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Mini Cruises sailing from Europe

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    with mini cruises from Europe:
    Norwegian Epic
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    with mini cruises from Europe:
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  • All Mini cruises sailing from ports in Europe 2019

Mini Cruises to christmas markets

The winter months are often overlooked as a great time for holidaying by those seeking sun and sand, but there is one amazing reason to go away this winter. European Christmas markets bring in hundreds of people to enjoy roasted nuts, Gluhwein and bratwurst.

Bruges main square is the focal point of the Christmas Market and is full to the brim with food, drink and craft stalls and an ice rink centre piece all under the beautiful backdrop of the Belfry of Bruges. The narrow streets leading away from Market Square are lined with countless Christmas shops selling everything from decorations to the famous Belgium chocolate.

The heart of Brussels is its main square, the Grand Place. For many, the best thing about the Place are the heavenly treats sold at four venerable shops along its north (uphill) side. Each has a mouth-watering display case of chocolates and sells 100-gram mixes (six or so pieces) for about €5, or individual pieces for about €1. Godiva is at the high end (higher in both altitude and price); the cost goes down slightly as you descend to the other shops.

Godiva is synonymous with fine Belgian chocolate. Now owned by a Turkish company, Godiva still has its management and the original factory (built in 1926) in Belgium. This store, at Grand Place 22, was Godiva's first (est. 1937).

Mary (pronounced "mah-ree"), at #23, was founded in 1919 by the first woman chocolatier, Mary Delluc. She shot to stardom when the royal family began favoring her chocolates. Today, the store and its treats' packaging are faithful to her original designs.

Neuhaus, a few doors down at #27, has been encouraging local chocoholics since 1857. Their main store is in the Galeries Royales St. Hubert. Neuhaus publishes a good little pamphlet explaining its products. The "caprice" (toffee with vanilla crème) tastes like Easter. Neuhaus claims to be the inventor of the praline.

Galler, just off the square at Rue au Beurre 44, is homier and less famous because it doesn't export. Still family-run, it proudly serves the less sugary dark chocolate. Its top-end choice, 85 percent pure chocolate, is called simply "Black 85" — and worth a sample if you like chocolate without the sweetness. Galler's products are well-described in English.

Leonidas, four doors down at Rue au Beurre 34, is where cost-conscious Bruxellois get their fix, sacrificing 10 percent in quality to nearly triple their take. White chocolate is their specialty. If all the chocolate has made you thirsty, wash it down with 250 Beers, next door.