Bruges can easily be called one of Belgium's greatest tourist traps. Loads of expensive restaurants, hundreds of surely overpriced hotels and many, many tourists. Thanks to a great guide, though, I experienced an idyllic moment amidst the madness.
On the World Heritage List for its medieval charm, Bruges is nothing but photogenic. The old Markt and the historic Burg make for perfect photo opportunities – if you can get a shot in, that is. Get in line.
In the city's historic center, the 13th-century Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe church displays Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold.
The secret lies behind the church. A city guide showed us this little alley that leads to the Bonifacius Bridge on a rainy afternoon in November. We found a perfect beacon of serenity, the structure's tiny picturesque lights reflected in raindrops. A bad picture was impossible.
We felt like we'd stumbled on the "authentic" old Bruges; it was easy to imagine being in the Middle Ages in this romantic spot. The truth, however, can be a bit harsh. Our guide tried to ruin a perfect moment by telling us that the bridge was built in the 20th century, making it one of the youngest bridges in the city.
But to be fair, not even that could ruin this fairytale place for me.