Another month, another day trip. Always, the question is ‘where shall we go this month?’ but I bought the Rough Guide for Belgium and Luxembourg in February to help us. So naturally, the only way to use the guide-book is by picking a number between X and Y and turning to that page and going to that place.
Due to complications (read: I didn’t read the guide-book properly so whilst checking the train times the night before we discovered the bus to Damme from Brugge doesn’t run outside of summer. It was warm but summer is a little optimistic) we had to change our destination from Damme to Ieper.
Two hours later, we’d re-planned our whole day, deciphered the not so direct train and crawled into bed under the premise that the weekend was meant to be nice. Which it was, so I’m not complaining there.
Ieper is a small town in the Flemish region, once known as Ypres at the time of WWI. The town played a huge role in the cloth trade during medieval times but this ended in the 1300’s after the town was ruined in battle. Once a town of 200,000 inhabitants this shrunk to 5,000 by the 16th century.
During WWI, Ieper was the Allied communications centre and sat conveniently in reach of the German artillery. By 1915 the entire town was destroyed and evacuated by the inhabitants. Remarkably, after the war the inhabitants returned to begin the rebuilding of their town, taking around twenty years to complete. Even though the most notable medieval buildings were reconstructed, it has been over 80 years and it’s not possible to tell that they are not the originals.
For our trip we stayed to the town. Outside of the town is the Ypres Salient, which would have been fascinating to visit, with over 160 Commonwealth cemeteries. Created by accident in WWI as the Germans aimed to invade France. The history of the Salient is quite fascinating resulting in the loses of thousands of lives, but I will leave that for another post, I think a summer cycling trip is in order.
On to the pictures!
The first exciting event of the day was finding our first Geocaching site, by accident, at this concrete turret!
Second exciting thing to happen: World creepiest dead fish*
The Ramparts Cemetery is situated on the Kasteelgracht, which is almost a moat around the town. It’s quite surreal but I imagine the serenity is nothing compared to Tyne Cot cemetery with over 10,000 graves.
It’s common for the headstones to detail the individual’s name, rank, age, date of death, national emblem and military badge.
After you have followed the Kasteelgracht round you eventually come to the Menin Gate. It displays 50,000 names of soldiers that died in the Ypres Salient that are without a grave. In its self it’s quite powerful to see so many names. Kris and I did spend sometime trying to find our own surnames, he found his, once. I never found mine.
The Lakenhall and the cathedral were two of the buildings that were completely rebuilt. They’re pretty big and I can’t actually believe the rebuilt it. I wonder how they did it, they must have had pictures or blueprints to go off.
A couples windy couple photo to end with! How short am I?!
*This is not what fish looked like when I was young…