Day 7 – Messines, and a place I went to mistakenly (59 km cycling)
Spent the morning essentially getting lost. Had been meaning to go to Mesen (Messines) to see the Irish and New Zealand war memorials. Embarrasingly went to completely the wrong place – a town with one letter’s difference in it’s name – which took up most of the day. Managed to get to Messines later in the afternoon finally…
New Zealand memorial very reminiscent of small town cenotaphs throughout NZ, but in a beautiful, very serene setting. This town has a very special relationship to NZ, as the New Zealanders liberated it in 1917, and has a ‘sister-city’ relationship with the town of Featherston in NZ.
The Irish memorial is something different altogether, It’s a very beautiful stone cyclinder, probably 15 metres tall. It is dedicated to soldiers from the ‘island of Ireland’ – they don’t differentiate between Northern Ireland and the Republic here, rather just memorialise all the Irish soldiers. On one of the plaques they talk specifically about the ‘Troubles’ and how their differences should be forgotten.
Had one beer in ‘The Old Bill’ pub, and another in a little bar by the Menin Gate. Here I made the mistake of ordering a ‘large’ which was served in a pint glass, and these Belgian beers are strong! Went home to bed a little drunk…
Day 8 – Ypres to Ghent (86km cycling)
Managed to get the tent down just as it started raining. And it didn’t stop raining until I was about ¾ of the way to Ghent. Very wet cycle ! Nice river course most of the way; dry but stinky by the time I got there!
Campsite was good, though I went to the camp restaurant on site for bad and expensive spaghetti, and a couple of beers.
Day 9 – Ghent
Spend today just wandering around Ghent. This is a very pretty city, I like it a lot more than Bruges. Bruges has a feeling of being ‘prim and proper’ and ‘just so’ where Ghent is a bit more lively, a bit more grungy.
Day was mostly aimless wandering really, taking a few pictures. Will pick a couple of sights tomorrow to focus on.