The above picture perfectly captures an impossibly quaint, engaging side to Bruges. But it’s not the side of the city I was initially introduced to. I arrived in here alone, by train, at 11pm one perfectly clear, chilly Friday night in March – without currency, a map, or phone battery. Go me. No matter, I told myself. I’d soon find my hotel. The seventh largest ‘city’ in Belgium (population 120,000) is actually tiny and thus, I hoped, instinctively easy to navigate. Failing that, I’d ask a passerby for directions. Until I realized there weren’t any. No traffic, no pedestrians, no cyclists – there weren’t even any lights on in any of the charming townhouses I was admiring. A friend later explained, Bruges just doesn’t have the nighttime drinking culture I’m used to (in London at least). It was as if the entire town was asleep. It reminded me of Christmas Eve, or a childhood tale of an enchanted town: at once magical and eerie, and so, so understated. Note: not boring, understated. In all honestly, it was one of the most surreal travel experiences of my life.