What does a busy mother of a toddler ask for Christmas? A day and a half alone in a new and beautiful city. My present was a night away in Antwerp, Belgium. I just cashed it in yesterday. It was great and much-needed.
I had actually planned to go to London, but it was much more relaxing (and cheaper) to choose a city I could get to by train. Antwerp is less than an hour and a half away from us. Antwerp Central Station is one of most beautiful train station I have ever seen. It opens on one side to the zoo and on the other to the start of a huge shopping boulevard that leads down to the historical town center. The shopping boulevard is as wide as anything you’d see in Paris and has basically any store you can imagine. It was a great city to meander around. The weather was perfect – warm enough to sit outside at a pub with a local draft beer and people watch, but cool enough that I did not break a sweat in my jeans.
I used to visit new cities. Meandering was a favorite thing of my husband and mine to do along narrow, winding streets in Paris, Italy or Spain. Nowadays, with a toddler, our holidays are more and more centered around stroller friendly streets preferably lined with a shallow swimming pool, playground, petting zoo, and reasonably priced vacation house or apartment.
Yesterday, I had a long lunch and then wandered in and out of stores all afternoon. I ate a steak dinner with fries, a glass of red wine, and read some chick lit. And capped the night off with a bath. Today, I spent the morning at the Antwerp Zoo. I loved having the time to myself, but watching all the kiddies run around squealing made me miss my little monkey. I bought her animal crackers and magnets at the gift shop. Instead of having another long leisurely lunch, I hopped on the next direct train back home.