Day 19 – Aachen
We departed Lemgo on Sunday morning. Unlike the UK, the Germans and indeed most of the other Euro countries still seem to treat Sunday as a day of rest, so the autobahn was blissfully quiet for a good portion of the 2.5hr journey. We arrived in Aachen and located the campsite, which was a few Km’s outside of the city centre. Nothing to report as we didn’t venture in.
Day 20 – 22 Ypres
We arrived at Ypres at lunchtime on the Monday, this to be our 20th night in the van. We found the site easily, stopping off beforehand to stock up at the nearby Aldi. The campsite is pleasant and best of all, an easy ten-minute walk from Ypres Town Centre. For those interested, it’s “Camping Jeugstadion” and costs about €15 pn. With EHU and free wifi. Reservations can be made online.
For the last three days we have spent the time, strolling into the town centre, enjoying the café bars and war history. Beer features heavily!
We also got the Mutts boxed off, with a visit to a local vet in the town for his obligatory worming dose, the details of which were duly entered into his passport….he’s sorted!
Ypres. Although the town was left in ruin during the Great War, it was sympathetically rebuilt in the 1920’s and is a wonderful place to spend a few days. Obviously the war features heavily, but they have managed to get the balance right here. It’s not at all sombre, it’s a happy vibrant place to be, but with certain aspects that generate remembrance. For me, it’s a much nicer place than Bruges; it’s small, easy to get access too and very friendly. This will be somewhere we will definitely return, possibly in a car, so we can visit the battlefield sites that surround the area.
One evening we attended the Last Post at the Menin Gate, which is located 200 metres from the town centre. Best get there early for the best view of what is, a very moving ceremony.
This ceremony has taken place every evening at 8pm since 1928, other than a gap during the German Occupation of WW2, when the ceremony continued at Brookwood Military Cemetary in Surrey. Indeed when the Polish Forces arrived to liberate the town in 1944, the day they entered, whilst they were still fighting the Germans on one side of the town, the ceremony took place on the other side! The names of every Commonwealth soldier killed, without a known grave is listed. A sombre reminder of what my grandparents generation went through.
We also walked around the towns ramparts, which passes through two Commonwealth War Cemeteries; Reservoir and Rampart, both small in comparison to the cemeteries located further outside the town. I always feel peaceful when walking in the war cemeteries, there is something about the very nature of them that makes me relaxed and contemplative, I try to think that these mainly young men, taken in the fullness of their lives are merely resting. A sad place, yes, but certainly very peaceful and atmospheric, their war is done. The Commonwealth Graves Cemeteries are often set in beautiful locations; Ramparts Cemetery on the edge of Ypres town, is one such place.
We also spotted a recent addition close to the Menin Gate, a neat tribute to the Gurkhas who lost their lives in the Great War.
So all in all, a great place to spend our last night on #DeutscheBimble15, before starting the final leg tomorrow. As I write this, the Other Half is once again practising her hockey swing in preparation for our “Assault on Calais” tomorrow lunchtime. TBH I’m not worried about the migrant aspect, I’m more concerned about the duty-free situation! I’m thinking I will shop at Dunkirk mid-morning, then hit Calais at about Warp Factor 3 with a right flanker..totally unexpected, just before the suns at its highest point! I’ll be in the tunnel before they know it… Fingers crossed!
That is all