It always rained in Antwerp. The cold was the kind of wet central European cold that penetrates any warm clothing and settles in the bones. The cobblestones were uneven to walk at and I felt sorry for generations of horses that had to negotiate them day after day until the day they died.
The old town was quiet. Most bars and restaurants were closed. I wondered where they got their business from, and when. Antwerp used to be a bustling diamond merchant city (and it still is to a sense). But nothing can be seen on the streets. The diamonds have always been hidden.
Hobbling on the damned cobblestone streets in my heels I thought of the kilometers of water running in channels underneath the city. Antwerp used to be like Amsterdam. Someone thought more cobblestones were a more practical solution than smooth waterways.
I passed the cathedral and thought of Rubens’ fleshy naked angels inside. In the dark and rain it seemed that Antwerp would benefit from pink fat little angels outside the cathedral as well, scattered in the city.
When I finally slipped through the doors of the hotel I thought how lovely it was that one man who lived 400 years ago is remembered by the world for his pink fat little angels. There is much love for life in the work of Rubens, something this cold, edgy world never seems to have enough of. Perhaps some angels and bare warm skin would be an effective remedy against its cold and troubles?(Antwerp, Belgium; January 2016)