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Aaron Poland

Good Holiday Destinations?
Write about those good places you visited on holiday.
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Aaron Poland

Postby mzawf » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:00 pm

In October of last year I was lucky enough to go on a P&O Cruise and one of the ports of call was Belgium with the chance of visiting the quite town of Ypres
The boarding of the ship was very easy and far more peaceful than a busy airport as there's only one place you need to go, and you don't have to decipher the route to your gate number. :joker
The journey by boat was rather pleasant, and to my surprise we were graced with shining sun, and calm seas.
The perfect time to lay back and enjoy a couple of beers :drink and with plenty of entertainment to enjoy around the ship, including dance performances, :dance a live casino, and more....

There were golf nets on the upper deck,
for those who like to practice their 'swing'
at any time ,day, or night at Sea.
four!
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Click to ENLARGE/Slides
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Click to ENLARGE/Slides

We spent all day at sea, before docking in the early hours, before we had properly woken up. :shock: :shock: :o :glasses
On this particular package, it was a requirement, that were ready to go and had to be off the ship by 9:30 to catch the tour coach.
We were greeted by a jolly Belgium tour guide who had a slightly heavy accent to understand but I found it manageable.
The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable telling us facts about the Great War and other facts about Belgium.
It took 45 minutes to get to our first stop, Tyne Cot cemetery.
When getting off the coach you could immediately feel that something wasn't right.
The only sound you could hear was the sound of your own footsteps, and the others around you!
It was by far the quietest place I have ever visited!
Even while the tour guide was speaking, in a hushed tone, I was more aware and felt stunned by the sheer number of people that had given their lives in the war.
After seeing the amount of gravestones, it then really hit home!
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It wasn't just tombstones of British Service people, also many from the commonwealth countries as well.
I was surprised how well maintained the cemetery is, it gets daily round of leaf clearing and grass cutting.
Mind you, it did get a little annoying, because while they were cleaning the noise of there machines was louder than the tour guide voice, luckily it all soon passed by.
At this point we were able to go off and explore by ourselves.
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In the last picture is a view of the names of the, 50,000 men, who, to this day, have never, been found!
It was very quite while walking around the site, presumably out of respect, to those who had given everything!
While walking, and observing the graves, I noticed that the average age of, the fallen Soldiers, was rarely above the age of 23.
A far too early age to die.
One lady on our tour actually broken down in tears at one point along the wall , apparently she had found the name of her grandfather who had fought and died in the war.
Also even to this day farmers are still digging up the remains of lost bodies. Unknown numbers are still to be found,
Sadly we only had 30 minutes here before we moving on to the next location.
The Cloth hall lakenhalle, also known as Flanders Fields Museum
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It took 20 minutes travel time to get to the museum, entrance was free as it was all inclusive in the price of the tour .
The museum was very informative about the Great War, showing you everything from weapons to clothes, to the letters that were never sent back or arrived to their intended loved ones!
Unexploded bombs that fell, but never detonated!
They had videos of the strategies each country used, and maps of progression over the 4 years of fighting.
When watching the video you realise how little ground both sides made. In the space of 4 years the frontline of each army went forwards and backwards across 4 miles.
To be honest I was expecting this museum to be bigger but there was only one floor and it took around 45 minutes to complete.
It was the most interactive museum that I've ever been too, and you had your own pass code to use on information stands where you could even test your knowledge by completing a quiz.
Also you can watch short films showing the war from someone else's perspective like that of the nurses,
residents from nearby towns or even lorry drivers, who brought equipment and food, plus loads more examples of the sacrifices, made!
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Following the visit at the museum, we had some free time.
So off to get some food in the tranquil town of Ypres.
We came across a quaint back street steak house, and for only 8 Euros you could buy an 8oz steak with fries and a drink. You would never likely find prices like that in the U.K.
The quality of the food was a lot better as well.
Once our free time was up we met up with our tour guide and took a 5 minutes stroll down to the Menin Gate
where a staggering 54000 names of missing men from all across the commonwealth are listed, people were extremely quiet and rarely spoke, if at all, only louder than was necessary!
I would fully recommend this trip it was full of information and led me to a bigger understanding of what it was like, during the war,
and the tough times, everyone went through. Personally I would change very little about the tour other than possibly, a little more time to look around and enjoy Ypres...
It was incredibly eye opening experience and I would certainly do it again :thunbsup
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By Aaron Poland ( 19 years young :-D )
TBC...


Last bumped by mzawf on Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:00 pm.

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