Sunday, September 14, 2014

picking the pockets of the successful

When we left off yesterday, I was telling you a bit of La Rochelle’s history.  How the Huguenots -- the French protestants -- ended up on the short end of a pogrom.

What I didn’t tell you is how all of that came to be.  If you fall into step with me, I will show you a bit of a once-proud and prosperous town -- a town that is regaining a bit of its glamor.

La Rochelle has long served the western provinces, of what would once be France, as a commercial and military port.  The emphasis was on “commercial,” with the military acting as a supporting role to commercial interests.  And they were big interests to protect.  As the years passed, La Rochelle became one of the richest cities in Europe -- so influential were the local merchants that they were allowed to choose their own city rulers.

The area was initially know for its salt mines.  Salt that was traded throughout Europe.  Along with the export of agricultural goods and stone.  The city’s merchants also started trading with Africa in exotic woods and with China in silk and jade.

Because it was such an important city, it changed hands often between the French and the English, as did much of western France.  Eventually ending up as a French city in 1372.

La Rochelle’s charter, and its growing wealth, gave it effective freedom from control by Paris.  Several French kings attempted to curb the city’s privileges.  To no avail.  Instead, the city grew in power.

That power is evidenced by the half-timbered mansions of the merchants.  Some still remain -- with their distinctive slate-covered timbers.  I have never seen that particular architectural design anywhere else.

That is, until the citizens decided to be protestants in the late 1500s and early 1600s.   At first, the rise of Calvinist French citizens was not seen as a religious or political issue.  The catholics and protestants even shared the same churches on Sundays.

But Paris took note when the city morphed into 90% protestant.  The Protestants reacted by tearing down the catholic churches, but not their towers, in the hopes of driving away the remaining catholics, and to use the stone for fortifications for the coming military storm from Paris.  The towers were then used as lookouts and gun platforms.

To this day, you can see gothic towers, with shards of old churches, attached to newer baroque churches.  The catholic churches that were built following the eventual collapse of  the city.

After several unsuccessful attempts to destroy the city by siege, the French royal forces finally prevailed in 1628.  Some of the few surviving protestants remained in the city even though it had lost its privileges.  When the persecution increased, most left by 1685.

Catholic triumphalism is apparent in the city’s chubby cathedral.  It more a symbol of political power than of pious faith.

The departure of the protestants also saw the start of a new trade for France -- slaves.  The same triangular trade from Africa to the New World to Europe, that Spain, Portugal, and England were to indulge in, would bring new wealth to the city.  Until the slave trade was made illegal in the mid-1800s.

There is also a memorial in La Rochelle to its connection with the New World.  One street is paved with stone imported from Canada.  (Mexpatriate shows its care for its Canadian readers in many ways.)  Of course, it seems odd that a city known for exporting stone would import stone for its streets.  But when you were as rich as old La Rochelle, you could show that wealth in common ways.

La Rochelle has never again been as politically powerful as it was up until the mid-1600s, but it has recovered a good deal of its allure as a trading center.  The old city is filled with shops of exotic goods.  Including artsy furniture stores that catch the eyes of new home owners.

Maybe they mean it as a tribute to their past, but you can buy a luxury handbag for 1300 Euros -- and, for all I know it was made by the slave labor of a political prisoner in Red China.

History moves on; the human condition remains constant.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

welcome to my humble chapeau

La Rochelle.  The very name evokes memories from an adolescent’s afternoon adventure readings.

The Three Musketeers.  Count Richelieu.  The great siege dike.  Regional Protestants fighting the centralized authority in Catholic Paris.  Nascent liberty struggling against authoritarianism.

The French wars of religious liberty during the 1600s in this part of western France show little signs of having ever occurred.  That is because when the Huguenots, whose faith was followed by 90% of the people of La Rochelle, fell to the forces of Louis XIII, they simply took up their possessions and headed to Protestant Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, England, and, most notably, the United States.  I am rumored to carry some of that blood in my veins.

Today, less than 2% of the population is Protestant.  An excellent lesson of opportunities lost when nations use religious tyranny as a filter to approve who gets to stay next door as your neighbor.  Paul Revere and the Roosevelts and Rockefellers may have made their names in France, rather than across the Atlantic.

If I had gone in search of Protestant La Rochelle yesterday, I would have come up empty handed.  Instead, we took a bus tour into the country.

