Backpacking in Western Europe

I have previously posted notes and information on backpacking and travel. This doesn’t fit with the theme of the previous post, so I am seperating them. I’ll probably do this going forward.

A backpack on a chair in a random room.

Backpacking in Western Europe is a little different from elsewhere.  Specifically, how busy it seems all the time. The majority of the people I talk with in hostels are on vacation for a few weeks. I am well into Shoulder Season and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down.  Recently, in Frankfurt, I overheard a backpacker being told there were no beds for that evening.  Perhaps this is because Frankfurt is a hub of employment in Germany and Europe, but AirBnB seems to reflect this activity.

I am finding if I book on AirBnB less that two weeks out, the availablility isn’t there. If there are spaces available they are usually very overpriced.  The same is true for train travel. If I want inexpensive European train prices, I have to book more than two weeks out.

This isn’t a huge hardship for me. I am excellent at planning and enjoy doing so.

It does change the travel experience.

While backpacking in South East Asia, I could just show up at hostels and there would always be a bed.  No booking ahead of time. This led to a much more fluid and spontaneous type of travel. If talking with backpackers, you might hear about some place or thing that is really cool and you can just leave the next day.

In Europe it is more like taking a tour. You have everything laid out for the next few weeks and kind of walk through the travel.  This isn’t better or worse, it’s a different style of travel.

Normandy

From the beginning of my travel, one of the biggest things I hoped to accomplish, was to find the resting place of my Great Grandfather.  I knew he died in Normandy, France in World War One.

I figured a good place to start my was in the middle of Normandy. Doing no research beforehand, I picked Caen.

Caen is a beautiful place.

Caen

I spend a few weeks there doing research and visiting historical sites and cities near by.

Bayeux, one of the cities near Caen, was unbelievable. It’s a little town with canals running through parts of it. Picturesque!

Bayeux

Having seen many World War Two movies and studying Canada’s contributions on the subject, I had to visit Juno Beach.

Juno Beach

As part of the reseach, I was discussing my findings with family. After a conversation, I found he died in the Battle of Amiens.  This gave me a date to go along with his full name.  With those two bits of information, I found his resting place through an online grave index.  Amazingly, his record had the address he lived at in Vancouver.  I cross referenced this with marriage records of my Grandaunt, which had that same address. 100% this was my Great Grandfather.  He is buried in a small town outside of Amiens.

And I was off to Amiens….By way of Prauge, Krakow, Dublin and Kiyv.  I’ll skip those for now, however.

Amiens

I spent a week in Amiens, wandering around and taking in this beaufitul place.

I also took a couple side trips.  One was to see Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy

Unexploded ordinace across the street from Vimy!

A bicycling detour had me happen across an old WW2 firing position in a field.

I did a day trip to Lens and Battle of Hill 70 memorial site.

Lens

Battle of Hill 70 Memorial

On the train to Lens, I had a transfer in Arras.  I took the time to explore the city and stumbled across a Summer sausage festival.  The Feast of Andouillette.

Arras

Of course, I did all of this exploration after visiting a little town called Rosières where my Great Grandfather rests.

Rosières

Rest in Peace.