After a short night in Brussels, we hopped a train to Antwerp.
Now some of you are probably going, “Antwerp?!?” at this point. “WHY Antwerp?”
Well, I’ll tell you why. I wanted to make a stop JUST so I could take a photo and quote my all time favorite movie – “What do I know about diamonds? Don’t I come from Antwerp?” But it’s not just in the name of the movie Snatch that I wanted to stop by Antwerp. Antwerp is where 80% of the world’s diamonds go to be purchased either by the people or by the Tiffany’s and Cartier’s of the world. These diamonds are all (supposedly) protected and reassured to not be from a blood diamond source. And 50% of the 80% that you’ll find in Antwerp, are little shops owned by devout hasidic Jews. So my movie is accurate in it’s dealings between Antwerp, London, and New York on what was the largest diamond on the market (at least, in the movie).
Stark and I shoved our bags in a locker and walked what seemed to be a 5 km stretch of the vast and beautiful train station. This train station was one of the peaks of our trip to Antwerp and I am not being sarcastic to say so. Trains run on four levels of impressive, clean railways and the shell of the station is still the original building. Directly west of the North exit you’ll find some diamond shops which should be avoided, but if you take our travel advice and go deeper you’ll find the diamond district of Antwerp – a street of shops and a mall specifically for diamond retailers. However, Stark and I came about this district the back way with some skewed directions from Google Maps. As a result we found a skate park and a beautiful shady area to walk through, but we also came up on the diamond district with disappointment. Coming from behind the district you’ll find lots of little shops closing down early and not displaying much of anything at all. This was not how either of us imagined it. But as we were halfway back to the train station, the streets were suddenly lined with glittery goodness.
I had only intended on window shopping. Although it makes sense that Antwerp would be a good deal for diamonds that are then up-sold to all the American brand-names, I am not the type of girl who would insist on looking or even stop to try one on. But Stark wanted to do his research, so we found ourselves in a nice, dark store with a Jewish fella named Isaac. Isaac had a sarcastic sense of humor and teased Stark for his insistence on perfection. He kept saying with a splash of yiddish, “If she is worth it… ok ok…. why is it that you want this perfection?” Then after Stark would give his explanation for the umpteenth time Isaac would say again, “Ok… whatever you want. I can get it. I can get you what you want but why? I can get you a very nice diamond today, right now, you walk out of it and take it back to the states. But it is not flawless. You cannot even see anything wrong with it. It is not visible to you. It is the kind of diamond I would give my wife. I would never give my wife a flawless diamond but hey, if she’s worth it….”
The scene was comical and we went back and forth with Isaac about a particular diamond that was on it’s way from London for a good hour before we realized we were going to miss our train, and we did…
So we spent another hour in the train station attempting to buy stamps and sharing pizzaguettes from Pano before we were on our way another few hours to spend the night in Amsterdam.