WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

What to pack for Europe in winter

PACKING LIST FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

If you are want to find out what to pack for Europe in winter, then this post is for you.

While you might have to think about which places to visit in Europe in winter, you will also need to plan what to pack for the cold winter months in Europe.

While Europe might not be the biggest continent, weather conditions strongly vary. So, it does make a big difference whether you visit North countries like Iceland or Norway, Central Europe like Switzerland or France or Southern Europe with places like Valencia in Spain.

If you head to Southern Spain you will not need all the super warm winter clothes – and you will be happy with some warm pullovers and jeans. In the Nordic countries you will definitely need to pack differently.

In this post, you will find one general part of what to pack in Europe for winter. Then you will find out about what to pack for warmer countries like Spain or Malta, but you will also find out what to pack if you visit countries like Switzerland, Estonia or Iceland in winter.

First ski experience in Verbier, Switzerland what to pack in winter

Winter Weather in Europe

Before talking about what to bring to Europe in winter, we should talk weather in Europe in winter. Because your packing list depends on where you visit.

Southern Europe is much milder and warmer than Eastern Europe or Northern Europe. While you could wear a light jacket in Southern Spain in the winter months, you surely have to dress very warm in countries like Norway or Iceland.

If you come to Europe in winter – come prepared. 

Be advised that the average temperature can reach as low as -10° degree Celsius in countries like Iceland and Norway and while it gets up to 15° degree Celsius in other countries.

Climate change has lead to much warmer climate in many countries – I remember the years – as a little child – where we had many days with freezing temperatures in Germany. And a lot of snow – but nowadays, snow is no longer the rule for many parts in Europe. But it can be.

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WHAT TO BRING TO EUROPE IN WINTER – GENERAL ITEMS

So, the first part of the post is a general packing ist. Then you will find an additional packing list for winter.

Luggage for Europe

Here is what luggage/bags you might need for your winter Europe trip.

  • Suitcase: Though it depends, where exactly and for how long you travel, I recommend taking a good, light, and quality suitcase with you where all your clothes and most of your toiletries fit in.
  • Carry-On: If you visit for longer and aren’t a minimalist, then you might need an extra carry-on luggage.
  • Laundry bags: They are great if you travel for longer and don’t want your dirty and clean clothes to mix up. I prefer them over plastic bags.
  • Packing Cubes: They are the new must-items when it comes to traveling, they are very handy and they also come in cool colors. I recommend using packing cubes because it makes packing and organizing easier.
  • For my handbag, I choose a cross-body handbag with a zipper (just to be safe) and several extra pockets. My tip: The size of the handbag is important: do you carry a camera with your? A water bottle? Keep that in mind when you decide on one handbag.
  • Passport Holder, since i have become more minimalistic, I prefer not using a passport holder but if you need a passport (and an ID is not enough) you might want to have one.
  • For a day at the hotel pool or for some shopping, I recommend a beach bag or a cotton bag. Plastic bags – fortunately – do costs money in many parts of Europe…and plastic you use only once, sucks anyway, so with a cotton bag you use for years, you do the environment a favour (and it looks much better than to carry your shoppings in a plastic or paper bag).

Toiletries to Pack for Europe in Winter

Lately, I have reduced the care products. Less is better if you ask me. However, in winter our skin is also subject to stress. Here you will find a detailed list – even if I do not use all products below throughout the year, you might use more products.

If I travel for 10 days or shorter I take travel sizes toiletries which I refill with my natural and organic beauty products from home. To pack light, shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, cleaning water and cleansing milk is all in small bottles.

Of course, you could buy toiletries in Europe as well, but if you do not want to waste your time in drug stores or supermarkets, use this checklist for Europe.

