Monday, October 21, 2013

An Emotional Journey - Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery

We all wanted to see this, probably Kevin most of all but I didn't really anticipate the strong effect it would have. Omaha Beach is beautiful, a place you would love to go spend a day - and indeed I was tired and would have liked nothing more than to lie in the warm sand awhile.... but it is so haunted by every D-Day movie or picture you have ever seen. You can almost imagine the ships approaching, landing craft coming ashore. You have to imagine in the barricades and imagine out the shrubbery and plant growth that were cleared by the Germans .But you don't have to imagine the big guns and bunkers - those are still there.

So we found the meeting place for Overlord Tours bus - and waited for our driver and the other four people taking the tour with us - they were four friends from the US east coast who travel together frequently - but definitely a different way than we do. When I mentioned the bike tour of Paris to one of the women, she said "oh, our group would not be doing a bike tour". Or staying in a little B&B. But they were interesting.... kind of talked us into going to the Louvre by how clueless the one guy was. His discovery at the Louvre - that Whistler's Mother is actually a picture not just a joke... We used that line a few times.

Here is our 8 person van at our meeting place.

Of course the landmark of the town was in view.... this is an amazing cathedral for a relatively small town (population about 14,000)  and shows how important this town (or at least it's Bishop) was in the middle ages.

This sign we photographed because of the mention of Le Molay - which was an airbase after the D-Day where my dad was stationed for some time before the liberation of Paris when they moved through Paris and on into Belgium.

First stop - Omaha Beach. Bunkers still in place although some have been at least partially destroyed.

Its a beautiful beach even if haunted by images of The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan...

Here we are, Dad. 

We had a very good guide. Interestingly, he is German although now married to a French woman. 

American Cemetery is very moving. I couldn't decide which hit me more - the many graves with death date of June 6, 1944 or the ones with no name, the unidentified remains.

The beach from the Cemetary area

The Germans had removed all vegetation to make it harder to find places to hide but its lush now.

Pointe du Hoc

We all had the same idea - taking a picture of the barbed wire and the beach.

In Normany hard cider, not wine, is the typical drink. This one we liked a lot.

And the train back. 

We decided to give the guy across the street from our other Crepe place a try - he never seemed to have a lot of customers. We decided maybe there was a reason for that - his crepes were not as good...

Another night eating at home on our terrace - crepes, fruit and wine...

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