First, let me get this out of the way.  Yes, it had all of the worst ingredients of a bad bus tour.  Too many people crammed onto the bus.  Too many people crammed into tiny rooms during the tour.  Too many people talking over the guide about their personal problems.  Too many people who had no interest in the history of the places we were visiting.  A guide who had to read her presentation from a folded piece of paper.

But I was not going to let all of that get in my way.  Here I was in western France with Ken, Patti, Marilyn, and John.  I was not going to let a group of surly Englishmen get in my way of enjoying the day.

Enjoyable it was.  Sunny.  Relatively cool.  A nice refreshing breeze.  And historical buildings to amuse us.  What could be better?

We started with a tour through the Castle of La Roche Corbone.  “Castle” must be a rather elastic term.  If you were looking for Ivanhoe, you would be in the wrong place.  I would have called it a fortified chateau.  At least, that seemed more accurate to me.

Like many ancient homes in England, this chateau was abandoned and then restored by an eccentric 19th century business baron.  It is still a home -- financed with the generous donations of tourists.

The interior, which was a camera-free zone, was rather ordinary.  But it gave a good idea what each of the rooms looked like, and how they functioned, during the various centuries the chateau was in operation.

What makes the place, though, is its garden.  Not surprisingly, set out in the formal French style with a prominent water feature.  Almost a pocket version of Versailles.  My suburban side kept nagging me that this would be quite a weekend project to keep in shape.

Tomorrow I will tell you about La Rochelle.  But I need to give you some background to discuss our next stop.

La Rochelle was a medieval city that had long protected this area of France from the English.  The royal government felt uncomfortable having the regional arsenal in La Rochelle because of the town's growing Protestant sympathies.  Instead, Louis XIII and his boys built a new town quite close to La Rochelle.  But free of its liberty sympathies.

The town was Rochefort.  A bit of it is still there.  With its almost germanic gridded streets.

Almost all of western France was severely damaged from Allied bombing in the Second World War.  Rochefort was no exception.  A 300 meter-long building designed for manufacturing 300 meter strands of rope has been restored.  This was, after all, a town designed to supply the military strength for the 17th century monarchy.

I know I should have been wandering through Alexander Dumas’s mind while walking these streets.  Instead, my head was filled with the images of the superb The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers movies from the 1970s.  The best versions I have seen of the Dumas classics.  I doubt there has been a better Count Richelieu than Charlton Heston.

Perhaps my favorite part of the tour was our guide's repeated reminders that the English were the traditional enemies of the French.  She had a subtle gallic way of twising the knife with each reference.  Rather brae for a woman relying on the kindness of tourists for her tips.  Or maybe her experience has been that certain nationalities simly do not tip -- no matter the barbs thrown their way.

Yesterday was a good reminder to me that France provided the United States with a wealth of talent due to its expulsion policy in the seventeenth century.  And it then went on to become the first (and longest) ally of the new nation.

Where could I have better reminded myself of that than on the streets where the three musketeers once carried out that bit of religious cleansing?  All for the better of my country.

Friday, September 12, 2014

sailing in the fog

I have a score to settle.  And, because we are spending a relaxing day at sea, I thought I would exercise my blood pressure a bit.

The reference is appropriate.  It was my blood pressure that began this little morality play. 

You may recall that when I was in Oregon in July -- the Fourth of July to be exact -- my blood pressure decided to do its patriotic impression of bombs bursting in air.  My sister-in-law was worried enough about how high my blood pressure had hovered for two days that she was able to convince me to set aside all of my misgivings about the American medical system.  Well, she was able to set them aside enough to get me to the emergency room of the hospital where she works.

My biggest concern in the northern system is dealing with the billing side of an expensive trip to the emergency room.  If I incur medical expenses in The States, the bills are first submitted to Medicare.  If there is any amount still owing, Medicare passes along the bill to Tricare -- the company that administers my Air Force retirement benefits. 

The July visit was my initiation to this dual system.  But I have dealt with Tricare in Mexico enough to know that there is always something for me to pay.  Deductibles.  Co-pays.  Fees for looking out the window twice.  

Those bills go to my Nevada address.  The chance of bills sitting unpaid for long periods is high -- and I do not like owing money.  Especially, owing money to medical providers who have no qualms about running a scalpel across the carotid artery of a patient’s credit history.

