A 47-day adventure by S
  • Day47

    Montmartre

    August 28 in France ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    We headed to Sacre Cœur early this morning, but despite the time the sun was up and the air was very close. Nonetheless, it provides beautiful views across Paris and the gargoyles on the church are fabulous. On the side of the hill nearby, we had a great breakfast at Hardware Société, an Australian owned café that is clearly a tourist favourite judging by how quickly it filled up. We took the opportunity to walk through Montmartre and its souvenir-and cafe-filled cobbled streets, including the Amélie cafe, before heading north to a massive antiques/flea market. The covered market had great little stalls full of unusual antiques, prints, clothes and lots of other stuff. Surrounding it though, was a huge number of market stalls of knock-off brand names clothes, trainers and perfume which was frentic and annoying. What perhaps was most notable today, despite the beauty of Montmartre, was how dirty the streets of Paris were, and how frequently the smell of wee was not just present but overpowering, which was rather sad. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful day to finish off the holiday, collected our kit and headed to Gare du Nord to Eurostar home. 😢

    We visited 9 countries (and passed through Lichtenstein). We trained 7,500km and walked 851km, as well as catching the occasional bus, tram, boat, funicular, cable car and hiring a bicycle. And we visited 8 governments, all 3 European Parliament sites, lots of churches and every mountain we could find (which was harder in Belgium and Holland!). We tried many, many beers, discovered radler with grenadine, and made ourselves sick of sushi. We learnt Germans will absolutely not cross a road unless than man is green, and that everyone on the continent appears to be drinking Aperol Spritz. We had a great time. 🥰
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  • Day46

    Paris

    August 27 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Up early for a 4 hour train journey to Paris today. A bit concerning as it involved two changes at Courtrai and Lille and the trains haven't always been on time this holiday...but mercifully, it went off without a hitch.

    From our hotel at Gare de Nord, we walked over 20km in Paris today, heading to the Élysée Palace (residence of President Macron), the Eiffel Tower, the Assemblée Nationale (lower chamber) and Hotel de Matignon (residence of the PM). The Eiffel Tower was a bit disappointing - when we were here in 2015 you could walk around and underneath the tower. Sadly now it is surrounded by thick glass and metal fences to guard against a terrorist threat. We stopped for a beer on a boat on the Seine (and some shopping at the kiosks on the riverside) before heading to see Notre Dame. When we were here last we went up and had a gorgoyles-eye view of Paris but after the fire in 2019 the renovations of this beautiful cathedral were well underway, although it was sad to see the damage the fire had done. Just behind the cathedral is an Irish bar called The Green Linnet which we had previous hid out in from a massive rainstorm in 2015. We stopped by for posterity before walking north through the bust Parisian streets towards out hotel. We found some lovely burgers for tea in a cafe on Montorgueil before strolling back to the hotel.

    To Montmartre tomorrow morning before we head home... 😢

    Beer Index (Paris) - €6.63/0.5l
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  • Day45

    Vierdaagse Day 4 - Ypres

    August 26 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We got a lie in today - our hotel is on the Grote Markt of Ypres which was also where the start line was. We made the start line in time to hear the starting pistol going off for the first time. The route began by going through the Menin Gate, up onto the city ramparts, through a tunnel and over a bridge. Being so early however meant we were in quite a crowd, so all these narrow points became little bottlenecks, although they moved quite quickly. Again the walk took us past se CWGC sites we'd not visited before. Tuileries was particularly unusual as it contains only 26 graves, 16 of which were unidentified, but memorials to another 71 soldiers whose graves here were destroyed. The walk today was again a bit more hilly than yesterday but only in comparison to the relatively flat landscape of Belgium - it still wasn't too strenuous! We did all 16km today without stopping, so once we'd collected our medals for completing all 64km, we went for a beer, and then a shower, before getting back to the Menin Gate for the Last Post Ceremony at 3.30pm, and subsequent military parade. We finished the afternoon at the In Flanders Field Museum which is superb. It has loads of new exhibits from last time we visited and we needed more than the two hours we had to explore it properly.

    Beer Index (Ypres) - €7.40/0.5l
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  • Day44

    Vierdaagse Day 3 - Poperinge

    August 25 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    A much shorter commute this morning, just a 20 minute coach west of Ypres to Poperinge. Pretty early on in the walk we passed Nine Elms CWGC of nearly 1600 burials, mostly from WWI. The day's walking was a little less flat than the first two, but still not exactly hilly. We were also lucky with the weather with slightly cooler temperatures, at least for the most part. Poperinge is hop-country and we passed numerous hop farms as we walked. We stopped off for a beer at around the 10km mark and were there just in time to watch the para drop again, before heading into the out-skirts of Poperinge for the final stretch in.

    Poperinge itself was behind Allied lines in WWI and often where soldiers recuperated. It is also home to the Shot at Dawn Memorial, with at least four soldiers shot at dawn here by their own side. We visited the memorial and the cell which contains graffiti left by those who were kept here (not all of whom were shot at dawn).

