I'm signed up for the Best of Belgium and Holland Rick Steve's Tour next May. I have an interest in the WWI battles around Ypres and am hoping to learn from someone who has taken the RS tour how much time is spent visiting those sites. I know it's on the itinerary for a part of one day, but Im trying to decide if I should do another day-long tour on my own or was the RS visit sufficient? Thanks for any help.
I can't comment on the RS offering, but from personal experience and several visits to the Ypres battlefields, it would be easy-peasy to spend two days looking at just some of the battlefields in the area, if you want to cover them in a fairly detailed fashion and have time to see some of the museums and cemeteries too.
Thanks for the info. It sounds like it'll be better to figure on doing another full day with a WWI tour before the RS Tour starts. I appreciate the input.
I've taken the RS Holland & Belgium tour, and as I recall we spent most of the day touring the historic sites around Ypres and didn't arrive in Bruges until late afternoon. I'm not sure whether the time spent in Ypres varies from one tour to another?
We visited several sites......
- Bunkers near Ypres where John McRae served (Essex Farm?).
- TyneCot Cemetery.
- American WW-I Cemetery.
- Hill 62 - Sanctuary Wood Museum & Trenches (that was really interesting as one of my grandfathers may have served there).
- Langemark German Cemetery which is huge. One interesting aspect of that, is that at least two British soldiers are also interred there in the mass "comrades grave" section (Hitler visited the cemetery in June 1940 to pay his respects, since he had fought in that area during the war).
We had an exceptional local guide (Jacques), who was passionate about the history and really knew the material well. We had lunch at the Varlet Farm B&B and the owner was also a guide and an expert on the battles that took place in that area.
There are an endless number of historic sites and museums in that area, and it could take months to see them all.
EDIT - I've added a photo link to the American Cemetery.
Thanks for the info regarding the RS tour of WW1 sites visited. That was very helpful as now I know (at least on that particular tour) how much time was spent and what was seen. Also helpful is the info on the particular places to go if I decide to do an additional tour. I have hit many WW2 sites in Europe, but it sounds like there a lot of WW1 sites in Flanders in a relatively small area so this is great info to have.
I've done that tour twice and some extra travel on my own in the area. The tour covers the highlights, as Ken said. Unless you wanted to see other stuff apart from what Ken mentioned, the tour would cover the important stuff. For WWI sites, Flanders is great for the history around it and the small pieces of the war that are still visible. However, I believe the best site by far to see the effects of the war on the Western Front is at Verdun. Much of the land was not reclaimed as farm land, but rather commissioned as a massive graveyard. The trees were simply left to grow over the battlefield. If you have a chance to see Verdun, you won't be disappointed.
Thanks for the info on Verdun. As I will be in Belgium and Holland the trip there would be too far this time, but based upon your recommendation it will certainly be on my list of places I want to see when in France.