Something To Declare: Bruges; beware of strangers bearing gifts

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: Bruges

Belgium's most attractive city will be easier and cheaper to reach this summer. Starting on 25 June, Eurolines (08705 143219; launches a daily bus departure from Victoria Coach Station in London to Bruges. By booking 15 days in advance you are guaranteed a fare of £39 return. By comparison, Eurostar (08705 186 186; has a lowest fare of £59 return from London Waterloo to any station in Belgium. If you are booking at the last minute, Eurolines' highest return fare is £53 - compared with £298 in standard class on Eurostar.

Eurostar's express trains have the edge in terms of speed. But because the journey involves a circuitous connection via Brussels, the fastest Eurostar trip to Bruges is about four hours. The bus takes around 90 minutes longer.

Warning of the week: beware of strangers bearing gifts

The UK and US Governments warn travellers about countries where you should be cautious about accepting presents. For the Czech Republic, the Foreign Office warns that you should never accept drinks from strangers: "There have been a small number of incidents involving drinks being spiked and visitors having their valuables stolen while intoxicated."

For India, the advice is similar: "Do not accept food from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains." But the FO also warns that: "Confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, promise a cash reward for delivery of jewellery abroad but only in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is invariably worthless and the deposit, often thousands of pounds, is lost."

The US State Department adds another caution for India: accepting offers of improbably cheap lodgings and meals. These can "place the traveller in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the traveller at the mercy of threats or even physical coercion".