Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Europe day 9: England to Normandy

Woke up at 3:45 am, took a cab, 5:00am train to Portsmouth, shuttle bus, 8:20am ferry departure.

A lot of travel to get from a to b! We had a great ferry ride and met an older English couple named Tom and Barbara. They have a home in Bath, England and one in Honfleur, France. Can't imagine two more beautiful places in Europe! It's so nice to connect with others when you're traveling, without that connection, it can feel a bit isolating.

When we landed in Le Havre we went straight to the car rental to start our tour! Brandon was glad to have my French skills. :) First stop on our 4th of July d-day tour was the Caen memorial museum. It was incredible and very overwhelming. It included a multimedia tour of the world before 1945. It was chilling to see the Nazi memorabilia and propaganda. The civilian impact was so devastating. I loved watching a video about how resolute the British were against the Nazi forces. Repeated air raids then air raids at night! I learned a lot and it brought so many pieces of the war together. The tour of d-day was amazing. The orchestration and ensuing sacrifice was awe-inspiring. And after seeing and learning more about how evil and ruthless the nazis were and the impact on European everyday life, one could see how crucial it was. That tour reminded me of one of the reasons why we travel: to learn and understand.

Our next stop was Omaha beach, where we lost the most men. There's a beautiful sculpture that represents The rise of freedom and the wings of hope and fraternity. Driving around the region, the gratitude of the French people is evident in flags and signs everywhere! If you're not so sure about the French, visit Normandy, they'll change your mind. :)

Then we went to arromanches les Bain where the Allies built mulberry harbor, an artificial port. It's incredible! We were there at low tide and walked around a monstrous row of concrete "phoenixes" on the beach. We had dinner in the town. I taught Brandon how to order. It was cute, after he ordered he got embarrassed and said, "no françois!" He meant "no French" but he essentially said "no frank".

Then we had to drive in the opposite direction to our hotel. We were hoping to arrive at 11pm (already a late estimate) but then we became very lost. The cool part was driving over Pegasus bridge, the not so fun part was having the husband of the hotel manager chew me out in french for being late.... Until Brandon walked in, then he shut up and slinked away. Nice. Fortunately the hotel was the nicest of our tour and we slept very well!


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