Entry to europe and war memorials

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
Trip End Oct 15, 2008

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Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Monday, April 14, 2008

So we have made it on to the European continent to start our 6 mth adventure in Clive.  After  a week of goodbyes and lots of drinks we were feeling very hung over and sad to be saying good bye to our friends. We started off ok, packed everything into our van brought a few things from the supermarket and got to Dover on time.  It was nice to wave goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover (I am sure there is a song about it).
Once on the main land we headed to our first stop being Ypres in the south of Belgium.  After having made it into our third country for the day we were feeling pretty good....then we had to find the camp site it did seem simple enough.  To cut to the chase we ended up driving up the narrow pedestrian walk-way through the back of the camp site and ended up being confronted by a very confused Belgium lady saying we were not meant to come from that way and the gate was just in front of us.  Oops.
The camp site is quite nice - free electricity, and showers which are clean.  It is also only a 5 minute walk to the Menin gate, which is one of the reasons we came here.  If you don't know Ypres was involved heavily during  WW1, being smack bang on the western front.  The battles that raged along here killed more Australians then Gallipoli and in fact more then any other battle field in the world. 
The Menin gate is a commonwealth memorial which has then names of more then 50,0000 soldiers including many Australians, all of who are missing.  Every night at 8pm rain or snow, buglers from the local fire brigade play the last post and people are able to lay wreaths to remember the fallen.  There was a huge turn out for this and it was nice to see people still remembering the events that happened so long ago.
We watched the ceremony and headed out for some Flemish stew and a couple of beers (couple because it started to rain).  Clive seems to be doing ok, but we still have to find our feet when it comes to setting the bed up and packing things away, oh well plenty of time to practice yet!
Slept well, but got very cold in the morning, I think it was meant to be down to about 1 degree.  Hailed a little today as well, but not much and then cleared up.  It is still cold, in a sheltered place in the sun it is ok, but the wind is freezing.
We did a bit of a tour of some war memorials today.  First was the In Flanders field museum, not bad, lots to read and take in though.  Then we headed off to see the Essex farm cemetery, where Canadian John Mc Crae wrote the poem In Flanders Field.  Every where you drive grave yards dedicated to different battalions just keep popping up, they are everywhere.  We stopped at Tyne Cot memorial which is the biggest commonwealth grave yard.  It has 12,000 people buried there and is quiet amazing.  Sat nav coming in very handy so far, good work Dave, now all I have to do is look out the window and enjoy the view!
Miles so far: 160
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