Great Escapes

European Travel Blog

Spring evening by the canals in Amsterdam

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Picture Postcard… from the canals of Amsterdam

Spring evening by the canals in Amsterdam

A spring evening by the canals in Amsterdam

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, the canals of Amsterdam are amongst the most famous in the world. Photo credit: Shutterstock | PisaPhotography

Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam, inside the Singelgracht

Built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, the historic urban canal network of Amsterdam lies to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port. The city was in fact extended by draining swampland, building the canals and filling in the intermediate spaces where many gabled house and monuments now stand. It was the largest and most homogeneous urban development of its time and was used as a model of large-scale town planning up until the 19th century.

Today they are a delight to wander around, whether by foot, bicycle or boat, although it would take a while to see them all, with over one hundred kilometres of canals, around 90 islands and some 1,500 bridges.

This lovely shot of the canals a glow on a warm spring evening, in the dimming light with reflections shimmering in the water, really sets the scene for a night of romance. And the spring is great time to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds of the summer. Find your spring Amsterdam escape today with

bayeux normandie calvados

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Picture Postcard… from Bayeux, Normandy

Bayeux, Calvados, Normandy

Bayeux, Calvados, Normandy

In the heart of the D-Day Landing beaches, the historic city of Bayeux, is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry which depicts life in the Middle Ages and, in particular,  the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. But don’t just come to Bayeux to see the tapestry, be sure to leave time to explore the charming narrow cobbled streets of the old town with quaint shops and inviting bistros, and at its heart Bayeux’s huge Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, consecrated by William the Conqueror in 1077.

And if you visit on a Wednesday or Saturday morning a traditional market sells local produce including many fine gastronomic specialties of the area, many of which make perfect souvenirs.

Image by G. Wait,  copyright OTI Bayeux-Bessin / G. Wait


Picture postcard from… Bruges, Belgium

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St. Bonifaciusbrug in Bruges*

One of the most photographed bridges in Bruges, St Bonifaciusbrug bridge is actually one of the youngest in the city, dating back to the early 20th century. You’ll find it in a particularly charming area with cobbled streets, historic buildings and the sound of horses hoofs clip-clopping passed pulling carriages full of tourists, as are the little boats that pass under the bridge. It’s a very romantic spot and the perfect place to it sit down on one of the hidden benches and watch the world go by.

The Church of Our Lady, seen here in the background, took two centuries (13th-15th) to build. It has many lovely art treasures, most notably a beautiful Carrara marble Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo. One of only a few of Michelangelo’s works that can be seen outside Italy.  While currently being renovated, this lovely church is still well worth a visit and the 1 Euro fee to see the famous sculpture.

*Image courtesy of Flanders Tourist Board

Eiffel Tower lit-up by night, Paris

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Picture postcard from… Paris, France

Eiffel Tower lit-up by night, Paris

The Eiffel Tower by Moyan Brenn

Located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most well-known structures in the world.

It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower with Eiffel himself paying 80 percent of the tower’s construction costs. It was originally planned to stand for 20 years after which it was intended to be sold as scrap metal. However, in a bid to save it, Eiffel erected an antenna on top of the tower and financed experiments with wireless telegraphy. The tower proved enviable in sending and receiving wireless messages, particularly for the French military. Today, more than 100 antennae on the tower send radio and television broadcasts around the world.

More great shots from Moyan can be found on Flickr.

Antwerp by night, Belgium

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Picture Postcard from…. Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp by night, Belgium

Antwerp is described by Lonely Planet as “the country’s capital of cool, a powerful magnet for mode moguls,
club queens, art lovers and diamond dealers.”

It is Belgium’s second largest  city and is reputedly the most fashionable,
with great restaurants, bars, theatres and shops. The heart of the city is its historic medieval centre
with quaint narrow cobbled streets and a stunning cathedral.


Image courtesy of VisitFlanders

Picture postcard from… Notre Dame, Paris

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Notre Dame, Paris

This stunning view of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, looking across the River Seine at dusk,
was taken at just the right time to get that glorious blue in the sky.
(Usually around half an hour after sunset but before it’s completely dark,
when the sky becomes much darker and less interesting.)

The cathedral is over 850 years old and a ‘must see’ on any first visit to Paris – the interior is really beautiful.

More information about its history, location, opening times and
details of the spectacular summer night shows can be found on the cathedral’s website.

Picture postcard from… Brussels’ Grand Place this Christmas


Grande Place at Christmas, Brussels, Belgium

I recently spent a lovely weekend in Brussels, the highlight of which was without doubt the Grand Place lit up for Christmas. It took my breath away.

You can read about my visit and see more photos on my personal blog, Travel With Kat.