In 2014, I travelled to Europe with my classmates on a 10-day Canadian Battlefields Tour. We began our trip in Amsterdam, Netherlands and drove through Belgium and finished in Paris, France. We visited many different Canadian war cemeteries and monuments along the way. It was surreal seeing all these structures dedicated to Canadians for the sacrifice these soldiers made laying their lives down to make sure that we got the life that we deserved. It makes me so proud to be Canadian and thankful. Here are the photos from our trip.
On the first day of our trip, we spent the day roaming downtown Amsterdam as well smelling the rows of tulips in the Amsterdam backcountry.
On our second day, we spent more time in downtown Amsterdam. We visited the canal and then went on a cheese tour at a local cheesemonger. The cheese’s here varied from month’s old to years. I ended up purchasing a 5-year old mustard cheese, absolutely delicious!
By the third day, we woke up and packed the bus because we were heading to another hostel in Northern France. We had finally adjusted to the jet lag and time change. We took our first-day trip outside of the Netherlands and headed south to Normandy on the Belgium coast, and then visited the Bergen Op Zoom War Cemetery.
Day 4 we visited the Passchendaele war museum. It was surreal seeing the number of Canadian tombstones that we did that day. It left one of those empty feelings in your stomach. There were hundreds on hundreds of rows of tombstones, and just to think that there were hundreds of other burial sites just like this across Europe.
As we moved onto Day 5 we also moved more south into a Paris hostel where we would stay for the rest of the trip. It was also one of my favourite days because we visited the Vimy Ridge Memorial. You learn in history class about its significance and its grandeur, but it’s nothing like seeing it in person. It was truly worthwhile.
On day 6, we visited Juno Beach and continued to pay our respects at other war memorials. At Juno Beach, you can see the massive cliffs that Canadians had to scale.
Day 7 is the day that I took what I consider to be one of the most perfect photos I have ever taken. We woke up early because today we were going to visit Dieppe. We had learnt in school that the battle of Dieppe was one of the darkest for Canadians but also brought sheer victory. I thought it was important for me to capture a photo here. To me, this is one of the greatest photos I have ever taken. I feel that the girl standing in the photo looking on to the beach captures the reflection of how significant this area is for Canadians and the rest of the world.
Day 8, the first day that we spent inside of Paris. We spent the day exploring the Louvre and Tuileries Garden and l’Arc de Triomphe. Towards the end of the day, we took a boat ride through La Rivière Seine and went around the Eiffel Tower.
As our trip was coming to an end, on the 9th day, we spent the morning and early afternoon in the Palace of Versailles. A few of my friends and I spent an hour on a canoe out in the garden that overlooks the Palace.
On our final day of the trip, we spent it exploring central Paris. We visited Le Chateau de Notre Dame, Ponts des Arts (Love Bridge), and finished it off at night by spending time in the grass right underneath the Eiffel Tower.
This trip marked my first time visiting Europe. It is also the first time I had visited a Canadian Battlefield Cemetery. I am grateful for these moments and being able to pay my respects to those who fell in the line of duty. We wouldn’t be here today if those men and women had not done what they did both in Canada and overseas. It is a trip I’ll never forget.