Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow, snow more snow and the Menin Gate

When the alarm went off at 6.10am and I looked out the window everything was white.  Bremen had had about 2” snow over night and it was a mushy trip to the station.  The train was scheduled for 7.44am, but this time came & went and the departure board showed a 5 min delay.  We actually left about 10 min late but the delays kept coming and by the time we reached Cologne the train was 35min late.  Thankfully we had a 50min transfer time in Cologne before our ICE train to Brussels.

All the way through from Bremen to Ieper the ground was white, the trees were white, the houses – everything.

We arrived at Ieper about 4.30 having missed the connection at Brussels Nord – 5 min was always going to be tight – even if you a)knew where you were going and b)didn’t have to change platforms and c)didn’t have to carry bags down stairs (god I love the German railways with lifts on every platform) or d) have a gammy knee.  Snow everywhere and it took us about half an hour to navigate our way to the Hotel O where we were staying.
It’s a new hotel, with a very modern take on WW1 décor … old helmets, ammo boxes etc everywhere, the rooms painted brown & khaki and the ‘dining’room set up like a canteen (and labelled ‘canteen’ on the lift buttons. Turns out we were the only guests for 2 nights.

After getting settled & adding another layer of clothes we wandered out to find the Menein Gate so we knew where to go for the Last Post Ceremony.  I found panel 17 where the boys from B Company of the 17th are listed and took a bunch of photos – it was great that there was no-one else there so I could have free reign getting them.

Back into the Grote Square for some dinner (De Trumpet) and then up to the gate again for the Last Post.  By now it was snowing quite heavily and was bitterly cold.  There were only about 20 other people there and the 4 buglers arrived about 10 to 8.  They formed up and under the outer arch of the gate played the Last Post which brought us both to tears.

In need of a coffee by now, we returned to De Trumet for a cuppa and some yummy strudel before calling it a night.  It had been a long day and we were both expecting tomorrow to be quite special.

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