his own death. One could state that one of the boys was hurt more gravely than the victim.
In this particular case the legal system wanted to be very sure no mistake was made. A board of experts has been put at work and 2 weeks ago they came to the same conclusion as the one described above: lord membrane haemorrhage.

At first everything seemed to be so clear: a man drops dead on a bus, seconds after a violent incident involving kids of foreign descent. Then the kids run. This is what was seen by the witnesses. Few days later, the D.A. lessened the charges. Now they don't even seem to stand.

The photoalbum
Had the police been searching for let's say Bin Laden, they would have used similar force in comparison with the M.O. they used to catch the boys. Armed policemen raided the neighbourhood where the boys lived. They were wearing full gear: helmets, guns, bullet proof vests ...
One of the boy's mum tells that during the raid, doors were being kicked in and cupboards destroyed. A 5 month old baby allegedly was taken out of it's crib. The father of one of the boys was kicked himself during the raids.
The police states that they were able to find the culprits by using their 'infamous photoalbum', to be compared with a catalogue containing hundreds of pictures of people who ever got arrested by the police. Good craftmanship, for which they were congratulated by the prime minister who announced that the culprits would be severely punished.

One of the lawyer's says: I'm curious, my client was sitting on a bus and did nothing at all, except running from an incident. Does he think his client will leave the court as a free man? He doesn't know what to answer. At the moment his client realized he was linked to a case that had been blown up in the media, he went to the police himself. The lawyer doesn't understand how his client's picture ended up in the photoalbum: he is a Spanish national, who was visiting relatives. He didn't have any police records: neither in Belgium, neither in Spain.

They look so alike...
On the 4th of July, after 10 days in custody, 2 of the boys are released from prison. One of them is mentally handicapped. He barely realizes what happened. Another boy is released from a juvenile detention centre a few days later. On the 10th of July, a 4th boy was released. The court has to acknowlegde they'd made a mistake by relying on a witness statement:'They all look so alike.'
One boy admits he has kicked the man, but not very hard. A 2nd boy also admits to have beaten the man. One is still in prison, the other in a juvenile detention centre, but maybe not for long.
The busdriver declared to the press that the boys hadn't bought a ticket, but 4 of them didn't have to, they bought buspasses, as students usually do. 2 of them admit they didn't pay for the busfare.

Threatening letters
During the days after the incident, former women's boxing champion Daniella Somers, had some explaining to do. One of the boys has been a member of her boxing club for years. According to her, he hadn't been one of her best pupils. In fact he was quite weak compared to the others who never would team up with him during training. Nevertheless she was disappointed in her pupil. Even if he hadn't beaten anyone, he did nothing to prevent the incident. (my reflection upon this: would he be able to, being not so good at boxing?)

Since September 1st, 2005, the law is very strict: names of minors involved in court cases cannot be published in the media. A former police commissioner and safety advisor to the extreme right wing party Vlaams Belang (he, himself is due in court as a defendant in a case involving racist remarks and acts of violence put the full name of one of the boys on his website) This boy was the 2nd who voluntarily reported himself to the police. Earlier that day he was taken care of in an Antwerp hospital for stomach problems. Two days long he had been listening to radio and TV and had heard that the police were looking for 6 member murdering squad. He hadn't reported himself earlier because he was ill because he had been full of fear. This boy's lawyer explained on television that he had nothing to do with the whole incident. He was just on that bus with his friends and didn't do anything. The day after the lawyer had appeared on TV, he discovered a scratch on his car, clearly caused by a sharp instrument. Also the lawyer received a few letters threatening him. He doesn't suspect foreigners however. While he was buying a paper and the guy in the newsstand tells him that people are gossiping about the lawyer and that he is no longer liked...
In the mean time, his client is free again. According to the lawyer he didn't need to make much effort to obtain this result. He just waited for the result of the inquiries. The 2 boys who were his clients are to respect a curfew and they have to follow suitable pedagogical advice.
One of the lawyers states that the fact remains that the traindriver probably would still be alive, hadn't he been on that bus. It remains a fact that this particular bus line doesn't have a good reputation (note: I know, I've taken that bus for years and decided to get my driver's license because of the general atmosphere)
When an adult appears in court, all the judge is concerned about is the question of guilt. When a minor appears before juvenile court,

