Saturday, 15 October 2011

28/9 to 29/9 Brussels

Walking around yesterday and today, it almost appears that only 1 in 3 escalators in the train stations work.
I discovered today that I have lost my esperanto cap, sniff sob sob sniff sob. It is somewhere between Amsterdam and Brussels. I suspect that it slipped between the seats on the train. That is the 3rd hat i have lost on this trip. I am now using a red "Nitra city" cap that I won at the esperanto event "SES".
I did my washing in the morning. It felt good knowing that this would be the last time i would need to do the washing on this trip. While that was happening, I explored the local area. Needles to say, i found a church. It too, was big and unique, just like all the other churches throughout Europe. There was one difference with this church, it was also a school!
After my clothes were finished, I walked around the perimeter of the city, or half of it. I finished at the "European quarter". This is where most of the European union offices and Parliament buildings are located. Much like other public buildings, these ones were also big, modern, and boring.

I went on a bus tour of Flanders fields today. This was a pivotal battlefield during WW1. I got to see hill 60, Ipres (which was completely destroyed during WW1) as well as a few other sites. I was surprised to see the ridge around Ipres, which in stories sounded as if it was a huge obstacle, is only a gentle rise of the land.
Every wear, the locals have what is called "the iron harvest". This is where hundreds or thousands of tonnes of ordinances, such as exploded and unexploded shells, rise to the surface in the paddocks. The military do very regular runs to collect all such ordinances. Some of the unexploded shells still contain gas. The military now have so many shells with gas, it will take them at least 50 years to clear what they have, and there are many more still in the ground. Almost 100 years later, and aspects of the war still present a great danger.
After the tour, I stayed in Bruges for a few hours, on the recommendation of the bus driver. An amazing city. I wish i had more time to explore the place. Alas, I must return to Brussels

The church/school near the hostel in Brussels

Public gardens in Brussels

Me at the huge archways in the Museum area. There are four large museums here.

A famous grave in a war graveyard near Ipres

The remains of the crater on hill 60. Created when western powers exploded 22 mines along a ridge in one night.
There is no water in the crater, as the large network of tunnels underneath drain all the water.

Ipres today. The whole town was destroyed during WW1. The town was rebuilt to look like it use to be.
The buildings have a very modern interior.

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