I could sit here and give you a very brief overview of my time in Belgium, but it seriously wouldn’t do the place justice. So let me start from the beginning: May the 5th, my birthday and all the excitement in the world for my first overseas holiday since moving to England with Kate <3.
We decided to do the Eurostar, partially because I have never done it, but mostly because we didn’t really want to waste time in airports when we just wanted to get there.
The train trip was flawless and we arrived in Brussels – Midi and realised that we had a little bit of time to kill before our train to Ghent. Kate (having lived her whole life in the UK) struggled to understand the signs or announcements because they were mostly in Flemish. I, however, picked up on quite a bit, therefore elevating me to “translator”. We got the train to Ghent and nearly stayed on for too long as we pulled into the area under construction at Ghent Station and had zero clue we were there, thankfully Kate’s roaming was working and she saw we were there on the map.
The walk from the station to the apart-hotel felt like miles, mostly because we didn’t know where to go, it wasn’t the best weather and Pippa was getting a severe thirst and hunger. We got about half way according to Google Maps and decided that it was definitely time for the first beer on Belgium soil. It was a very cute little bar and had amazing beer, something that England needs to take note of every time you ordered drinks you got snacks. Everytime. People, this needs to become a thing!
We had an amazing day on Saturday just wandering around in the sun, we had oodles of beer and croquettes (my new favourite deep fried delicacy), I think one of the best moments that I have had was sitting next to the river, after having one of the best beers of my entire life and just enjoying the sun, the river and the company. We decided that this night would be the night we go out for a cheeky dinner, we ended up going to a place right next to the Ghent Altarpiece (another must see in Ghent). After ordering yet another kind of beer that I have never heard of, we both decided on the steak… that was a choice I would happily repeat for the rest of my life. Tender. Juicy. Decent Portion size. Everything I ever needed.
The World War One tour that we did was amazing, I highly recommend that if you are interested in History then you need to do this. In fact, I would say that you should do this even if you are not interested in History as it is just so amazing to hear and it was also very emotional. We started in Ypres, it was a chilly day – kind of perfect for the mood of the tour. We went to a few of the Commonwealth Cemeteries as well as a German cemetery; saw a trench that is being maintained at a museum. I did well up when we saw the front-line hospital where John McCrae wrote the famous Flanders Fields Poem:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
And learnt about the story of the poppies becoming a symbol of the war because Miss Moina Michael (an American woman) read the poem that was published and conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War I. and wrote this in response:
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.