*to be continued on August, 1st ... My holidays are finished as of today and the first day back at work was so hectic, I fell asleep as soon as I got home ...*
*Have I been tired the rest of the week also?
No I've stopped the translation for a while, because I was getting some topic unrelated comments on several blog entries. They were funny but not relevant to the articles. I've now changed the comment settings here to 'moderated'!

Hoping to resume translation some time this weekend!
Well here I am again: When a minor appears before juvenile court, the judge will access the case from different angles, for instance, what can be done about the youngsters anti-social behaviour.
One of the lawyers is being asked: your client didn't do anything wrong, yet he'll be punished. The lawyer says it's more of a matter of how to behave on a bus, shouting at passengers is just not done.
Very different from what had been suggested at first none of the youngsters had been in prison before. 3 out of the 6 were known as small offenders, letting themselves into petty theft or fights. The most remarkable culprit turned out to be a copycat of the Paris arsenists. He supposedly threw a Molotov cocktail at a car, but he turned out be the biggest victim. The case was closed because there was no proof that the boy had thrown the bomb.

After the traindriver had died, a small group of union representatives paid their respect to his widow. In the house, the delegation saw a cupboard full of books about 'Vlaams Legioen' (Flemish legion), Hitler's 3rd Reich and some flags of the extreme right wing group Voorpost, the latter being some sort of fighting squad linked to the Flemish party 'Vlaams Belang' (this party being the former Vlaams Blok, a party that changed it's name after being convicted for racism) While questioned by the police the widow stated that her husband had had deviant ideas about foreigners, without being racist however.

At the moment I'm writing this, the final report about what happened has been completed. The report showed that the man had a very weak health. He suffered from arteriosclerosis. The report comes close to stating that if the man had missed his bus and he would have run to catch up with it, this could have been fatal too.

The youngsters that have been released aren't allowed to talk to the press. The question remains: 'Why?'

The magazine HUMO was the only one to write an extensive article about the incident. When it comes to national newspapers only a paper called Nieuwsblad published a very small article to rectify what they had published before ...

In this translation I omitted all names of the youngsters, their family, their lawyers and their victim. I now realize I mentioned the name of the boxing coach. Fact is I like her, she's a nice person who floored a bankrobber while he tried to rob her former husband's bank!
I think she's doing a good job giving youngsters a purpose in life!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

boys will be boys

Next time I take a walk in the park, I'll be watching my step ...

beatboxx antwerp

Well I guess no-one can resist trying to be a human beatbox ...
But why does this remind me of 'Police Academy'?

Living in Antwerp, Belgium: B for buses: an update of what really happened on busline 23 ...

Living in Antwerp, Belgium: B for buses .... (in memoriam for a brave man)

This is an update of a story I wrote before. At the time (Manic) commented "It's seems he wasn't quite that polite. The youngsters and some other sources say that the guy grabbed on of them to the troat and that kid almost suffocated if the train driver didn't let go by the punches. Don't know if it's true, but if it's true the guy isn't so innocent."
It was still early days into the investigation. A few days ago I read the full story in a magazine. Seems Manic was right and the truth is even worse.
Of course nobody should have died and I pity the man's family.
No this man wasn't as innocent as he first seemed to be.
I think it is only fair to tell the 2 sides of the story.
Currently, I'm translating the article I read. It's quite an indept story. I hope to be finished by tomorrow.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

B for Buena Sera Guido Belcanto

opening atlashuis - guido belcanto
Guido Belcanto is a troubadour like singer. The lyrics to his songs mainly are about the eternal theme of love and heartache. He sings mainly in Dutch/Flemish and he's normally not afraid of tackling the lesser sides of life.
In this amateur video I found on he covers the golden oldie Buena Sera ...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

B for Berchem, one of the Antwerp Districts

The inserted linked leads you to the official site of the district of Berchem.

