Today an interview with Ysabel Jongeneelen, Spotter for our Antwerp cityblog.
Ysabel has been living in Antwerp all her life. In our meeting in Antwerp a few months ago she told us she has moved more than 15 times, and lived in almost all parts of Antwerp!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Ysabel and I live in Antwerp for 34 years now. I was born and raised here. In daily life I have a great husband, a wonderful kid of two years old and I work for a fostercare service as a social worker.
Photography, writing and and my son are my biggest hobbies. And I love wandering in ‘my’ city…
For the moment I live on the south side of Antwerp, a trendy neighbourhood, with modern bars and popular restaurants. The South side is jazz and pita’s with a classy sauce.
How do you like being a Spotter?
I like it to be a Spotter. I makes me look with different and new eyes at Antwerp. I feel a bit like a tourist in my own town and I rediscovered some great places already.
Antwerp is a great little city. Sometimes it can give you the feeling of a village, but it has the attitude of a city. It is too small to really get lost, and it is too big to be boring. For example: Brussels is nice but I get lost in five minutes and it is almost too much for me to handle. Antwerp is the exact size to live in and to visit.
We have also this great river ‘De Schelde’ which gives a walk through town this exotic flair. Sometimes it has the smell of the sea. When I feel down and depressed i wander at the riverbank (or quay, as we call it – kaai). When the sun is shining you can see there a lot of young couples with a bottle of wine. It can be very romantic. It is also a very good place to think or to talk a serious talk with somebody.
What is a real must do?
The walk over the quay of course. And if you want, walk by the MAS (museum aan de stroom). It isn’t finished yet but the outside is very impressive.
For me the ‘Conscienceplein’ is also a nice visit. It is a square where I have spent the first years of my life. I fell in the fountain under the statue there when I was three and almost drowned. I made my first snowman there. There is a very nice tree that puts you in the shadow when it’s hot, and the ‘writer on his chair’ (Conscience) is always watching over you. It is a very calm and pleasent square and you cannot be more in the citycenter than there. And under the square is the biggest and oldest library in town.
But the real must do is just a walk through town. That’s very nice, divers and fun.
Which prejudices about Antwerp are true? Which ones are not?
They say that people of Antwerp are chauvinists. Maybe that is partly true. But we aren’t arrogant. We are just proud to live here, in this very little cute town. We try to be realistic, Antwerp isn’t NYC, but it is great anyhow.
And they say that people from Antwerp always know better. Of course that’s a fact. :-)
This city has a big harbor of course. A various mix of people live here. We are hospitable and most of the visitors will feel welcome. I sometimes hear that a lot of people that planned to ‘pass through’, stay in Antwerp without really knowing why. They feel at home in Antwerp and get stuck in daily life here. I believe that’s true. You can easily feel at home here.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
A perfect day for me is in spring or fall. Not to cold, not to hot. I would drink a coffee on the terrace of the Witzli Poetzli in the morning, meet some friends there, talk and laugh without haste or shame.
Afterwards – if it would be a Friday – I would go to the Friday Market and watch some strange people buy strange things on the open air auction. Maybe buy something myself for a nickle and a dime. Maybe I go to sit on the riverbank with a friend and enjoy the view.
Than I would walk home through the Kloosterstraat, pass by the window of the ‘Dries Van Noten-shop’ (Dries is a famous fashion designer and the guy who designs the show-window is also a genius) and pass by the beautiful museum of fine arts.
Then I would pick up my wonderful kids and husband and we would go eat something for dinner in restaurant Cullinan. Afterwards we could go the theater or a movie.
Check out all Ysabel’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters