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Sep 2016: Beautiful Bruges – perfect for a short break or an excursion. By Audrey Connor

From the minute I boarded the Glenton coach I had a fantastic time on my Belgian adventure. A delicious dinner on the overnight crossing washed down with a nice little chardonnay, dancing to the ship’s band, a wee flutter at the casino then a good night’s sleep in my cosy cabin. The following morning I tucked into the eat all you want buffet breakfast before our sunshine bathed arrival in Zeebrugge. We were quickly through passport control then a short time later our Glenton coach glided into the impossibly charming city of Bruges. Okay, the fact that it is the chocolate capital of the world may have something to do with my fondness for this medieval metropolis but even without the chance to indulge in my favourite hobby of scoffing the odd soft centre or two, Bruges is an unmissable destination.

Enchantingly romantic with pretty canals, stunning architecture and cobbled squares, it is little wonder it was declared a UNESCO world heritage city. From the coach park, we ambled through the Minniewaterpark stopping to absorb the serene splendour at the inner court of the Beguinage – a tranquil oasis where it feels like time has stopped and the world has fallen silent.

Afterwards, we made our way to the centre of town where we stopped for coffee and waffles in a captivating little cobbled square. Soaking up the ambience as the street musician turned the handle on his barrel organ filling the afternoon with ‘that’s amore’ whilst horses hooves clip-clopped by taking tourists on an carriage ride through the historic streets.

Cruising Bruges’ canals is a delightful tradition and as we glided along the waterways listening to the guide giving his commentary in a variety of languages, the exquisiteness of this splendid city unfolded. Sailing under elaborate bridges, past ornate buildings and by old world squares we appreciated the striking sights from a different angle. Later, it was time to hit the chocolate shops for some serious tasting! Well, I’d come all this way, after all....

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