Alas dear friends, covid-19 is raging through the country again. This means we’re going to have to stay home and ease down a bit in the next few months. To help pull you through these harsh times, Trot Op! brings you five more places in Antwerp where you can hang out without catching corona.
What’s that? Did everybody suddenly stop laughing? Yes, less than three months after Antwerp became Belgium’s most popular joke – while the rest of the country kept the party going – we can now enjoy a lengthy national curfew together. The urge to keep coughing into other people’s pie holes is apparently simply irresistible. Great job! In this light, I would like to personally thank a couple of people: the drunk bar assholes who insist on shaking my hand and get pissed when I refuse them; the “do I really have to wear a mask in here too!?” crowd who should be beaten with a leather belt (“Yes you have to. It’s written on the F*CKING door, you prick.”); the Darwin award winners who are still leisurely strolling overcrowded shopping streets without protection, and especially the absolute troglodytes still breathing down my neck in the supermarket line after seven months of floor indicators.
“Three months after Antwerp became Belgium’s most popular joke – while the rest of the country kept the party going – we can now enjoy a lengthy national curfew together. The urge to keep coughing into other people’s pie holes is apparently simply irresistible”
Congratulations guys! Because of geniuses like you I can now stay at home scratching my balls for another month – all while making next to no money of course. Not just me by the way, but everyone working in restaurants, bars, tourism, arts and the event industry. Don’t give in now people. Keep acting like the poetic little rebels you are and ignore the rules. Granny’s best days are long gone anyway.
Five more places in Antwerp where you probably won’t get corona
Since we’re going to have to keep ourselves occupied until possibly next year – once again my sincere congratulations – we might as well go check out some local nature: it’s not Disneyland but it’s something. After the overwhelming success of my first piece on places in Antwerp where you probably won’t get corona, I managed – in my immeasurable goodness – to find you some more spots. Oases of tranquility they are, with lots of open space, lots of fresh air and very few Covidiots touching everything with their grubby little hands. So strap on your hiking shoes and dust off your warmest winter jacket, because we’re off for some walks. That weekend on Ibiza will have to wait a little longer anyway.
1. Still your own home
Yes: Big Momma Maggie – our former Minister of Health – is still right. The best place to sit out the next corona wave is in the safety of our own home. Get yourself to a supermarket, buy some big bags of crisps and a couple of beers, go cuddle up against your girlfriend’s ass and make the best of it. No girlfriend/boyfriend to speak of? Be creative and make an artificial lover out of pillows and hoarded toilet paper rolls. It’s just as comfortable and it doesn’t whine when you forget to take out the trash. Win-win!
Wolvenberg is the only official nature reserve within Antwerp’s historic city walls, yet almost no one knows where the f*ck it is. This small but pretty patch of nature can be found less than 50 meters from the Berchem train station, cosily hidden between the inner and outer ring road. It’s centred around a big pond surrounded by a small forest, where you’ll almost always spot a heron or two. Bats house in the crumbling walls (DON’T EAT THEM), and if you’re very lucky you can spot foxes, martens, kingfishers and the occasional heroin addict. Awesome! Snail fans – you know who you are – can go absolutely bananas by the way, because a while ago they found a species here thought extinct in Belgium for over seventy years. In short, Wolvenberg is the perfect spot to get some quick corona free fresh air after commuting from Brussels. Get to it!
3. De Oude Landen
Warning: MURDER COW!
Ekeren is a cute little village that has strangely been able to disguise itself as a District of Antwerp since 1983. It has a lot of beautiful nature on offer, and De Oude Landen might be the nicest place to start your exploration. Here you can enjoy your surroundings in peace and quiet, without some asshole in a track suit sneezing in your face. It’s ideal for jogging as well, but you’ll have to keep up the pace. There’s a whole herd of Galloway cattle grazing here, and they’re up to something. “Gentle giants” says the official website, but go tell that to the elderly man they viciously trampled two years ago. So remember, as soon as you hear a rumbling, hate fuelled “moo” coming from the bushes, run for your life and don’t look back until you’ve reached the fence. This bovine beat squad got beef with you brother.
4. Hobokense Polder
This one doesn’t have a criminal record yet, BUT IT’S GOT ITS EYES ON YOU!
Hobokense Polder lies all the way on the other side of the city. It’s a similar area of forests, meadows and marshes, and feels very wild in some places. Here you can spot foxes, martens and small dear occasionally, and you can go birding through a couple of different viewing walls. To help keep the grass short, a herd of Galloways roams here as well, but these ones haven’t tried to murder anyone – yet. Keep your eyes open though, it only takes one small mistake for these ferocious furballs to sneak up on you and do their business. Moo Moo, M*thaf*ckah!
Schoonselhof – also in Hoboken – is by far the most beautiful cemetery in the city. Because everything has to be compared to something else these days, hacky wannabe-intellectuals sometimes call it Antwerp’s Père-Lachaise. That might be pushing it a little, but it’s still an eerily beautiful place to visit. More than 80 hectares worth of dead loved ones lie resting here, in between green fields of grass and colourful autumn trees. In dark times like these, this might be the perfect place for a quiet stroll and some contemplation. About what could happen to you when you keep shitting on the corona safety rules for example. Maybe we can all go take a stroll past your shiny tombstone when the third wave hits. Who knows?
Corona in Antwerp: Let’s get serious (again)
All jokes aside: the current situation in Belgium looks absolutely dire. Brussels and Liège are now viral minefields, Wallonia is quickly turning deep red and cases in Antwerp are rising faster than in July. I’ve read a lot of angry comments about closing bars and restaurants this week. Obviously this is dramatic for everyone working in that industry. The vast majority of bar owners tried everything they could to keep things safe. But what I saw happening in some places this summer was simply frightening. Irresponsible customers caused the closure, not the government.
As long as a part of the population keeps ignoring scientific advice and safety regulations, we’re never going to beat this thing until a vaccine is available. And that’s still a long way off. The opening of schools and universities in September didn’t help much either.
We will only get through this by working together. Listen to your friends, family and neighbours; ask them if they are feeling alright. Shop locally; order takeaway food from your favourite restaurants. The virus isn’t the only thing killing people, suicide is claiming lives as well. Please pay attention to vulnerable people in your close circle and beyond.
This said, we should all finally take our responsibility. People like you and me will most likely survive an infection without too much lasting damage, but many others have pre-existing conditions, are getting old or just suffer from feeble health in general. They did not choose to be like this, and have as much a right to live their lives as we do. So behave yourselves, follow the regulations and let’s make sure this shit will not last until next summer.