The second half of our Endless Weekend has begun… this time it’s going to be bigger, longer and a bit more random! Again, we’ve got a rough timescale with a plan that’s not must more detailed than you’d get with a route drawn on a postcard map with a crayon. #WingingIt
Rather than put Joolz through another ferry crossing, we took the Eurotunnel. The train journey was almost disappointing easy… pity about the M25 slogathon to get there.
We arrived in Calais waaay too early in the morning, before we’d even had a chance to get me a coffee. Rather than risk a meltdown, Joolz set the SatNav to a Carrefour where we could pick up supplies and get me a caffeine injection… before we headed to Dunkirk…
The first planned stop was Dunkirk. Joolz had recently discovered that her Grandad was evacuated from Dunkirk and was hoping to learn more about what it was like. We’d hoped to see the Operation Dynamo museum, but it’s closed for refurbishment. Instead we looked around a modern art park and Joolz did some beach combing. The beach is incredibly shallow, I can see why it was so hard to evacuate the soldiers off of it and why they were left so exposed.
After a lunch of baguette, ham and cheese, we headed inland into our third country of the day, Belgium and towards Ieper (Dutch), also known as Ypres (French), or Wipers to the Allied troops during the First World War. We visited the In Flanders Fields museum, which is about what it was like to be a soldier during the great war, including how weapons changed (machine guns, trench warfare and chemical weapons), how each countries’ uniforms changed (bright colours out, tin hats in) and how relentless and almost futile each wave of attack was.
Joolz’s Great-Granddad was at Ypres in the First World War and he was involved in delivering ammunition to the front line as he loved horses. This was a dangerous job and apparently he said you rode slowly out and as fast as you could on the way back. This now makes much more sense as we saw pictures and a reconstruction of how ammunition was transported on horses.
The entrance to Ieper’s old town is via the Menin Gate that is a memorial to the thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers that died during the war whose graves are unknown. We also took a quick visit to one of over a hundred war cemeteries. So many soldiers from all over the world (many of them unidentified) died in such a small area.
We spent the night a couple of kilometres out of town in a nice Aire that’s only costing us a few Euro per night. And this part of Belgium is very Dutch and loves bikes, so cycling into town was very easy with all the bike lanes and with it being so flat.