Oostend (Bruges), Belgium

Most visitors to Oostend waterfront will seek out the tall masts of the Mercator, a refurbished training barquentine once used for polar exploration. This port on the northern coast of Flanders is a perfect place from which to visit the romantic medieval city of Bruges. Renowned for its carefully conserved or restored Gothic architecture, Bruges is also a storybook place of cobblestone plazas and picturesque canals. The Burg is a breathtaking public square lined with elaborate facades including the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the 14th century City Hall, aas well as the Palace of the Liberty of Bruges and the Renaissance Court of Justice.  Tye Markt boasts the towering Bruges Belfry and the Provincial Palace which was the useful Waterhalle, where goods were stored from the canals. The Beguinage medieval convent is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As famous as Bruge’s canals and architecture is the renowned Belgian chocolate crafted by the local chocolatiers.