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Antwerp

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==Do==   
 
==Do==   
 
* Take a '''tour of the port of Antwerp'''. One of the largest in the world.
 
* Take a '''tour of the port of Antwerp'''. One of the largest in the world.
(see the port of antwerp in pictures on http://www.dockwork.be ,pictures taken by a belgian docker)
 
 
* Visit the city with the '''[http://www.visitantwerpen.be official guides]'''.
 
* Visit the city with the '''[http://www.visitantwerpen.be official guides]'''.
 
* Take a tour of the '''places where tourists don't often come''' with [http://www.antwerpenaverechts.be/ Antwerpen Averechts].
 
* Take a tour of the '''places where tourists don't often come''' with [http://www.antwerpenaverechts.be/ Antwerpen Averechts].

Revision as of 15:00, 30 March 2008

Antwerp (Dutch: Antwerpen) [1], is a major destination of Belgium in the region of Flanders. Antwerp claims to be the "world's leading diamond city". It has every right to claim this, as more than 70% of all diamonds are traded in Antwerp. More than 85% of the world’s rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in the city.

Antwerp Market Square

Understand

Antwerp is a very old city. There have been excavations from the Gallo-Roman times. It's name probably comes from "aan de werpe", which is Dutch for "at the throw" referring to where the river throws its sand. The name also has a funny anecdote saying it comes from "Hand werpen", which translated is "throwing (a) hand(s)". In the official flag, the castle "het Steen" and the hand of Antwerp are shown.

In the 16th century, Antwerp was one of the most important financial centres of the world, where traders from all over Europe and Asia sold and bought their goods. After the siege of Antwerp in 1585 by the Spanish, this role as a financial centre was taken over by Amsterdam. Nevertheless, since the 19th century and especially the 20th century, Antwerp has made a serious economic comeback. It is the second largest city in Belgium, after Brussels, and it has a major european port.

Due to its long and culturally rich history, the city of Antwerp houses many interesting historical buildings from different historical periods, as well as a lot of interesting museums. On top of that, during the last years it has become kind of a trendy city, attracting a lot of Flemish and foreign artists, writers, intellectuals and actors. This is reflected in the city's many trendy bars and shops. Antwerp is a city with many faces. While it may not be historically preserved as fully as other Flemish medieval cities like Bruges or, to a certain extent, Ghent, it is first of all a very dynamic city, offering a perfect mix of history and present-day modern life.

Get in

By plane

  • Antwerp airport, ANR, [2]. There are a few airlines serving this airport. Most flights are with VLM Airlines, catering to business travelers. - Flights go to London, Liverpool, Jersey and Manchester in the United Kingdom. There is a regular bus to the centre, and a taxi costs around 10 Euro.
  • Every hour there is a direct bus from and to the national airport Zaventem (Brussels), it costs 10 Euro, and has two stops in Antwerp, at Hotel Crowne Plaza and in the city centre, in front of Central Station. Taking the train from Zaventem is also an option to arrive in Antwerp. (tickets at around 4 euro, change trains in Brussels-North)
  • It takes 45 min to 1 hr to reach Zaventem airport from Antwerp. On weekends, this could be another half hour slower.

By train

There are good train connections from and to the national airport Zaventem (Brussels). International trains from France and The Netherlands (Thalys [3]) stop in Antwerp- central and Antwerpen-Berchem. To plan your trip you can consult the website of the NMBS for national and international travels.

By bus

Antwerp has a Eurolines [4] (at Rooseveltplaats) and Ecolines [5] (at Berchem station square) office with busses coming from all over Europe (and a bit more sometimes).

