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WW1 day trip fr Ghent...also, Antwerpen

So, we will have two nights in Ghent, and hubby today says - I'd like to go see Menin Gate in Ypres/Ieper- thinking it was more of a cemetery than a memorial (until we were looking at photos)...so Ypres itself looks like a nice spot, but I'm wondering if there may be anything closer to Ghent - reachable by train (preferably - over bus) that has any Canadian memorial cemeteries or other interesting WW1 sites that would make a good 1/2-3/4 day trip?

(For the record, we visited Vimy Ridge in France in 2010 and also Juno Beach Center and Canadian cemeteries in that area in 2012- so this is where his interest lies)

We will also be daytripping to Bruges, so if there is anything along the way there/nearby that would make a good stop for an hour or two that is WW1 related would also be considered. I wish we had more time in Belgium, but with only 2 nights in Gent and 1 in Brussels, our time is short. Our dates are Apr 17-20.

One other thing - since hubby hopes to do something WW related, we won't have much time for any other cities other than Bruges and Ypres/wherever. So, we are coming from Dordrecht - hopefully leaving early - and looks like we'll have to change trains in Antwerpen before going on to Ghent - is it worth getting off in Ant and looking around for a few hours? (hopefully being able to store our bags at the train stn). If so, what would be within walking distance - just sightseeing stuff - no time for museums. Thanks!

Posted by
3941 posts

For the record, our Belgium schedule looks like...

Arrive Ghent early afternoon from Dordrecht (maybe a quick run around Antwerpen). Maybe we could do something WW related this day...

Spend night in Ghent.

Daytrip to Bruges.

Spend night in Ghent.

Have most of today to do something (maybe our WW related thing) before taking a later train to Brussels.

Spend night in Brussels - spend next morning with a quick jog around Brussels before taking the train to Paris at 2:45.

Posted by
8066 posts

Antwerp is worth checking out. The old train station that you arrive at is one of the most spectacular in Europe itself. They have a lot of interesting old buildings in the the historic center and a great cathedral. There is medieval castle on the banks of the river that runs out to the North Sea But it is about a 30 minute hike to the old center from the train station if you can not figure out the bus system in advance.

and they have luggage lockers for day trippers
http://www.belgianrail.be/en/stations-and-train/search-a-station/6/antwerpen-centraal.aspx

Posted by
504 posts

The Antwerp Zoo, which is just across the street from the railway station, is very nice.

--Dav

Posted by
3941 posts

Keith - thanks so much for the tour group link - that looks like it would be right up hubby's alley. I think perhaps if we can get to Ypres early enough, we can look around a bit, join up with the afternoon Grand Salient (or other tour) then head back to Ghent and onwards to Brussels...

Posted by
171 posts

We did our WWI and WWII travels by car so I cannot help you with train info. Strangely we used Ghent as our home base while doing the Menin Gate, Ypres cemeteries and Brugges.

I would definitely attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. It takes place at 8pm and remembers the name of two of the soldiers who were killed in the war. At the time, although the ceremony had been held every night for nearly 100 years, they had not run out of names. For more info:
http://www.greatwar.co.uk/events/menin-gate-last-post-ceremony.htm

If you have any family members or friends who lost their life in one of the world wars you should be able to locate them using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site here:
http://www.cwgc.org/
We were able to pay our respects to a relative who had been buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery near Ypres.

Did you visit Beaumont Hamel on your last trip?

Posted by
3941 posts

Trinitony - we didn't get to Beaumont-Hamel - we had a lovely couchsurfing host who drove us to Benys-sur-Mer cemetery, as well as some of the WW2 beaches...first visit we only made it out to Vimy Ridge.

Alas - we won't have time for the 8pm ceremony at Menin Gate - most likely we will only be able to stay in Ypres until 5pm or so - we don't want to be arriving late in Brussels since we will do Ypres on the day we head to Brussels.

Hubby was looking at the tours, but he is going to be content with just walking around Ypres, seeing the gate, maybe the Flanders Field museum and maybe visit a cemetery. I think next time we make it to the area, we'll spend more time visiting Northern France and more of Belgium and he can get into the WW stuff more in depth. I have a little interest in it, but not to the extent that he does, so he kindly says - one day of WW stuff is good... ;)

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

"...spend more time visiting northern France...more in depth." For the WW1 sites more in depth, be sure to go to Arras, which was the British Army's GHQ. The city hall in Arras has the city tourist office on the ground floor where all the information on tours and going on your own to the sites is available. Vimy is close to Arras for the Canadian memorial, nearby is the cemetery at Neuville St Vaast which you go through to reach Vimy. Arras has a major British WW1 cemetery at the outskirts of the city, located next to La Citadelle, which used to be a French Army post/base. Now it's open to the public. The area around Arras was the site of three horrific battles, The war cemeteries dot the countryside.