Berchem used to be an independant community untill 1983 it joined Antwerp with 7 other districts.

When walking through the streets of Berchem and entering the district of Antwerp, you cannot tell whether you are in Antwerp or in Berchem.

Berchem has a very nice cultural centre! It provides courses for the inhabitants, hosts conferences, art exhibitions and many more!

This is the link to the cultural centre's site:


Berchem also is the hometown of the De Koninck Brewery

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A for Alternative Music - meet some creative Antwerp Musicians part 5

Live : Internationals : Cameleon festival : 2006-07-08

So you finally get to listen to some of my favourite bands!

A for Alternative Music - meet some creative Antwerp Musicians part 4

Live : Savana Station : Cameleon festival : 2006-07-08

Very hard to find any information on this band!

A for Alternative Music - meet some creative Antwerp Musicians part 3

The Kids - bloody belgium

This brings back some youth memories!

Friday, July 14, 2006

A for Alternative Music - meet some creative Antwerp Musicians part 2


Thursday, July 13, 2006

B for Beach ...

I can imagine some among you wondering ... A beach in Antwerp? It's not even near the seaside.
Yet Antwerp does have a beach. Many locals who don't have the means to go on a 'real holiday' resort to 'St.Anneke-plage' as it is commonly called!

The beach even has his own website

Enjoy the seaside! Urmmm, I mean the riverside!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bloopers in road signs ...

The Abijstraat is a street well known for it's shops and the humour of it's inhabitants...

So while in the street, builders where working at a new mall, there were some consequences for the local traffic and a road sign was put up.

What's so funny about this sign?

'Andijvie' is the Flemish word for 'endives'....

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Antwerp, Belgium ... Belgium is known for his beer and the many variants.

Passing through Antwerp and looking for notable places or breweries?
Ask the 'beerguru' (In Dutch written as 'biergoeroe'

Enjoy your stay and try to avoid hangovers!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

B for buses .... (in memoriam for a brave man)

A few days ago a traindriver was sitting on the bus that normally would have taken him to the station, so he would be able to start a normal day's work.

While sitting on the bus, a few youngsters became very loud and annoying to the other commuters. The traindriver decided to try to end the ongoing quarrel and walked towards the group of youngsters. He politely asked if they could keep things a little bit more quiet ...

Little was he to know that this would get him involved in a fight that he wouldn't survive. During the fight, most commuters left the bus. Only the driver and one couple stayed on board.

It's not the first time that people leave public transport while a quarrel breaks out. Up until 10 years ago, I too was a keen user of public transport. I quit taking the bus or the tram after witnessing a quarrel between a busdriver and a group of ladies that refused to pay the fare ... I also ended up staying alone in the bus, with the busdriver trying to break up the quarreling in order to get the very abusive ladies off the bus. My concern was for the busdriver. My eyes and ears were focused on both the ongoing situation and the busdriver's radio. I was thinking about how to operate the radio at the moment the driver would get into trouble ... (I didn't own a mobile phone yet at that time)

All the others had left ... Ten years ago the busdriver was able to manage the situation.

Ten years have past since then. The public's behaviour only has gotten worse. Some youngsters, regardless their nationality, seem to have no values at all. I didn't feel safe at that bus 10 years ago, but I had the guts to stay put.

But I must admit, after that incident, I've rarely taken a bus or tram.
Some people must think that I'm crazy ... driving through Antwerp! At least I have the feeling that I'm in control of my own situation and I drive as responsible as possible with respect for all, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers of their own mopeds, motorcycles or cars ....

And I certainly feel a deep respect for the drivers of all forms of public transport! Nowadays they risk their lives. During my childhood and youth, taking public transport was fun!

