So we get on the bus at 8:30 sharp, after a juice box and pain au chocolat off we go! Front row seat on the way to Normandy, i.e one of the last remaining seats on the bus. Getting the full view of the bus driver navigating the narrow and bustling streets of Paris: delivery trucks, parked cars, cyclist, and pedestrians popping out of every nook and cranny.
You can see the mentality of a Parisian through morning traffic patterns. Cyclist take precedent, pedestrians better move fast because cars won’t brake. I can see the full effects of Haussmann and how important it was that he destroyed Paris and rebuilt it to accommodate for the masses of people and modern machinery. I love driving trough the city exactly two weeks from when I arrived. I know where I am, I understand the history behind the buildings, and realize I am beginning to call this place home.
I wrote last that I was going to watch a DVD to get in the mindset for this trip. Well, I only lasted 15 minutes watching Saving Private Ryan last night. Everyone who knows me knows I cannot handle seeing even 1 oz of blood. I don’t know why in my right mind I thought I could watch that movie. So we vote on a DVD on the bus… Guess what won!? Saving Private Ryan. Yayyyy!
Ear plugs in, gun shots out. I let my mind drift and I realize how excited I am to be venturing out of those Parisian walls again! It also makes me realize if just discovering France gives me this sense of learning and happiness, I need to start planning trips and not be so analytical and financial about it. I have this one chance to live it up; it is time I start following through on that mentality.
[[Fun fact: depending upon the occupancy of your car, bus, or truck in France it changes the speed you can go on the highway. We are a large bus, so we have to go around 30 kmph slower]]
On my last trip to Versailles I commented on the ugly nature of the countryside by the train tracks outside the Parisian walls. Exact opposite experience here! It is gorgeous, hills of green and picturesque country homes that you see in pictures.
From our road trip I discovered Cappuccino machines at gas stations. Not like in America though, these are inside, customizable, and oh-so delicious! They advertise an “XL Cappuccino,” so practically a small cup in America. It was a marvelous and warm 1.60 Euro spent! You have no idea how difficult it is to find a quick hot beverage in Paris, without spending a ton of time and money!
On our journey, I saw my first Carrefour, football fields (soccer) in every school and neighborhood park, cows, and was the first time in a long time that I wish I had sunglasses. When the sun is gone for a week, feeling the rays hit your face is the best feeling, it just makes you smile and relish the moment.
We arrived at Omaha Beach and it was breath taking. It was awe-inspiring and a bit bewildering imaging what had happened in 1944 when the armed forces rushed the beach. The rain started to pour and we ran up the stairs to head to the American Cemetery.
The cemetery was beautifully preserved and provided the rightful tribute to all those who sacrificed their life to make the world as we know it today. It is crazy to imagine if D-day had gone differently, what would the fate of our world be.
I decided to be by myself at the Cemetery and truly think and reflect about what exactly happened on the soil I was standing on. It made me think about not only the World Wars, but also all the wars following through the war we are in today. I feel so grateful and humble to have that experience. Je me souviens, I will remember, this day and remind myself the liberty I have from the death of so many.
Standing by the beach it felt so good to hear the ocean waves. It brought me back to home. It was weird to hear such a familiar sound in such a foreign place.
After the Cemetery we headed to Pointe du Hoc, to see part of the Atlantic Wall that the Germans built. It was fascinating to explore underground and see where the enemies were encased. Encased, yes, the walls were feet thick and the hinges that were left were around two inches deep, so you can only imagine how massive the doors must have been. The cliffs and the sky were mesmerizing. We had been in and out of rain all day, so it was cool to see half the sky dark and the other half light with rainbows in between!
We arrived home I was still full of adventure, so I went to Le Tour Eiffel to eat a picnic and explore the area!