The year is 2018. Northern Antwerp is entirely occupied by the Port of Antwerp. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Lillo’s still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Antwerpian legionaries who garrison the fortified harbor.
That’s actually the intro to Asterix and Obelix. But I feel it’s appropriate for the little village Lillo. With less than 20 people living there, it’s not a big village. However, it’s an amazingly fun place to visit.
Getting to Lillo, Antwerp
Leaving Antwerp, you will have to go north into the harbor. So don’t worry if you see a lot of cranes, trucks, and oil-silo’s.
If you GPS/ navigation app can’t find “Lillo”, type in Tolhuisstraat, 2040 Antwerpen.
Upon arrival, it’s easy to leave your car in the free parking. There is usually plenty of places to drop off your car. There is a parking lot at the Scheldeland when you leave the big road. But there’s also one next to the actual village. You will find it on your left side after you passed the pond.
At the pond, you will find a gaggle of geese. But I don’t think they’re so happy with your visit, so you might want to stay clear of them.
Meet the locals
There aren’t many people living in Lillo, but it’s still possible to catch a glimpse of them. On the town square, you will find two bars. Typical Belgian “brown cafés”. Nothing to fancy, but perfect for a beer, coffee, or soda.
In a small village like Lillo, those bars are the hotspots. Of course, they mainly live of tourists going there. However, you will not see too many tourists. An occasional hiker, photographer (like me), or just people from Antwerp wanting a more quiet bar.
To see in Lillo
Lillo isn’t the biggest of villages or cities, but there are still a couple of things to see. Like the old warehouse for ammunition. You will find it on the other side of the village when you leave the parking. Also, the nice and old church in the city square is worth your time. Or maybe the museum about the village between the parking and town square. And at the parking itself, the old Douane center.
The Scheldt and Doel
From the dike at Lillo, you have a beautiful view over the harbor. I especially like to be there during sunset. Make sure to bring a jacket, as it can get windy there. There is a long pier you can walk on. If you’re lucky you can see the “boat-guides” going to their boats to help the large ships dock.
Standing on the pier, you see the city of Antwerp on your left in the distance. It’s really far! At the other side, you see the Deurganckdock. Even during the evening and night, you will see a lot of activity there. Ships can get there from the North Sea without passing a single sluice. That’s why you will see large ships there.
To your right, you will the nuclear power plant of Doel. Watching the plumes of steam rising to the sky is a romantic and beautiful sight. Tell your kids (if you have them with you), it’s where clouds are produced.
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