I tried to pay the intake clerk in cash when I was admitted, but she looked at me as if I had offered her a truckload of crated chickens.  Apparently, paying cash to hospitals is no longer an accepted custom in, as Jennifer Rose likes to call it, the Old Country.

When I returned to Mexico, I looked at some of the mail that had accumulated over the past few months in Nevada.  Deep in the pile was my Medicare card and instructions on how to view my Medicare claims online.  I knew that my friend the internet would not let me down.

But it did.  When I tried to sign on to “My Medicare,” my computer repeatedly informed me that I had a hole in my head if I thought I was ever going to get a connection with the web page.  (The message was a little more technical than that.  But you get the drift.)

So, I went in search of a way to contact Medicare to see if there was a problem with the site.  And I found it -- a customer service page where I could pose my question to the Powers That Control My Credit Rating.

My question was simple: “For the past two weeks, I have tried to access the ‘My Medicare’ site to no avail.  Is there some systemic issue?”

A canned response showed up in my in-box within minutes informing me my question had been received and I would receive a response within three business days.

Three business days went by.  Then a week.  Then two weeks.  I had almost forgotten about my question when on week three, I received this very helpful response.  (Please remember my question was very specific about having trouble getting on the My Medicare site.)

For information pertaining to Medicare beneficiaries, information about health plans, or instructions for ordering Medicare booklets, please call Medicare's 24-hour helpline toll-free at 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
Information for Medicare beneficiaries can also be found on the website at

You can also visit view's Frequently Asked Questions or submit a question to the staff by visiting:

Use this link to add notes to the case: [link deleted]
I guess I can stop being morally enraged about the IRS destroying all of the email dealing with its abuse of authority in the Freedom Party audits.  Medicare has a far better device for deflecting assistance.

When I was in private practice, I had a couple of clients in rest homes who depended on Medicare to pay their medical bills.  Each month I would visit them and sift through their respective piles of paperwork.  It took me only about two months to figure out there was no logical way to determine what had been paid and what had not been paid.

That experience soured me on Medicare long before I fell into its trough this year.

Maybe everything will work out fine.  Mexico has taught me if I wait long enough, life will cycle itself into a happy ending.

So, I am going to enjoy this day at sea and leave the medical madness to others.  By the time I get back to Mexico, Medicare may even figure out how to keep me updated on my own account.

Of course, I also believe unicorns are ridden by tax-cutting politicians.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

meeting le havre

To blog is to bend time.

I am currently sitting in an internet cafe looking across Le Havre's harbor.  My today is your tomorrow.  By the time you read this essay, the day that is currently mine -- sun on the harbor, seagulls in the air, all back-dropped by this ancient city that now wears an architectural face of the 1950s and 1960s, it will be gone.  And so will I.

If you come to Le Havre for its historic buildings, you are as misinformed as Rick, in his search for the waters, in Casablanca.  The reason?  Well, we talked about it yesterday.  (Yours, not mine.  See how time keeps bending?)

During the Second World War, the Germans occupied and fortified this portion of France.  First, as a launching point to invade Britain; then, as a means to avoid the British doing what they had intended to do to the British.

Much of Normandy was bombed, if not back to the Stone Age, at least back to the
Merovingians.  Because of the harbor that gives Le Havre its name, almost all of the city, which was once renowned for its architectural beauty, was reduced to non-restorable rubble.

The one exception was the Notre-Dame cathedral.  It was badly damaged, but it managed to survive.  One stained-glass window still bears the blast shards of shrapnel.

To tell the truth, I was a bit underwhelmed by the cathedral's odd combination of Gothic and Classical elements.  I suspect it was never ranked amongst the beauties of Europe. 

But its beauty is not its story.  The fact that enough of it survived to be restored is symbolic of Le Havre and France.  What was in ruins managed to scratch its way up the greasy pole to be a working nation-state.

One church that was destroyed was the church of St. Joseph.  Rather than try to build a faded copy of what it once was, the parish decided to build something entirely different.  A new church in a new style for a modern era.

Auguste Perret, one of the pioneers of the reinforced concrete movement and the re-builder of Le Havre, designed a church whose tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.  There is no pretense at romantic beauty.  The building is bulky, but dappled with color.

Take a look at its tower.

You might mistake it for a missile silo.  (Ken claims it looks like a military bunker built upside down.)  But then there are all those colors filtered through small panes of stained glass.

