2002 Letter From Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is famous for diamond trading. There is a Metro station named "Diamant" and Saturday marks the opening of a new Diamond Museum (which we will skip). There is a Royal Museum of Art in Antwerp. It has many Peter Paul Rubens paintings, as well as many by unknown (to us) but excellent (also to us) artists.

This is Rubens’ hometown and the house he lived and worked in is still here. We visited it today. It is a large, elegant house that has an enormous studio. We learned that he produced 2500 paintings, many of them huge, in his career. "Produced" is the right word, because he worked much like a producer—designing the paintings, the details of which were then executed by a staff of specialists.

For four days, there was a book fair very close to the campground. Ron went there on day two of the fair. He found a huge hall, brimming with books, many of them in English as well as other languages. One section was travel and we needed lower scale maps than those we have been using. He found one on Great Britain, for next time, and one for France. And he also found some novels and mysteries that were pretty inexpensive—much less than in the US. New paperback novels were priced at between E .99 and 2.25. So today, we both went to the fair and came back with a treasure trove of books that we will leave on the RV for the next time.

On Sunday we visited the Antwerp Zoo – which is right in the center of the city, and is apparently the oldest zoo in Europe. They had a lot of wonderful birds and fish, as well as some large animals, all of whom looked like they were well cared for.

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