    Beer Index (Poperinge) - €5.30/0.5l
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  • Day43

    Vierdaagse Day 2 - Diksmuide

    August 24 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    The transport this morning took us to the start line at Diksmuide, about half hour north of Ypres. The route was a southern loop of just over 16km. Just after we passed the start line, we detoured to see the Yser Tower. The tower was put up to commemorate Belgian soldiers who died in WWI, destroyed after WWII, and rebuilt.

    The first half of the route took us on the roads out of Diksmuide, through farmland and a nature reserve to a chateau. We made it to this half way point in about 100 minutes, and stopped to enjoy a bottle of Stella next to the the beautiful Blankaart Castle. The route back in was perhaps a little less scenic but we had three para drops to watch on the way, including the final one which we watched from the landing zone. Back in Diksmuide, we found a local brewery in which to celebrate the day and watch an oom-pah band before heading back to Ypres.

    We finished the day with an alarmingly hot bus ride out to Hooge Crater Museum, which had an amazing new video showing the evolution of the front line on the Ypres Salient over WWI.

    Beer Index (Diksmuide) - €5.70/0.5l
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  • Day42

    Vierdaagse Day 1 - Oostduinkerke

    August 23 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Up early this morning to catch a bus to Oostduinkerke for the first day of Vierdaagse van de Ijzer (Four Days of Yser). This four day march around the Ypres Salient is organised by the Belgian military and, amongst other things, commemorates the fallen. The 45-minute bus ride took us to the start line where we queued to get our pass and start today's 16km. Despite the numbers, it was quite efficient and by a little after 9am we were away. The first 5km took us just under an hour (Belgium is *very* flat!). As we went further however the terrain became very sandy and my knackered, holy trainers needed emptying on more than one occasion! After watching a parachute drop, we stopped at the ruins of the Ten Duinan Abbey and tried a local beer. Just past the Abbey was a working windmill, before we hit the promenade of the seafront and B had some fish soup. The route at the end of the promenade went down to the water's edge and again filled my shoes with sand. We hit the finish line in Oostduinkerke and I grabbed the beers while B grabbed a t-shirt. Another 16km tomorrow at Diksmuide!

    Beer Index (Oostduinkerke) - €4.31/0.5l
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  • Day41

    Ypres

    August 22 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    As we arrived into Ypres, a WRC Rally event was clearly just finishing. It meant the old market square was sadly absolutely packed with temporary buildings and staging that was being dismantled, totally overshadowing the beautiful Cloth Hall. Just around the corner from our hotel is the Menin Gate, with the names of nearly 55,000 WWI soldiers with no known grave. Having spent some time there, and wandered around the town for a bit, we returned to the Ypra Inn to have a pint in the shadow of the Gate before grabbing dinner at Carrefour.Read more

  • Day41

    Ghent

    August 22 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    On leaving Antwerp for Ypres, we decided to spend some of the day at Ghent. We'd thought to do it on the same day at Bruges but ran short of time. It is billed as a less touristy version of Bruges, and whilst it was nice, we didn't think it was as nice as Bruges...although the sun coming out later in the day did help! We passed the huge medieval castle, the Gravensteen, which dominates the town, but was sadly surround by roadworks. Lots of the buildings in the town are quintessial Belgian architecture and are beautiful , especially the town hall and the Vleeshuis (old Butchers' Guild). Once we'd wandered the cobbled streets and churches, we found a table by the canals to try the local beer...one of which was 11%!

    Beer Index (Ghent) - €7.23/0.5l
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  • Day40

    Rotterdam

    August 21 in the Netherlands ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    Having just missed one train and and an hour until the next, we decided to use the time to stop by Rotterdam. The Market Hall here is a huge cavernous food court with a myriad of food to try and beautiful designs on the ceiling. Next to it are the cube houses - designed in 1985, each cube sits on a point at the top of a concrete pillar with the city below. Walking around the old harbour, we snagged a waterside table for a beer and some nachos before heading down the promenade past the Willemsbrug and Erasmusbrug, and a Holland America Line cruise ship conducting their safety drills!

    Beer Index (Rotterdam) - €6/0.5l
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  • Day40

    The Hague

    August 21 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We crossed back into the Netherlands this morning, taking a train to the Hague (which we'd actually written off being able to make it to, so that was exciting!). The city is home to the Dutch Parliament, the Binnenhof, which is also the official residence of the Prime Minister. It was being renovated so we could walk around all the outside but we did get to see it! On the opposite side to the Binnenhof was a lovely craft market, and we passed through this and by the Paleos Noordeinde, on of the three residences of the Dutch Royal Family. A bit more of a walk beyond the centre, we made our way to the Peace Palace, the home of the International Criminal Court. A tram from here put us at the beach and we splodged around in the North Sea and enjoyed some time chilling with a pint on the beachfront watching people zipping down the pier and bungee jump over the sea.

    Beer Index (The Hague) - €6/0.5l
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