I’ve been a slacker, plain and simple. I had grand plans of linking up with Katie for Some Things I’m Loving on Saturday, and I had grander plans of writing a Paris update for yesterday, and well clearly I didn’t do either, cause I was super lazy and spent a majority of the weekend curled up on my parents couch watching The O.C..
Of course I did manage to summon the energy to get off the couch once or twice. Saturday night I had drinks with a few friends and then went to a bar for a little while. I didn’t stay out too late, 4 am is early right? And Sunday evening, after another long day on the couch, I went to supper with my friend Debrah to discuss wedding things, because, well I love to share my opinion on things, and wedding talk is fun.
Not the most eventful weekend, but an enjoyable one.
And because I’m a firm believer in the whole better late than never thing, here’s the post I ended to have written for yesterday.
On our fourth full day in Paris, Shelley, Jennifer and I decided to take a train out of the city to visit the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial which is dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I. Its preserved battlefield park that encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful attack on 1 July 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Our day started really really early, at about 5:30 am. We had to take the Metro to Gard de Nord, so that we could find a train heading in the direction we wanted to go.
Let me just say, that if you think three hours is a lot of time to allow to get up, get dressed and take the Metro half way across the city, then you might be right, if you weren’t going to Gard de Nord. Its one of the biggest Metro stations we visited, and doubles as a train station for SNCF. And while most of the Metro stations we passed through were very well signed, this one was not. It took us quite a while to get from our Metro stop to the ticket booth for the train, because we couldn’t find it. And even though we allowed three hours, we basically got there just in time to buy our tickets and hop on the train.
|Its so cool to watch the numbers on the sign roll over.|
I was so tired on the train ride that I napped most of the way to Amiens. Also, I don’t get motion sickness often, but I think if anything could induce it, it would be staring out the window of a train, so its probably a good thing that I slept instead of enjoying the view.
We had an hour and a half layover in Amiens before our train left for Albert, so we decided to see a little bit of the town and grab a coffee at a local boulangerie while we waited. We didn’t get to see much, but the little bit that we did see was very pretty. And if you ever go to France, and have a stopover here, I really suggest you wander the streets around the train station.
|My cute little chocolat.|
When we finally made it to Albert, it was freezing and pouring rain. We were soaked less than 10 minutes after we got off the train. And then we came to a less than wonderful realization, it was Sunday, and everything was closed. We need to catch a cab, and had zero idea of how we were going to find one. Luckily, the owner of a bar across the street from the station saw us on the corner and offered to call us a cab (but he didn’t let us inside to stay warm, how rude). We had quite a nice cab driver, even though he did drive a wee bit too fast on the windy roads to suit us, and he made sure to give us his number so that we could call him for a ride back to town to catch our return train.
By the time we made it to Beaumont-Hamel, the rain was torrential, and I really though we would blow away. But the visitor center was warm and dry, and the staff were incredibly nice, probably because they were all Canadian, and loved the fact that we were from Newfoundland. They were unbelievably accommodating, and even hooked us up with a tour guide from Newfoundland, which made the experience quite a bit more enjoyable.
|Trenches where the Newfoundlanders lay in wait for the battle to begin.|
|These bronze plaques hold the names of the 780 soldiers who participated in the battle, only 110 survived.|
|Caribou memorial overlooking the ground across which the regiment advanced.|
|Trenches that marked the British front line.|
|Original posts for barbed wire. Remnants of the battle.|
|The Danger Tree, the furthest point any Newfoundlander made it during the battle.|
|A grave of two Newfoundland soldiers.|
|A Scottish Memorial|
We learned about the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel in school. I knew that a lot of men died here, I even knew that they hadn’t made it very far in their advancement towards the German front line. But it took seeing it in person to realize how small a distance it really was. Visiting this memorial made me so much more proud to be a Newfoundlander, and it made Remembrance Day much more meaningful to me.
As much as I loved the tour of the battlefield, I do love me some war stories and all that, I was quite happy when it was over. I mean, it was super cold, and I nearly froze to death.
|I only looked a little bit like a drowned rat. Massive bags under the eyes and all.|
By the time we finally made it back to the city that evening I was completely 100% wiped. It was a long stressful day. Did I forget to mention that our cab driver dumped us at a restaurant and never came back to get us, and we thought we were going to miss our return train? Yeah, that happened. Anyways, I was miserable, but I was hungry, as were the girls. And we had to trek our way to the nearest Pizza Hut which felt like 1000 miles, but was only like 10 blocks, because well, we had no food, and needed to eat. And then we fell into Jennifer’s bed with our pizza and coke and didn’t move for hours.
And so ended one of the coldest, wettest and best days of my life.