The world has changed a lot since then!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

B for books and where to find them

Well you are most likely to find books in the city library:

Then there some renomated second hand bookshops like De Slegte:
This shop is very well known in Antwerp. But what the inhabitants of Antwerp tend to forget is that De Slegte is in fact a Dutch firm!

My second favourite is 'Het Boekenvoordeel'

But in and around the city smaller second hand bookshops are to be found!
Whenever you come to Antwerp you must visit the Statiestraat in the district of Berchem and the Hoogstraat in the centre of Antwerp.

Do you want to buy new books?
Well, FNAC and Standaardboekhandel are the best known and biggest shops in town.
There's only one FNAC in Antwerp, to be found at the Groenplaats, near to the cathedral
Standaard Boekhandel however, has got many shops across town!

Well most books you find in the shops or the library will be in Dutch, but the library has got an extensive collection of books in foreign languages and also in Fnac and Standaardboekhandel you can find books in common foreign languages like English and French!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Absurd traffic situations and how to handle them

At this moment, a lot of road works are going on in and around Antwerp.
By this I mean, you must be either a very experienced driver to survive in Antwerp, or you must be ... local and used to all kinds of crazy situations!

Let me give you an overview:
Last year the highway around Antwerp was being repaired and we had to use secondary roads to arrive at our destination. Now the secondary roads need to be repaired and emergency bridges had to be towed away, so the highway is full and accidents happen every day.

Meanwhile, there are also road works going on in the centre of the city. If you don't know the shortcuts, driving through Antwerp is bound to make you nervous!

Next, traffic signs can be very confusing here: sometimes you will find signs telling you to do opposite things! Pretty confusing...

Last but not least, the average Antwerp driver is not very patient. It happens to me more than once a day that someone loses his/her temper because I mind cyclist and tend to stop to let pedestrians cross the street at a zebra crossing ...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Antwerp actors

Axel Daeseleire, best known for his role in the Flemish detective series 'Flikken' (Cops, in case you were wondering ...)

Filip Peeters, best known for his role as a private eye in a lawyers's practice. Today he's hot in Germany (or so I'm told)

Jan De Cleir, our most famous actor and former teacher at the 'Studio Herman Teirlinck' acting academy. A few years ago he came very close to winning an Oscar!

Johny Voners, my favourite actor. He's got multiple talents, from comedy to classical acting and even singing Charles Aznavour!

Julien Schoenaerts: a real classical actor, who's also know for his excentric behaviour. Nearly every former Antwerp highschool student who took Latin, Greek or Estetics as major subjects must remember him as Socrates in Plato's apology!

Nowadays, he must be over 80 years old. I hope he still gets the respect he deserves in his old age!

Werner Van Asbroeck, mostly known as a soap star, but I'm sure he's got other tricks up his sleeve...

Links will be provided later, please come back!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A: Alternative theatre: absurd or confronting the inhabitants with some of their bad habits

Antwerp is a city of many theatres, from biggest and classical theatre (Toneelhuis), Theatre companies acting in dialect, street theatre, satirical performances, amateur societies, all are to be found in Antwerp.

Here are some links to the sites of Antwerp theatre companies: (in dialect) (satire)

I tried to find sites about local amateur societies, but so far I wasn't very successful. I'll add links later!

Friday, June 09, 2006

A for alternative music - meet some Antwerp Musicians

Meet some of my favourite Antwerp musicians!

Axl Peleman, my favourite contemporary blues musician
Deus, yes, they really are from Belgium,
The Internationals, an Antwerp Ska Band (so you can listen to the music)
Savannah Station, an Antwerp reggae band: (so you can listen to the music)
Ferre Grignard, sadly died in 1981, he can be described as our local John Lennon. (I wonder how Ferre would react, seeing his name mentioned in websites)
The Kids, the first Antwerp punk band
Wannes Van de Velde, the best known Antwerp folksinger.
John Lundstrom, folk singer (°1919 - +1990). Sadly today, there is not a lot of information available concerning John Lundstrom. Many of his songtexts got lost over the years ...