Where you can find beauty is at the Andre Malraux Museum of Fine Arts.  The museum houses a large collection of Raoul Dufy's work along with pieces by Eugene Boudin, Pissaro, and Monet.

That shot is all I have.  It was a long day, and art managed to slip to the end of the queue.

But not so low as to eliminate a stop for lunch.  The cruise ship has served up some of the best dinners I have tasted -- whether on land or at sea.  The breakfasts and lunches have been incentive to seek sustenance elsewhere.

So, we did.  At an unassuming little restaurant named Chengmai.  My first impression was to give it a miss.  The menu offered up Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food -- a combination that any restauranteur would find difficult to pull off.  The sign advertising "free wifi" and the absence of any other customers simply underlined my concern.

But we stuck it out.  And I am glad we did.  I had a bowl of Duck Pat Pet, which the Vietnamese owner described as his specialty and personal favorite, that was unquestionably the best I have ever tasted.  Who would have thought?

Sated, we headed back to the ship.

Our story does not end here, though.  On Tuesday, we had a long conversation with our guide about the rise of anti-American parties of the right across Europe.  Most of them are parties of tradition.  And most of those traditions are sound.

What bothers many Americans is that some darker traditions are raising their heads.  Xenophobia.  Antisemitism.  Insularism.

One of the leading parties, of course, is the National Front, led by the founder's daughter, Marine Le Pen.  Her party's success in the recent European parliamentary elections was a wake-up call that the Eurocratic establishment is ignoring.  I suspect, to their cost.

I liked this shot, though.  It raised the question for me whether Marine reflects the future of France -- or whether her view is merely an illusion.

But Mexpatriate is on vacation, and we have no say over what the Europeans do.  No matter how disturbing.

Instead, we will be off to La Rochelle (not the home of Rob, Laura, and Richie) to review a bit of Huguenot history.  That is, after we spend a relaxing day at sea.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

they have come back

1066.  William, Duke of Normandy, bastard Viking turned nobleman, gathered his retainers together to invade England.

The pope had blessed his efforts to claim the throne of England that Harold had recently acquired and had just defended against a Danish invading force.  Poor Harold was not so lucky -- losing his crown to William and getting an arrow through the eye in the bargain.  He was probably lucky.  For a king dying in battle was far preferable to being captured by the new winner of the game of thrones.

And England had a new royal line -- one that still warms the cushions in Britain’s royal establishments. 

Yesterday, we visited the site of another Norman invasion.  This one with the British returning the favor.  Along with Americans, free French, Belgians, Poles, and assorted other nationalities.  Just months over seventy years ago, the world’s largest invasion force sailed across the English channel and spilt plenty of allied and German blood.

It was an audacious plan.  To land where no military objectives were immediately at hand.  And landing in the face of strong defensive positions -- with a plan that required immediate success on the ground and some rather ambitious time tables.  Most of which would stall.

Ken is an avid military historian.  Normandy has long been high on his list of places to visit.  We did just that yesterday -- visiting the beaches assigned to the American forces.

I am not going to recount the history of the invasion.  You can read about it elsewhere in much more detail than I can offer.  We hired a guide steeped in the history of the invasion to be our personal Homer through what was undoubtedly an inferno when the young American soldiers attempted to cross their assigned beaches.

Of the four designated beaches covering over 60 miles, the Americans were assigned the two most-westerly.  Utah on the far west and Omaha to its east.

Utah proved to be a rather easy invasion.  The German ground troops fired a few shot and surrendered to President Teddy Roosevelt’s Army general son.

The beach offers very few natural defenses.  When we were there, it looked as Normandy beaches should look.  A grand place to have a holiday.

Things did not go so well on Omaha beach.  Numerous movies have covered the travails that the American troops met.  The forces were jumbled together by currents.  The German resistance was well-planned and fierce.  As a result, the beach was not under control as quickly as planned, and casualties were higher than anticipated.

This is the beach where the rangers scaled cliffs to take out the artillery and mortar emplacements that bombing had missed.  At a great cost to the rangers themselves.

Of course, it all turned out well for the allies in the end.  The forces joined up and marched on to defeat Germany.

We were very fortunate in having a German-born guide who is married to a French woman.  He offered a perspective that was as objective as any portrayal of partisan warfare could be.  I raised the fact that it was at Omaha beach that a large contingent of German soldiers, who had surrendered, were summarily shot by their American captors.  And, of course, atrocities happened at the hands of each national forces.  It was a terrible war.

