Monday, 5 May 2008

Borders in Belgium

We have arrived in Bastogne, Belgium as we cruise through Western Europe with Prague in our sights. Our ferry crossing to Calais two days ago went smoothly and we camped that night near Boulogne sur Mer. The next day it didn't take us long to cross the line of 50 degrees near the town Abbeville. We set the compass to east and headed out - the next time we'll see the open sea will be the Pacific (although we'll go passed the Black Sea, Caspian and Lake Baikal on the way).

As we headed towards Belgium we drove through the infamous battlefield of the Somme, with it's many graveyards. We stopped at one to pay our respects to those who died for our freedom; row upon row of gravestones stretching before us. It was particularly moving for me to find a stone marking the final resting place of a G. Reid, a man with my surname who fell near that spot aged 26, just one year older than me.

It is hard to imagine what they went through. And hard also to imagine a time, less than a century ago, when western Europe was at war. Indeed when we drove through the Belgian border this morning it was a bit of a non-event - no security checks, no passport control, not even a single border guard to stamp our passports. The borders between E.U. countries seem so insignificant, yet so much blood was shed over them in the world wars so recently.

Last night we camped near the centre of Sedan, in the region of Champagne. We bought a bottle of the famous bubbly to celebrate crossing into Asia in a few weeks time. We all slept in our brand new Hennessy Hammocks, which after a bit of getting used to were incredibly comfortable and we all got some good rest.

We have a case study to do this afternoon, then onto Luxembourg and Germany.

- Spike

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