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Armistice Day 2011


Remembrance Sunday has just passed and we approach Armistice Day this Friday to commemorate the ending World War 1. The Armistice signed between Allies and the Central Powers on the “Eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” is given special resonance with it being the eleventh year of the new millennium.

This anniversary brings veterans, historians and relatives of the fallen to France to continue the memory of deeds and sacrifices of our fighting forces. Both Belgium and France offer tours of some of the sites of the major battles of WW1. Over the remembrance period museums in Normandy offer special exhibitions and private collectors loan items such as military maps for the examination of the public. Though the Armistice of 11th November stems from WW1 the two minute silence invites us to reflect on the heroism and horrors of all armed conflicts from the Great War to those in continuance today.

If you wish to pay your respects at the site of these there are various daytrips and 3 or 4 day tours available which include the Somme and Ypres as well as noted locations of WW2 operations such as Dunkirk, Market Garden and Omaha beach.

If you wish to tour alone or in a private group the option of a personal tour or MP3 guide will give you a truly informative trip.

Some guided tours include overnight lodgings and coach trips back to Calais to keep things easy for your ferry trip back to Blighty

Image credit: Mike Knell

P&O Ferries recommends: visit the chocolate capital Bruges


Bruges has carried the title of Europe’s chocolate capital for centuries. What, you didn’t know that? Then why not cross the channel over to Belgium with P&O Ferries and see for yourself?

From this week until early December, Choc in Brugge (Bruges) is a month-long expo dedicated to the good stuff where people can wander around the city, take part in workshops, visit museums, learn about chocolate history and of course sample some of the local produce. And with Christmas fast approaching, what better time to treat yourself to some sweet treats and maybe grab something for the kids to snack on during those cosy winter evenings?

For example, there is the chocolate museum Choco-Story, which traces the 400 year history of chocolate in Europe, including its different variations and applications throughout the years.

During Choc in Brugge, more than a dozen local high-end restaurants will have special items on their menu that will get every chocolate lover’s juices flowing. Whether it’s ’filet steak, duck or scallops, the Michelin-decorated chefs have a number of chocolatey delicacies on offer.

On 11, 12 and 13 November, the Choco-Laté festival will take place in Bruge. Chocolatiers, pastry chefs, sculptors and many other artists will present their artwork to the public, who can also check out the latest trends in the fields of fair trade and wellness.

To get to Bruges for the Choc in Brugge event, you can take a P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, from which it’s only 10 miles down the N41 motorway.

Image credit: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

Dunes, canals, churches: Discover lovely Haarlem with P&O Ferries

A canal in Haarlem

No, this is not the Spanish Harlem Elton John sang about in “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters”, but a city in the Dutch province of North Holland you should include in the itinerary for your next ferry trip to Europe.

Haarlem’s proximity to the coast gives it a vibrancy and variety that many other European cities lack, and there’s a wide range of museums, historic sites and pleasant cafes and bars inviting you to sit down. Only an hour’s drive from P&O Ferries’ Dutch port in Rotterdam, it’s a great stopover if you’re on your way to Amsterdam (20 miles drive or 15 minutes by train) or even as a destination in itself.

The Corrie ten Boom house is a place worth visiting for everyone – it tells the story of the ten Boom family, who during WWII provided a hiding place for Jewish families, resistance fighters and anyone else deemed in danger. This inspiring story should be heard by as many people as possible, and with free guided tours available, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Art lovers will be pleased to hear that the Frans Hals Museum contains a fantastic collection of European paintings. The artist who gave the museum its name lived in the 15th century and is particularly famed for his sumptuous, incredibly detailed group portraits, but the museum features work from other Dutch and European masters as well (e.g. Monet, Pieter Bruegel) and is housed in a gorgeous mid-19th century building. A must for art lovers.

Walking around Haarlem’s canals is a pleasure – trees line many of them, and the atmosphere is a lot less busy than in Amsterdam, leaving you to take in the fresh air, the reflections, buildings and bird sounds. If you’re into your classicist and gothic buildings, you can take a look at the Nieuwe Kerk (based on a Jerusalem temple), and the St.-Bavokerk, located on the main market square.

All in all, Haarlem is like a smaller, more relaxed and less touristy Amsterdam. The local beer is fantastic yet cheap, and all main sights (as well as the hidden ones) can be reached by walking.

To get to Haarlem, you can take a P&O Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, from where it is only a short drive. A highly recommended winter trip!

Image credit: Bogdan Migulski

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