Thursday, 9 April 2009


Our first battlefield walking holiday was to Waterloo in July 1971.

The Lion hill in the centre of waterloo.

Three things contributed to our decision to visit this most famous battlefield.

First we had recently discovered Napoleonic wargaming and were interested in anything Napoleonic.

Our first wargames room, note stills from "Waterloo" on the wall. The wargame also looks like Waterloo with Airfix cavalry and Hinton Hunt infantry

Second the movie "Waterloo" had just been released. We went to see it in a German cinema, and though we could not understand what Rod Steiger was saying, the battle scenes were fantastic.

A still from "Waterloo". I used to have nice photographs, but they have disappeared over the years.

Third we had just bought our first car. It was a very old, and very rusty, Opel Kadett.

Parked for a picnic lunch somewhere near Waterloo

We were living in Osnabruck in north Germany at the time. So how better to combine all of the above, than to drive the 235 miles to Waterloo and spend a week walking the battlefield. Old car, no breakdown cover, but we were young and didn't worry about such things,and if we had we could not have afforded it.

Fortunately the car was not a problem and we arrived safely. Accommodation was to be a different matter. Needless to say we did not book in advance, nor did we give too much consideration that that problem. Again we were young, and confident fate would be kind!

We found Waterloo without difficulty, and drove around looking for a cheap hotel. We only spoke English, so asking for advice was not an option. There is much to see at Waterloo, but a tourist information office is not amongst them.

Having wasted a lot of time, and petrol, we decided to head for Brussels, surely there would be plenty of hotels there. There were, but driving through a major city in the rush hour is not the best way to find one. Eventually we just parked the car, took our suit cases and walked until we found one.

Being in the centre of a city is great if you want to explore that city. But not so good if you just want a good nights sleep before finding a more suitable hotel. We were too tired to explore Brussels, and just went to bed. The noise of the all night traffic made sure that we did not sleep a lot.

This first holiday was proving to be a major learning experience in planning a visit to a battlefield. First do some planning. And first thing on the plan is where to stay and how to get there.

Like I said before, we were very young, and very confident that tomorrow would solve all of our problems.


  1. I suppose people do find accomodation at Waterloo but we also had a problem and ended up in Mons. Which (as they say) was nice. One of the joys of travelling battle fields is that you see unspoiled and tourist free parts of the country.

    A little too tourist free sometimes. As the farmer who reversed at speed out of his drive and broadsided my car at Salamanca said; 'but Senor no one comes down here.'

    look forward to reading more of your travels.


  2. The way you described your hunt for a hotel reminded me of our first night in Cairo!!

    I look forward to reading more. I will probably never get to see the Napoleonic battlefields so this will be a treat - thanks for doing it.

  3. Hi John

    On a later visit to Waterloo we did stay at the hotel just beside the Lion. It was very expensive, and to be honest not a patch on our lovely hotel in 1971.

    I know what you mean about seeing unspoiled and trouist free parts of the country. Particularly in northern spain, on our own, and not a word of Spanish!

    But more of that later.

    Thanks for the comments

  4. Hi Larry

    I have never been to Cairo, but I will take your word for it!

    However a much later experience of trying to find a hotel in the middle of Oporto makes our experience at Waterloo pale into insignificance.

    But more of that later too!

    Thanks for posting.


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