Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gent Belgium

Slept in this morning and decided not to return to town to visit the Museums. By 9:30 am we’d eaten our breakfast, packed the car and headed north. We saw a marker for an American Cemetery and decided to go there. Soon we realized that it would take us almost back to Paris; we decided to turn around and head north towards Gent again. That wasn’t as easy as we thought; we were on a limited access highway and when we went off we discovered that we didn’t have access to the other side. We were navigating village streets trying to find an on ramp going the opposite direction. After about ten minutes we found an entrance to the highway and soon realized that the direction was taking us back past our hotel from last night. Oh well…at least we were headed north again and had only wasted half an hour.

We stayed on minor highways all day, winding our way north, stopping here and there. Near Bone we discovered an American Cemetery just a couple of miles from the highway: Somme American Cemetery. There are 1844 American soldiers buried here who were killed in this area during WW I during the battle of the Hindenburg Line. It’s a very sobering scene to visit these cemeteries that are scattered throughout Europe from both WW I and WW II. I thought a lot about my friend Charlie who passed on a few months ago. He was always encouraging me to visit as many as possible during my travels.

Much of the route that we covered today will be part of the course for the Tour de France in a few days. Consequently, many towns had displays along the roads; and signs were already up warning people that there will be road closures.

Because we’re working with some old maps that cover large areas; many times it was difficult to find the correct road that we needed in large towns. But along the way we found a windmill, the ruins of a very large chateau, field after field of produce, and those white cattle that are used for the delicious beef that the French love! We had to slow down for a minute as we crossed the border from France into Belgium; but other than a new sign we hardly knew we’d changed countries.

We finally reached our hotel in Gent about 4 pm. I called my friend in Brussels to confirm that we’d arrived and we’d be over tomorrow to visit. At that time I told him we were so tired I wasn’t sure if we were going to drive into the city tonight. But, after unloading the car and resting a bit; we did drive into the old city. Parked the car and walked for an hour; it’s a place you could easily spend days in. Right now there is a lot of construction in the old center but give it a couple of years and it will be glorious again; perfect for a vacation.

Drove back to the hotel; we’re about five miles out of town again in a Formula 1. But, no free WiFi and the one they had doesn’t work…so, no Internet tonight. We may not have it for a couple of nights so I’ll send this as soon as we are online again. I’m glad that I took the time this morning to go online and verify that my children all arrived home safely from their flights! And it’s good that I have a European cell phone for emergencies. I did call my twin sister as I know that if there is an emergency they will call her to see if she’s in touch with me. Good night….hope to send this soon.

Tried again early next morning and now I’m able to connect so here is yesterday’s journal.

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