Belgium
Arrondissement Ieper

Here you’ll find travel reports about Arrondissement Ieper. Discover travel destinations in Belgium of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

33 travelers at this place:

  • Day513

    Ypres

    November 21, 2017 in Belgium

    After successfully taking Poppy to the vet at Tournai, we headed towards Ypres and the Flemish speaking area of Belgium. It had gone lunch time so we stopped along the way for our last trip to a Belgian frituur before returning to the UK. The standard of frites across the country really is excellent, Belgian expectations must be very exacting!

    As we drew closer to Ypres we passed a number of war cemeteries, their identical oblong or crucifix shaped gravestones standing erect in neat rows. Our parking place for the night was in a communal car park near a swimming pool, skate park and sports stadium. Regular groups of school kids trooped along on the other side of the hedge to access the facilities. Will met another British couple travelling in their motorhome who told him they used to park on the quiet residential street every time they came over from Calais, but now signs had been put up to prohibit this.

    Crossing a footbridge over the moat and ducking through a tunnel in the town wall we made our way up Ypres' narrow residential streets, lined with terraced houses of different types of brick. Grote Markt square suddenly revealed itself as we rounded a corner. We were taken aback by the large open space dominated by the towering Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall), that appeared rather like a massive cathedral with its sculpted stone facade and gothic steeples. It was really refreshing to see an old building of such grandeur that was built for something other than religious worship.

    The square was surrounded by tea rooms, bars, chocolate and souvenir shops. We'd not seen many poppies in the rest of Belgium, but there were plenty of them here, where so many tourists come to remember the war. They even had chocolate poppies. Despite having the feeling of a big city at its core, Ypres is only a large town. On streets leading away from the centre, the shops soon turn to homes or offices and we looped back to the compact central area several times.

    This being our last full day in Belgium, we were on a mission to buy chocolate amd Trappist beer to take home. Two chocolate shops standing side by side offered free tastings, so we sampled each and chose the better, where we happened to come accross a fellow Brit and an Australian couple standing in line. We found it a little strange to have so many people talking English as their first language, we hope we acclimatise quickly when we get back to the UK! The chocolatier was very friendly, as was the owner of the beer shop we visited, who helped us pick out some good bottles from their wide selection. She told us she had found the sudden deluge of customers around 11th November, then the quiet afterwards, difficult to deal with. We are glad we got to see the town in one of its subdued periods.

    Walking back to the van we passed Menin Gate, the large stone archway that bears the names of British and Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.

    We liked Ypres for its quiet square, magnificent Cloth Hall and the green belt of land running alongside its moat. We did however find its huge focus on the pointless loss of foreign lives a century ago, quashed organic local culture, which is one of the things we most enjoy experiencing when we travel.
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  • Day7

    Bedford House Cemetery - Charles Duncan

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    And the final war memorial of this trip was to Bedford House Cemetery where my grandfather's brother is buried. Charles Duncan was killed at age 21. His and the other 3 soldiers he was fighting with had their remains exhumed and moved to this location.

    Of the 5,075 soldiers buried here, 275 are Australia and my great uncle is among those. He is buried in Enclosure 4 and with nothing more than that information, it took some time to find him. Kate placed a poppy on his grave and Craig had brought along the guitar so he played Amazing Grace. It had been so cold and windy as we were trying to find the grave, but then we sat down and the wind died down and the sun came out. The cemetery itself was beautiful. Charles has a great view in his final resting place!Read more

  • Day60

    Day 58

    July 27, 2017 in Belgium

    Today was what you would call a hallowing experience. I did the Flanders field tour which was extremely informative and emotional and then the day finished off with the last post ceremony at the Mennin Gate

    At the gate my great great great uncles name was carved into the wall of over 50 000 missing or soldiers with no graves

    It was extremely emotional and honestly words can not describe nor the pictures do justice of what I saw today and the information that I heard

    I had tears in my eyes during the last post it again was honestly a place that you had to be to experience for this I didn't take photos or videos as I felt it to be disrespectful

    The WW1 history just within Belgium is immense!
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  • Day7

    Hill 60

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    Whistle stop to wander around Hill 60. The concrete bunker was used by both German and British Armies. This was another site riddled with underground tunnels which were used by both sides. They would try to dig close to the other side, listen in and once confirmed it was the enemy would set of explosives to try and cave in their tunnel network. The Australian soldiers were known to dig as low as 8 metres to try and get right under the Germans without detection - they would occasionally die from carbon monoxide poisoning or the tunnels would collapse.

