Fourteen Months Abroad – Antwerp, Belgium

August 10.-Canterbury was too charming a place to leave, but we were obliged to hasten away, taking the train for the white chalk cliffs of Dover, the boat for Ostend, and again the cars for this city. Now we are in Belgium close by another great cathedral.

August 11.-Hotel des Flandres opened its doors to us last evening most delightfully. It is on a square which was brilliantly illuminated with gas and Chinese lanterns when we arrived. Out of our bedroom windows we see this grand Gothic Cathedral with its lofty spire 402 feet high. I listen with thrills of pleasure to the chimes of ninety-nine bells all night long and all day long and wish I might always hear them. Our journey from Ostend to Antwerp gave us much pleasure, as it was all in Belgium, a new and strange country. There are wind-mills and numerous rows of trees all the way and many quaint-looking dwellings, nearly all with tiled roofs. Narrow lanes lined with trees on each side lead into the fields. We see hedges here instead of fences, as in England. Flemish and French are spoken. We have twice visited the Cathedral where we looked with much interest at Rubens’ greatest paintings, the Descent from the Cross which is considered his master-piece by many, the Elevation of the Cross and the Assumption of the Virgin which is bright and beautiful. The other two, powerfully and wonderfully executed, are painful. So real and vivid are they that the distressing scenes of the crucifixion itself seemed before us. We looked at the remaining paintings in the Cathedral which are not all by Rubens. A statue of Rubens is on the Square or La Place Verte as it is called. We happen to be here during a grand annual festival called Fetes Communales, 1897. On the Square last evening there was a grand procession consisting of sixteen illuminated floats. We were there in a great crowd of people to see them. The casement windows here and the peculiar doors with queer handles interest me.

August 12.—A wedding party took dinner here last night. They drank wine and made a great deal of noise. I saw a little boy who became drunk carried into the parlor from the table and laid upon the sofa. The landlady told me “they gave him wine and he was too little.”

It is very delightful to be under the shadow of this cathedral and hear the chimes continually. We look up and up to see the top of the spire. L. sits here on the sofa reading in his guide book about the Rhine and Germany.

Our baggage was first examined on the steamer and next at Ostend when we entered Belgium. It seemed as though Lemuel never would get hold of the baggage to have it examined, and afterwards there was trouble in getting it from the boat to our train. But at last it was placed on the cars and we started for this city. L. took three pictures this morning—a hand cart with a harnessed dog sitting underneath, a news stand and a flower stand—all in the park in front of our hotel. At Dover he took a view in the harbor after going on board the steamer and at Canterbury one entrance to the Cathedral.