By car

In 2004-2005 and probably a big part of 2006 many streets are interrupted. Works on the ring around Antwerp have caused many problems, but those works are at their end. Inside Antwerp, the main boulevards ("de Leien") are still undergoing a rebuilding. It may be suitable to leave your car on the outside of Antwerp and enter the city on your own (by public transport for example)

Get around

Districts

Amandus Atheneum, Brederode, Dam Eilandje, Diamant Stadspark, Haringrode Zurenborg, Justitie Harmonie, Kiel, Linkeroever, Schoonbroek Luchtbal, Stadhuis St. Jacob Hessenhuis, St. Andries Bourla, Stuivenberg, Tentoonstelling Den Brandt, Zuid Museum

Public transportation

The public transportation company De Lijn has a dense network of bus, tram and pre-metro connections in the city and wide area around it. You can buy cards of 8 euro (10 fares) at fixed points in town, or buy them inside buses. If you don't have a card you pay more inside the bus (€1.50 per fare). For one fare you can ride up to an hour within the entire city centre limits. If you want to travel out of the city centre you have to pay more for the extra zones travelled. The central public transportation point is the Franklin Roosevelt plaats near the central train station. Most busses leave from there or from the train station.

The trams and pre-metro (underground tram) also cross through the whole town.

Taxi and cars

Taxis are available too, but quite expensive. They await customers at specific locations around town (waving your hand will seldom work) like the Groenplaats or the railway station. You can recognize these places by an orange TAXI sign. The prices are fixed in the taximeter.

It is common practice in Antwerp to use your cell phone to call a taxi when you need one. If you're in need for a taxi, ask a local for the number of a taxi company, or ask it in a pub or at your hotel desk before going out.

If you go out to party, you can also buy a TOV ticket: Taxi en Openbaar Vervoer ("Taxi plus public transport"). It costs 50 cent more, but you get a two euro reduction on the taxi price when you want to go home.

Driving in Antwerp is not as difficult as many big cities in the world but crossroads can seem very chaotic for foreigners. There are few free parking spaces but many spaces where you have to pay (on the street or in underground car parks). The underground car parks are well-signposted. The prices are typically 2 euros per hour.

There are many one-way roads, that can make it difficult to get to a specific place. Try to park your car as close as possible and go on foot.

A list of taxicab telephone numbers can for Antwerp can be found at ListOfTaxis Antwerp

Bicycle

The city has many special areas for cyclers and most 1-way roads can be accessed in both ways for cycles. It's very easy and comfortable. Make sure to lock your bike to a fixed object or the bike will be stolen! Around town there are a few places that are specially prepared for hosting bicycles for free like at the Groenplaats.

Bicycles can be rented at several places in town like ligfiets, windroos or Fietsdokter (verschransingsstraat).

On foot

Antwerp is too big to do everything on foot. It has a lot to offer; the old centre, a jewish quarter, an african one, turkish, etc. There are also a lot of parks in the different districts. Therefor you ought to use the public transport.

