Taking time out from his recent UK trip Jim took a cross channel ferry with our daughter Kate and our granddaughter Matilda (Tilly). They wanted to see the ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. (I have scheduled that part of their trip for November when the time seems appropriate to highlight the poignant ceremony.) However, going through their photos brought back memories of visits I have made to the town and I thought it might be nice to show that although most of the sites relate to the Great War this pretty Belgian town is so much more and worth visiting.
There are plenty of reasonably priced places to stay both in Ypres and just outside, I chose this self contained apartment for their overnight stay as I didn´t know whether they would be tired and wanting a takeaway and early night or whether they would be eating out. It had everything they needed including free wifi, was a 5 minute walk to the centre of town and a snip at €65 for the 3 of them.
They ate out and said it was lovely, it certainly looks good, I would hazard a guess that the girls went for the prawns and OH the steak.
Ypres is beautiful and dates back to the Middle Ages, it was one of the main trading centres along with Bruges and Ghent and is also known as the city of cats because it has a traditional Cat Festival and because in former times was known for cat throwing from the town belfry.
The town looks medieval but the reality is that the whole place was reduced to a heap of rubble in WWI and the citizens rebuilt with respect for the past by recreating the medieval character of Ypres that you can see today.
Above is a shot of the beautiful medieval Cloth Hall constructed in 1304, except it isn’t medieval and neither is the cathedral behind it. Between 1933 and 1967 the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its pre-war condition. The Belfry is in the middle of the building and this is where legend has it the “cat throwing” occurred. There is also a statue of Our Lady of Thuyne, the patron of Ypres above the central archway. You can visit the Cloth Halls, Belfry, Flanders Fields Museum and the Museum Knowledge Centre.
Walking through the streets, you will come across a number of beautifully renovated historical buildings as well as some shopping streets including a market on a Saturday morning on the Market Square. No shopping trip wouldn’t be complete without trying what Belgium is famous for – chocolates, and there are plenty of shops to tempt you and expand your waistline. I’m pleased to say I wasn´t forgotten as I had a huge selection box brought home for me. Or perhaps you are more interested in shopping for the other thing Belgium is famous for – Beer.
Talking of growing waistlines Ypres has many food specialities, I would recommend Senateurtaart made with puff pastry, apricot jam and roasted almonds or Cockerulle cake filled with almonds and candied fruit ideal with a cup of tea or coffee when you stop to rest your weary feet.
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