Today was the day we departed Brest. After saying goodbye to our corespondents we packed ourselves into a bus on the way to Mont-Saint-Michel. We traveled for 4 hours driving past tranquil country and fields of mustard flowers (those yellow flowers). When we arrived in town we left our suitcases on the bus and started to head for the abbaye on the island. The buses going to the island were so crowded that three stopped before we could all get on. When we finally escaped the confines of the over stuffed buses the spire of Mont-Saint-Michel towered above us. We were given free reign on the island for two hours to get food and browse shops. For my group lunch took longer than expected. Half our food seemed to get lost in the kitchens and when it neared time to rendezvous we raced to the meeting place without a second to spare. I found lunch enjoyable even if the service was slow. Once everyone gathered we entered the abbaye. The architecture was interesting and ancient. Once we had walked through the abbaye we had another two hours to kill in the village before we all had to meet up again. The smaller group I was walked around for a bit trying to find a crêperie. When we settled on one, most ordered crepes while I decided to order ice cream. Everything was delicious. After eating we found a grassy spot tucked out of the way and spent the rest of our time laying in the sun. We then made our way back to the rest of the group and all of us decided to take a picturesque but windy walk back to the bus and the hotel we would be staying at. Our last activity was diner at the restaurant next to our hotel. There was no menu and we all ate relatively the same meal. We watched the sun set and then headed back to our hotel rooms.
I am excited for our trip to Normandie tomorrow.
We woke up at around 7 to eat, getting on the bus at 8. We drove about two hours to Arromanches, where there is a D-day landing museum. Arromanches was the site of the temporary port, an engineering marvel constructed off-site and dropped into place at Arromanches to create a working port for the soldiers to get vehicles and supplies. After Arromanches (where we had lunch) we went to the military cemetery, where we presented a bouquet on behalf of Urban and then walked around alone to pay our respects and see the cemetery. At the end of this walk, we merged with a larger group of various groups to sing the national anthem (if we so chose). Following the cemetery, we bussed to Bayeux to see the tapestry which tells the story of William the Conqueror, who was a Norman king who was promised the British throne, had it taken from him, and then won the Battle of Hastings for it. The tapestry was most likely made in 1070, and is 230 feet long. Technically, it is an embroidery as opposed to a tapestry, but “Bayeux Embroidery” just doesn’t roll of the tongue as well – Adam
Today we left Mont Saint-Michel at 8am to arrive in Normandy by mid morning. Our first stop was to a D-Day Museum where we watched a short video about the Allies’ organized attack on D-Day to commence the recapturing and liberation of France, as well as Europe. After the video we were given some time to walk around the rest of the exhibits and learn about the many countries and war strategies used; we ended the museum tour with a second video dedicated to the honor and courage of the thousand of soldiers who gave their lives for the war. We were then given about an hour and a half to walk around the petite town around the museum and the beach; I went to a small brunch spot and then looked at the many shops and stores along the main road.
After the museum, we drove another 30 minutes to the enormous cemetery dedicated exclusively to the American troops; it was a moving and unreal experience. There were flowers from the Urban School of San Francisco that we placed underneath a statue of a man rising from the sea; representing the American military rising from the sea to Omaha beach. We had time to look around the endless cemetery, I spent my time looking at the many crosses with a few stars of David in between. I also accidentally ran into a cross with a death date that was the same as my birthday, it was moving to see the name of a man who died exactly 55 years before I was born. We reconvened to watch a memorial ceremony where a group of Americans sang the national anthem together and at the end, we applauded for any servicemen who were in the crowd.
Next, we drove 15 minutes to Pointe d’Hoc cliffs, where a battalion of soldiers captured a critical part of the german front. It was interesting to see the craters in the ground and the remainders of concrete forts. These forts were vast and huge underground, but looked crumbled and ruined on the top.
Finally, we drove to Bayeux where we viewed the longest Tapestry in the world (69meters) that told the story of William the Conquerer’s rise to power. We had audio tapes that translated and told the story while we slowly walked around the corridor; it was interesting and impressive to see a story that has been told for centuries and continues be told.
We dropped our bags off at the hotel and continued to dinner around the corner at a cow themed restaurant. We ate rice and fish stuffed tomatoes, chicken, and coconut cake. After dinner we walked to a château next to our hotel to see an incredible view of Caen under a completely full moon. It was a long and busy day, but all worth it considering the amazing views, historical monuments, and moving memorials that we were able to see.