In Pictures: Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is one of those destinations I never gave much thought to. It is close to other noteworthy cities that are more well-known (Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels) so it always seemed just outside of the realm of my journey-planning. Having visited it this spring, I now wonder what took me so long to get there. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city is a short train ride from London with the Eurostar to Brussels, whereupon one changes to one of SNCB’s (Belgian Railways) trains to Bruges and beyond. It is such an easy trip in that it doesn’t require too much planning if you are from any of the surrounding countries, and is not too demanding culture-wise – perfect for those times when you neither have the time, inclination nor resources to be adventurous.

In Summary: 12 in 2012 (Part 1)

What a year this has been. Never before have I travelled to as many countries and expanded my knowledge of the world as I did in 2012.

Offbeat: Charleroi, Europe’s ugliest city?

I’ve been reading about Charleroi, a Belgian city just 50 kilometres south of Brussels, with ever-growing interest as it is featured regularly in news outlets. First there was the Wall Street Journal slide show which first sensitized me to the plight of this aesthetically challenged city in the municipality of Wallonia. Then came an article in The Guardian, which apart from expanding my knowledge of this poor city (it has the highest unemployment rates in Belgium) also introduced me to a quote by Serge Gainsbourg I now love dearly: “Ugliness has one great advantage over beauty, it is not diminished by the passage of time.”