Day 1 - Fri 20 March 09
Caught the train down to Kings Cross and then walked across the road to the new Eurostar terminus at St Pancras. I had stacks of time so I had a look around the station. Have another look at 'The Meeting Place', and my first viewing of the statue of John Betjeman. Eventually made my way to the check-in area. I fed my ticket into the barrier, it opened and I'd checked in! No queue at the X-ray machine, and only three people in front of me at passport control. Eurostar really is that easy!
The train left on time, and I was in carriage 17 right at the front of the train. The journey was uneventful and got to Brussels with no problems. Killed some time at the station before catching my next train to Ypres. It took longer to travel from Brussels to Ypres than from London to Brussels! There was some issue with the train and it was delayed for about 20 minutes at the second station stop.
When I got to Ypres I walked to my B&B through a little park around the city ramparts. Next to Lille Gate is a tiny war cemetery, and I have a quick wander around. Checked into my B&B and got a cup of tea and a good chat with my host. Dumped by bag in the room, and then headed out along the ramparts to the Menin Gate. A huge structure which is completely covered with the names of soldiers of (part of) the First World War who have no known grave. Sobering.
Had supper in a back street pizza restaurant - very nice, and after that it was back to the Menin Gate at 20:00 to watch the wreath laying and the last post. I'm amazed at how many people turned out.
The centre of Ypres with the church, the cloth hall at the twisty cobbled lanes is very nice, but I'm glad that I've only got one night here.