Monday, May 25, 2009

Northern France (May 3-5)

From Munich, we flew to Paris where we took a train to Caen to spend the night. We stayed at a very cute Best Western there. The next day, we saw a little bit of the town as David, Chris and I went to get the rental car. We were a bit suprised to get a manual instead of the automatic we had requested, but David did an excellent job of driving through the crazy streets.

Here are our pictures...

In Caen, we saw William the Conqueror's grave, which David and Chris really enjoyed. We walked around looking at some of the sites, before taking off to Bayeux to see the tapestry. The tapestry was really incredible! I wish I could have taken pictures of it to show. It was very long, and displayed embroidered pictures of medieval times of William the Conqueror. We listened to an audio tour while walking along so that we knew what each part was about. My only complaint was that the audio tour went too fast, and I would have loved to have had more time to really look at each part of the tapestry. The museum where it is held talked about how it was actually made. Being a knitter, I had a deep appreciation for the work and time that went into making it.

After the tapestry, David, Chris & I walked over to the cathedral to go inside. It was beautiful and it even had a crypt that we could go into.

Pictures of Bayeux here...

From there, we drove to Omaha beach. David did a great job driving with Chris navigating. Our GPS kept getting confused as a lot of the roads were newly built. Our GPS (we named her Gretta) wanted us to go off onto some strange country roads, so Chris would use a map to double check and keep us on the right path to the beach. The small towns were very cute and lots of flowering apple trees could be seen next to fields of canola. Most of the time, when I was in the car, I would fall asleep, so only got to see bits and peices of the way.

We got to Omaha a bit late in the day, but had just enough time to walk around to see some of the monuments and the beach. We were not the only English speakers there. We heard a lot of Americans and British around the area talking. Chris & I walked down to the beach and Sharon, Carolyn, and David went to look around on the hill. Standing at the water, it was hard to believe that troops had once disembarked from their ships and ran up the hill carrying guns and ammo and wearing wet clothing. It was quite a trek up the hill and I was breathing hard simply walking up on my own! How did they do it PLUS win the battle??

Chris & I walked over to the American cemetary, and that was really unbelievable. Rows and rows of crosses, all lined up perfectly, as far as we could see. Some of the crosses had Jewish stars on top. No names could be seen from where we stood, since we were not allowed to go directly to the graves. A wall was built with all the names of the dead on it. I found a man named Wright, but found out later that there is no relation. I couldn't believe how many people were buried in the cemetary.

Pictures are here....

For the night, we ended up at the Best Western in Ducey which was the BEST hotel we stayed in! It was an old mill that had been converted into a hotel. The room that Chris & I had was right where the mill wheel would have been, so underneath our room, the river flowed! We looked out our windows to see the river going by and it was just picturesque. I wish we could have stayed there longer. We went around the corner to a lovely restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, my stomach ended up being quite upset by the end of the meal, and I had to leave early. I did enjoy the monkfish and crab pie that I ate!

Pictures here....

The next day, after breakfast, we drove to Mont St. Michel. This medieval town is built on an island. Driving to Mont St. Michel, we were captivated by the floating city in the distance, as we got closer, and the city came inton view, we were so excited to get out and explore. Chris & I could have spent all day there, but we only got a few hours.

The winding streets as we entered had lots of crappy tourist shops with things that were probably made in China and not France. Once you bypassed that mess, there were incredible views out over the sand, water, and pastures. It was low tide, so people were out on the sand walking to another small island. Brave or stupid? Not quite sure since people have died when the tides have come in unexpectedly. Sharon was unable to make it up too far, so we left her on a bench, and the rest of us hiked upward to the abbey. We walked all through the abbey and really enjoyed seeing all the different rooms and halls.

After we finished walking around we found Sharon and went to a restaurant for lunch. It was packed with tourists, mostly Asian, and served some decent food. We could look out the window over the pastures filled with sheep.

Pictures are here...

We went back to the car and drove to Rennes, where we dropped off our car (an ordeal I won't go into) and got the train to Paris.

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