See

North of Antwerp

Plantin Moretus Library
  • Rubenshuis: Rubens' house is now a museum of his life and artwork. Entrance fee: 7€. Free audioguide (recommended). Bring light earphones to plug in to the audioguide. Very useful for not ending the visit with a tired arm.
  • Plantin Moretus museum: the home of 16th century bookbinder and printer Christoffel Plantin. Regarded as one of the finest museums dedicated to printing in the world. It's extensive collections of important books and printing presses along with its role in spearheading the technology of printing have seen it added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • One of the oldest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals and lots of 19th century design and architecture.
  • Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal): one of the most impressive and biggest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, built 1351-1521, 400 ft tall. It also houses some of Rubens' most famous paintings.
  • Carolus Borromeus Church: unlike the cathedral, this is a Baroque church. Pretty unassuming when seen from the outside, but beautiful decorations (done by Rubens' studio) within. Located on the picturesque square Conscienceplein.
  • City Hall/Old Market Square (Stadhuis/Grote Markt): this is the historical centre of town. The market square is surrounded by the typical medieval guild houses you can find in most Flemish historical towns. The city hall is a very special architectural style. It's a combination between Gothic and early renaissance. This style is almost exclusively found in this region of Europe.
  • Vleeshuis: literally, this is the "Meat house"! It was built as the guild hall for the butchers. Every day tons of meat switched owners here. The building is famous for the orignal masonry,it is made to resemble stacks of bacon (switching between white stones and red bricks).
  • Het Steen ("The Stone", literally): This a rather small medieval castle on the banks of the river Schelde. It used to function as a city fortification, now it houses a naval museum. It is the starting point of the Wandelterrassen, a scenic boardwalk with a cafe/restaurant at either end.
  • Boerentoren ("Farmers' tower"): now called "KBC-tower" after the company that owns it, this skyscraper (97m) in the historical centre of town is said to be the oldest one on the European continent. It was built at the beginning of the 1930s. It is located at the end of the Meir shopping street. There is an observation deck on the 25th floor (6E entry including an exhibition downstairs), from which you get fantastic views of the city, including the nearby Cathedral. The tower is renowned for its typical art-deco sculptures. The term skyscraper is a little bit irrelevant if you compare it to other buildings there were erected on the American Continent, for example the Empire State Building in New York, built in the same period, has 381m.
  • Bourla theatre: 19th century neo-classicist theatre building. Nice from the outside, even nicer if you manage to get in for a theater show or a concert. It houses a spectacular pastry salon inside the large cupula above the theater itself. Great place to have tea with cake... or waffles, of course.
  • Red Light District: like other cities such as Amsterdam and Hamburg, Antwerp also has its own red light district. It's pretty small and right in the centre of town (near Falconplein). If you want to visit just to do some sightseeing, consider going during the day. Although it's not as bad as it sounds, the district might be a little less safe at night. If you intend to patronise the Red Light District be wary of women who beckon you towards their kamers and invite you in without discussing a price. In many cases these women will charge greatly inflated rates once they have you inside their kamer. It is also worth being wary of beggars in the RLD. While few of these are particularly hostile they can be bothersome and should be ignored.
  • Diamond District: This is the district south and southwest of the central station. As the name already indicates, this is an area where you will find countless jewelry shops, as well as the Antwerp Diamond Exchange, arguably the most important financial centre of the world's diamond industry. The district is also interesting from an ethnic and cultural perspective, since the diamond industry is for at least 50 % in the hands of the city's Jews. Antwerp has a rather large population of Jews (about 50,000 people), a lot of them orthodox. You might want to walk around a bit in this area and just take a look at the people. But remember: on Sabbath day, everybody stays inside their houses, and all the jewish shops are closed.
  • Aquatopia, [6], reasonable aquarium in the basement of the Astrid Park Plaza hotel, tickets also available from the Zoo.
  • The hidden street Vlaeykensgang, which connects Hoogstraat, Oude Koornmarkt and Pelgrimsstraat. It is a real street, but only accessible through unassuming medieval front doors in the streets. The medieval equivalent of a gated community! It now houses nice but informal restaurants and chique but discrete houses. A must see!
  • The Begijnhof (beguinage), a sort of medieval monastery for women who did not enter for life but until they got married, decided to leave or, well, died. The well-kept gardens are photo-ops.

South of Antwerp

Since the restoration a couple of years ago, the south of the city is known as the trendy part. The centre of this piece of the city is a huge square called 'de gedempte zuiderdokken' which simply means: 'the filled-up southern docks'. In the sixties this was an abandoned trade dock.They filled up the dock in an attempt to expand the city. The high crime rate in the region made it a very cheap place to live. This was, in a strange way, a blessing for the local artworld which started to flourish, making the region trendy and safe over the years. Today it is known as a "yuppie stronghold".

  • MUHKA : museum of contemporary art
  • Fotography museum : renovated in 2004
  • Fine Arts Museum : Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten boasts of an excellent collection of paintings from the 15th century right up to the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection has masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Brueghel, Van Eyck, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens and James Ensor to name a few.
  • Zuiderpershuis is located on the "kaaien" and is a center for intercultural art.
  • Het Muntplein, a place where grafitti artists can make artworks without being chased by police. There are often very nice creations and there are graffiti contests on a regular basis.
  • Palace of Justice (Justitiepaleis): there are actually two of these. The old one is a 19th century red brick building on the Frankrijklei. The new one is a dominant, modern, white building in the south of Antwerp (Bolivarplaats). You can really hardly miss it once you're there. The architect of this building was Richard Rogers, who also built the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Millennium Dome in London.