We had to stop at Ste-Mere-Eglise for the ultimate tourist stop -- and one of the best plates of veal I have ever tasted.  The tourist portion of the trip is best evidenced by the historically inaccurate dummy handing by a parachute from the parish church’s roof.

The night before the invasion, paratroopers were dropped behind German lines.  Two Americans were caught in the dark by the church’s roof.  The Germans shot both of them.  One died.  The other faked death through the night and survived.  You probably remember Red Buttons in the role.

Thousands did not survive.  About 40% of them are buried in the American cemetery (the families of the remainder requested the return of the bodies to The States).

Like most military cemeteries, the number of crosses and Stars of David are overwhelming.  Ranks of orderly markers reflecting marching souls.  It is difficult to visit any place hallowed by the blood of heroes and not feel moved.  We can debate the wisdom of participating in any war (including both the first and second world wars) without diminishing in the least the service that the men (and four women), who are buried there, carried out.

I want to add one footnote.  A tale of French courage.

Bayeux contains an ancient church built just a decade after William the Conqueror added the title “king of England” to his résumé.  It is a beautiful building.

When the Americans dropped leaflets that the city would be bombed and that the civilians should evacuate, the Germans also left.  Realizing that his church was about to be reduced to rubble, as many Norman churches would be that week, the village priest bicycled to get word to the Americans that Bayeux was now a German-free zone.

It worked.  The church still stands.  Of course, it still bears the vandalism committed by the crazies of the French Revolution.  (Mexico is not the only country where the Catholic church has suffered at the hands of The Establishment.)  But, better that than being a bomb crater.

Seeing Ken engaged in lively discussions with our guide made the trip one of the highlights -- maybe the greatest highlight -- of this trip.  As for me, our visits to military sites are starting to gel some philosophical adjustments in my view of life.

But those observations can await another day.  This is a day to celebrate friendship between my comrades and to remember the service of others.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

new seas to sail

I had almost forgotten that the central reason for this trip was my cruise with Ken and Patti. 

It was easy to lose contact with that bit of reality.  After all, my time With Bob and Fon (along with a short visit with Hilary and Ed) in Blackpool, my days with Julian in Oxford, and my excursions through London with Ken and Patti each seemed like separate (and full) vacations on their own.

But that foreplay is now done.  We are on to main event – the 12-day cruise from Harwich to La Havre, La Rochelle, Bilbao, and Vigo.  Something of a northern France and Spain sampler.

That all starts later today.  By the time you read this, we should be treading the sands of Normandy with all of its bloody memories of a hard-won triumph on D-Day. 

For this event, we chose a private guide.  It is perhaps the most day excursion in which I have ever indulged.  But the walk will be solemn enough to deserve the cost of a few extra Euros.

Yesterday was another of those travel days that seem to eat up a full day.  But it was a day that transitioned Ken and Patti (plus their friends Marilyn and John) from our land-based hotel to our ship.  And a nice ship it is.

I have made several snarky comments recently about the small dimensions of London hotels.  Snarky or not, the rooms are still small. 

On my last few cruises, I have indulged life in some rather spacious cabins.  Not so this trip.  I am in an inside cabin that has a genealogical connection to my last two hotel rooms.  Small, but adequate.  On this cruise, I will head off to the public rooms if I need a bit of sea view.

And so far?  Dinner was an incredibly good prime rib and a very clever beet and feta appetizer.  Lunch?  My mother told me not to speak ill of the dead.

The Celebrity Infinity, my home for the next week plus, started its first evening of entertainment with a menu that would brighten the hearts of Ed Sullivan lovers.  Dancers.  Singers.  A comedian.  A juggler-magician.  All presented with full-frontal joy of the staged life.  And cheesy enough not to be taken too seriously.

If I can dig deep enough into my pocket for this dear internet, I will share our on-share adventures in the next few days.  Who am I kidding?  I will pay.

See you in France.

Monday, September 08, 2014

three new tour spots -- for me

"What am I going to do for 11 days in England?"

It is hard to believe I ever asked myself that question.  When Ken, Patti, and I chose a cruise to visit Normandy, I decided to fly to England for a few days before we waddled on board our ark. 

