Vimy Ridge

Im trying to catch up with all the stories and adventures I´ve been up to the last couple of days. But before I get to one I need to finish another…

Arriving in the North of France my only goal was to see Vimy Ridge. I arrive late afternoon to the town of Arras…only to find out I missed the only bus that runs to Vimy for the entire weekend…well isn´t that swell. Looks like I need to drop my bags off at the hostel before I do anymore exploring…turns out the hostel is only open from 8am-11am then re-opens at 5…great its 2pm I have a bag heavier then four ethiopian children on my back and no place to put it. So I slug the bag around the town until I find a park…where I lay out and fall asleep.

Just a side note to make this story a little more interesting…I finished washing my clothes the day before…but found out that the dryer was broken…sooo to add to my troubles I have tons of wet clothes that need drying…good thing its sunny out….I begin to lay the clothes out in the sun.

Unfortunately I don´t have a picture for this…so u´ll need to use your imagination…I know it´s going to be tough, but stick with me…it´s worth it. So picture this…Im looking like a scrub with all these clothes strewn around me…I have a big bag that Im lying on…and a plastic bag at the base of my feet(weird coincidence) Soon enough I get people coming up to me asking me how much Im selling the clothes for…I look at the people thinking they´re shitting me, but no they´re dead serious…I laugh and tell them I´m not selling anything…so I move things around to look a little less like a beggar or what not.

Before I get to the hostel I also find out that Vimy is about 12km away from Arras, and the ridge is 3km away from the town…hmm ok…taxis cost 50 euros both ways…yipes…and I can rent a bike for 10euros for the whole day. Well I may be Lance Armstrong in certain situations…but cycling is not one of them. Im a little pissed now..Im about 15 minutes away from Vimy Ridge and Im not even going to see it…FUCK…but just hold on a second you spaztastic child…what kind of story would that be…cummon now…all this bad luck…im bound to get some good luck right…

Arriving at the hostel…I tell the dude the situation, and even though it was shitty that he was closed from 11 till 5 he made up for it with this…he calls a local guy from Vimy and sets it up the next day…making sure that Im Canadian. The next day rolls around…and its foggy as fuck…this local French guy comes and picks me up at the hostel…quizzing me to make sure Im Canadian…he says he doesn´t bring Americans, Italians or Germans to the site…he has his reasons…sooo away we go.

over 44 thousand cover this area

over 44 thousand cover this area

Now the fog added so much to the experience of going through the cross fields leading up to the ridge…it made it so surreal. You know how people say the quietness was deafening…well I never really understood that quote untill this day…just looking over a grave sight that has more people in it then all the surrounding towns next to Rocky is just incredible.

Next stop was the Trenches and no mans land during world war one…this is also an unbelievable sight…its all covered over with grass now, but you can still make out the trench lines and huge creater holes left from the bombings.

A view above the trenches

A view above the trenches

After the trenches and no mans land, I made the walk up to Vimy Ridge. The walk was beautiful and educating all at the same time. I was inches away from where people died and fought during the first world war, I could picture the scene of seeing the fighting and slaughter…but what was around the corner of the hill would keep me speachless. I´ve seen pictures of the Vimy monument, but I guess I never realized the sheer beauty that this monument holds…standing there…prestine white…glistening against the sun with the few whisps of fog cover the corners…This monument really made me love being a Canadian…

Words Cannot Describe

Words Cannot Describe

As it says at the base of the picture above…I can´t describe for you in words what I felt when I stood atop the monument…touching everyone of the names engraved, and gazing upon the farmlands below…picturing what it would be like during the war where everything was destroyed…nothing compares.

Gaying apon Vimy

Gazing apon Vimy

The rest of the day remained somber as the local…named Monsieur Georges Devloo…very fascinating individual…took me around the many grave sites…filled to the brim with Canadians and numerous other nations…brought me to historic fighting grounds and then showed me pictures of before and after the war. Some of these places were flattened beyond belief…one area that I stood was once completely destroyed…nothing left but rubble.

The last stop of the day was the firing wall…used during World War Two by the Nazis who killed all those that opposed in the area…plaks decorated the wall where hundreds before me met their fate. Again gazing at the names…fills you with a deep respect and gratitude towards those that fought for what they believed.

Even if you never learned much about the war…the Vimy monument is something that words and pictures do not give justice…you have to experience this for yourself…its something I think every Canadian should see and witness, face to face. O and just an ending note…the local who drove me around all day, bought me lumch and when I tried to pay him sayed my money was no good. Told me the reason why he loves driving Canadians around to Vimy and the surrounding towns…Canadians did what no one else could do…they rescued his town in more ways then one.


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