June 8th, 2011 – Normandy Region
We escaped the dirt and chaos of the city – which was all we had really seen of Paris so far, unfortunately – for the beautiful countryside-meets-ocean region of Normandy. It was about a two hour drive with a snack purchase/bathroom break about an hour in. Peach rings, Orangina, and a postcard were in order. J
|More sleeping pictures... heheh.|
Our first stop was the Museum of Peace. We ended up being a little late (surprise, surprise) and our ticket reservation was invalid. We waited for new tickets for about 30 to 40 minutes. By the time the tickets were sorted out, we had time to catch a short film on the Omaha Beach landing and then had about 45 minutes of less to grab lunch in the museum. I spent most of my time in an exhibit – the whole point of our visit wasn’t lost on me. I didn’t really know that much about the landings and it was extremely thought provoking.
|The flags outside the museum.|
From there, we picked up a tour guide, Jeffery, who took us to the American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, and a German bunker. He was … eccentric, bless his heart. “Observe the hedgerows” and “Prepare to step down” were his most common phrases – the first jokes of COW for next year have already been established. Each place inspired different thoughts for me. The cemetery was fairly haunting, of course.
|Graves at the American Cemetery.|
While I respect and value the decision of men to fight for our country in war, I cannot reconcile the necessity of such devastation in my heart for many reasons. People are too complex and too numerous for death to be the simplest solution to end conflict or what is regarded as evil. Omaha Beach was also thought provoking, completely changed from a bloody battleground, the carnage of 60 years ago, to a peaceful shoreline with the only reminder being a small wooden backbone of some tool of war and a somewhat gaudy 21st century monument probably erected at the 50 year anniversary… The sight makes you stop and think.
|The 21st century monument.|
|Remains of war.|
|A part of an older monument erected just off the beach... I liked it better than the new one.|
We also visited German WWII bunkers located underground high on a cliff that overlooks the beach and ocean. It was eerily beautiful. Nature’s beauty – grass, hills, wind, sand, and water – mixed with eroding slabs of grey concrete, made only as a product of war, meant to aid in the destruction of life.
|One of the decaying above-ground structures.|
|The view from the edge of the cliff we were on.|
The whole place left me bothered for a while after we were on our way to the next town we stayed in: Honfleur. We had dinner at the restaurant Les Deux Ponts (The Two Bridges) in the town itself.
|The restaurant, in case you were wondering. :P|
Honfleur is considered a seaside or port town and is absolutely breathtaking. The buildings are all stacked next to each other, seeming to lean unevenly with the umbrellas of restaurants’ outdoor seating forming a patchwork of bright colors below. There are numerous cafés, restaurants, and art galleries, with other shops mixed in between (clothing, chocolate, gelato, etc.) The area is known for its hard cider, so Julian and I shared a pitcher of it at dinner. Dinner was also my first time having mussels. They were … different, but not bad.
|Julian wasn't too sure about the mussels either.|
|Honfleur rooftops at sunset.|
After dinner, it was off to the hotel. We were under the impression that it was about a 10-minute walk from town. In reality, it was at least a 15 minute bus ride and kind of in the middle of nowhere. The main positive point of the whole hotel was the pool. After getting into our rooms and hanging for a bit with Lauren and Megan A. (it was back to a double with Steph), Megan and I popped over to the pool. About 12 other COW people were there. It was quite cold, but fun overall. After getting back, Kelvin and Lauren stayed in our room until about midnight – then, bed!