Ophelia Ding


Antwerp + Amsterdam

And just like that, trip number two is in the books! This let’s-go-to-two-countries-in-one-weekend thing is so much fun — and I must admit, a little exhausting. Nevertheless, so much was eaten, learned, and appreciated whilst in Antwerp, Belgium and Amsterdam, Netherlands. We lucked out with the weather this weekend -- it felt like I was back in San Francisco with gorgeous clear skies, crazy wind-hair and a flight delay due to fog (Karl — is that you?!). 

First up, the beautiful city of:

Sidenote: I'm starting to think that travel schedules that begin at 3:00AM (both this trip and Copenhagen began at this ridiculous hour) are not made for me! Though it sets you up for a full day in the new city -- it sets me up for a coffee-powered sluggish first day (cry). I'm hopeful that I'll slowly learn to find the balance between the cheapest route, maximizing time in a new place and getting some rest! Anyway, here were my three favorites from the beautiful Antwerp, Belgium -- which was only about an hour and a half away from Amsterdam via train: 

1. Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). This gorgeous museum had the most incredible views of the city. We unfortunately got here too late to see the exhibitions, but the (free!) panoramic view of the city from the rooftop of MAS more than made up for it. There were these sculptural chairs set up on the 8th floor, and little camera holes for your photographs along the roof. Definitely a highlight of my time in Antwerp! 

2. MoMu Fashion Museum. First things first. This museum’s entrance is simply gorgeous. The light streaming down from their skylights and their all-wood staircase was so much fun to photograph and fawn over. The exhibition currently on was called “Footprint,” and was an exhibition on shoes. Yep. Shoes. Sponsored by Adidas, there were designs by Christian Louboutin, Balenziaga, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ai Wei Wei, Prada and a gazillion more. These shoes were worn by celebrities (like Marilyn Monroe), and were spectacular. There were even patterns of the floor teaching you how to dance (alongside, of course, the section on dancing shoes)!

3. Grote Markt van Antwerpen. The Grote Markt (or “Great Market Square”) is the center of this charming town. The buildings in the square are so full of character and had the most adorable, funky rooftops. It was so fun to walk around, enjoy the beautiful weather, explore the cobblestoned square, snack on the most delectable Belgium chocolate (yeah… it’s pretty mindblowingly delicious. we ate these before Belgium waffles and more Belgium chocolate… oops!) and just relax/people watch/take a moment to appreciate that we were in Belgium (!!). 

After our time in Belgium, we headed off to beautiful Amsterdam, Netherlands for two days. Amsterdam is chock full of canals and mind-blowing museums — which makes for gorgeous canal-side restaurants, but also incredibly confusing streets. The thing about Amsterdam is to my tourist’s eye, there wasn’t an obvious distinction between the street, bike lane, and sidewalk which got us into trouble quite a few times during our trip (oops..! but we are pros now -- don't worry, mama)! Nonetheless, Amsterdam didn’t fail to impress: 

1. Stedelijk Museum (Zero: Let Us Explore the Stars). I was so pleasantly surprised by this exhibition — it was so well curated, and seriously beautiful. The monochromatic materials, the space, the way that the works interacted with light, the way that they moved — everything was spot on and so thought provoking. 

2. Eye Film Institute. This place was the coolest! The Eye Film Institute is right across the river from the Amsterdam Central Train Station — we took a 2 minute ferry ride and wa la -- we were there! The exhibitions were so interactive (we made our own film about going to the moon) and Soo and I even made a Flipbook from a video photo booth! There was a moving exhibition on the work of Michelangelo Antonioni and I was blown away by how beautiful the Eye showcased his film work (aka, complete with the coziest benches in front of every screen). I wish that we got more time here — cause I could have spent at least half a day at this beautiful place. 

3. Van Gogh Museum. Literally. Heart eyes for everything in this museum. Yes, it was incredibly crowded and we waited in two long lines to get in — but it was so worth it. The museum basically acts as a timeline of Van Gogh’s life (through his works, alongside artifacts and snippets from his life). To be able to see Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, his sketches, and of course, his beautiful pieces was unreal and highly recommended! There were also letters of admiration from my Copenhagen fave Yayoi Kusama to Van Gogh — which was so cool because we fangirl over the same artist (aka, we're basically best buds!). Anyway, I wish that Van Gogh knew that one day there’d be a renowned museum dedicated to his life’s works in his home country. :) 

That's it folks! Thank you, Antwerp + Amsterdam for bellies full of chocolate and waffles, and photographs graced with canals and huge block letters!

PS: I’m attempting to experiment with new mediums and made a short video (below) with scenes from our last day in Amsterdam. So much fun!