Grandmother’s travel journal: Brussels, Antwerp and Rotterdam in 1952
4th August 1952 cont.
Visited Menin Gate memorial to fallen this morning 1914-1918 war cemeteries. Visited Sanctuary wood – still in its original state, showing trenches and shell holes and many grim photographs. Visited Hill 60 war memorial to fallen and unburied soldiers.
Had drinks – “Bapps iced beer” – and picnic lunch at Hill 60. Houses brightly painted, tobacco crops, hay, wheat, etc.
Couitriu – public baths behind cathedral (R.C) and at front of cathedral. Urinal in wall – but one old lady just squatted up near a lamp post, much to the astonishment and amusement of John, who was standing nearby.
Oudencarde – lunched at lunch counter. Girl spoke good English – brought food stuffs and moved on.
Next visited Brussels. Booked accommodation and visited R.C cathedral. A lovely city , beautiful shops and large centre. Had dinner at hotel, which was not too bad. Walked through town in evening to see the fair – miles of brightly lighted streets and all manner of Lunar Park type amusements. Many sweet shops – all sweets are highly decorated and very sickly looking.
Next morning round city to RAC then through a store, Bon Marche, where we saw some beautifully little China open work baskets only about 10/. – posted two postcards, one to Mary Clancy and one driving out of Brussels we visited the famous exhibition buildings most beautifully designed and built and approached along about a 1/8 mile of gardens and ponds gloriously laid out in colourful flower beds and fountain sprays. Interior of building was all in cement with enormous glass windows and very high roofs.
Proceeded on to Antwerp – still in Holland. Had lunch, looked round, there was a charge to see into the Cathedral so we didn’t go in. Went into large department store and then proceeded on our way.
Arrived Belgium customs – no fuss, then to Dutch Frontin and customs had to fill in form declaring what money we were bringing into country, etc – the car was decorated with flowers (marigolds) by two girls who also gave each of us a flower for button hole, explaining this was a welcome to Holland and as the town of Breda was celebrating its 700th birthday. Proceeding on we were going into Breda and had stopped for a few minutes cogitation as Breda was off our route to Roterdam, when a man pulled up alongside offering his assistance as to direction and accordingly guided us onto Rotterdam Highway – we followed at about 45-50 mph through busy streets and so our glimpse of Breda was very fleeting.
Arrived Rotterdam Wednesday 6th August and from a garage at entrance to town was directed by a man in his car to a hotel where we booked in for 1 pound a night at a B&B with plenty of breakfast. However, the stairway into this pension was extremely steep – about 65-70 degrees. Spent two nights here. Phones Steph Stokes who was so surprised and thrilled. Met her about 5.45pm Thursday after visiting Gouda, where we saw the cheeses still being weighed in old style scales with weights, etc – only two laces in holland where this is still custom. Market day in Gouda very picturesque. Men and women wearing clogs sounded odd clip clopping along.
Visited the town hall and were shown through by guide. A wonderful tapestry wall was the highlight go the marriage chamber, made in 1642 and just lately restored took 3 years to renovate. A carpet made by the women of the town as a present – the queen opened the hall about 3 weeks prior to our visit. A Dutch girl who spoke good English explained much to us – the star and thorn was worked into fittings around lamps (star and thorn emblems).
Returned to Rotterdam and went for trip pom harbour – on most extensive placed Calais leading in all directions and hundreds of small type ships and barges, dry docks, etc.
Had tea in evening with Steph. Roué eve dourves – Dutch style which were very nice. The. A drive through Maas tunnel – goes under river, beautifully tiled throughout and lighted – found ourselves going in the wrong way prior to this through a beautiful park and we’re amusingly called to halt by some young Dutchmen.
The old man at our hotel was most hospitable and presented us with clog and bola souvenir when leaving – made a great fuss of us and so on to the Haag.
Visited the Aust Embassy and Marjorie phoned Dr Gramon and had chat. On to Peace Palace, scene of many world conferences. Was built by finance donated by Andrew Carnegie (America). He gave a million and a half pounds and then other countries of world made donations of various gifts. England stained glass windows depicting various stages of world affairs and for futures of peace.
Gifts from holland, chandeliers – Russion Emporer 3 1/2 ton jasper vase – a tapestry was to to be worked and accordingly was put on a canvas but before it could be completed the artist had to join up for war and was killed. The work was left as it was as a memorial to him and actually looks like an etching in marble. Saw all the different court rooms where world cases are tried.
Visited the Panorama Mesdags, which is a paining in oils done on a circular canvas 45 yards deep. It is a painting of a fishing village of Schevenger. The artist Mesdag, his wife and two others painted it in 4 months under the instruction of Mesdag who first wen out to Schevenger and sketched the whole scene and then came back to the Hague and instructions from inside the present enclosure – real sand and black type bits and pieces sloped to edge of canvas from where the whole scene commences -a most wonderful work done in 1881.
You feel you are looking across miles of sea, it looks so real. There is a glass roof to enclosure which affords natural sunlight to light the whole scene. It is as though you are standing on a sand dune surveying scenery. There is 1950 square yards of painting in the whole work.
Catch up on the series:
- Travelling through time: exploring similarities of grandmother’s travel journal and my own
- Grandmother’s travel journal: To London to visit the Queen
- Travelling through time: London, York and hotel bars with men
- Travelling through time: Grandmother’s trip to Ireland in 1952
- Travelling through time: Last days in Ireland in 1952
- Travelling through time: Dancing in French streets in 1952
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