Belgium
Sint-Jan

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
53 travelers at this place
  • Day51

    Day 51 - Waterloo I Was Defeated

    September 23, 2020 in Belgium ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Woke up to a cool misty morning & we were back on the road by 8.10am. 30 minutes later we approached Belgium with our passports & itinerary to hand. There was no border, just a sign telling us we were now in Belgium.

    First stop was Spa and to the Formula 1 race track. We were able to drive right up to the grandstand, but everything was all locked up. We then drove into & around the town of Spa, which wasn’t overly exciting.

    We set the SatNav for Waterloo and due to diversions we ended up passing through an attractive little town called Sougné-Remouchamps, which is the home of cycling champion, Philippe Gilbert. We spotted a cafe that seemed ideal for a late breakfast.

    We parked up outside the 251 year old Royal Hotel Bonhomie & walked to the cafe. It was now when we first discovered that Belgium is far stricter than other countries with it’s mask requirements. It is compulsory around town.

    We entered the cafe & ordered two coffees, then Jackie ordered a tuna salad baguette. I then asked for the same, but with sliced egg. The lady returned with two tuna baguettes, but mine with egg as well. Horror of horrors, I tried to explain that I don’t eat fish, she couldn’t understand & took both away in a huff. I chased after her & relieved her of Jackie’s & somehow managed to order an egg & rocket baguette. Everything turned out ok, but just felt a bit awkward.

    Next stop was Waterloo & the Memorial of Waterloo 1815 museum located on the site of the Battle of Waterloo. We paid our €16 each which was reasonable & followed the designated route with our masks on. It was an interactive museum with lots of exhibits & culminated in a 15 minute 3D video depicting the events of the 18th June 1815, when 300,000 soldiers clashed. 40,000 men died or were wounded & Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated.

    We then entered the Rotunda, which had a 360 degree Panorama of the events, then climbed the 226 steps to the top of Lion’s Mound for our panoramic view of the battlefield below. The Lion’s Mound was erected in 1826 to commemorate the exact spot where the Prince of Orange was wounded.

    It was over 2 hours well spent, then we hit the road for Ypres (Leper). Around 4.30pm we arrived at B&B Inga in the heart of Ypres old town. We have the run of the whole place, including a well stocked kitchen, as there are no other guests.

    Before going anywhere we set about completing our Public Health Passenger Locator Forms & submitting them. About 6.30pm we walked out into the rain & hotfooted it to the Ypra Inn next to the Menin Gate. The barman confirmed that the Last Post ceremony was still place, but with a restricted audience of just 200 persons instead of the usual 1000s.

    Jackie & I sat in the bar with a Belgian beer & watched a small crowd gather. With 20 minutes still to go, we took up two of the last few remaining allocated spots under Menin Gate. At 8.00pm sharp, three buglers appeared & played the Last Post. As always it was a very moving experience.

    It was still pouring with rain, so we ducked into a bar in the main square across from St Martin’s Cathedral & had another beer. It was all a bit damp & miserable so we called it a night, without lunch or dinner!

    Song of the Day : Waterloo by ABBA.

    Bonus Song : Last Post by The Central Band of the Royal British Legion.
    Read more

    David Byng

    Didnt stay j the usual haunt then . Is that bedause last time no ome coukd sleep because of your snooring ?

    9/24/20Reply
     
  • Day3

    Day three

    March 4, 2020 in Belgium ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

    Left Sevenoaks at 08.45 and arrived at Dover at 10.00 for the 11.00 ferry.
    Left on time.

    Left Calais and drove to Ploegsteert Memorial, then onto Ypres.
    Walked into town and back again.

    A bit wet 😔.

  • Day4

    Hooge Crater museum

    September 8, 2019 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Has nothing to do with the actual crater. Food was quick a decent (rowdy kids aside :-)). Museum was okay but short and didn't have much to add to other museums in the area. I was hoping for a Crater but didn't have time to go hunting for itRead more

  • Day4

    Day four

    March 5, 2020 in Belgium ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

    Woke up to a rainy and dull morning.
    Went into Ypres for some shopping and then visited the In Flanders Field museum. A very impressive display of WW1 items some of which are interactive.
    It certainly brings home the horrors of conflict.Read more

  • Day174

    Day 175: In Flanders Fields

    August 8, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Time for some non-UNESCO exploration today! After another delicious home-cooked breakfast from our hosts, we walked over to the rental car office about 15 minutes away where we picked up our car, and headed off into the countryside. The car is great - a VW Golf "Supervan" which basically means it's slightly longer and slightly taller than the regular Golf. A little bit more room inside, but it's got some great feature upgrades too over the Golf I used to have in Sydney. This one has a full built-in navigation system which means Shandos can relax rather than give directions, and it's got auto-parking as well so I can just let it park itself! Good stuff.