  • Zurenborg neighbourhood: this is a little off the beaten track. This neighbourhood in the south east of Antwerp (near the railway station Antwerpen-Berchem, look for 'Cogels-Osylei' on the map)is known for its eclectic, sometimes rather bizarre 19th century architecture. Consider taking a tram or bicycle to get there.
  • Middelheim Park: The center of Antwerp is not so very big, and once you cross the ringroad, you will mainly see suburbs. There are some nice parks outside the ringroad, though, and the Middelheim Park is one of them. It houses a permanent open-air exhibition of modern sculpture, including work by famous artists such as Rodin, Hans Arp, Henry Moore, and many others.

Do

  • Take a tour of the port of Antwerp. One of the largest in the world.
  • Visit the city with the official guides.
  • Take a tour of the places where tourists don't often come with Antwerpen Averechts.
  • Take a ghostly nighttime tour and learn about the dark history of Antwerp with Antwerp Ghostwalk.
  • In summer there is the Zomer van Antwerpen (summer of Antwerp) an event that takes places during the whole summer in the whole city. Cheap or free activities such as dancing, theater, performances, circus, movies in open air and much more are organised. Reserving is often a must (specially on free activities)
  • St. Annatunnel in Antwerpen
    Take the pedestrian tunnel (St. Annatunnel) to the left bank of the river Schelde. On the left bank, you have a beautiful view on the city centre: most panoramic pictures in guidebooks were taken from here! * Go to the Pelgrom this building combines both an impressive bar in the basement, plus the 'poortershuis', which is a replica of the house of businessmen in antwerp during the 17th century.
  • Visit the Zoo (Dierentuin) if you haven't visited a zoo in a while. You will not find such a fine zoo very often, and it's location is a monument in its own right: it is a few years younger than the London Zoo (1850), but retains all of the original buildings, cages and gardens.

Buy

At Ploegstraat 25 you can find a give-away shop, where you can bring and take stuff as you please, without any monetary interaction. Open Mondays to Fridays from 14:00 to 18:00.

The main shopping area is the Meir a street that stretches out from the Keyserlei (close to the central station) to the Groenplaats. It is one of the most famous shopping streets in Belgium. The streets Hopland and Schuttershofstraat are the shopping terrain of the rich and famous with exclusive fashion shops like Cartier, Hermes, Scapa, Armani etc. The Huidevettersstraat, Nationalestraat and Kammenstraat (All located close to the Meir) are also very interesting shopping streets to visit.

Purchasing a diamond at one of the many tourist jewelry shops around the Central station can be an unpleasant experience. Like any bigger diamond city in world there are many tourist trap diamond shops located around the actual diamond district centre. Wealthy diamond buyers should do their investigative shopping online prior to visiting Antwerp. If you're less wealthy and someone asks you to bring back some diamonds from Antwerp, buy diamond-shaped chocolate pralines at e.g. Burie (Korte Gasthuisstraat 3) or Del Rey (Appelmansstraat 5).

Trendy shopping can be done in the Kammenstraat and surroundings. In this area, you will also find the Fashion Museum and many shops of famous Antwerp fashion designers such as Walter van Beirendonck and Dries van Noten.

The Kloosterstraat is chockfull of antique shops, with often bizarre items for sale.

When you get out of the central station you enter the chinese district after about 300 metres. A lot of japanese/korean and chinese stuff can be found here.

Learn

Antwerp has several colleges and a university.

  • UA University of Antwerp.
  • HA Hogeschool Antwerpen
  • Lessius Hogeschool
  • Plantijn Hogeschool
  • KdG Karel de Grote Hogeschool
  • Antwerp Maritime Academy

Eat

Any time

  • As most Flemish towns, you can find many fritkotten in the city. These are places where you can buy french fries and other fried food for a reasonable price. They usually have no place to sit so you must eat standing. But so what, they are only the best in Belgium!
  • Pitta/Shoarma: these shops are often open through the day and are the last ones to close.

Lunch

  • People often go eat a "smos", a bread with several layers of garniture in it. The name refers to the mess you make when trying to eat it. You can find them in several stores like 't Fijnproevertje Sint-Katelijnevest 49, Panos or foodmaker. The most famous "smoskes" according to students are found at "Jean-Pierre". You can find it opposite to the university (Grote Kauwenberg 41).

