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Photos from Antwerp! - helen-louise
Photos from Antwerp!
I'm far too tired to explain these tonight, but I've given most of them explanatory titles and descriptions: Photos from Antwerp!.

Yesterday we went to Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal, the oldest Gothic church in Belgium, in Antwerp's Old Town centre. Even the spikes have spikes and spinities! We couldn't take any photos inside because it's not allowed. In the evening we went to Open-air Museum for Sculpture at Middelheim (Openluchtmuseum voor Beeldhouwkunst Middelheim). A few km south of Antwerp city centre, this huge free museum has around 300 sculptures set in parkland. The park keepers ride around on bicycles, but I'm not sure whether the general public is allowed to as well (there's lots of bicycle parking outside, anyway). In June and July it's open Tuesday-Sunday until 9 pm, making it the ideal evening entertainment if you're not too tired from looking at other things. Take the no. 7 or 15 tram followed by a 15 minute walk; or the 27, 32 & 33 bus followed by a 7 minute walk; or the 21 or 33 bus followed by a 5 minute walk. There are both permanent and temporary exhibits - the current exhibition is called Long Live Sculpture! and features lots of surreal artwork.

Today we went to the Diamond Museum of the Province of Antwerp - almost next to the Centraal Station.

Diamonds were formed billions of years ago underground and are brought to the surface in volcanic eruptions. The conditions for their formation are 50 kbar pressure and 1200-1400 degrees C temperature. The main rock surrounding them is called kimberlite.

The four precious stones are diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire. (Let's play Spot the Pokemon game!)

Pure diamonds are colourless, but other atoms in the lattice can cause them to have a colour. The most common impurity is nitrogen, which colours them yellow or brown. Boron makes them blue, and radioactive substances such as uranium make them green. Pink and red diamonds are caused by "a combination" of factors. Red are the rarest colour.

There exists such a thing as "ethically" traded diamonds - there's an official certification that confirms rough diamonds are not "conflict diamonds". They are probably still not fair trade, as most of the sites are still in countries with unstable politics like South Africa and the Congo - though apparently Canada now has diamond mines and people are looking for deposits in Finland. I'm guessing that diamond miners in Canada are not horribly exploited.

Later in the afternoon we went to Antwerp zoo, and in the evening we went for dinner at Ilha Formosa - the only real vegetarian restaurant in Antwerp- all the others are snackbars. There were lots of vegan options on the menu. I had a sweetcorn soup (basically just creamed sweetcorn with vegetable stock) followed by fried soya strips with peppers in black bean sauce and banana fritters. Richard had spring rolls and soya steak in black pepper sauce. Everything was very, very good. Unfortunately, they're only open from 18:15 to 20:30, so you have to get there quickly if you want to eat there!

OK, going to bed now.

Current Mood: tired tired

6 comments or Leave a comment
redbird From: redbird Date: 30th June 2006 00:54 (UTC) (Link)
I am unreasonably charmed that a Chinese (or so it seems from your description of the food) restaurant in Antwerp is named in Portuguese, rather than Flemish, French, or Chinese.
thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 30th June 2006 12:52 (UTC) (Link)
Formosa (or Ilha Formosa) was the old name for Taiwan, so if it's Taiwanese cooking it would make sense.
rhialto From: rhialto Date: 2nd July 2006 14:27 (UTC) (Link)
Those "stepped roofs" are called "trapgevels". trap = stairs, gevel = (house)front/façade. Sometimes the gevels are taller than the building, to create an impression of more wealth than reality allows.
IJsbeer is capitalised with IJ (lange ij/long ij, as opposed to ei which is the korte ei/short ei) which counts as one letter for many purposes. Annoyingly, very often this is confused with the Y (griekse ij/greek ij/y-greque) which is something completely different. That mostly happens when addresses are fully capitalised and put into a computer. I bet they have some lame excuse for it but it is soo annoying...
baratron From: baratron Date: 3rd July 2006 19:38 (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm. You are, of course, right about the capitalisation of ijsbeer - I forget that ij is a single letter in Dutch. Can't remember how it was written on the sign, though. Would the same thing apply to ui or any of the other "apparently only exists in Dutch" phonemes that I can't pronounce properly? ;)

I guess computers are (at least partly) to blame for the lack of capitalisation in IJ. Microsoft Word's spell checker/autocorrect-as-you-type thingy specifically has "fix 2 initial capitals" as an option, as people frequently mistype things like "The" as "THe". You'd have to specifically tell it to Ignore "IJ", or turn the option off, to get it to stop auto"correct"ing and breaking the language :/ Bloody Microsoft!

IJ becoming Y is probably the fault of the Walloons - Belgian place names that are named with a Flemish IJ get changed to Y in French. There's a metro stop in Brussels that's called IJZER in Flemish and YSER in French. Neither the Flemish/Dutch "ij" or "z" sounds exist in French, so they've gone for the closest approximation they can find, which isn't all that close, really. Several of the names of Belgian royal family members are horribly mangled in Flemish - King Baudouin became "Boudewijn", which doesn't seem right to me at all (I think "Baudouin" is pronounced "Bo-dewahn", where the end syllable is all slurred together in what I thought was called a schwa, but Wikipedia thinks a schwa is something else. Anyway, it's a nasal sound in which the d, e & w, and a, h & n all run into each other, and both the e and n are barely there at all. Wikipedia says that Dutch "ij" is a schwa, but I was pretty certain it's long or "hard" i-sound (somewhere between English "I" and "eh"), which doesn't seem anywhere near French "oui" to me. Oh well.
rhialto From: rhialto Date: 4th July 2006 16:48 (UTC) (Link)
No, the other "weird" dutch sounds (eu and ui) count as dipthongs (but wikipedia doesn't list any dipthongs in dutch, strangely enough) and only the first letter is capitalised. Looking at the definition of a dipthong I'd say that ij could easily be one, since if you make a long ij sound it definitely changes.
The dutch translation of Lord of the Rings makes a similar conversion as Baudouin/Boudewijn: Baranduin -> Brandewijn.
And an ij is definitely not a Schwa (that word seems to be of germanic origin and it would have been nice if it were an onomatopoeia but it isn't). If I had a working microphone I'd try to record it. Even wikipedia does not attempt to provide a description or a sound file...
Speaking of MS spelling tools: I'm quite familiar with them; in a former life I programmed the Dutch ones. I can tell you that the "smart quotes" misfeature is very annoying since it nearly always does the wrong thing. One of those is putting a wrong-looking quote instead of a leading apostrophe, which occurs a lot in words like 's morgens or 's-Gravenhage. And of course trying to parse out words when there are quote characters (which don't belong to the word) that could intend to be apostrophes (which do belong to the word) is no fun.
aquaeri From: aquaeri Date: 12th July 2006 06:47 (UTC) (Link)
There's also diamond mines in Australia, in the Kimberlys. The diamonds are mainly coloured: yellow, brown or pink. For marketing reasons, the yellow ones are called "champagne" and the brown ones "cognac". My mother has a yellow one - it's pretty much the identical colour to the gold it's set in. But it sparkles in that only-diamonds way.
6 comments or Leave a comment