    Off we went into the south-west countryside, heading towards the town of Ypres (EYE-Per) and the World War I battlefields area. Although most of the trenches in WWI were in France, the most northern sections went through Belgium, and many many people died in this area.

    We decided to do our own self-guided tour of the area, starting at Tyne Cot cemetery, which is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. I think there were around 12,000 headstones here, though about 80% of them were unidentified, and then another 35,000 names running around the walls of soldiers KIA or MIA whose remains were never found/identified. It's built on a small hill that was the site of vicious fighting at several points, and three German bunkers are still on the site. Also interested to find that it's called Tyne Cot because the houses in the area reminded the British soldiers of cottages near Newcastle-upon-Tyne!

    Next stop was the Buttes New British Cemetery, not as big but with a nice obelisk standing on a hill. Again this was the site of heavy fighting, the hill itself was a rifle range before the war and was basically the only terrain feature worth noting for miles around, so it became strategically important.

    We also visited the nearby Duitse Begraafplaats Langemark (German Students Cemetery), which was mostly German soldiers. These had mostly been buried in a mass grave as they were unidentifiable, and it's the Student's cemetery because the brigades that fought and died here were mostly student volunteers.

    Also nearby was a Canadian cemetery and memorial, marking the spot where poison gas was used for the first time in warfare (22 April 1915). Lots of people died, and though WWI is in many ways synonymous with the use of gas, it was actually surprisingly ineffective as a weapon and accounted for relatively few casualties.

    Quick pitstop at a rural supermarket for some takeaway lunch before heading to the John McRae memorial. He's the man who wrote the famous In Flanders Fields poem while fighting in the area, and the bunkers where he was working as a surgeon at the time are still preserved. Interesting to look at!

    After this we drove into the town of Ypres to visit the In Flanders Fields museum, which was excellent. We also paid a little extra for our tickets as the belfry attached to the museum building (originally a market hall) was part of the UNESCO listing for Belgian belfries. So of course we had a look! The museum was great; very modern and very detailed with lots of stuff to look at and absorb. Unfortunately we had to hurry through the last parts of the museum as our parking was running out!

    Back outside, we topped up the parking meter and checked out Menin Gate, a huge memorial archway at the entrance to the city. Around it is the name of every service man and woman who perished in the area during WWI - so it's pretty big as you'd expect! Decided not to wait around for 8pm when they play the Last Post, but instead grabbed a quick drink at a local cafe.

    Back to Bruges where we managed to find a decent parking spot and headed into town for dinner. Went to another one of the tourist restaurants on the main square, but this one didn't have quite as good food, sadly. Off to bed ahead of another move tomorrow!
    Read more

    Joel Baldwin

    Tyne Cot cemetery

    8/11/17Reply
    Joel Baldwin

    Australian memorial

    8/11/17Reply
    Joel Baldwin

    German memorial (grass in background is a mass grave)

    8/11/17Reply
    3 more comments
     
  • Day7

    Hill 60

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    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.
    Read more

    David Duncan

    Dad was at Hill 60 for a period of time.

    9/3/17Reply
     
  • Day7

    Bedford House Cemetery - Charles Duncan

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    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

    Sheridan Dean

    That is definitely amazing and certainly worth Amazing Grace xx

    9/3/17Reply
    David Duncan

    Lovely thought. Thanks Craig.

    9/3/17Reply

    Such a beautiful place and a beautiful gesture.

    9/4/17Reply
     
  • Day1

    Übernachtung in Ieper

    July 17, 2020 in Belgium ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Wie hübsch doch das kleine Städtchen Ieper ist. Hier können wir unseren ersten halben Tag TET fahren ausklingen lassen.

