A latitude adjustment 12/07/2009Posted by mikeonbike in cycling, travel.
Tags: belgium, france, rain, vimy, war, winter
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Although this is my first update in a long time, it’s pretty easy to describe the past few weeks. Mud. Lots and lots of mud.
Everything about Belgium was spectacular except the weather. At one point I had nine consecutive days of rain, and with soggy feet and a runny nose, the novelty of biking in a new country quickly disappeared.
Still, I was able to visit all the spots I wanted – Antwerp, Brussels, Gent and especially Ypres. The latter was a vital point in the Great War and it was fascinating to tour the battlefields and cemetaries.
After getting soaked for the last time in Belgium, I happily crossed the border to France and explored the city of Lille. By explore I mean I got lost in Lille for an entire afternoon – very educational.
Then, purely by accident, I happened upon Vimy and ended up camping just below the famous ridge. Sleeping on the top would have been a poor choice indeed, because to this day there are still undetonated explosives littering the plateau, and the battlefield itself is guarded with an electric fence.
But what a place! The monument, a few kilometres from the trenches, is overpowering in its size and significance. Canada has a reputation for being modest, for never celebrating our heroes, but in this case we artfully (and rightly) honoured the memory of our soldiers. Visiting the site was sobering, but also reason to look at our flag with pride.
Tomorrow is Paris, and then it’s south to Spain as fast as my little legs can pedal. It’s getting cold!