  • (TSA Approved Clear) Travel Toiletry Bag (if you fly)
  • Sunscreen (even in winter – depending on where you travel to. If you go for a ski trip, then take it but you most likely will not need it for most other winter trips).
  • Travel bottles to refill – I refill them with my own organic products that I normally use (I do not use shampoo & conditioner provided by hotels)
  • Electric Hair Removal Epilator (only if you stay longer than a week or if you remove your bidy hair with it) – otherwise a razor or whatever you prefer
  • Face cream – (which I also use as a hand cream, so I do not have to take another cream).
  • Refillable Travel Size Perfume Bottle
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash plus Dental floss
  • Tissues
  • Deodorant
  • Magnifying make-up mirror
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover + glass nail file
  • My favorite hairbrush (especially for longer hair) – or if you have less space take a comb
  • Hair ties
  • A small cosmetic bag with the following items: Mascara / Rouge / Eyebrow powder (Taming & Shaping Kit For Brows) / Tweezer / Eyeliner and Eye Shadow / Make-up brushes/ Cotton swabs

Here are a few more items which I personally do hardly use but which might be important to you, so I added them here:

hair spray, hand cream, foundation, powder, lipstick, sanitiser

Tech Stuff to Pack for Europe

  • I have my laptop with me whenever I fly – however, I do work online while traveling and I also watch Netflix on it.
  • My phone is without a doubt one of my most useful and important (travel) items.
  • My camera is a must – because Europe has so many great spots that need to be photographed.
  • I have to admit, that I still don’t have a kindle, so a “real” book is often an essential
  • Power Charger – how long does your phone battery last? Not long? Neither does mine, so this  is an essential
  • Do you need an adapter? It depends on where you travel to in Europe, so please check if you need one for your destination.

Random Things to Pack for Europe

  • Umbrella (in many countries, like Germany, Switzerland, or England is can still rain quite a lot in the winter)
  • Guides
  • Medicine (headache pills etc.)
Cycling in London in winter

What to Pack for Europe in Winter

The key is dressing in layers for Europe in winter. The temperature can reach freezing levels, and yet the sun can be deceptively strong. Dressing in layers allows you to keep warm without compromising on comfort. 

Also, it really depends on where exactly you travel – as I mentioned before, Southern Europe has mild weather in winter where you will not need a super warm jacket and gloves plus a hat.

Depending on where you travel, the wind might make you feel much colder than the temperature actually says.

In worst case scenario, hypothermia and frostbite will be a result if If you’re wet and not appropriately dressed.

Your items should be versatile in function. For example, pack a jacket that is both waterproof and warm. In addition, comfortable walking shoes are essential.

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Everyday Attire Essentials For Europe In Winter

At the top of your packing list should be the following versatile, essential items. Using these items to dress in layers will keep you both stylish and warm. 

  • Coat – Warm And Waterproof: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the very first items that you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight, trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 
  • Hat: Science tells us that we lose up to 10% of our body heat through our heads, meaning that it’s essential to keep this area warm. A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out.  A hat will keep you toasty warm whether you’re on the slopes, sipping coffee, or exploring the sights. 
  • Gloves: Have you ever tried to use your phone with frozen fingers? It’s a nearly impossible task. A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. This makes it one of the most important items on your Switzerland packing list. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
  • Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. Not only do these items keep you warm, but they also prevent you from getting ill (and thereby ruining the fun). A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 
  • Leggings: There’s a reason that almost every woman owns a pair of leggings. They are both comfortable and snug. Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denims as an extra layer of warmth. 
  • Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker the better. Chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. If you plan on hitting the slopes at any stage, then you’ll want your socks to be extra-thick or padded for increased comfort. 
  • Thermals: A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Switzerland. They provide the extra layer of heat that will allow you to spend an extra hour on the slopes, or to pack fewer items on your road trip instead of excess clothing.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, then make sure that they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry. 
Verbier in Switzerland in the winter

Winter Sportswear

One of the best top reasons to visit Switzerland during the winter months is winter sports opportunities. While most ski resorts will offer rental equipment, there are a few essentials to pack for yourself. 

