Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Walking Napoleonic Battlefields

Jan and I have been fortunate to have been able to visit and explore a lot of Napoleonic battlefields. About 18 months ago I stated a blog to record them. Each week I wrote about a different battlefield. After each visit I had made a scrap book containing photographs, tickets, maps and other odds and ends. I have also kept a diary over the years, which made it easier to recall details of each visit.

So the preparation for the Blogs had been similar to looking through old photograph albumns. Memories came flooding back of warm summer days sitting on a hill with a picnic lunch, a bottle of wine and a folder of maps and accounts of the battle which took place there. Other memories of trudging through muddy fields in heavy rain cold and wet.

A week spend exploring battlefields is really just a week walking holiday. We have done a lot of both, and are well aware that both depend greatly on the weather. Austerlitz in the rain is not much more appealing than Glencoe in similar weather.

And Austerlitz is a particularly good example, because we had two holidays there. Each provided a good comparison of what a difference the weather can make.

Austerlitz 1998

Our first visit was with Midas Tours. On 3 September 1998 we flew to Vienna to join a four day tour of Austerlitz. I can well remember the journey to Brunn in an old mini bus. It was pouring outside and the radio told of wide spread flooding and the promise of more rain. It did not lie. It was as well we were in a group, because it would have been difficult to force ourselves out of the hotel into the rain day after day. Each evening we returned wet, cold and very muddy. I hate to think what the hotel staff must have thought of us.

Austerlitz 2002

On 20 July 2002 we again flew to Vienna. This time we were self drive, and I remember comparing the warm sunny drive to Austerlitz with our previous wet and miserable journey. We again had four days to explore, but what a difference. Each day we woke to blue skies and warm sun. Our water proof kit remained in the suitcase, and we wore shorts and shirt sleeves each day. One favourite memory is a picnic lunch on Stare Vinorahdy with a glass of wine surrounded by cut hay reading an account of the battle.

If you have ever considered a battlefield holiday but were not sure it would be worth it, hesitate no more. Look through the Blogs for inspiration and book your holiday. You will love it, and come back with memories which will last a lifetime.

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