    The site was purchased by a British family after the war in order to preserve it as is. There were so many fallen soldiers whose bodies had sunk into the mud during the battle that they could not be retrieved and buried properly.
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  • Day7

    Ypres and Menin Gate

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    We ended our foray into Flanders with dinner in Ypres and then the Last Post Ceremony which has been held under Menin Gate every night at 8pm since 1928 (save a few years of WWII) as the local way of honouring those who fell in WWI. People travel from around the world to attend, play or lay wreaths. On our visit we were lucky enough to witness an extended ceremony and hear the Norwich Pipe Band from the UK and a local bugle band of cadets of some sort. There were around 1,000 people attending which, for a ceremony that happens every night of the year regardless of the weather, is rather amazing.

    The kids were on the hunt for Belgium waffles afterward, but the places had either closed or sold out, so they had to settle for Belgium ice cream in a waffle cone instead.
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  • Day7

    Sanctuary Wood Museum (Hill 62)

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    We stopped here for a bit of fun for the kids. The farmer who owned this farm during WWI returned to his farm after the war to find it riddled with trenches as it had been the site of the battle at Hill 62 which was mostly a Canadian forces offensive. The museum at this farm is privately maintained by the grandson of the original farmer who elected to preserve a number of the trenches.

    So, the kids went wild! Apparently running around in here was like all their dreams had come true. Who knew we only needed to dig and connect some holes in the back yard! As could be expected in this part of the world though, it was muddy and wet and I get the impression that this is the norm. Light drizzly rain stops anything from drying out much. Kate said she didn't want to get trench foot. Through this place you can still see evidence of the craters formed by shells.Read more

  • Day7

    Polygon Wood Cemetery, Zonnebeke

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    We spent the day in Belgium today travelling between various cemeteries and war memorials related to my grandfather and his two brothers who fought in WWI in this area. My grandfather's brother, Charles Duncan, was in the 52nd Battalion. He was involved in the battles of Polygon Wood, Ypres and Messines. He was killed in action on the 23rd September 1917 on his 21st birthday. A bomb landed in the gun post he and four others were manning. All were buried in the trench by the bomb and his remains were later exhumed and transferred to Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium.

    So with that being the back story for today, I have split the journey into each of the places we visited in Flanders, the first being Sanctuary Wood Memorial Cemetery with a memorial to the Australian 5th Division. Of the 2,100 soldiers buried here, only about a quarter are identified. The surrounding wood was peaceful and squirrels were running between the graves. It is here Kate started her sketching activities.

    Across the road is another smaller cemetery and what is incredible about all of the cemeteries we visited is how they adjoin the farms around them. This one had a donkey and chicken run on one side, a house and corn fields surrounding the rest.
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  • Day7

    Tyne Cot Cemetery, Flanders

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    I came to Tyne Cot Cemetery in 1991 but couldn't recall much about it other than it was really big! It has had the addition of a visitors centre since then and as you approach a sombre voice is reading out the voices inscribed on the graves and the wall of the cemetery. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war and is located just outside of Passchendale. With over 11,900 soldiers laid to rest, there isn't really much more than can be said about such a tragic outcome.Read more

  • Day7

    Lunch in Zonnebeke, Flanders

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    What better way than to spend lunch with a view like this! Across from the lake is the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. Craig played a little guitar, which became rather hilarious when a guy passing buy made a show of coming over and giving him 50 cents! I need to put the boy to work obviously...

    We had a local baguette and pastries washed down with a bottle of the local Passchendaele Ale. A lovely afternoon.Read more

  • Day32

    While relaxing in Wannegem has certainly been pleasant, Nancy and I felt the need to move. We took daily bike rides through the countryside and a couple of side trips to western Flanders.

    A couple of months ago we had dinner with our friend Alexander at the Avanti pizza place. They served a Belgian ale by de Dolle Brewers called Oerbier. It hit all the right notes for a good belgian, so I looked up the brewery and we visited. De Dolle means 'mad brewers'. The brewery was started by a few college friends back in 1980 and they've been brewing ever since. They still have no employees. Every few weeks the families gather to bottle and crate together. They now turn out 500,000 bottles per year with no plans for expansion. Chris showed me around the place and we were able to enjoy a great beer from the tap before heading back 'home'.

    Another day we accompanied Manu and Katelijn to the area around Ypres to visit a recent art installation located in a regional park that was once a notorious WW1 battlefield. The artist, Koen Vanmechelen, puts chickens at the center of most of his works. The eggs represent the lives of the soldiers lost in that conflict. The large egg at the center represents rebirth. Afterwards we dropped by our old haunt on the Kemmelberg for refreshment.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Arrondissement Ieper, Ypres

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