  • Ski Jacket: When choosing the perfect ski jacket, you need to consider warmth, level of waterproofing, and freedom of movement. A jacket that is adjustable in fit, seals effectively, and dries quickly is the perfect apparel for snowboarding, skiing, and other winter outdoor sports.
  • Ski Pants: A trusty pair of insulated ski pants are the next essential item for all winter sports fans. Make sure that your choice of pants is breathable, warm, and waterproof. These details will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable on the slopes.  
  • Winter Protection: There are a few items that will make your winter vacation all the more comfortable. The last thing that you want is to be soaked on your first day, or get a migraine from snow blindness
  • Umbrella: Regardless of what time of year you visit Switzerland, it’s always a smart move to pack a foldable umbrella. The nifty item doesn’t take up too much space. It can be the difference between a leisurely stroll in the city streets and getting caught in a flu-inspired downpour. 
  • Chapstick: Visiting Switzerland in winter will most likely find you spending hours of fun on the snow-covered slopes. This can quickly dry out your lips and burn your skin. In this instance, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve packed your moisturizing stick of Chapstick. 
  • Sunglasses: The best days on the slopes are the ones accompanied by clear, sunny skies and good conditions. These circumstances also increase the glare of the sun on the white snow, making it close to unbearable on your eyes. A pair of polarized sunglasses or ski goggles can protect your eyes from the wind and bright light.

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

Europe in winter is a fantastic travel destination. Whether you come for a ski trip in Switzerland, explore the Christmas markets in London or want to have a weekend trip to a warmer place like Valencia – Europe is so diverse and has something for every taste.

Just be aware of what to pack for Europe in winter and you can enjoy some fantastic time in Europe.

Stay safe and enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo

2-Day Brussels Itinerary

2-day Brussels itinerary

Best Things to Do in 2 Days in Brussels

If you’ve got 2 days in Brussels, you’ve got enough time to experience the wealth of art, history, and culture that Belgium has to offer. And this 2-day Brussels itinerary covers the best places to see, the best things to do and more travel tips for a weekend in Brussels.

Belgium is world-famous for its cuisine — especially renowned for fries, waffles, chocolate, and beer. Brussels is also home to a thriving comic book art scene as well as six fine arts museums, a musical instruments museum and more!

Additionally, Brussels is an important political capital in Europe and the home base for the European Parliament. These are many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Brussels like the Grand Place. So, whether you’re into food, art, history or politics… there’s something incredible for you to discover in Brussels!

Brussels is an easy place to spend the weekend. It’s conveniently located (you can get there in less than 2 hours by train from Amsterdam or Paris). Read on to discover what you can do in Brussels in 2 days.

This post was written by Valentina from Valentina´s Destinations

Street in Brussels_
@shutterstock

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2-DAY BRUSSELS ITINERARY

If you are visiting Europe for the first time, check out my post with travel tips for Europe.

And for a Europe summer packing list click here.

Before discussing, how to spend two days in Brussels, here are some travel tips to smooth your trip.

How to Get Around in Brussels in 2 Days

Walking is the best way to get around Brussels. Especially, if you only have 2 days. You’ll want to spend most of your time near the city center to avoid wasting time. All of the activities listed in this article can be reached by on foot (except for the Atomium and Mini-Europe).

Brussels is also very well connected by public transportation.

If you have more than 2 days in Brussels, you may want to check out nearby cities like Bruges or Ghent. These can be reached in close to 1 hour by train. They’re charming Medieval cities with unique history and flair.

Where to Stay for 2 Days in Brussels

Here are some great places to stay in Brussels for 2 days.

Budget Accommodations: 2GO4, Grand Place Hostel, B&B Hotel Brussels

Mid Range/ Affordable Luxury: Warwick Brussels, Hotel Hubert

Ultimate Luxury: Radisson Blue Royal Hotel

Best Time to Visit

Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Brussels. Summer brings large tourist crowds and scorching heat (that will melt your pralines 😉). While spring and Fall offer more temperate climates and cheaper prices on flights & hotels.