Do take a look at the links in this post!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Assassinations in the streets of Antwerp.

Thursday, May 11th 2006 will remain a black day in the history of Antwerp.
On this day, 3 people were shot in broad daylight and in cold blood. Two of them died instantly, a 2-year old girl and her African au pair. A Turkish woman who was reading a book while sitting on a bench got critically wounded, but according to the latest news, her healing process is getting along fine.

On Friday, May 26th 2006, 18000 - 20000 people took part in a silent demonstration. People that were not able to attend to this event were asked to wear white clothes at work to show their sympathy with the victims. I wore white that they at work, but seemed to be the only one apart from those who had the liberty to take some hours off to go to the demonstration.

The assassin was a 18-year old schoolboy, who'd previously to his actions, had been sanctioned at school. In the media it was said that the boy was known to have extreme right wing sympathies. He was being described as a skinhead.

Later on in the news, we learned the young man was related to an MP, belonging to the extreme right wing party Vlaams Belang. (Vlaams Belang can be translated as 'Flemish Interest)
But I wonder, how can it be in the interest of Flanders to shoot innocent people in cold blood and in broad daylight?

At the time of the demonstrations many participants hoped that the killings would make people think twice before voting Vlaams Belang again.

Now, as I'm completing this article, it's been 4 weeks since the killings. Polls have showed that voters aren't likely to change the party they for ...

I'm wondering, what does it take, before one changes his/her mind?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A: Alternative medicine: useful or just invented to make quacks rich?

Hi, I'm back again,

I must admit, those were a long two weeks!

But the long break has given me new inspiration.
Why writing about alternative medicine in a city blog, you might wonder.
Well ... When one opens the letterbox, coming home from work, one might just find a leaflet written in crappy English by some self proclaimed African professor who calls himself Mamadou or Abou, or whatever name similar ...
They claim to have a cure for whatever illness you can find in a medical encyclopedia!

Yet there are a lot of genuine general practitioners and spiritual centers in and around the city that offer alternative therapies in combination with allopathic ones!

Monday, January 23, 2006

A break from blogging

For now, I'm taking a break from blogging.My Dutch boyfriend is moving in with me and we both have a lot of work at our hands decluttering both of our current houses ...Hope to be back in 2 week's time!

Love from Antwerp!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Art by unknown artists!

In Antwerp, many museums and art galleries are to be found!
Some artists are well known, others are unknown!

Please enjoy this picture of an unknown artist!

This oilpainting is of the hand of Kamiel Riske, during his lifetime (born in Antwerp on May 8th 1921 - deceased in Essen, near Antwerp on August 6th 1999) Kamiel always was a very productive and enthusiastic artist.

Throughout his life, Kamiel's style of painting changed a lot. He's produced a lot of work, from a very young age on and in doing so, his work evoluated towards the end of his life to a very different style indeed!

The heirs of Kamiel Riske happen to be my aunt and uncle. I've promised them to set up an online gallery in honour of Kamiel. I'm currently preparing a blog about the extraordinary life of this artist. To be able to do so, I spent a lot of time gathering information about the life of Kamiel and my boyfriend was so kind to take pictures of most of his existing works!

But Kamiel is just one of Antwerp's unknown artists ... They'll be dealt with in another blog!

Nowadays things are improving for unknown artists in Antwerp. One of the galleries I like most, happens to specialize in art by beginning artists.

Do you want to take a look? Enter the world of

Monday, January 09, 2006

Antwerp, the oldest district of the city?

When I first started working on this blog, I was under the impression that Antwerp, being called the first district, effectively was the oldest district of our town. It certainly is the core district of our town!

Before I start writing an article, it's only natural that, first and foremost, some thorough research is needed to get things right! Getting stuck in some books helps, browsing the internet helps ... I remember from the history lessons at highschool that the Romans were the first to mention names of places that still can be found around Antwerp today ...

