On our way back we called in at Ieper (Ypres) to visit the Menin Gate memorial. We stayed at a campsite ten minutes walk away called Jeugdstadion (www.jeugdstadion.be) that cost 12 euros a night including electric. There were a few units there when we arrived and the reception was open until 1pm so we were able to ask for some advice on directions.
After Armistice Day it closes except for the stellplatz part where you have to switch to the automated booking in system. If ever you go out of season, to get to the Menin Gate follow these instructions:
As you look at the reception building, there is a path to the right that looks as if you’re going behind the building. Take that path (don’t veer off down the right hand side gravel path) and you’ll go past a sports track on your left hand side. Carry on all the way until you come to the outer fence and turn right. Keep walking along this road and within five minutes the Menin Gate will appear on the left hand side – you cannot miss it!
We have since added Belgium to places we’re going to visit as there is so much to do around the area. The tours advertised looked really interesting and promise to be thought provoking. The Flanders Field Museum is very reasonably priced at 8 euros per person, but aside from all the historical WWI information, there are loads of places to walk and enjoy their varied countryside.
For anyone going there, look in the museum foyer as they have interactive and paper guides to give you a wealth of information.
We walked around Ieper in the afternoon, then made our choice of restaurant to have a late lunch. Around 7.30pm we returned to the Gate to watch The Last Post being performed. This has been done every evening at 8pm since the memorial was created just after WWI apart from the four years of WWII – so much for the ‘war to end all wars’.
Well over two hundred people were there to witness the ceremony and quite a few wreaths were laid in memory of fallen soldiers. When we walked around the memorial earlier in the day it beggars belief how many names are inscribed on it, then you find it wasn’t big enough to house the additional 30,000 names required. These are the names of those never given a personal burial, let alone those ‘lucky’ enough to have been recovered.
Our visit here was a brilliant one and has left us eager to find out more so we can have a little more insight into our history. We will come back and thoroughly recommend the are to anyone with the same intrigue.