17.04 - Dover (UK), Calais (France) and Ypres (Belgium)
We were up at 05.45. Watered up, then went to the payment machine. You just enter your registration number and scan the ticket. We paid our £7, but the barrier didn’t open at the exit - suppose it doesn’t recognize our Guernsey number plate, anyway, scanned the receipt - and we were off. Beautiful sunrise - not often I get to see it!
Hardly any traffic, and arrived in Dover after about 20 minutes. We’d allowed an hour - just in case! It’s a shame the weather was quite misty, so couldn’t really see The White Cliffs of Dover very well. As we were so early, they checked us in for the earlier ferry at 07.25. System seems faultless! We were in lane 217! A ginormous place! P&O drive on and drive off, none of reversing lark like on Condor! Crossing took 90 minutes - nice big lounge up front to sit in. Very easy and quick process to get to Calais.
Even getting off ferry and driving was all so easy. It’s sad to see all the fences with the barbed wire along the top carrying on for what seemed like miles.
Tintin drove for about 90 minutes to Ypres to a free Park4night parking space close to the Menin Gate.
It was a really weird drive here. Some of the roads in between towns seem to be concrete - so noisy and a hard ride for poor Dave. The speed limit seems to be 43mph not in towns, and 31mph in towns - really slow for such long, long straight roads. Must change co-pilot to km! Tintin wonders if he got flashed at for speeding - time will tell if we get a notice in the post!
Hardly saw any people, the houses look quite utilitarian, very flat landscape with sheep, horses, cows etc...
We’re now an hour ahead. Had a quick shower, then lunch before walking into Ypres. The Menin Gate is one of seven memorials to the Missing in Belgium. It bears the names of more than 54,000 Commonwealth servicemen killed during the First World War, who have no known grave. It’s kept clean and preserved by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They commemorate the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars.
We then walked to the In Flanders Fields Museum (€20 for us both). Over two hours later we emerged, brains can’t absorb anymore!
The town was then really busy, total contrast to what must have been lunch time! The Main Street looks very upmarket and clean. Sadly, for today - I only looked in the windows of the chocolate shops.
Temperature much improved, warm walking around even without coats - bonus!
Tintin’s tips for the day - Belgium has very little road furniture, so there aren’t any speed signs anywhere. It’s only the satnav that tells you what the speed limit is. The speed limits that we encountered were 50kph (31mph) in towns (when you see the town name) and 70 kph (43mph) on 2 way roads, even if they are wide and straight. Even Dave has trouble keeping to those limits.
The Flanders museum was very well presented but after over 2 hours reading I just got a bit tired of reading facts. We don’t think we learnt anything we didn’t really know already, maybe not the small details. There was definitely fomo (fear of missing out) if we didn’t go in but for me I would have been just as happy looking around the town, hindsight is a wonderful thing!
This evening we walked up to The Menin Gate again. It was unveiled in 1927. The buglers sound the “Last Post”, a tradition which continues every day at 8pm, then people lay wreaths and finally the buglers sound the Reveille. We were nearly 30 minutes early, but due to at least eight huge coaches - there were loads of people! The clarity of the buglers was brilliant. Worth going to see.
The Last Post is up on Instagram at therumrunners.co.uk