We stopped at the German cemetery in Langemark first. The graves were low granite grey under tall oak trees.
The tour guide stopped briefly at a friend's farm to show a shell the farmer recently uncovered on his farm.
The guide told us a bit about the pick up service that comes around periodically and picks up what is left along the road for them to dispose of them (by putting it in a reinforced room and burning gas ones at very high temperatures). So the repercussions of the technology used in the first World War is felt even 100 years later to the people living where the battles were found.
Next to the Commonwealth cemetery in Passendale, called Tyne Cot because the British bunkers had been disguised to look a bit like cottages. The cemetery was built on these bunkers.
(the Black Watch of the Royal Highlanders)
and South Africa.
Next to the Polygon Wood cemetery with the Australian and New Zealand memorials and graveyards for that battle.
Our next stop was Hooge,
where we went into replicas of German and British trenches
(German trenches with wooden sides)
(British trenches with metal sides)
and visited the museum after an included lunch break (a sandwich) in the attached restaurant.
The museum was an interesting assortment of artifacts.
As you may have guessed, I was particularly interested in the different uniforms on display.
We even had time to run across the street to the Hooge cemetery.
Next on to Hill 60, with its memorials.
This was the first time we really saw the craters left from the war.
Hill 60 is where the "underground war" occurred. The British tunneled for months (with the Germans trying to find them by also tunneling underground) and left mines. 19 were later blown.
A quick stop nearby to view the Kemmel American Monument to American soldiers that fought nearby in 1918 alongside the British.
Next on Ypres, the biggest town in the area, which had been reduced to rubble. It was rebuilt to look like it was before the war, and the Menin gate erected.
I saw so many graves of unknown soldiers in just this short day. Here their names, and so many more, were listed. These were the soldiers with no known graves.
We had a small bit of time to walk to the town center,
(unfortunately, not enough time to go in the Flanders Fields museum)
stop to get an afternoon snack of chocolates,
and briskly walk back to the bus.
Our last stop was at the Essex Farm cemetery and Dressing station.
We saw the concrete bunker of the station. This is where Canadian Dr. John McCrae wrote the famous poem In Flanders Fields about a deceased soldier that he had known.
Sadly Dr. McCrae did not himself survive the war. He died of pneumonia in France in 1918.
Next we were dropped off in Bruges, and walk up into town
through the Markt,
until we got to the restaurant we wanted to try for dinner (we had tried for a table at this place the day before actually, but were turned away)--again in Huidevettersplein.
(Picture taken from our table by the window)
I got the three course special, a shrimp croquette with salad as a starter,
sole and a salad for main course,
and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.
Just a short bit of wandering this evening--we had to pack up for our second move the next day. I was sad to leave Bruges.
Trip Tip: We used Rick Steves' recommendation and went with QuasiMundo Tours, for about €75 if I remember correctly (which included lunch and the museum entrance fee). We reserved a spot on the tour a couple months before our trip and paid the day of. We were gone pretty much all day. The tour was really good, they even sent a taxi to pick us up (although we walked back into town from a dropoff, though it wasn't hard). The bus picked us up at the same place flixbus had dropped us when we first got to town (which was just down the street and around the corner from the train station we learned).