Sunday, 11 May 2014

Day Trip to Ypres

At school we were given the opportunity to visit Belgium as a history trip to expand our knowledge of World War I by visiting cemeteries and museums. It was a day of mixed emotions but I found it lovely wandering the beautiful streets of Ypres and getting to know a different culture. Despite the early 5am start, the day went surprisingly quickly! 

We visited Essex Farm Cemetery and Tyne Cot Cemetery and both were incredibly moving. One thing I noticed is how beautifully maintained everything was and you could really sense a feeling of sorrow yet pride and honour amongst everybody. 

As you can probably tell, the day started off rather dull and drizzly and my friend Sophie and I came up with the genius idea of using our scarves to shield ourselves from the rain! 

We then made our way over to Langemark, a German cemetery in Belgium. It is well known for being the place where poison gas was first used in the war. It was very different to Tyne Cot and had an almost strange energy; it was still a reminder of the devastating effects war had on everybody though.

We even had the chance to go through a real trench at Hill '62 which was really interesting and quite scary. We were warned beforehand to be careful of sharp objects and deep puddles and at one point I found myself in a pitch black trench. That really did open my eyes to the terror of war. Thankfully Sophie used her iPhone as a torch or I don't think I would have been able to get through it!

We also went to Flanders Field museum. It was fascinating seeing real artefacts from nearly a hundred years ago and our trip was made even more memorable as Sophie, Fin and I decided to walk to the top of the Bell Tower. When I say 'walk', I actually mean 'trek' as the hundreds of stairs really made it feel like a workout; I think we were all wondering why we had decided to do it at this point! When we reached the top, the view of Ypres was truly breathtaking and as you can tell from the pictures below, it was very windy! It all made for an exhilarating experience though.

Here I'm rocking the Rod Steward look!

Before meeting up for dinner, we were given two hours to roam the town of Ypres. I found myself gawping at the beautiful Belgium make up and I had to talk myself out of buying a lot of it, I did pick up a soufflé blush though; I convinced myself that it was acceptable as there's nothing like that here in England. You obviously can't go to Belgium without picking up chocolate too. Being a self-confessed chocaholic, I think it is safe to say that I went slightly overboard leaving with two bags FULL of chocolate. I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about it though!

It would have been rude to have not tried a waffle in this gorgeous little ice cream parlour. We both chose Nutella as our topping and it was so yummy! I am actually having a serious craving of it right now. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to witness the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. The crowds were huge and that made it all the more special, especially because we are coming up to the hundredth anniversary of the First World War. I'm glad we were able to pay our respects.

I had a wonderful day exploring Belgium with friends and I would love to return one day. The trip also really made me realise how valuable the gift of life is.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix 

Lots of love,