no. 252

My love affair with the Belgian city of Bruges began at the age of 11. Visiting on a school field trip, it was the first city I explored without my parents. Back then, it was the chocolate—not the beer—that captivated me. But neither consumable has ever affected me like the mesmerizing architecture within the city’s walls.

Bruges Market Square was even busier than usual on my latest trip, with people arriving in their thousands for the annual Bruges Beer Festival only compounding the usual tourist traffic. But stroll a few minutes away from the center of town, down a meandering street or two, and you could quickly leave the crowds behind. It was here that I took in a moment of calm and watched a few locals go about their business, safe in the knowledge that the next beer café would be right around the next corner.

—Matthew Curtis