Recommended Restaurants

Casual Breakfast: L’Arcadi, Mokafé, Peck 47

Waffles: Le Funambule, Maison Dandoy, Mokafé Taverne

Formal Dinner: Belga Queen, Comptoir des Galeries, Au Vieux Saint Martin, Fin De Siecle

brussels main sights in 2 days

Itinerary for 2 Days in Brussels

Here is how to spend your two days in Brussels.

Day 1 in Brussels

Let´s start with a walk to explore Brussels.

Explore the Belgian Fine Art Scene

Comic book arts and casual street murals are some of the most accessible forms of art history and culture in Brussels. But, that’s just the beginning!

A serious art lover would be delighted to explore the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Brussels. These six museums display over 20,000 works including paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the beginning of the 15th Century until today.

Of these light, museums, the Oldmasters Museum has an excellent collection of Flemish primitive paintings. The Magritte Museum offers an impressive collection of Belgian surrealist works. There’s also a museum focused on Modern Art.

These museums are located in the Royal District within downtown Brussels. They are a short walk from the Mont des Arts or Hill of the Arts. The Hill of the Arts is a must-see in Brussels. It’s a romantic spot to hang out, people watch or appreciate breathtaking views. In the distance, you can see the tower of the Brussels Town Hall building.

Check out the Musical Instruments Museum

Another top thing to do in 2 days in Brussels it visiting this museum.

The Musical Instruments Museum isn’t another stuffy museum with endless paintings and tiny text. This museum comes to life! Even the exterior of this museum is impressive. It’s housed in a mid 19th Century department store (another example of the Art Nouveau style).

The Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels is world-renowned for their collection of 8,000 musical instruments. Only, some 1,000 of them are on display. The museum also features a concert hall, a library, and an awesome rooftop restaurant.

The rooftop at the Musical Instruments Museum is one of the hidden gems of Brussels —it boasts breathtaking views.

The museum is broken up into four distinct galleries. The first is dedicated to keys and keyboards of the western world. The next gallery displays Western classical instruments chronologically. The third gallery explores traditional instruments from around the world. Finally, the last gallery documents the electrical and mechanic constructions of various instruments.

Sample Belgian Chocolate

Belgian chocolate is world-famous for good reason. It was Belgium where the revolutionary praline was first invented. What’s a praline? you may ask. Praline is the technical term for a hollow chocolate shell that is filled with special delicacies inducing nougat and other confections.

Belgian chocolate and coffee in 2 days in Brusssles

Initially, pralines were used by apothecaries to disguise the bitter taste of medicines. Over time, pralines transformed the way chocolate was enjoyed all across Europe. They are the reason that we buy a “box of chocolates” for our sweethearts on Valentine’s day.

While in Brussels, you must enjoy a sampling of pralines at one of the best chocolate shops. These include Maison Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus and Laurent Gerbaud.

If you are looking elevate your chocolate experience in Brussels, you must sign up for a chocolate workshop. These are available at Planete Chocolat and Chocolissimo & Zaabär. You’ll see first hand how pralines are made & you’ll sample some fresh ones as well.

Another way to experience the excitement of Belgian Chocolate is to visit the Chocolate Museum —Choco Story.

Comic Book Walk

Then it is time to explore more outdoor areas in Brussels for your 2-day itinerary.

As you start to explore the streets of Brussels, you can’t help but notice the enchanting cartoons charmingly displayed on every other street corner. Comic books share an important place in the early 20th Century history of Brussels, and Belgium.

The most famous of these comics include the Smurfs and the Adventures of Tintin. In years since their debut, these stories were translated in over 70 languages and have sold over 200 million copies!

If you’re interested in learning more about the unique history of comics in Brussels, you must visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center. This museum his housed in an incredible Art Nouveau style building. Exceptional architectural features of the building include its dramatic glass ceiling, striking facade and cozy library space.