Dinner

  • De Keyserlei is a street with a varied choice of restaurants. Also check out the side streets, they offer even more choice. This is the perfect opportunity to try out South-African or Lebanese cuisine!
  • Da Giovani is a cheap Italian restaurant. It is popular among students because of their 20% discount. A second "Da Giovanni" is located on the Keyserlei, near the central station.
  • Tropicos at Tabakvest-Hopland corner is known for its lively South-American atmosphere, caipirinha cocktails and tasteful Brazilian - Mexican kitchen.
  • The Hilton hotel has a restaurant overviewing the Groenplaats.
  • Wok & Tandoor is a show-restaurant serving wok and tandoor food. It is prepared in front of you by cooks in a spectacular way. It's an all you can eat buffet with very reasonable prices (27 euros per person in January 2007). It is located in the south of Antwerp close to the new Courthouse.
  • Govinda's garden (Amerikalei 184) is the restaurant of the Krishnas. They serve healthy macrobiotic food for a small price. Only open in the evenings.

Drink

  • 't Waagstuk. A famous Belgian Beer Cafe
  • De Vagant. A famous Belgian Jenever Cafe: About 300 kinds of Jenever.
  • Berlin trendy place to be in the centre of town
  • De Muze, a jazz café located in Melkmarkt. Relaxed atmosphere, and live (jazz) music played in a regular basis. Beyond typical Belgian beers, coffee lovers can enjoy a true Italian Expresso or, if willing to drink something bigger, a "Koffie Vertreek".
  • In the Paeters Vaetje, in the Cathedral Square, you can order more than one hundred different kinds of beer. In summertime you can also sit outside.
  • If that's not enough, go to Kulminator, which has more than five hundred different beers, if you count different vintages as different beers. (Vlemickveld)
  • De Pelgrom a cafe that is located in an old underground storage place. They have a medieval touch as decoration. (Pelgrimsstraat)
  • Kassa4. Very popular student pub with a good choice of alternative music. Could be very crowded at times. Located in the student neighbourhood, on the Ossenmarkt.

Clubs

  • De Cinema, [7]. Very popular among students
  • Café D'Anvers, [8].
  • Petrol, [9]. The most trendy club and concert venue at the moment. Located on a deserted industrial terrain south of the city, somewhat away from the city center. You might need a bicycle or a taxi ride to get there, unless you don't mind a long walk.
  • Bonthuis
  • Nanno sur l'eau
  • Stereo Sushi
  • Cafe Capital
  • La Riva
  • Cafe Local

Specialties

  • De Koninck (commonly called "Bolleke"), beer brewed in Antwerp.
  • Antwerpse handjes: Little biscuits or chocolates in the shape of a hand. Invented by a jewish backer in 1932.
  • Elixir d'Anvers: a liquor based on plants.
  • Clothes designed by the Antwerp Six (Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dries Van Noten, Marina Yee en Dirk Van Saene)
  • Waffles at Désiré de Lille [10] (Schrijnwerkersstraat 14-18). Try the Lacquemant or Smoutebollen.

Sleep

Budget

  • abhostel, [11]. A small, trendy hostel, from backpackers for backpackers.
  • Scoutel, [12]. A scouting youth hostel that is open to everyone and offers affordable accommodations in the center of the city, just around the corner of the central train station.
  • Camping Vogelzang, (Vogelzanglaan 7-9). Located at 10 minutes by tram from the heart of the city and perfect for low-budget travelers.
  • Boomerang, [13]. A hostel close to the city center.
  • Heksenketel, [14]. A hostel close to the city center with very welcoming and homley atmosphere. Dorm beds available only (no single or double, etc) in rooms between 4 to 8 beds. tel.: +32 (0)3 226.71.64
  • Ibis Hotel Antwerpen Centrum [15]. In the city centre, near the Stadschouwburg theatre and the Vogeltjesmarkt. Contact: (+32)3/2318830
  • Elzenveld, Lange Gasthuisstraat 45, [16]. A former hospital that advertises itself as a conference centre, but also offers accommodation.
  • Antwerp Hilton is located in the city centre, opposite the Cathedral. Quite pricey but excellent service and great locale for exploring the city.
  • Antwerp Mabuhay Lodgings, Zurenborg - Draakstraat 32 [17]. Bed and Breakfast, guesthouse in the cozy neighbourhood of Antwerp, rooms available for 2 also apartment and studio available for longer staying visitors.
  • Vrienden op de Fiets, 7 adresses for members making a cycling or walking tour through Belgium, [18].

