Bat­tle­field tour truly mem­o­rable

The Hutt News - - OUT & ABOUT -

Chilton Saint James School so­cial sci­ences teacher Philip de Montalk has just re­turned from Europe, where he spent 14 days in Paris, then joined a tour which fol­lowed some of the foot­steps of the ANZACS on the Western Front dur­ing WW1.

WHAT IN­SPIRED YOU TO TRAVEL?

Two years ago, I ac­com­pa­nied a school trip to France. We spent four days in Paris but I was de­ter­mined to re­turn to see a lot more, and this time it would be a solo ef­fort. It was the right de­ci­sion - I spent 14 glo­ri­ous days in Paris. Not only is it France’s cap­i­tal city, but a global cen­tre for art, fash­ion, gas­tron­omy and cul­ture.

WHATWAS THE HIGH­LIGHT?

Un­doubt­edly a tour of the bat­tle­fields of WWI. I used a fan­tas­tic com­pany which for 30 years has re­searched New Zealand and Aus­tralian’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bat­tles of the Somme and Pass­chen­daele. To fol­low in the foot­steps of the Anzacs was hugely emo­tional, and gave me a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the is­sues faced by the troops and com­man­ders at the time.

WHAT SUR­PRISED YOU MOST?

I know peo­ple joke about how ar­ro­gant the French are about speak­ing English in their own coun­try so be­fore I left I took the trou­ble to learn some ba­sic French. To go to a coun­try and not to re­spect the peo­ple is a no no. I found al­most ev­ery­one very help­ful and kind, and they loved the fact I came from New Zealand – and loved the All Blacks even more!

WHOWAS THE MOST IN­TER­EST­ING PER­SON YOU MET?

Get­ting to and from Charles De Gaulle Air­port is easy us­ing the RER B line, a metro sys­tem that takes you into Paris for about 10 eu­ros. I was warned it can be un­re­li­able and to leave a gen­er­ous time al­lowance, es­pe­cially for a con­nect­ing flight. Luck­ily I heeded that ad­vice. Sig­nal is­sues meant the train got half way then I was dumped along with hun­dreds of other fran­tic peo­ple onto a plat­form. As it turned out there was an Air France host­ess on my train who spoke great English. She gath­ered the con­fused peo­ple to­gether and got us onto the right bus. With­out Re­nal Philippe we would have been stuffed!

HOW HAS TRAVEL CHANGED YOU?

Travel is a way of broad­en­ing one’s view of life and the world. Through travel I have come to the view that New Zealand does not have a mo­nop­oly on nat­u­ral beauty. My re­cent trip also high­lighted how young we are as a na­tion, and how de­spite that, how we’ve played a role in world af­fairs.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Head back to France; this time to ex­plore the south!

Philip de Montalk used House of Travel Lower Hutt for his travel ar­range­ments. Look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion? Join House of Travel Lower Hutt at a UK/Europe Travel Expo on Oc­to­ber 17th. To talk to a con­sul­tant phone 04 569 0950 or email low­er­hutt@hot.co.nz

So­cial sci­ences teacher Philip de Montalk spent 14 days in Paris then joined a tour which fol­lowed some of the foot­steps of the Anzacs.

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