Although, you don’t have to visit the Comic Strip Museum to immerse yourself in Brussels comic book art. Walk over to some of the most iconic wall murals. I recommend Victor Sackville, Olivier Rameau, and Tintin. There are all within a few blocks of the Grand Place.

Mural walk in Brussel for any itinerary

If you want to discover more comic murals while you explore the city, this Brussels Tourist Map includes all of the top-rated pieces you’ll love.

Stroll through the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert

No visit to Brussels is complete without a stop to this glamorous & historic location. The Royal Galleries of St. Hubert were one of Europe’s first shopping malls. They were part of a 19th Century gentrification project meant to clean up murky swamplands and attract ladies of leisure.

Galleries st Hubert in Brussels

When it was first built, the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert contained a theater, shopping spaces & fancy cafes.

Stroll through the Galleries today, and you’ll notice that not much has changed. The windows continue to display luxury goods, pralines from chocolate shops and relaxed cafes.

It’s important to note the unique architecture within the Galleries.

The repetition of arches, pillars, and windows create a sense of length and depth. Also, the impressive fish-scale, arched, glass ceiling allows light to flood in while each wall is ordained with marble.It only takes a few minutes to walk through the Royal Galleries of St. Hubert. They’re only a short walk from the Grand Place.

Visit the Grand Place

One place to visit in 2 days in Brussels is the Grand Place.

The Grand Place might be the most popular tourist attraction in Brussels. Certainly, impossible to miss! This is the main town square of Brussels and it has a pretty fascinating history. It’s been used as a meeting place, and market, since as far back as the 11th Century!

Grand Place in a beautiful summer day in Brussels, Belgium

The Grand Place is where you’ll find the Brussels Town Hall Building (and museum), the Museum of the City of Brussels and the origin point for many free walking tours. The Town Hall is this square’s only remaining Medieval building. It’s notoriously asymmetrical resulting from a mistake on the part of the architect.

Grand Place in Brussels for 2 days in Brussels

Another dramatic building in the Grand Place is the ‘King’s House.’ The style of this wooden building is Gothic Revival.

Today, it’s home to the Museum of the City of Brussels. If you only have 2 days in Brussels, you may not be able to visit every museum. Although, you should stop by the Grand Place and, at least, appreciate their facades.

I recommend the free walking tour organized by Viva’s Tours. This is a 2.5 – 3 hour tour that gives you a great introduction to the history of Brussels while also getting you acquainted with some of the top tourist attractions.

If you are traveling solo, free walking tours are great ways to meet people and get recommendations from locals.

Try Belgian Beer

Belgium, especially Brussels, is the perfect place to drink beer! If you haven’t tried Belgian beer, you haven’t experienced Brussels culture.

Belgian Beer Culture isn’t just colloquially known, it’s been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Many Belgian beers are produced in microbreweries. This is why Belgium has more diverse brewing styles than any other beer-producing region.

In Brussels, beer has long since been an important part of everyday life. Beer making in Belgium has been seen in history as early as 3 and 4 AD. During parts of Medieval history, beer was safer to drink than water.

Up until the 1960s, schoolchildren could choose beer as their beverage at school lunch (this was a light “table beer,” low in alcohol — but still!).

We recommend you check out the Delirium Cafe for your sample of Belgian beer.

You can also visit one of the many microbreweries and sample local ales. Check out the Brussels Beer Project, Cantillon Brewery or En Stoemelings Brewery and end the day with this activity.

For a beautiful sunset on day 1, I recommend Mont des Arts.

Day 2 in Brussels

For day 2 in Brussels, I recommend following itinerary.

Learn about Europe’s political capital at the Parlamentarium

Brussels prides itself on being Europe’s political center. It’s also home to the European Union’s Parlamentarium. This is essentially a museum that documents the history and achievements of the European Union.

EU Flags in front of the European Union Commission building in Brussels

A visit to the Parlamentarium takes about 90 minutes and includes a self-guided multimedia tour. You can experience this in 24 different languages!

