Travelling Historian: Belgium and France #3 (Part 1)

As I finished writing this post I realized that it was much too long for one post. Contrary to my initial plan of writing one entry per day, I have decided to split this into three parts. Part one will be short, and look at the beginning of the day and parts 2 and 3 will look at the battlefield and commemoration stops. Note I left the beginning of the first post mostly in the way I initially wrote it the night of.
LOCATIONS: Belgium Flanders/Ypres and Surrounding
DATE: 7 April
CATEGORYS: War and Memory, First World War,  Belgium Flanders
ENTRY TYPE: Daily Report
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS: Travel Itinerary: Belgium Battlefields Day Trip
I don’t even know where to begin for today. I am so tired. First off, the weather was amazing! It was sunny and mid teens for most of the day. Perfect for getting in and out of the car at many stops. The weather also stood in stark contrast to what I know we’re the conditions for much of the First World War, though I know that they would have seen days such as this as well.
 Second off – the car. I did it, I can officially say I have driven on another continent. And you know what? It was pretty great – much better than expected. Now, let me back up here for a second to add a bit of context to this statement. For some reason, I was really nervous about driving here. I mean, it seemed like a great idea when I booked it and then pretty much from that point on,it seemed like a terrible idea. What was I thinking, planning to drive in a different country, where the roadsides are in a language I don’t know? After all of the nerves and worry, however, I went through with it and loved it. I’m not nearly as worried about the rest of the driving planned for both this trip and the next ones. Closely related to this, though I had a few navigational blips, I never once became seriously lost, and I think that’s an impressive accomplishment. Especially considering my navigational style has led me to be serious lost in Canada before.
I had set forth a fairly ambitious battlefields/commemorations tour for the day. And, unfortunately I did not get to visit all of the sites on my list. This was due in part to getting a slightly later start to the day (couldn’t find the Car Rental place), and also in part to driving in a few circles trying to locate sites. In case you’re wondering, this was more the fault of very tiny streets combined with poor street signs than my poor navigation skills. Considering I was my own navigator and driver in an unfamiliar country, I did quite well, thank you very much. Anyways, though I did not see all the sites I wanted to, I managed to see the ones that were highest on my priority list.
As for the location of the car rental place, the difficulty finding it was not my fault. I am blaming Google Maps, which located it on a completely different street. Thankfully the two streets were fairly close together. Thankfully I had data on my trusty cell phone and was able to get myself where I needed to be. It just took a bit longer.
You can find my proposed itinerary here.
For now, I will conclude with that teaser, and invite you to continue on to parts 2 and 3, which will be posted over the next couple days.
Life’s an Adventure

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