Archive for September 10th, 2010

Lille to Courtrai to Ypres to Zonnebeke and return

September 10, 2010

Following our decision yesterday to stay another night in Lille and visit Passchendaele (note the spelling changes a little depending on your origin; British, French, Flemish) we were to catch the 9:08 train to Courtrai (Kortrijk) then change to get to Ypres (Iepers).  However we were a little tardy and did not get to the station on time so had a delayed start at 10:08.

Train to Courtrai was, as usual, a very smooth and interesting journey.

Crazy tankers Tankers with back problems!  Don’t know what they were carrying.

Along the way we saw a couple of windmills, lots of farms as well as allotments, with the best being a vegetable patch beautifully tended and grown directly alongside the train track.


This idea should be encouraged everywhere!  After making enquiries at the station we got on the right train and managed the transfer at Courtrai onto the train to Ypres.

war graves War graves alongside the railway line Courtrai to Ypres

Arrived in Ypres and did our usual thing of walking a little bit further than expected but got to the information centre to enquire regarding Passchendaele and possible trips to the battle field etc.  However found a brochure on a Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  This is situated in the town of Zonnebeke, some distance from Ypres on the road toward Passchendaele.

The main square in Ypres The main square in Ypres

So onto a local bus which took us all the way out to Zonnebeke and to a very interesting museum covering all of the battles around the whole Passchendaele area from 1914 to 1917.  It was based on a number of exhibits supported by a number of very good light and sound shows with a mix of still and moving pictures taken at the time augmented by commentary and some added movie clips using actors.   The whole experience was very moving and in the end somewhat upset Roy.

Entrance to museum Entrance to Museum park at Zonnebeke

remnants of trenches Trench remnants in park

in the basement of the museum they have constructed a model of a bunker to walk through

bunker 2

bunker 1

We had taken our lunch along with us (purchased at a Boulangerie) so we decided to eat it seated outside the museum in front of a large pond.  Here on the other side of the pond were two men fishing.  Well, we decided that this was what is in fact called “coarse fishing”, one man seemed to be having a little luck although we are unsure what they were actually catching.

coarse fishing Coarse fisherman

In trying to determine exactly where Abrahams Heights was located (this was the location Dad was wounded on 4th October 1917) it turned out to be in a field just off a crossroad some six kilometres from Zonnerbeke and the same distance from Passchendaele with no marking or recognisable feature.  So we decided not to proceed any further (which would have been difficult as there was no public transport to or past the location).

Whilst waiting for the bus to return we took this shot specially for Mike and Ann

tractor Green tractor

We then proceeded back to Ypres and spent time at the Menin Gate

menen gate Menin gate

To give some idea of the scale of the gate here is a picture of a bronze model of it.  Every vertical surface inside and out is covered with the names of soldiers who fought in the Ypres salient from 1914 to August 1917.  There are no New Zealand names on the memorial these are honoured elsewhere.  Apparently the arbitrary cut off date for the names listed was because there were just too many to list.

bronze model

and then the museum at Ypres.  This again was extremely well done, showing the progress of the war around Ypres and the Ypres salient from 1914 to 1918.  Again this used mixed media, reconstruction and also covered all aspects of the war. Again, very sobering and moving.

They had a model of a bunker which gave some scale to the one already seen in Zonnebeke

bunker model 1 Model of bunker surface

bunker model 2 underground features

Some random shots around the square

For Paul these are the type of jars you  should display in your Chemist shop window


Picture of shutter retainer

shutter holder

FoR Mike a picture of dynamo which almost every bike in Ypres and Lille has.  Also almost every bike is of the sit up and beg variety as evidenced by the one in front with the ever present child seat.


And finally Snow in St Nicolas Street

Snow in St Nicolas Street

We then proceeded back to the train station, of course after the mandatory additional kilometre through navigational difficulties, resolved by the male member of the group asking lots of people for specific directions after the navigational error was discovered.  The female member of the group was suitably placated by the purchase of Belgium chocolates!!


Placated!!!!  Who got us misplaced in the first instance??

Back on the train to Courtrai, change train to Lille and thus home.

At this stage it was after 7pm so had a quick bite at a local brasserie, we shared a Flammekueche which was very nice indeed.   Interplay with waiter who insisted that he speak English and we speak French added to the evenings light relief.

Present plans are that we move on to Reims tomorrow, but who knows we could end up anywhere.  It has been known to happen before.

Unusual sign of the day.  I wonder if they get any customers?

sign of the day