My last week in Europe has been by far my favourite.
The week started off in Yvres, Belgium where we stayed in a very lovely bed and breakfast. We were in a fairly central location which made walking to landmarks and other attraction very easy. Our first night there we visited the Menen Gate, a beautiful structure for the devastation that it represented. Carved into the walls are the names of fallen soldiers who do not have marked graves. At 8:00pm we watched the Last Post ceremony that takes place every night.
The next day I took the morning off from being on my feet while the rest of my party went geocaching for a few hours. This took them to a cache that was hidden at the spot where John McCrea wrote the poem “In Flanders’ Fields”. When they returned we took in the In Flanders’ Field Museum. Brandon and I paid a bit extra to be able to climb the tower to get a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. Well worth it!
From Yvres, Brandon and I separated from our travel companions (his parents) and made our way five hours south by train to Luxembourg City. We weren’t too happy with Luxembourg when we first arrived. Mostly it was because we were tired and the map we had wasn’t completely accurate which made what was supposed to be a 25 minute walk to our hostel turn into a one hour walk. Add that it was 31 degrees (a temperature we are not at all used to) while carrying our backpacks that had started to accumulate souvenirs… we were not in the best of moods.
But we arrived! Once we showered away the days grime and negativity we agreed that we would not let that day spoil the next. This was a good thing because Luxembourg was easily one of my favourite stops of the entire trip. The highlights were the casemates, a series of underground tunnel that gave us some really interesting insight into the history of the city. As one can imagine, the small size of this country resulted in it being invaded and taken over many times.
Next we made our way to Brussels, Belgium for two nights. While there were some interesting things that we saw, this was not a favourite stop on the trip. The hostel we stayed at was too noisy at night, the city itself was dirty, and everywhere we went smelled. We did find some caches, but I really can’t think of much to say about this leg of our trip.
Which brings us to Bruges, where I am currently sitting in the bar of our hostel recovering from an amazing past two days.
Bruges is beautiful. We stuck entirely to the central city, but really, there is so much here to do and see that we are very happy with this leg of our adventure. Similar to many places in The Netherlands, there are canals, every building is very old and a wonder to look at. Everyone we’ve encountered (local and tourist) were beyond wonderful to interact with. This was easily the most tourist friendly place we’ve ever been. At one of the churches we went inside, there were ancient tombs (empty) that were still in the ground that we were able to see. Even these were beautiful.
And to end our trip I finally got myself the ultimate souvenir that will stay with me forever. A tattoo.
Tonight will likely be an early night so that we can take an early train back to The Netherlands to stay with family before we fly back into Canada on Sunday.
Europe had many ups and very few downs. We geocached every single day, reached several milestones, saw things that are older than Canada and even some of Canada’s history. I ate pistachio ice cream nearly every day and plan on bringing some curry ketchup home with us from The Netherlands.
This has truly been an adventure.