Around 250 BC, the river Scheldt was called Scaldis, the river Schijn was called Scina, the neighbourhood Kiel was called Caloes and the district Deurne was called Thurini ... The name 'Antwerp' is mentioned for the first time around the 7th century, not as a city, but as what was later to become the whole province of Antwerp.

You must be wondering what the rivers and the mentioned districts look like today? Well one of my New Year's resolutions this year is, to always carry my digital camera with me!

I now realize that this post will need some time to complete!

In short this article is turning out somewhat different from what I thought it would be!

Normally, sites are under construction, well it seems that I have a post on my hand that'll stay under construction for some time.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Antwerp, the little apple

The city of New York is often referred to as ' the big apple'.
Maybe Antwerp can be referred to as being 'the little apple' on the globe.
Anyway, there are striking similarities between the two cities.

For instance Antwerp has it's own, small but interesting ,version of Chinatown. In the Van Wesenbeeckstraat you find the biggest concentration of Chinese restaurants, take-aways, Asian shops, a real Chinese supermarket called 'Sun Wah' and much more.

Every year the Chinese New Year is being celebrated in the street and the annual parade of Dragons, is very much appreciated by the local inhabitants and tourists.

We have a large Jewish community, just like New York has. Just like in New York, their presence is very noticeable and Jewish entrepreneurs have a large impact on the local community. E.g. our diamond industry and trade. Maybe the Jewish quarter can be compared with Brooklyn. The Jewish quarter, being the heart of the diamond industry is of huge importance to the city's economy!

We also have a district called Hoboken, I've been told that our Hoboken is the original one and that Hoboken, New York was founded by emigrants coming in from Hoboken, Antwerp, Belgium ...

In short Antwerp, Belgium can be described as a melting pot of many nationalities. This topic will be dealt with later on in a log called 'Foreigners' ...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

An ABC about daily life in Antwerp, Belgium

Finally I'm able to publish the list of topics I want to discuss in this blog!

A: Apple?
A: Antwerp, the oldest district of the City.
A: Art and art galeries, past and present
A: Alternative medicine: useful or just invented to make quacks rich?
A: Alternative music: meet some creative Antwerp musicians...
A: Alternative theatre: absurd or confronting the inhabitants with some of their bad habits?
A: Actors
A: Absurd traffic situations and how to handle them!

B: Books and where to find them
B: Beach?!
B: Beer!
B: Berchem, one of the districts of Antwerp
B: Berendrecht, one of the districts of Antwerp
B: Breakdancing
B: Borgerhout, one of the districts of Antwerp

C: Citylife
C: Citizens
C: City of Books
C: Culture
C: Cartoons and Comics
C: Colleges

D: Driving
D: Drinking
D: Dodoens
D: Dialect?
D: Digipolis
D: Doel, one of the villages neigbouring the harbour
D: Deurne, one of the districts of the city

E: Electricity
E: Eventually ...
E: E-mail
E: Extra
E: Ekeren, one of the districts of the city

F: Facts
F: Fashion
F: Food
F: Frogs
F: Fun
F: Foreigners
F: Films

G: Geography
G: Giraffes
G: Gender issues
G: Geese ...
G: Gardens
G: Garbage

H: Home
H: Houses
H: Harbour
H: Highschools
H: Hip-Hop
H: Hoboken, one of the districts of Antwerp

I: I, me, myself and I! What about me?
I: Intuition
I: Interesting
I: International
I: Issues
I: Industrial activities

J: Jeans
J: Junk
J: Jail
J: Jump
J: Jewelry

K: Kilo
K: Kilometres
K: Kallo, one of the villages neighbouring the harbour
K: Kangaroos

L: Living
L: Live music
L: Local celebrities
L: Local habits
L: Lillo, one of the districts of Antwerp
L: Linkeroever, on the left bank of the river Scheldt

M: Music
M: Markets
M: Magazines
M: Moments
M: Merksem, one of the districts of Antwerp

N: New
N: Noticable
N: Nightlife
N: Nationalities

O: Ooh!
O: Obsolete
O: Occasions
O: Old
O: Obsessions

P: Papers
P: Poets
P: Puke?
P: Pretty
P: Policemen and women
P: Politics and politicians

Q: Questions?
Q: Quests?
Q: Q-tips!
Q: Quiet?

