Battlefield tour truly memorable
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Social sciences teacher Philip de Montalk spent 14 days in Paris then joined a tour which followed some of the footsteps of the Anzacs.