Polikothermia

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The morning of day two saw lots of misting on the windows as they are single-glazed. Temperature control in the flat is something different compared to Finland – suddenly paying for heating yourself mixed with a general thriftyness means I’m sitting in the cold. Ah, the beautiful idea of an artist going to Europe and perishing of tuberculosis in his unheated attic apartment. Picassos Äventyr… My apartment is indeed in the attic, but Frederik specifically denied me the pleasure of contracting tuberculosis and subsequently dying during my stay. Which means I have to refrain from saving on the heating. The strange thing about the temperature is that coldness is very relative – even though here is much warmer than in Finland now, you easily feel cold even outside. At least the weather’s otherwise been rather forgiving.

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My room is rather modest, but sufficient – although trying to do a yoga routine was slightly challenging due to my hands hitting the lamp. The bed is as soft as they come, which is a bit annoying.

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The kitchen window opens to a rather jumbled inner courtyard. It is interesting to note how buildings in most places save Finland look like they just came to be or happened, at some stage or other. Luckily the MECH will annihilate all smells with Apple Power.

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Frederick and his girlfriend took me out for some sightseeing in the afternoon. A pleasant aspect with Antwerp is the short distances – you manage on foot, and with a bike you hardly have to use public transport at all. I’ll see if i can get myself a fixie/single at a nice price from somewhere. Here you wouldn’t even be ashamed for jumping on the bandwagon, since I haven’t seen anything of the sort since arriving. There are lots of bikers, but the style seems to be gritty and practical, with most bikes being equipped with some bags or other. Giant is a hugely popular brand (well, it is Belgian), and folding bikes are another big thing – I’ve seen a few Bromptons, for instance. Of course there’s also lots of those ugly pretzel-handlebar bikes, and many vintage-y rides in lousy condition.

Peculiarities with the town include the garbage collection system. Organic and general refuse isn’t recycled, but burned and it has to be collected into certain city of Antwerp garbage bags, that are only sold under the counter in stores. These bags are then just dropped in the street when filled, to eventually be collected. Wrong bags will be left as food for the rats by the garbage collectors.

The cathedral was originally intended to have two tall towers and a third huge tower, but only one of these were eventually finished, so it looks rather lopsided. It should have some significant artwork on display on the inside.

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Apparently, the ferris wheel overlooking the Schelde, the river that runs through Antwerp, was some old thing dug up somewhere and not a normal part of the scenery. It didn’t seem to be terribly popular.

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This is a bottle of jenever, a Belgian speciality liquor.

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You relly would think the message gets through with less effort… and what is “keep in touch” as a name for a night kiosk anyway?

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And this delectable drink above is a live jenever, with grapefruit tastea kind of alcohol whose existance I was completely unaware of. Frederik took me to an old bar, called De Vagant, specializing in the stuff – the menu literally had hundreds of items. The alcohol percentages go up to fifty and the taste varies from extremely bitter to ultra-sweet. Some varieties are over a hundred years old. In the bar Frederik told me of a recently opened restaurant somewhere in Antwerp, where you eat in total darkness. All the staff are blind and you order from a fixed menu – an intriguing and slightly creepy concept.

Frederik shows what happens to Belgians when they drink jenever in the correct fashion.

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The house cat of the jenever bar was most definetely above it. The glove, by the way, is a cool item by Aamu Song’s and Johan Olin’s COMPANY.

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The trams double as an underground and use these handy waiting time indicators. Note the IJ ligature in the name Lijn– in Dutch ij is a letter of its own.

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Antwerp has many (rather skillfully) handpainted window signs – a nice contrast to Helsinki, for instance.

The evening after this was then spent mostly going through photographs for this blog, which makes it some sort of a strange loop. I have yet to catch up with what is currently happening even after all that work. But posting about blogposting is about as pointless as having a speech on what you were going to have a speech on, so I will refrain from this sort of silliness from now on.

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