Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In Flanders Fields: Ieper (Ypres), Belgium

Ieper at night
 Adventures with Jaap traveled to Ieper, Belgium on a chilly and gray weekend sometime in early April. My Australian friend Rosalie recommended it as a nice weekend getaway. This region of Belgium is probably most famous for the role it played in WWI. I will admit that a weekend trip to Ieper is probably only best for history buffs. I enjoyed visiting this little city and exploring the sad history around it.
Menin Gate Memorial
We spent our first night walking around quiet Ieper. We visited the Menin Gate, a memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in the battles around Ieper. There are over 50,000 names inscribed on this memorial. It's incredible. 
Saturday began with a visit to the In Flanders Fields Museum in the Market Square. It's definitely the best place to go and learn more about WWI and the history of this region. Although we noticed that there was nothing mentioned about the poem itself, It Flanders Fields written by the Canadian soldier John McCrae. Weird.

Next was a yummy Belgian waffle and pancake intermezzo. :) I love eating in Belgium.
Followed by a walk around the outskirts of the city.
We bought a map of the Ypres Salient region and were off on our historical journey of WWI by car. First stop: Tyne Cot Cemetery. 
Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. It's a powerful image. Driving through this region can be depressing. Maybe the gray weather added to this vibe. I couldn't stop thinking about the soldiers who died here and the local Belgians who lost their region to war.
Our history site tour ended with a visit to the Bayernwald Trenches. What an interesting place. Come here if you want to see the typical trenches that come to mind when you think of WWI. It's a restored trench system that was built and used by the Germans complete with sandbags, woven branches, and wooden planks. Another thought provoking place to see, but the only thing I could think of was Matthew Crawley from Downtown Abbey though.
I can't remember the name of this site. Sorry. But the lambs were cute!
Our Ieper stay ended with the dinner at De Ruyffelaer. Eat here, if you ever come to Ieper. We enjoyed a delicious typical Flemish dinner with a very cozy, home-like atmosphere. Very rustic and simple, but yummy. Here's an action shot of Jaap's delicious Belgian beer as my pregnant self looks on with jealousy. :)

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