Antwerpen is a large belgian arts community on the northern border about an hour from Brussels. It has a significant diamond culture and is home to some of the most concentrated diamond shopping I’ve ever been exposed to.

There is also a very strong and thriving orthodox or Hesidic jewish population living in Antwerpen. I arrived at the central station and wandered down to my hostel just a few hundred meters away. For the first time in my stay I had a dirty run in with bed bugs, which is part of the reason I stayed only one night in Antwerpen.

The city itself is beautiful, full of wealthy buildings, a port culture including a thriving red light district with very bold inhabitants – one chased me down the street trying to sell – and wide open pedestrain walkways down to the water and port.

I enjoyed my walks through the main shopping street, and continued my search now three weeks in the making for a pair of replacement boots for my LOWA KODY GTX MID boots which had a defect and needed to be replaced. I found much to my discontent that the closest distributor to antwerpen that carried my style of boot was approximately 120 kilometers away.

That quest put on hold I wandered through the Diamond districts of Antwerpen and enjoyed the beautiful displays and strong Jewish culture. Each shop came complete with orthodox jew wrapped from head to foot in solid black, with a belt line tinged white by their prayer shawls and long curls coming down from a partially shaved head concealed by a wide brimmed black hat. interesting the level of separation from the rest of the community. Automatically singled out by their appearance they were insiders facing a wave of shopping outsiders.

A strange phenomenon to witness.

I finished the day and then returned to my bed, to be eaten alive (18 bites) before leaving early the next morning for Koln.