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Belgium: Bruges

If you asked me whether you should go to Brussels or Bruges, and you only had time to visit one, I would pick Bruges. Hands down. Why? Because it is so ridiculously pretty. Seriously. It is the prettiest town EVER, and because it's smaller than Brussels, it seems even more concentrated with prettiness.

Getting there from Brussels is super easy - just hop on the train at Brussels-Midi and an hour later you'll be in Bruges. (Did I mention it's super pretty?) Walking from the train station you'll take in churches and buildings dating from the 11th Century, including the Gothic Saint Saviour's which dominates the skyline.

Whilst you could probably spend a lot of your time mooching around and admiring places like Castle Square and its wildly opulent facades - which is mainly what we did - it seems that everyone I'd spoken to who had been to Bruges did a canal trip whilst they were there. We were no exception.

There are four different docks where you can pick up a canal, and it doesn't seem to matter which one you pick as they all cover the same route. The tour only lasts 30 minutes but it's great to get a sense of the history of the city and see it from a different angle!

Another thing we did, purely because we always like to see cities from high, is climb up the Belfry. This is located in the Markt area of Bruges (yep, marketplace), where you'll also find various museums, shops and restaurants.

Costing €10, once you climb up the 400+ steps of the Belfry you're going to have a wonderful view of the city. (Plus since there are various levels you can stop off at, those 400-odd steps don't seem quite so bad.) If you time it right, you can also be by the bells when they chime.

Since we were in Bruges on my birthday, this made it perfectly acceptable to stop off at The Old Chocolate House for a sweet lunch. It is *the* place to enjoy a hot chocolate, either a traditional Belgian one which involves stirring chocolate nibs (white, dark, milk or a mix) into hot milk, or ordering one of their specials like I did - their aptly named "Death by Chocolate"!

And, because you can never have too much sweet stuff on your birthday (or when in Bruges), we shared a waffle with whipped cream and butterscotch sauce. All delicious! I highly recommend that you head upstairs to the tearoom at The Old Chocolate House if you're ever in town.

Have you been to Bruges? x

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