Visiting the past
Trip Start May 01, 2006
122Trip End Sep 01, 2006
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It is a charming little town and it has one of the best Tourist Information Centres ever. We got a room instantly, overlooking the town square - the only problem was that it was on the third floor - again!
Looking around the town with all its lovely old style buildings, it was hard to believe that it was totally razed in WWI Click here and rebuilt in the original style in the 1920's
Our battlefield tour was in a minibus with 6 other tourists and a brilliant guide Christine. She was a local resident who had lived in Ypres all her life and who obviously loved the subject of WWI. She had brought with her old photos of the countryside, before and after shots and maps to give it all some perspective. She did not get bogged down with battles or dates or other boring stuff and held our attention for 4 hours. Even the BOSS admitted that she learnt* something!
We were taken around to all the villages and bunker sites and cemeteries then on to the original trenches still preserved from 1918. It was really fascinating.
We got back to town at 6pm and instead of attempting to climb 3 flights of stairs to our room, we just settled in to a restaurant and ordered dinner. (I then made the BOSS climb 3 flights of stairs to get the computer). Dinner was adequate but the waiter was rude so we departed for the Menen Gate which is just around the corner.
The Menen Gate was built on the road where the soldiers passed to go to the front
The gate was built in 1927 to commemorate all those who had died but did not have graves - there are 54900 names carved into the gate. Every night at 8pm the local volunteer fire brigade play the Last Post. They have done this every single night since 1927 with the exception of a few years when the Nazi's didn't let them. It was a very short but incredibly moving ceremony.
* I wanted to type learned but the BOSS insisted it was learnt. I reckon learned sounds better so could someone please pass judgement on my grammar and confirm that I am right! And no cheating and looking it up on Google... I already tried that but I am none the wiser.