My 5: Leuven, Belgium.

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1. De Oude Markt, September 2005. The Belgian university town of Leuven will always hold a special place in my heart.  I arrived in the autumn of 2004 feeling excited by the prospect of a fresh start. But while my personal life was about to unravel spectacularly, the town itself proved so welcoming and charming it would ultimately drag me through the hard times and encourage me to stay on. I really fell for Leuven, with its cobbled streets, laid-back café culture and second hand record shops. Many a memorable night was spent here in De Oude Markt, the city’s main party square. In the winter everyone would huddle inside its tiny pubs, while in summer it transformed into a giant open-air bar. It also hosted Leuven’s annual music festival Marktrock, with performances from big name artists such as Lou Reed, The Pet Shop Boys and Texas.

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