Travel Diary: Mmmm. I love Waffles.

It’s sad, but true… I think I might remember the food on this trip as much as the places and the people. But, who am I kidding… I love eating, no use pretending ;).

Here’s a few food confessions from a novice European traveller:

  • I have become so accustomed to having Espresso every day that I might need to get an actual espresso maker when we get home. It’s that good.
  • Apfelstrudel in Germany (served with some amazing custard-like sauce – a bit nut-meggy) is worth the jet lag.
  • Belgian Waffles in Belgium are nothing like the ones I try to make at home… when combined with nutella (which is actually FROM Belgium! Who knew?!), bananas, and gelato… well, oh my.
  • Paprika Nuts are delicious (also Made in Belgium).
  • Belgian CHOCOLATE. The. End.
  • 4EUR bottles of Bordeaux from the grocery store in France… are VERY, VERY, VERY drinkable.
  • Croissants.

But… quite a lot has been going on other than eating (I am happy to say that the 20,ooo+ steps we are getting every day seem to be accommodating for the above mentioned deliciousness. We are now in Caen, France… and I haven’t even begun to tell you about the amazing significance and beautiful sights we saw around Ypres, Belgium… but you can check out the boys blogs concerning our adventures in Trier and Bouillon on the road to Ypres.

Our first day in Ypres was a treat… partly because we did not get in the car AT ALL! Ypres is a beautiful town, with lovely walking paths, excellent restaurants (Flemish Stew is AMAZING!), and a plethora of tributes and reminders of WWI battles and fallen soldiers.

Panorama of Ypres from the top of the Bell Tower (Cloth Hall)

We began our day at the In Flanders Fields Museum… and 4 hours later came up for air! The museum is housed in the old town Cloth Hall (historic, medieval Ypres was well-known for their beautiful cloth trade, and the central Cloth Hall was a symbol of the prosperous nature of the town), and it is absolutely fantastic. If you are planning on visiting, it is well worth the extra cost to climb to the top of the Bell Tower. We were captivated by the history and significance of this area during WWI, and humbled by the sheer number of lives sacrificed in the battles… over 50,000 of their names are written on the wall of the Menin Gate in Ypres, once a grand entrance to a grand town, and now an historic and striking reminder of its war-torn past, and dedication to peace of this Belgian town.

Menin Gate, Ypres Belgium. The Cloth Hall is visible behind the gate.

 

Under the Menin Gate, reading some of the 50,000+ names written on the walls. We drove under this gate as we entered the city on our way to our hotel.

We finished this day with a beautiful run in a park surrounding the city. We did get a few strange looks as we ran amid the tourists though… What? People don’t run in Belgium?!

The last days of our pilgrimage in the Flanders area took us through the Belgian countryside, marvelling at the golden fields of wheat and barley, the cattle (every singe one of them a Belgian Blue!), horses (none of them actual Belgians as far as I could tell!), corn, and sleepy towns (each with at least one beautiful, Gothic church), and trying to imagine the moonscape and mud that were the Ypres Salient (front line) – the First, Second, and Third Battles of Ypres, Paschendale, and Vimy Ridge were particularly bloody battles that we were blessed to learn about and to now remember with a higher level of consciousness. What remains is a countryside literally changed by memorials, monuments, and cemeteries devoted to those who died. Many were named and laid to rest as known heroes to their families and countries… but many are laid to rest in unmarked graves. The striking similarity of each of these sites is the feeling of quiet and peace that they evoked in us all. When passing among the graves, I felt the air was a little stiller, a little warmer. I’m not sure what that is… whispers from those lost to never forget is what the signs and interpreters say. Surrounded by Canadian Maple trees, with Canadian Flags billowing, it is hard not to feel sad, proud, and fiercely protective of these fallen heroes. Truly, we must never forget.

In this case, pictures speak far louder than words…

We must never forget… and we must learn to do better, lessons from the past.

 

The names of the 12,000+ soldiers buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery are written on the walls surrounding the grave sites.

 

This photo is not staged. I found JJ sitting here… we were all very thoughtful during these visits.

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery

 

Rest in Peace.

 

Cattle graze peacefully beside the graves of fallen Canadian Soldiers at Tyne Cot Cemetery

 

Over 12,000 Canadian Soldiers are buried here. It is a strikingly beautiful and peaceful place.

 

The Brooding Soldier (the Second Battle of Ypres monument). This spot marks the beginning of the use of chemical warfare. A dark time in the history of this war… and for all mankind.

 

Many of the sites of Canadian war dead have been given to Canada by Begium. These government of Canada signs made us feel like we were coming home as we entered the sites.

 

Langemaark German Cemetery… this site is the final resting place of over 44,000 fallen German Soldiers, buried without the grandeur of Allied soldiers. This too, is a quiet, peaceful place… sons, husbands, and fathers that didn’t make it home.

 

On a lighter note… read this inscription. …children in Canada learn paper mache… we might need to step up our programs…

 

CT and JJ have asked to tell of our visits to Hill 62 (strategically important – Canadians fought to hold this hill, but were overtaken in June 1916), and Vimy Ridge (considered impregnable by German defenders, and Canadas Allies, but Canadians captured Vimy none-the-less in April, 1917), so I will leave that to them and give you the links once they are done. We are all spent emotionally after our days in Ypres. Our hearts are full, yet heavy at the same time. We love this place, because it feels a little bit like an extension of our place… just a world away.

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4 thoughts on “Travel Diary: Mmmm. I love Waffles.

  1. Joey Tipping

    I am loving your travel diary and got very choked up and emotional about this one from
    Ypres. Wow, what a trip you are taking. Such a great experience for you all. I have read
    both of the boys’ blogs and enjoyed their viewpoints very much. Both excellent writers.
    Safe rest of your travels and thank you so much for sharing your journeys with us. I feel like
    I am there with you. Enjoy the food and each other.
    Love you all,
    Joey

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Thank you Joey! We are truly having the trip of a lifetime. I feel like we have been away from home for longer than two weeks, and then only a few days all at once… I think we will all have a much wider world view when we get home, and will certainly remember (and be SO grateful for!) the family time we are spending together for always!! xo 🙂 M

  2. Bev lamers

    I am enjoying your blog soo much, this one brought tears to my eyes, you write with such feeling and emotion,,,, the boys have gotten their flair for writing from you!!!
    Enjoy the expresso, and the food, you all need to keep up your strength for the adventures still to come,,,
    Lots of love
    Mom

    1. HaHa… I’m not sure they would call it a “flair for writing”… they don’t exactly beg to write their blog, but are quite happy to do it once I stop them moving long enough to sit down at the computer! 😉 I have certainly found that places are very touching to me. There is so much history here… you can’t help but imagine the stories that they hills, trees, and every stone block would tell if they could.

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