11 days, as it turned out.  I was fortunate enough to find first class air tickets from Mexico City to London using my air miles.  But what was I going to do with all of that extra time?

I had seen most of the country -- or so I thought -- during my trips there over the past forty years.  And I did not want to inconvenience my English friends by dropping in for a too-lengthy stay.  At least, too lengthy for them.

Even the idea of spending 11 days hiking from across England coast-to-coast popped up on my list.  But all of that disappeared when I asked Dr. Bob and Julian for hotel advice in Blackpool and Oxford.  They immediately responded that I should stay with each of them.

As you know, I did.  And both of them showed me parts of England I have never seen.  But then I was off to London.

It is hard not to consider oneself a traveler in this city.  It is far too large for me to imagine ever being a resident -- even if I had lived here for the past forty years.  T.S. Eliot had the same quandary.  An American head with an English heart.

Yesterday we gave in to our traveler sides.  Patti purchased tickets on the London Eye -- along with a cruise on the Thames.

In 40 years of visits, I have never seen the city from the river.  As you know from an earlier post, the Thames was (and still is) a major commercial highway for the English.  As a Roman city, it grew up on the river's banks, and it spread out from there.  Most of what we consider to be London can be seen from a boat.

The tour covered the "golden mile" (as Winston Churchill, the chief tagger of things British, named it) from the Houses of Parliament on the west to Tower Bridge on the east. 

Even though the Palace of Westminster (the official name of the houses of parliament) is only just over 150 years old, it is in sad repair.  Large pieces of the building simply give way now and then.  If left alone, it could easily look like one of those sad buildings in Havana that bear the mark of the Castros.  The Windsor hands are a bit more humane.

The place is in such disrepair that a commission report recently concluded: "If the palace were not a listed building, its owners would probably be advised to demolish and rebuild.”  That is not going to happen.  But there will be a major repair coming soon that may cause both houses of parliament (the people, not the buildings) to decamp for 5 years.

At the other end of the trip was Tower Bridge -- another of those Victorian structures that masquerades as a much older model.  It may have starred in more modern movies than Robert Downey, Jr.

Plus we were served up a special treat.  The tour guide had barely said that he had seen the bridge open only a handful of times, a tall ship approached the bridge, and up it went.  Timing and location are everything.

Our second stop was also new to me.  The London Eye.

I suspect this giant ferris wheel, built for the mis-named millennium on 1 January 2000 (even though it was a bit late), is almost as symbolic of London as the parliament clock tower -- often mistakenly-called "Big Ben").  At over 400 feet high, it is hard to miss.

I am not a big fan of ferris wheels.  For death-defying feats, they are right up there with eating tofu and listening to a congressional debate.

But this ride is not about looking death in the face and laughing.  It is about getting a first class view of new angles on London.

Take this shot.

I have seen similar views while landing at Heathrow.  But I was never quite this close to the ground for this amount of time.  I could simultaneously peer into the windows of 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.  Try doing that at the White House and the Capitol.

When we had our feet back on the ground, we decided to go over to the Imperial War Museum.  Ken was shocked that I had never visited it.  I guess I never got around to it.  My third new visit.

But it is one of his favorite London museums.  He had a personal mission there.  Once he was done, we wandered through this tribute to creating and defending the British Empire.

The hall is a veritable grandmother's closet of souvenirs -- that is, if the grandmother was a British field marshal.  The majority of the exhibits are devoted to the two world wars.

Especially, the first world war.  As we discovered at the Tower of London, Britain has geared up with style to remember the 4 years of horror between 1914 and 1918.

The museum has tenderly curated a special exhibit for the war.  And it is all there.  Soldiers dressed in parade clothes marching of to war -- with each country believing victory would be theirs in a matter of weeks.

The technology (especially, artillery and machine guns) that pinned them into trenches.  The submarines that changed the face of naval warfare.  Then the gas.  The miners.  More futile charges that finally eroded the German allies.

More than anything, the exhibit contains the sense of loss that every European nation felt.  A lost generation.  A continent in shambles just waiting for the next outburst of war.

On the whole, I was a bit disappointed with the museum.  As was Ken.  The last time he was there, the exhibits were far more comprehensive.

But I can recommend the World War One exhibit with no qualms.

In fact, I would recommend each of our three visits to anyone traveling through London.  Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the experience we had.

Next stop -- Harwich and Le Havre.