February 16, 2008

The weather was beautiful here in Antwerp for several days last week. We had lots of sun, a bright blue sky and warm temperatures. After a few days of cold and gloom it is sunny and clear again today, although not as warm.

Last Sunday we went to the Antwerp Zoo. It is an old zoo right next to the train station in the center of town. Lots of families and lots and lots of kids were out enjoying the lovely weather and seeing the animals. Maybe because it was built long ago, or maybe just by design, the barriers between many of the animals and people do not seem too great. It felt as though we could have reached out and touched the animals had we'd tried. The buildings have character and no two are the same style. It's not a huge zoo but is laid out well. Gardens, grass and trees give the feeling of being in a park. The entire place can be seen in a few hours at a leisurely pace. Here are a few pictures from the day:


Inside the zoo with the train station in the background


The lovely weather was perfect for walking around town. Jim takes daily walks for a couple of hours at a faster pace than I can keep. He usually goes when I'm at physio having my own workout. Here are some pictures from his walks on the nice days:

The marina on the Linkeroever (left bank)


A sandy beach on the edge of the river Schelde on the Linkeroever



The Antwerp War Against the Buzz Bombs

Antwerp was the target of 12,000 V-1 and 1,341 V-2 flying bombs. The Germans launched them from France and Holland beginning in October 1944. More than 7,000 Antwerpers were killed by them. The buzz the V-1s made in the air gave short notice of their impending arrival and account for their name of buzz bombs. The world got its first taste of the terror of the ballistic missile.

A monument near the Port of Antwerp

An American, Brigadier General Clare Hibbs Armstrong, was given the top-secret job to protect Antwerp, code named "Antwerp X". The hope was that he could achieve a 50% success rate in stopping the V-1s. Soon the joint British and American force of 22,000 antiaircraft gunners had a 60% kill rate. This increased and by Spring 1945 the rate had increased to an incredible 98%. They keep the Port of Antwerp open which supplied 80% of the supplies needed by the Allied armies and if the V-1s had reached their target in mass it would have made Antwerp a smoking crater.

To read more see: Antwerp X: The AAA war against the Buzz Bombs

V-1 flying bomb wind vane at the Vrijdag (Friday) Market square





A face made from a stump. The eyes and brows are bike rims and fenders.


I've found this same boar statue at the Royal Gardens in Brussels, in Munich, near Ponto Vecchio in Florence, at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island and now at the Antwerp zoo. There must be a story....


Tram cars are a perfect place to advertise

Two escalators descend to the pedestrian tunnel linking the city center to the Linkeroever under the river. There is an elevator for bikes and strollers.

Birds for sale at the Sunday Market. Okay to touch.

Fruit at the Sunday Market. Not okay to touch.



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