Blogs from Saint-Raphael, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France, Europe

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For all the horror that was D-Day and the Falaise Pocket, the horrors of trench warfare in World War I were probably even worse. Thousands of men would die in gaining two meters of ground. In addition, static troop positions made it easy to inflict deaths with mortars and with an even greater destructive power, underground mines. Perhaps the greatest example of this was at Messiness. The start of the Battle of Messiness Ridge was marked by the explosion of giant underground mines which the British had planted by excavating under the German lines. The simultaneous explosion of the mines created the largest non-nuclear explosion of all time. It came from the explosion of 454 tons of ammonal and guncotton. In an instant, 10,000 German troops simply ceased to exist. Giant craters were left behind. A ... read more
Sanctuary Wood trench
Cratered landscape of Pointe du Hoc
Trench system


Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523Ring ring. Ouch, it's 5:00 in the morning. Time to start our day. The staff at Travelodge were kind enough to have a hot breakfast ready for us at 5:30 so we could depart for Ashford International Station (the Chunnel) at 6am. We pulled out of the lot in our trusty people mover and were off through a series of roundabouts and tree covered sections of road on our way. There was some confusion about what to do with the people mover as the rental car return sign had been stripped from the pole. With a little help, we figured it out, and managed to board our Eurostar train ahead of schedule for our 7:28am departure. The little help was pretty necessary, since it turned out the car had to be returned to the ... read more


Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523Today I took a paddle wheel river boat to the small town of Damme, which is only 6 km from Brugge. It would be an easy bike ride or a pleasant walk along the canal, but I chose the slower paced boat. It took me about 45 minutes to walk to the dock from my hotel. The walk included the windmills that I saw yesterday. The temperature slowly climbed as the day went on, but the morning walk was pleasant.The boat is called the Lamme Goedzak and it takes 30 minutes to travel the short distance to Damme. I think people were walking faster than the boat! Once we reached the outskirts of Brugge, the views opened up to fields with grazing cows and horses, large windmills turning in the distance and lots of ... read more
Damme main square
The Church of Our Lady
A neat ruin


Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523This morning I set off to follow one of the walking routes in my guidebook called "Strolling through silent Bruges." It was a beautiful 4 km (2.48 mile) walk with many interesting sites along the way. First, I had to go through Market Square. Well, I suppose I could have gone around, but I just love that place! On Wednesdays there is a food and flower market held on the square. There were large trucks lined up in rows with all sorts of goodies. There was a row with meats and cheeses, one with flowers and several with fruits and veggies. Everything looked so good that I decided to buy a snack for later of some fresh strawberries and a sugar waffle. Snack purchased, I set out on my walk. The walk started at ... read more
Our Lady of Pottery
Windmill
Cute side street


Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523Here I am, finally in Bruges (yes, a movie reference), and I am loving it! This beautiful city was once the largest and most powerful in Europe. It went through a decline starting at the end of the 1400s, but has now become a major tourist city for good reason. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and there is plenty to do and see. I just hope 3 days lets me get my fill! This morning started off with a good breakfast. This hotel does not have as many options as the one in Amsterdam, but still plenty for me. There was yogurt with a variety of toppings: cherries, rhubarb sauce, apricots and prunes, cereal, pastries, fruit salad and a selection of meat and cheeses. I had a nice pot of ... read more
Steep and Narrow steps
View from the top
City Hall on Burg Square


Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523Today I traveled from Amsterdam to Brugge on the clean, fast and timely European train network. I had a mid-afternoon train so I spent some time just sitting in the park by the Rijksmuseum and then packing up all my stuff. My bags are getting heavier and heavier. Must be all the brochures and nativity scenes I have been collecting!I got to Amsterdam Central Station, found out where my train was leaving from (15a, which is actually farther to walk than 15b), grabbed a sandwich and cookie and sat down to wait. I took the Thalys train, which is the high speed train with service all the way to Paris, via Antwerp and Brussels. The platform has a nice drawing of the train with which carriage is which so you know where to wait. ... read more
Seat on the Thalys train
Antwerp Station
Room at Albert 1


We were a few days from coming home. There were only two countries between us and home. A few miles of tarmac and the English Channel. Suzy was still hanging on in there. She did pick up a stone chip on the ride today. Hopefully we will get this done free as it looks like the sort of chip that can be filled in. We had to make a decision. Should we call it a day and ring Eurotunnel and try to get home early? Didn't feel like doing that. So what else was there to do. What is there local? The smell of chocolate was wafting over . Being chocoholics and Sion wanted to get his snout in the trough we had found what we could do today. Been before but who cares . Last ... read more
Beautiful Belgium buildings
Bruges
Bruges


5thOctober Caught the train to Brugge today. Just a short trip and then walked into the town centre. Such a stunning city, surrounded by lots of canals and amazing architecture!! Went on a canal boat tour to see the city from another aspect. Sat in a pub and Phil tried a local Belgian beer – quite heavy..and that was their lightest one!! Had a lovely day just mooching around.... read more
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Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523This morning I was at the post office at 8.45am, waiting for those doors to open. I picked a desk which had Prioritie on the sign above it. I assumed that meant priority, and as my case is unusual, I thought that might be a good place to start. The clerk spoke very little english. Did you know when you you say baggage in a french accent to a french dude...he has no idea what your saying. However , he did call over another clerk who spoke a little more english. They worked out I was trying to get a bag but they needed the post number, which in my haste yesterday I had not thought to ask the Air Seychelles rep for. I had my licence in my hand which I put on ... read more
Brugge
Belfry (Belfort) and Market Halls (Hallen)
The love their towers here

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Saint-Raphael » Brugge November 6th 2013

Dunkirk France and Brugge Belgium 5 Nov 2013 We have learnt from the locals in Belgium that we need to “expect wet weather’. They get lots of rain! And they are right! As we drove through rural Belgium, we saw lots of water-logged paddocks. I reckon if the farmers didn’t till their land by a particular time of the year, they would “miss the boat”. The land is very flat so there is nowhere for the water to run off. It is the ‘low country’ after all! Time was on our side when we left Ipres so we decided to duck down to Dunkirk just over the border into France. The Dunes of Dunkirk were an important site for the Alliance in the 2nd WW. It was only 20 km further south. So of we went….in ... read more
Brugge Belgium 5 Nov 2013 (7)
Brugge used to be on the coast of the North Sea Belgium 5 Nov 2013
Christmas and chocolate go together in Brugge Belgium 5 Nov 2013 (2)




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