R: Rasta
R: Racism
R: Red lights
R: Reggae
R: Restaurants
R: Round-abouts
R: Roads

S: Streets
S: Social services
S: Schools
S: Swings
S: Sweet?
S: Soccer
S: Sex in the city
S: Stand up comedians

T: Tan
T: Toys
T: Thinking ...
T: Taxi
T: Trees

U: Universities
U: Universal
U: Unique

V: Various

W: Water
W: What?!
W: Wilrijk, one of the districts of the city
W: Wonder
W: Wandering

X: X-files ...

Y: Youths
Y: Youthclubs

Z: Zandvliet, one of the districts of the city (last but not least)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Today I'd wanted to publish a list of all the topics I hope to write about in future!
Yes, I'm talking about the complete ABC - list, a content table of this blog so to speak ...

Well today is the day that my broadband provider let me down: it seems I'm the owner of a broken feeder, which means no broadband internet, nor analogue, nor digital TV. Let's look on the bright side: this gives me time to catch up on forgotten housework and chores ... And I can always prepare the list offline and re-edit this post later when the feeder is replaced.

I hope to be fully online again soon and see you in a week or so!

A for Antwerp - Ohio

Antwerp - Ohio has a really nice website. It's a shame really the history link doesn't work...
Again this is a very small town compared to Antwerp in Belgium: 1740 inhabitants when they last counted!

Whoever said that in America everything is bigger?

A for Antwerp - New York

Wow, Antwerp-New York only has 716 inhabitants! It must be real quiet living there!
Quite a difference when compared to the 477,000 Antwerp in Belgium has!

Monday, January 02, 2006

A for all the towns called Antwerp in the world

Browsing for information on Antwerp, Belgium, I found out that in the USA alone there are 2 cities called Antwerp: Antwerp, New York and Antwerp Ohio ...

Now I'm wondering what they look like

A for another year ...

A for another year.
2006 will be the year I want to use to do Antwerp justice by writing an ABC about the city I also happen to live in.

I was stimulated to take up this project because I recently read in someone's blog that Belgium would be boring. The man who wrote this only stayed here for one day, taking part in a training for mountainbikers. Other than training facilities, there was little time for him to explore or other discover the most diverse features that make not only Antwerp but Belgium as a whole very interesting and appealing for foreigners.

The aim of this blog is to provide an ABC to Antwerp for every visitor!
Antwerp is visited by tourists, businesspeople, 'folks just passing through', sailors, politicians. For whatever reason you want to visit Antwerp, this blog should provide you with the information you are looking for!

Friday, December 30, 2005

A stands for Antwerp

Where does the name Antwerp come from?

Those among you whom have visited Antwerp and the Grote Markt (Big Square), might have noticed a statue in front of the city hall: it's the statue of Brabo tossing the hand of the Giant who used to demand toll from the skippers that wanted to enter the harbor.

Brabo thought the ways of the Giant were very unfair and so inhospitable, that he became furious in such a way, that he fought the Giant with the result that the latter lost his hand and Brabo tossed it in the river Scheldt, so the Giant wasn't able to ask toll no more.

That's what being depicted by the statue.

In Flemish the word 'hand' means ... 'hand' and 'werpen' means 'toss', hence the explanation in local folklore of the name of the city Antwerpen ...

But do you reckon this is true?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Living in Antwerp

Seasons Greetings from Antwerp Belgium!

As this is my first post on this blog, I'd like to give my readers some idea of what they might find here in future: well, nearly everything what springs to my mind concerning alternative medicine, Antwerp (of course) over books, languages and poetry to ... Zen!

Do you want to see what Antwerp looks like from the sky?

This picture was taken 25 years ago from the roof of one of our historic buildings!

Greetings from Antwerp