Thursday, 10 April 2014

Belgium

I've mentioned a couple of times in the past week that I'd be writing about my trip to Belgium two weeks ago. 


35 pupils including myself left on the 27th March to go on a Battlefields Trip in Belgium. This was the first time I'd ever been abroad and so that was simply an exciting thing in itself. We travelled down from Manchester to Dover, and after being two hours late, got on the ferry to Calais. 


After travelling through France, we finally arrived in Belgium and stopped in the sunset at Lijssenthoek, which was a cemetery with one of only two graves for women who died in the battlefields. It was incredibly sunny for the evening, and rather beautiful. 



 Friday was an incredibly busy day as we went to 11 places, meaning there was a lot of getting on and off the coach. Early in the morning, we visited the Bayernwald Trenches, which were German trenches where Hitler had served at one point. It's surprising how shallow the trenches actually are when you're stood in one, never mind the fact that back in 1914 it would have been very muddy and wet. Prior to that, we had visited the Pool of Peace which was a mine in WW1 which exploded, killing all the soldiers inside instantly. 



In the evening, we attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, where every day since the end of WW2, a memorial service has been held. Unfortunately, we couldn't see much but, there was a lot of music and singing, which finished the day off perfectly. After that the teachers decided to take us to a chocolate shop called Leonidas where we got a huge discount on all the Belgium chocolate (& Marshmallows) which was kind of like being in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.


The final day, Saturday, was equally exhausting. We visited the German cemetery in Langemark where we stayed. This was the only German cemetery we visited and for 8 AM it had a very cold atmosphere to it. Then we returned to Ypres where we'd been for the Menin Gate ceremony the night before to visit the markets, where we lost one member of our group of friends. Ypres really reminded me of the place I live. The streets are very similar and we also have a market so it was weirdly like being at home. After that we visited our final place in Belgium, which was a house in Poperinge where soldiers went for recuperation.


Arriving back in France, in 30C temperatures, on a Saturday afternoon, we were given 1 hour at Cite D'Europe which is essentially Calais' version of the Trafford Centre. Then after a delightful encounter with Border Control, we boarded the ferry for England. Some point into the journey my friends and I gave up trying to maintain any balance on the VERY wobbly ferry and found a carpeted spot and just sat on the floor. Later, following on from watching Marley & Me twice and getting just past London. We stopped at a service station for tea. Bearing in mind it was 10:30PM, I probably looked like a zombie to the woman who served me in Costa Coffee as I waited for my Blended Ice drink that I hoped would keep me awake. 



Holly x

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