Monday, October 03, 2005
The Colors of Fall Anvers I spent the last few hours of a late afternoon and an early evening in Antwerpen. Anvers for people in Brussles and Antwerp for all the rest of the world. One of the largest ports in Europe. Second or third actually by volume of trade if you are to take into account official figures. I have not yet visited the impressive port but I have been in the city on more then one occasion. Last Sunday with a bunch of friends we went down to a restaurant I know there. The food, the wine, the company everything was great. The best though by far was the light. The entire city was enveloped in this miraculous red and dark-grey shroud of clouds. An intense autumn storm prompted shreds of these clouds to be dispersed on the sky while the combination between the skylight at dusk and the reflections in the river, dock and the dozens of puddles created a Nordic atmosphere.
I find it wierd that every time I visit the city I somehow expect to hear, smell or taste the sea. I am well aware that Antwerp is many many miles away form the North Sea. Still I asociate the port, the omnipresence of sailing related paraphernalia and the mementos in bars, museums, galleries that I find it almost a trickery that the sea is in fact so far away. Sunday the storm and the light have made the city even more maritime. Seaguls were flying amok and ships masts were rocking in the wind.
I have taken a few shots and I am pleased by the accuracy of the color reproduction. While exposure was not always perfect and I did not work enough on framing the shots properly, I still like the result and here it is for all to see.
The Colors of Fall in Antwerp. After a monumental diner at De Kay in Antwerpen were each of us asked for various extras despite the fact that the place serves rather generous portions we were ready for al stroll. The thing is we ate for about two hours and after having to duck into the main hall to avoid a rather hefty storm that was drenching the terrace we were happy to see the heavy rain subsiding. Despite this rainy incident the terrace, the river and the surroundings remained lit in a beautiful late afternoon sunshine and thus made as eager to walk. On emerging form the parking lot we were struck by the spectacular rainbow that was arching across the small and almost empty yachts� marina with parts of the old harbor in sight.
The Colors of fall in Anvers. This is De Kaai. By far my favorite restaurant in Antwerp. �Sharing� diner with the kitchen crew is thus a special honour. They really make the best of the limited menu the place offers at all hours of day and night. You should try their house salad that involves grilled honey and nuts covered apples and fresh goat cheese and ham, lettuce and several layers of mixed nuts, mango and melon with a delicate yoghurt sauce or even better their grilled tuna with vegetable tagliatele in basil and olive oil sauce. The mussels are in league of their own, as are the spare ribs.
I spent many hours after lunch or diner drinking their more then decent house red. I found out that all my friends enjoy sitting lazily on the terrace overlooking the estuary having really old simultaneously rustic and baroque ship loading cranes in the foreground and the apparently tiny shapes of giant contemporary dock cranes in the background. Watching the sun play hide and seek with furious clouds and having the time measured only by the constant stream of tugboats and yachts on the river has a calming effect.
Just the other weekend, after not going there for more then two month, the waitress not only remembered us but also the table we sat at. The staff is more then happy to share a joke and despite being rather busy we never failed to find a table.
The Colors of fall in Anvers. Work Freedom! Well, despite the unfortunate association brought to mind by these words I do find the statue appealing. I wonder what the drifter taking a late afternoon nap on the steps of the city hall has to say about that. A stark contradiction between his interpretation of freedom, the hard labor of free dockworkers the statue stands for and the hint to modern day slavery one can see in the stance of the character enshrined in the monument. You cannot but ponder on the relationship between work and personal choice. Neither extreme is appealing but then again some of us do not like to choose.