If you are looking for more ways to experience EU culture within Brussels, look no further than Mini-Europe. Mini-Europe is a miniature theme park compiled of tiny replicas of famous buildings from EU countries. You can check out a mini Eiffel Tower, mini Trevi Fountain and mini Acropolis.

Mini Europe is a 20 minute drive or cab ride outside Brussels city center. You can also get there in about 30-40 minutes by public transportation.

Visit the famous Atomium

The Atomium is another famous landmark in Brussels that’s located just outside of the city center. This can also be reached in 30-40 minutes by public transportation.

A picture of the Atomium (Brussels)

The Atomium is an incredible structure shaped like iron crystal (if that iron crystal was magnified 165 billion times). It was built in honor of the 1958 Brussels World Exposition. At that time, it was a massive feat of engineering.

Guided tours of the Atomium are available but must be arranged at least 3 weeks in advance. Tours last 90 minutes and you can fit it into your 2-day Brussels itinerary.

Gawk at the Brussels Cathedral

Also known as St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, the Brussels Cathedral is a sight to behold. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Brussels.

brussels cathedral a main tourist attraction in Brussel in 2 days

The Brussels Cathedral was built in the Brabantian Gothic style. It took over 300 years to complete!

You can visit the interior of the Brussels Cathedral for free. Although, it does cost a few euros to visit the interior crypt and special treasures.

Make sure to check out the beautiful wooden pulpit (carved in 1699). You’ll find incredible stained glass windows that date back to the 16th Century.

The Brussels Cathedral also boasts an impressive organ. It contains some 4,000 pipes and 4 keyboards. Wowza!

Find Manneken Pis and his friends

Manneken Pis is a cutesy statue of a little boy peeing. His friends include Jeanneke Pis (little girl pees) and Zinneke Pis (dog pees). Zinneke is apparently Manneken and Jeanneke’s dog.

manneken pis seeing him is one of the best things to do in Brussels in 2 day

While his friends are fun counterparts, Manneken Pis steals the show. He has become an important symbol of the city of Brussels and a dearly beloved icon.

The statue of Manneken Pis has quite an interesting history. The original statue was stolen and lost a few times throughout history. Each time, enraging the natives of Brussels. Present day, Manneken Pis is dressed up on special occasions and holidays.

Try to visit Manneken Pis in the evening so that you can miss the crowds. This is a popular stopping grounds for many tours. It’s a small statue, so you won’t see much from far away.

Enjoy Belgian Fries

Looking for more ways to sample Brussels culture? You’ve got to sample Belgian fries! Belgian fries have also made UNESCO’s list of Cultural Treasures.

Belgian fries a must on a 2-day itinerary

Belgian fries are usually served with sauces like ketchup or mayonnaise. The best places to enjoy them are Fritland and LaFunambule.

Vegan Alert: Fries are naturally vegan (potatoes, duh!), but Belgian fries are often fried in animal fats. If you are a strict vegan, you can check out Friterie De Frietketel in the nearby town of Ghent. They serve up tasty, savory, fries that are cooked in 100% vegetable fats.

The best sunset spot for day 2 comes with panoramic views near the Law Courts building.

CONCLUSION: 2 DAYS IN BRUSSELS ITINERARY

Brussels is a fun and exciting city to visit – with its many international organisations, it is an international city with many interesting places and sights. 2 days in Brussels with allow you to get a good glimpse of the city and see its main sights and attractions.

Enjoy!

Check out beautiful places to visit in Europe in December.

About the author

Valentina’s Destinations was born from my obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning my travel itineraries.

I’m originally from Nis, Serbia. My family moved to the US when I was young, and I’ve been living in Chicago for the last decade. My passion is travelling the world with my boyfriend, Remigijus. When we’re not travelling, I work as a physician assistant in the psychiatry field. The mental health field is as rewarding as travelling can be.

Find me on social media: Instagram

Safe Travels, Arzo

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