After our gorgeous day in Paris, we headed back towards Amsterdam and wanted to hit some towns along the way. Our first stop was Ghent, Belgium 🇧🇪, which is a little town we stayed at in March. Adorable town a fun to explore. We only stayed a couple hours there, ate and hit the road to Antwerp, Belgium.
Antwerp is somewhere I have never been and is the diamond capital of the world. I have always heard how gorgeous it is so we wanted to check it out. It was along our route back to Amsterdam so perfect reason to spend an evening there.
We pulled into town pretty late so we didn't explore until the following morning. But as we were pulling into town, we noticed massive amounts of Jewish men and boys, in their full regalia, walking the town. Like hundreds of them! All of them with traditional hair locks and elders with large fur hats.
The next morning as we were heading out, again there were droves of Jewish families out and about, men in groups, and children in groups. Not very many women. We asked the wonderful host of our b&b about the groupings and such. She explained Antwerp had Jewish extremists that were concentrated in certain areas. She explained about the partial use of electric, how children move thru town, and a little bit about them in the community.
The fascinating thing about the groupings were how the children were moved from place to place. It was the responsibility of the eldest child in the group during their travels across town. So an example would be we saw a grouping of 5 children walking thru town. The ages ranged from probably 2-10 at the oldest. And they were alone! No adults...the eldest was in charge. If they was a child in the pramm a caretaker or mom was present.
Again, this is quite a site seeing hundreds of men in full regalia and herds of children roaming the street alone. So as Shannon and I were leaving our b&b, a large grouping was headed down the street. Of course, we try and capture many things that are parts of our trip, including traveling to Antwerp on the Jewish new year! Shannon has her phone out and is taking a couple pictures of the street scene and the groupings walking down the street when two teenage boys pop out into the street to block us! The one came to my window and started questioning us. "Why are you here? What are you taking pictures of? Why are you on this street?" We started to answer and then realized...why do we need to? What authority did they have? The boy then asked Shannon for her phone, saying he wanted to see her phone and pictures. He wanted her to go thru her pictures to see what were on there. When he started demanding her phone, Shannon said "just go!" The kid heard her and grabbed onto car and we basically took off! He started radioing somewhere and hollering as a few more teenage boys came running and chasing after us. We got off the block extremely quickly and took off to get the heck out of there. I will say, the stoplight at the corner may have been the longest stoplight ever!!!
So...moral of the story is...do NOT take pictures of the Jewish men, and that a majority of the diamond shops are owned by Jewish in Antwerp and trying to visit during their new year isn't very smart. 80 percent of the diamond stores are closed for their holiday and because of terror attacks they increase their security which means army walking around with machine guns and big armored vehicles. A little disarming so we were okay with moving on.
Antwerp wasn't our favorite stop and we can probably say we have been there done that and cross it off our list.
I'm coming up on our first Friday art walk so sadly we must head back to the states and be responsible. I'll try and post about our final days soon but hope to see many of you this coming Friday! Love so many of you follow along on my crazy adventures....