Woman riding bicycle Delft Netherlands

I wanted to add a couple more images of Delft taken on my one full day there. The elderly woman in the picture above could not have timed her turn onto the street any more perfectly for me.

I was very pleasantly surprised by my visit with my Delft host, Lara. We got off to a shaky start because of my exhaustion from carrying my luggage way the heck all over the place trying to find her home, but we both woke up early the next morning and had coffee together. Which brings me to a side note about coffee….I LOVE how they prepare and serve their coffee! Some may consider it too strong, but Steve and I both prefer very strong coffee, to the point that it is almost thick.

Lara is Russian and Italian and has lived in Delft for twenty years now. I learned that she recently wrote and published a book about death, or rather what happens to our spirit after death. Lara said that when humans die, our spirits move on from one life to the next without end. She said that she never wrote much before writing this book but that she felt an urgency to write this because this concept suddenly came to her very strongly and would not go away. Lara said that she didn’t understand why she was writing, only that she had to. She stated that this concept answered questions about events in her life, answering questions such as why she was able to become fluent in Italian in only three days when she moved from Russia to Padua, Italy. She also said that she was able to navigate around Padua easily when she first moved there, never getting lost, although she had never visited Padua before moving there. Fascinating. Lara said she doesn’t fear death anymore since writing the book.

We talked so long that I had to rush to the train station to catch a train to Rotterdam before boarding another train to Antwerp, Belgium, before boarding yet one last train to Bruges. Whew! I gave her a big hug before I took off to the train station.

Here is the Rotterdam train platform:

Rotterdam station Rotterdam Netherlands

I purposely made a plan to spend a couple of hours at the Antwerp Central train station because it is considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

Here is my first view of the Antwerp train station.

Antwerp clock escalator Antwerp Belgium

Breathtaking.

Antwerp train station clock tower Antwerp Belgium

Antwerp clock tower Antwerp Belgium

Full height

Here is the view after going through the doorway in the middle of the photo above:

Antwerp train station clock stairs Antwerp Belgium

Antwerp train station dome Antwerp Belgium

Domed ceiling detail

Antwerp lobby Antwerp Belgium

And the exterior of the building. It’s a shame that I can’t show the full building but, due to the limitations of my lens size (23mm) and cars and trucks parked on the street obscuring my view, this was the best I could manage.

Antwerp train station exterior Antwerp Belgium

Now that I am in Bruges, I will confess to being very nervous the entire time I was at the Antwerp train station. There is a lot of pickpocket and luggage theft, with thieves working in pairs or larger; one to distract while another steals when they find a traveler who has placed their luggage on a bench or the ground.

Women traveling alone are particularly vulnerable. Apparently there has been an infiltration of Romanian gypsies and thieves using various cons, and I read that the Antwerp police turn a blind eye to crime. Let’s just say that my back was KILLING me by the time I jumped on the train heading to Bruges because I refused to put my luggage down even for a split second unless I was in a women’s restroom stall or tucked away in a corner in a coffee shop. The thieves left me alone, most likely because I’m sure I looked like a self-contained battleship with my 22-pound carry-on across my back and my heavy day backpack on my shoulder. Thank you, Steve, for insisting that I bring Aleve with me.

Speaking of coffee shops, guess whose this is?

Antwerp Starbucks train station Antwerp Belgium

Starbucks

I was more than ready to be on a train to Bruges. But look at this…even Antwerp’s train platform is outstanding.

Antwerp train platform Antwerp Belgium

I was very relieved to be on the train and found it to be particularly comfortable. As we were traveling to Bruges, and what typically happens while en route, a conductor walks down the aisles checking tickets. This one was particularly nice, even when telling me that I was in first class! NO WONDER IT WAS SO NICE…oops! I didn’t know that number “1” meant first class. Seriously, I thought it was just the first car because the next one said number “2”! I decided to pay for the upgrade, and all was well.

Belgium countryside sheep Belgium

A view of the Belgian countryside, as seen en route to Bruges

Look at those ominous clouds…I told you it was raining out here!

I will finish Part 2 of my first day in Bruges in the next blog post. I have so much to share. I am deliriously happy and very grateful to be here.

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