A day in Ieper

Ieper Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 20 › view all entries

In my planning, I knew that halfway through my trip I would want to curl into a fetal position and just be untaxed in any way. I figured Flanders was as good a place as any to go catatonic. I did manage to have a pretty active day. 

After waking up, I just started to walk around without any real plan, beyond not spending any time directly adjacent to any of the bigger sites in the city. I wasn't disappointed. The city itself has existed since at least the 1st century CE, as history records it being raided by the Romans. It grew in size and importance and became a textile cemter in the 13-16th centuries, durinmg which time the towering Cloth Hall was built.

And then World War I happened. Ieper stood directly in the path of the Schlieffen Plan, Germany's strategy for winning the war.

Once this plan had failed, the city stood between the Germans and the channel ports where the British received their reinforcements and supplies. If the Germans could break through at Ieper, they could caut of the British  forces and drive them out of the war. As a result, for 3 years boths sides fought over Ieper, until they were fighting over nothing but bones. Almost no building were left standing, and what stood could hardly be called buildings. Through many years and much money from German reparation payments. The buildings in the city center were rebuilt as much as possible to be like the original. The further out from the center, the more modern the buildings become. Somewhere in the middle is a magical mix of the two. It's a really lovely town for a stroll.

I crossed through the Menin Gate and looped around the outside of the Yser canal, where I found a quiet like park full of a variety of different birds. I took a few picture of ducks (there are always ducks on my vacations) and then crossed a foot bridge and followed the path into and under the ramparts I had crossed over a few days earlier.

That morning I'd had a bit of a bad shock. I found that my camera batteries were not charging. I had tried them in London and they had worked, but they were not charging here. If they wouldn't work then I couldn't take pictures for the rest of the trip. I tried to charge my other camera's batteries, and they wouldn't either. My laptop was fine and I could charge my phone from there, but without my camera... it would have been devasting.

I had spotted a camera shop in the town and figured I would give them a try. I walked in, and the guy spoke English. I explained my problem, and he pulled out a solution. It was a universal charget that can charge virtually any battery. I tested and confirmed that it worked and paid the 25 euro price. Ultimately, I would have needed it anyway, since my batteries wouldn't charge anywhere else on the trip with the regular charger.  Overall a good deal.

I spent the afternoon repacking my bags to make space for my purchases... chocolates and more books than I needed about the Canadian Corps during World War I (considering how many I had brought with me.) I went out to see the Last Post at the Menin Gate onbe more time. It was packed. It seemed that at least 3-4 schools worth of students were in town that night. The exodus was surprisingly quick, but I'd made the mistake of waiting to eat until after the ceremony and everwhere was busy. The kids weren't there... they were in all the choclate shops. I went to Poppy's again for some pizza and then hit the sack. Tomorrow was going to be an early day.

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photo by: baliw-katok