Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Visiting Antwerp with a preschooler

We have spent spring break in Belgium. It was another uneventful trip (remember our Christmas visit?) since this time I got the flu within 48 hours of arrival and thus I pretty much stayed in bed the whole week. Yet the last weekend we were there we got to enjoy an outing to the nearby city of Antwerp, where my brother- and sister-in-law live.

Antwerp is the Belgian city with the largest population and with one of the largest seaports in Europe. The destination of our outing was the Antwerp Zoo, one of the city's top destinations when visiting town with a toddler (another really good one is the Aquarium, which is just across the street).

The Antwerp Zoo was built in 1843, and was classified as a monument in 1983. What makes it interesting, in my view, are not the landscapes nor the animals. In fact, on these two counts the zoo saddens me every time we visit, because it is stuck next to the train station on a very small piece of land, which was appropriate for displaying animals in cages in the XIX century but has a feeling of animal cruelty today. (The zoo is undergoing a massive renovation at the moment to address this very problem, so I am looking forward to our next visit). The reason why you should pay a visit to the zoo are rather its impressive historical buildings. They give such a character to the zoo that I am always waiting to see Charles Darwin appear from around the corner. I mean, in how many other zoos around the world are elephants and giraffes housed in an Egyptian temple? Totally worth a visit.

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