November 03, 2003

Arras, Amiens, Vimy...
I had a good trip over the Toussaint holiday. I went to Arras (about 1 hour south of Lille by train), and spent two nights in the youth hostel there. The first day I wandered around the town, which wasn't really that exciting. I did the underground tunnels tour which was cool though. The second day I took the train out to Amiens (further south, but still north of Paris) for the day. The city was so beautiful! The cathedral was amazing, one of the best in France I've heard (and I can believe that). They have a relic in the cathedral that's supposed to be the head of St. John the Baptist, which they took from Constantinople during the crusades.
The third day I went with a Canadian guy who had rented a car, and a Canadian girl who works as a guide at Vimy Ridge (she had the day off). The guide got special permission for us to go into the backwoods of Vimy, where the public isn't permitted as there are still unexploded bombs. We went into a crater where two German soldiers were just found after the rains last spring. There was an unexploded bomb marked by a red tag on the path in. I was hunting around for spent bullets (keep in mind the war was 1914-1918), when I accidentally touched the handle of an unexploded German grenade (unexploded = could still explode). I found a few used bullets, and Kyla (the Canadian guide) said I could take them home with me. It's amazing to think that in 1998 three school children were killed at Vimy because they were playing with unexploded bullets. Some British engineers went down into some of the tunnels just last week and found forks, knives, food cans, cigarette packages, and garbage left behind from the First World War. It's just mind boggling.
Then we went to see some old German blockhouses in the area, before seeing a Commonwealth cemetery, then a German cemetery. Next we went to an Indian memorial from the Great War, before seeing a Portuguese cemetery.
Genevieve and Marjette went to Ypres on Saturday, and bought some real Belgian chocolate for me! It's absolutely amazing. Now I know why it's got such a great reputation.
I went to see "Un film parl?" (Un filme falado, A Spoken Picture) on the weekend with Jacinta (the Portuguese assistant), a Japanese assistant, an Albanian guy, and two Italian girls. It's a Portuguese film that is spoken in Portuguese, French, Italian, Greek, and English (with French subtitles of course). It was a good movie, but the ending was a complete surprise. I'm hoping to see Hero (a Chinese movie) this week.

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