Saturday, November 1, 2008

Normandy

This picture above comes from Omaha Beach, Normandy France.

The Trip
We had a great trip. As good Americans we drove from home to Normandy then up to Amsterdam and then home again. The Germans just laugh that we are willing to drive that far. Who knows how long it was. Anyway, the three of us had a great trip. We stayed in Nomandy in a great Bed and Breakfast for 3 nights. It was or base camp for seeing the sites. Day 1 we spent on the Canadian and Bristh side of the Invasion. You rarely hear the Canadians were even involved in WWII and here they are with a beach with their name on it. We visited a museum that is the only WWII Canadian museum. It was a great way to start our discovery. Day 2 was spent on the American side of the Invasion. As a kid, you know the names Omaha and Utah beach. You have only seen them in Black and White that helps set the tone. I think all three of us were a bit in awe of what we saw. First in Omaha with the US Cemetary and a great Cemetary Museum. In that museum they tell personal stories of men who lived and some that died on the beach below. As I told Marco, there were Heroes that day who just the day before might have been simply a face in a crowd. Just an awe inspiring experience I wish every American could see. Late in the day we went to Saint Merie Eglisse. One of the sights of the Airborne invasion. There we saw a movie that showed us the love the town has for the Soldiers that landed in thier town and kicked out the bad guys. Just an increadible story. On our third day we got back in the car and headed north. We stopped off in Southern Belgium to see a WWI trench system. Marco has this great book on WWI and II. We had been reading about the trench warfare and it was good to see one. Marco learned all the key phrases like trenchfoot and no man's land. He has a great sense of adventure with any trip we take but Normandy and the Trenches will probably stay with him forever. Finally we headed to Amsterdam for a couple nights. We stayed on a Houseboat that was a one room B & B. Crazy that Mary finds these places. She does it all with an eye on the interesting and an eye on the pocket. For instance the Houseboat saved us 30 euro a night and was just a cool experience. The highlight for sure in Amsterdam was the Van Gogh museum. We all really enjoyed the story and the paintings. We did get totally lost in the City and ended up in the Red Light district. Every corner we turned it seemed we ran into a wall of windows. Luckily we got out of there. To ground Marco back into sanity we went to the Anne Frank house. A rather sobering experience. Most people have read the book but seeing it, makes it all more real.

Final Thoughts
I put the Omaha beach picture at the start for a reason. Normandy and this beach in particular will forever be linked to D-Day. Any story you have heard about French people being rude, I give you Normandy. Everyone was warm and smiling. The guy on the beach walking his dog was genuinly excited that we would travel so far just to see the area. Just about every inch of the area has some reference to June 6, 1944. Every road sign, every village sign just about everything. My thoughts as we we were walking down Omaha beach were "Man, this is one great beach." The sand is just great, the beach is relatively flat and there is some surf. This would be a great beach to spend the day. So the thought occured to me, does anyone spend a day at that beach just beaching it? It's possible if you slept through the drive, you could walk that beach and never know that it was the sight of death and victory. It's just a big beach with one concrete slab (used to stop tanks) that looks like nothing. You could spend an entire day there not knowing 10,000 soldiers are burried above on the bluff. I wonder if anyone actually does that.

It's a good life....
Dave
Post a Comment