We woke refreshed and enjoyed an excellent breakfast at Hotel Ariane. I can highly recommend this hotel for families. The rooms are spacious and a delicious large breakfast buffet is included in the price. Very reasonable in my opinion.
We packed our belongings into the car and Steve and Cass decided to head over to the tourist info site again in the Cloth building to buy some books. Liam and I relaxed a bit and then decided to wander about a bit while we waited.
Liam poses beside what was the Cow posts. Our hotel was originally a slaughterhouse actually and these posts are a reminder of what once was.
He asked if we could stop into the Cathedral. (surprising me as I thought he'd had enough of them). It was lovely inside and hard to imagine it was in ruins
A beautiful pipe organ
Facing back towards the entrance
We found Dad and Sis and once again piled back into the car to head to a few museums before driving to Lille and catching a train to London in the early evening.
We start at Hill 60 museum and gravesite. One can't help but get overwhelmed at the sheer number of cemeteries and paying our respects once again is done. Just walking along the edge of the cemetery the children find small pieces of schrapnel covered in layers of dirt and rust.
I find the graves hauntingly beautiful
The metal graveyard of relics and emptied shells
The museum if full of artifacts from archeological digs and full size dioramas. It was really incredible. A mock up of a bunker.
An insane amount of ordinance shells
A shell sliced to illustrate the inner workings
My son realizes that the mask he tried on was high tech in comparison
Princess Mary sent the troops a gift the first year of the war in these tin boxes expecting a swift conclusion to the fighting. It lasted many more years
The monument to Canada on Hill 62
Hill 62 Museum is a privately run museum and while the proprietors aren't exactly on the friendly side, nor is the museum organized in any kind of fashion the preserved British trenches and collection of photos is unmatched and truly worth the visit. (pricey but worth it)
What does one do with all of the ordinance after the war? Make a clock
He is just seeing a fraction of the collection of artifacts scattered about the property
An early stretcher. There are also some items from WW2
Not often found Airplane engines
Making their way through the muddy trenches
What is around this corner?
It's so black we can't see and even our small flashlights do not illuminate it. We took a photo with the flash to see what was there.
Barren land full of crater holes
A dark blakened tunnel. Once again the camera does some work for us. I would recommend bringing a strong flashlight so you could get through the tunnel
A Fascinating look into how real trenches would look and impeccably preserved.
Dad is teaching the kid the difference between German and British barbed wire. There are examples of both here
Holding the barbed wire posts
We leave Sanctuary Wood and make our way to Hooge Crater. Part of the Allied plan to defeat the Germans was to mine underground and bury thousands upon thousands of explosives and blow the ground up under them. This has resulted in lines of very large craters along the front lines through Belgium. This one is Hooge Crater. Later we head to the "pool of Peace" where there was so much explosives blown the blast could be heard in London. The allies were afraid they cracked the earth and now a small pond sits where that explosion once was.
The Hooge Crater
The Pool of Peace
We say goodbye to Ypres and Belgium and begin to make our way to Lille France. It has been a humbling and awe inspiring visit that we won't soon forget.
We make it a little early so Steve tells Cassy and I to go shopping at the mall across the street from the train station. Those are dangerous words...fortunately the mall was full of North American chain stores so nothing was bought. Cassy enjoyed the public art though
Here we are on the Eurostar high speed train to London, heading through the Chunnel soon. The boys play Monopoly and I work on a crochet project while Cassy watches something on her ipod
We have arrived in London, settled into our Hotel in Mayfair and began a small walkabout. We don't have much time in London so we figured we'd try to at least show them the big things. No trip is complete without a traditional phone box and mail box. Liam was grossed out by the telephone box however as the interior was full of adverts for strip clubs...HA
Another piece of home. Canadian memorial in St. James park. The ripples in the fountain are maple leafs.
Buckingham Palace. The whole area around was being set up for the Jubilee and full of stands
A fellow Canadian offered to take our photo
Waiting to see if the guard will move
EEK he sees us
As Cassy was totally looking forward to the Eiffel Tower, Liam was tickled pink to see Big Ben
With that we made our way down to the London Eye to check it out, then back to Trafalgar Square and onward back to our hotel for the night. A big day lay ahead for tomorrow and a huge surprise for the children. It's pretty amazing actually that we are in London tonight after spending the morning in British trenches in another country just a few hours earlier.