    Klaus Wohlgefahrt

    Jeden (!) Tag um 20 Uhr gibt es einen Zapfenstreich zu Ehren der 250.000 gefallenen Soldaten während des 1. Weltkriegs, die aus aller Welt(!) hier kämpften. Die Namen aller Soldaten und der Region, aus der sie entsandt wurden, sind in Stein gemèißelt. Alle. Wir waren echt erstaunt.

    7/18/20Reply
    Klaus Wohlgefahrt

    Man kann es auf dem Foto kaum erkennen. Hier sind Namen eingemeißelt. Auf dem ganzen Bauwerk, 250.000 ...

    7/19/20Reply
     
  • Day7

    Ypres and Menin Gate

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    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.
    Read more

    Sheridan Dean

    I can't believe they do that every night. Beautiful tradition

    9/3/17Reply
    Gabrielle Ingram

    I know. It is pretty astounding.

    9/3/17Reply
     
  • Day7

    Day Six

    July 19, 2016 in Belgium ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Today we started with a visit to Passchendaele. This town was involved in one of the battles for the Ypres Salient in 1917. This offensive involved British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops. We went through the war museum which was very impressive. They had a great display of relics and you could actually walk through recreated trenches. I couldn't get over how narrow and small the trenches were, even in some underground trenches I had to crouch down to get through!
    After that we visited Hooge Crater Cemetery. Here we were told the story of Patrick Bugden. He recieved the VC for his continued heroic efforts during the battle of Polygon Wood in 1917. He used machine gun fire and grenade launches to clear the way for his fellow soldiers. In doing so he saved wounded soldiers and continued going back in until he was killed in action.
    Following this we walked through Polygon Wood. This area was one of the main offensives where the Australian 5th Division pushed back the Germans from Menin Road. Although this is a heavily wooded area now, it was totally cleared by heavy artillery in 1917. On the other side of the wood is a beautiful cemetery.
    In the afternoon we walked the craters and what is left of the tunnels at Hill 60. I was amazed at how small an area this is. In one spot the distance between the Allied front and the German front was only 25 steps! I walked it twice to measure it as i found it ridiculous that they were so close!
    Finally today we visited Langemark German Cemetery. It was really good to hear about the German side of the war. The cemetery itself has a dark and bleak outlook to it compared to the Allied cemeteries, which are bright and look like a cottage garden. The entrance has two small rooms attached where all the names of the German Student Reserve are listed. These students were recruited as German troops were being killed at an alarming rate. The problem was that these poor boys were not fully prepared for what awaited them. They were easily and quickly disposed of by the Allies. We were told that the room we stood in today was the exact same spot where Aldof Hitler laid a wreath in the 1940's. It was quite a freaky feeling to know that I had stood in the same place as him!
    💡Things I learnt today.....
    1. Aldof Hitler was a soldier in the German Army during the battles of the Ypres Salient and that the Allied soldiers had numerous chances to kill him, although he didn't have the same reputation then. Imagine how different history would have been🤔
    2. Although the summer temperature here is mid to high 20's, the humidity is a bitch!😥
    3. It is amazing how much laundry you can do in a bathroom sink. 👕👖👗
    4. Belgium has their own version of a 'Cruiser' drink called 'Finley'🍸
    5. How determined a German pilot named Werner Voss was.
    During 1917 when the Red Baron Manfred Von Richthofen was doing his thing, when he amassed 50 kills he was awarded the Knights Cross (German version of the VC). Voss decided that he too wanted the Knights Cross and set his goal to get 50 kills before he went on RnR. On his last day before leave he had 48 kills in the bank, but he was determined to get his last two. So he took to the skies again and came across five British planes. A heavy dog fight ensued, with Voss fully in control as his plane manouvoured more easily than the British planes. Voss finally defeated all five planes, but while he was preoccupied with these five planes he failed to notice the other ninety planes which were heading his way. He was shot down and killed. Maybe he should have called it a day?
    Read more

    I'm loving your travel diary...it feels like I'n on a 'virtual tour'. I can only imagine how emotional these visits must be. Keep having a great time and keep posting such an interesting read 😄 Wooks xo

    7/18/16Reply
    Corinne Shore

    Thanks Wooks! 👍🏼

    7/19/16Reply
     

You might also know this place by the following names:

Sint-Jan