NORMANDY: D Day Beaches
Saturday morning (the 22nd), after only four hours of sleep, B & I headed to the train station to discover the region of Normandy aka where D Day occurred during WW2. Yes, I am definitely a WW2 scholar/expert now after seeing a Winston Churchill museum, the War Rooms, the WW2 Museum inside Invalides, the WW2 Museum in Normandy and visiting the beaches with a comentary-guided trip. Seriously, just ask me. I think Mr. Riggins would be proud, what do you think my APUSHers?
Basically, we had to go to Normandy to fill our inner history nerd guilty pleasure…I mean APUS history was my favorite class in high school. We grabbed our 7 euro starbucks (…..great I don’t even like Starbucks back home) and headed on the train…with 5 minutes to spare. Oddly enough, the train to Normandy (aka the first city, Caen) was 2 hours compared to the train to Brussels only being one. I mean that works too, I got to sleep a little.
When we arrived, we obviously couldn’t figure out the bus system in Caen, so we decided to take the expensive taxi like the lazy people we are. The museum, although amazing, was basically a more in-depth repeat of les invalides, of which we just saw in Paris the other day. Fine with me though, we got to learn even more about Normandy and D Day. And it just reinforces the random history I now have acquired about WW2. Of course, there was yet again the classic Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower picture there just like at Les Invalides. I’m pretty sure I watched every single video they had in the museum…okay while tried. I also started out reading the French version of the history next to each picture until I got too lazy for even more French in France….
It was heart-wrenching to go through the part describing the Holocaust, however. I’ve never been to the Museum in DC, so some of the artifacts and facts were shocking to me.
After the museum, we quickly grabbed lunch which happened to be my fave chain restaurant here, “Pomme de Pain” aka apple of bread…that works I guess. Of course, yet again I got my classic cheese sandwich! Don’t worry, this time it was grilled. While in line, we ran into some people from our classes…awkward. How did we end up picking the same exact they came we will never know.
After hurriedly eating our sandwiches, or as Bianca puts it, “We’re such fat-asses,” we were the last to make it to sign in for the bus. Oops. Typical. Of course by fat-asses I just like to say we’re from Amurica and we like our food.
Our tour guide was a young French woman who could actually speak English almost perfectly. I mean, can you imagine memorizing all those random history facts you need to talk about for five hours on a tour….then memorize how to say that in a different language? Yeah, that’s some real talent right there.
We made friends with some Americans on the bus who were sitting next to us, as they all turned out to be going on the same train back to Paris. Bianca claims the 14-year-old guy totes had the hotts for her. Get it B.
Our first stop on the trip was Point du Hoch, or basically a stop on a cliff that used to be a German hidden bungalow. Definitely creepy to be walking on the same soil that was fought on so brutally 70 years earlier. There so many hidden bungalows, ditches, etc around the area that it was too hard to count. We got to go inside one with 9 rooms total, including a look-out room. Completely insane to imagine soldiers fighting, eating, and sleeping in the same place we were standing. Our guide told us the story how American soldiers had to climb the cliff in order to attack, but something went wrong so not very many of them actually made it over cliff. Unfortunately, it was cold and very windy on top of that cliff.
The second stop was one of the actual D Day beaches… I believe it was Omaha Beach. We first drove down it to catch the landscape of the beach, and what was behind the beach. There were still other bunkers hidden in between hills and homes behind the road. As much as I wanted to go swimming, it was far too cold to do such a thing on this beach. We took our typical beach pics, sorta touched the canal and ran back in the wind to catch up with our group.
After, we headed to the American Cemetery (which is technically american soil). Here over 9,000 soldiers were buried after the war, including 4 women (I think). America only has two cemeteries in Normandy compared to England which has around 19. This is because most of our deceased were sent back to America after the war. Most notable found here are the bodies of the Roosevelt brothers, of which only Teddy Roosevelt Jr actually died in the war. When I say the Roosevelt brothers, I mean the sons of Teddy Roosevelt the pres. The cemetery was beautiful, each cross made out of marble cascading into the ocean. There was also a beautiful monument and a reflection pool at the beginning of the cemetery. Behind the monument, there was a wall of missing in action soldier’s names, where I found one sole Francois. Buddy, if you’re out there, thank you Sir Francois for fighting for our country.
After the cemetery, we left to our last destination: to watch a movie on 9 screens! I was of course expecting that Imax thing where it goes all around your head and you get dizzy, but this was different because you were actually standing. It was an actually amazing 20 minute film, perfectly timed on each screen. What got me the most was a clip of a poor kitten during the war which flashed to a crying baby. They beautifully edited this movie. Bianca even shed some tears!
One of the dad’s on the trip decided to share a cab with us to the train station to save money, and being the dad he was (he also had teenage/college kids), he paid for our cab ride completely. Which, was so unbelievable nice of him, even if one of his daughters went to Ohio State…
I’m so glad we made the decision to do the Normandy D-Day tour. I feel like I am now a master of WW2, and I feel like this is what traveling is all about; learning. Yeah, sure it’s fun to see the sights, but the sights don’t actually matter unless you’ve learned something impacting about them.