Mini visit

On the 18th Kennet from Finlad came for a visit. I went to Amsterdam to meet him, and we spent the evening poking around that city of channels, potheads and prostitution. It’s hard to tell, Amsterdam isn’t perhaps the easiest city to get into if you just pop there, so I won’t pass any judgement. The scenery is beautiful, and the tourists are plentiful, in any case.

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A feisty totem commemorating Holland’s heroics in WWII.

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Ted à tête…

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Tête à Ted!

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Two wins in a row: Chinatown, Amsterdam.

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No sneaking onto the terrace here!

* * *

Back in ‘t Staad we decided to do the thing any tourist does, namely: some shenanigans in the giant playground slide in Suid.

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The height is deceitful; it is very slow.

After the sliding we decided to visit the unmissable Antwerpen in Miniatuur. That attraction is situated in a rather derelict-looking warehouse on the dock of the Schelde, or the kaai in the local idiome. Walking around the building, following scruffy signs saying “entry this way”, our expectations of the place actually being open steadily sunk. But lo, after walking around the whole thing, what passed as the main entrance was agape to the dark inside.

When we walked up to the doorway a lady appeared, asking  if we were looking for something and whether she could help us. We replied that we wondered whether the museum was open, and if it would be possible to visit. She seemed slightly surprised by this, but the museum was indeed open, and she decided she had time to guide us before a group would arrive. After paying the rather hefty 8.50 € entrance fee, we were ushered into the museum.

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The first display was a queer row of glass boxes, explaining the construction history of the museum displays using snail characters. According to the story, some rather intense research had gone into making the miniature city.

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The first room held a display of late medieval Antwerpen. In the background, the gold elephants of the Miniature Café club space can be spotted.

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The zoo, sponsored.

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The opera and the “Boerentor” skyscraper. The odd stilts of the display is to protect the models during occasional flooding of the premises, as the warehouse is outside the wall that keeps the Schelde from overflowing into the city proper.

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The building to the left is the police headquarters, quite the piece of stranded 70’s space hardware.

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The lack of decoration in the rooms was remarkable, and the place was peppered with odd, old-looking sponsor signs. Curiously, several of the models also had price tags with exorbiant sums, the stated value of the miniatures. The train station (above) was valued at nearly 300 000 €, but I suspect it would be something of a feat to get that sum for it on Ebay. It is not updated to match with reality, since the station has been expanded several levels downwards.

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The main display; something like a third of the center of Antwerpen in the same scale as Märklin trains (1:87) , my own house being just outside the cut. This display was enhanced with a show of light and sound, which started out with the Top Gun theme. Following this awesomness, a short history of the city was told by the pre-recorded voice of a young girl.

Her accent was rather funny, and the delivery had the uncanny air of someone who’s been told to sound cheerful, while reading a text she hardly understands. This remarkable little tale contained several tidbits of interesting trivia, for instance that Kristoffel Plantin printed the first book in the world, right here in Antwerpen.

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Upon leaving the museum, the apparently lonely guide asked if we would be willing to give her an additional tip, admitted to not liking it very much to wait for visitors in the light of a lone pink fluorescent lamp, and told us she’d visited Finland when “about our age”. She told os that during the museum’s heyday there had been as many as ten guides, but now they were only three. Even that wasn’t of much value though, since both colleagues were on sick leave since last December.

* * *

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The next day, bike trips, beers, a smoke on the kaai. Then Kennet left by slow-train for the untold excitements of Frankfurt, the next stop on his tour.

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