Splurge

Contact

There are many places in Antwerp with unprotected WAP access (err this is ILLEGAL!). If you have a portable computer with wireless internet, you can always take a ride on those networks. Some cafés have wireless internet too with prices around 5 euro for an hour. A grab in the possibilities: Café Zurich (Verlatstraat 2), Bozart (Leopold De Waelplaats) and Ultimatum (Grote Markt 8).

  • 2Zones [19] has a very good service. they ask 4,5 euro an hour but you can do everything you might need to do (printing, scanning, cd-burning, reading cameras, ...)
  • Poolplanet [20] 6 computers, 1 euro for half an hour. Printing is possible.
  • In the library you can have internet for pretty cheap. Many options are disabled and printing is not possible.

Get out

Since Flanders (and Belgium) is not big, it's very easy to take the train and go visit another city. It's very well possible to make a daytrip to every city. Try to organise yourself beforehand because finding good information can sometimes be difficult.

Belgium

  • Bruges (Brugge): Very nice medieval town. Often called "Venice of the North" because of the many canals that flow through and under it. Well worth an overnight stay, since it is most romantic at night, and very safe.
  • Brussels: The capital of Belgium, and, some say, the capital of Europe. Multicultural, multilingual, multieverything. Unfortunately, some of the city's historic (medieval) center was destroyed at the end of the 19th century when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands and Brussels was made capital of the new country. Nonetheless, Brussels is known as a city of "hidden gems," where you can turn a street corner in a less-than-breathtaking area and come face-to-face with an opulent and unexpected Art Deco or Art Nouveau building. Brussels is a must when visiting Belgium, and its popularity with tourists in recent years has been steadily increasing.
  • Ghent: a medieval town a bit like Bruges, with more emphasis on cathedrals and other big buildings. Great center of medieval paintings exhibited in and around the cathedral of Sint-Baafs.
  • Namur: The regional capital of Wallonia.
  • Leuven One of the only cities in Belgium that is even more lively than Antwerp and Brussels is obviously this college town. One of the world's oldest universities is here. Many hotels also cater to businessmen who find Brussels too dangerous or too expensive.

Getting to other places in Flanders or Wallonia is relatively easy from the bigger Belgian cities, especially from Antwerp, Ghent and Brugge.

The Netherlands

  • Amsterdam: You can take a direct train to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about two hours to get there. Amsterdam is well-known for its grachten, many bicycles and coffee-shops.
  • Rotterdam: You can take a direct train to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There is about one train an hour and it will take you about one hour to get there. Rotterdam is well-known for its harbour.
  • Den Bosch: You can go by train to this medieval city (change trains in Roosendaal).
  • Zeeland: where the Schelde reaches the ocean. It's about one hour by train and you will have to change in Roosendaal.

France

  • Lille: is very famous among others for having the largest bookstore in Europe ("Le furet du Nord"). Lille is in the French part of Flanders. The train ride is pretty long (sometimes over 2 hours) making it less easy for a daytrip. The Dutch (Flemish) name is Rijsel and the town is not to be confused with another Flemish town called Lille in Dutch!
  • Paris: With the Thalys you can be there in about two hours.

Stay safe

Most parts of Antwerp are pretty safe. Some neighbourhoods are to be avoided in the evening. Especially the area around De Coninckplein, this is when you walk from Central station and you cross the street with tram lines (Gemeentestraat) in Northern Direction (towards Chinatown). Unless you are looking for your personal drugdealer. For the rest the city is perfectly safe. The warnings that are used in every city have to be observed here too of course. Although you should be careful not to leave valuables on view in your car.

If you need police assistance the emergency number is 101. If you need a non urgent police inquiry or the most nearby police station you can dial 0800/12312 for free. Most police officers in Antwerp are friendly and professional in approach.

Like in the rest of Europe, the number centralised for emergencies (ambulance, police and firemen) is 112.




This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!