brown eyed fox

european vacation… part four

travelingcarissa fox7 Comments

after a short day on the train from brussels…
we had arrived in the town of BAYEUX.

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we weren’t too sure what to expect but…
were SO delightfully surprised!

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we arrived late in the day but… the town was still alive!
we saw people going to the market…
heading out for a bite to eat…
making their way about town for this and that.
it was so neat!
highlight of the trip for sure!
just BEing there… with great friends… family & enjoying a simple night.
we grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to our hotel…
we had an early morning planned.

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the hotel we stayed in was one of my favorites i think.
maybe because it was so different from the rest.
it was a charming… family owned… 32 room hotel… right in the midst of the town.
had all the modern updates but… still retained it’s original character. 
would highly recommend it.

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early the next morning…
i hurried up to get ready…
hoping to get a chance to see if the church was open before we had to leave.
i was glad that todd decided to join me as i ran out the door.
i really wanted to see the inside of the church…
the guys had seen the night before and one of them said…
and  i quote…
”i’ve never seen anything like it in my life”!
ya think i wanted to get in there!

as we neared the church the sheer size of it was all consuming!
what a presence!

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we were afraid it would be too early and we were right.
you know…
as much as i wanted to see the inside… oh i did…
i have to say…
just getting to stand at it’s doors was enough for me.
sounds crazy!
yes… i would have liked to walk through the doors but…
i felt blessed none the less.
i had seen such beautiful things thus far and…
we were about to experience a day that none of us would forget.

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we were loving the walk back to the hotel.
the streets were quiet.
the morning cool.
one of those mornings you could feel the day rising.

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i think i could have… no… i KNOW i could have…
spent an entire day walking about taking pictures of all the neat doors.
i have always been fascinated by them.
their simplicity.
their charm.
all that lies behind them!
just love them!

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back to the hotel for a quick breakfast and we were off for a full day.
a nine hour tour of the Normandy d-day beaches.
a small group of eight led by our dedicated tour guide allan.

we first stopped in Sainte-Mère-Église
where we visited the Airborne museum and
heard many heroic stories like the one of John Steele.
he was the paratrooper whose parachute was caught on a steeple of the church…
and was portrayed in the movie The Longest Day.
Steele survived as for many years continued to visit there.

bullet holes are still visible to this day on the church.
there is a mannequin that hangs there today to commemorate John Steele.
for us… upon hearing the stories…
i think it was a tangible image of ALL that the men faced that day

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next we went to a church in Angoville-au-Plain.
this was quite an experience.
this was a special church where two medics tended to
over 80 wounded men… of which a few were german… and a young child.
  at one point we sat down in the pews of the church
to hear individual stories of some of the men. 
hard to express into words the feelings i think we all had at this moment…
and more so when he told us about the men that were treated
in the VERY spots we were sitting.

this is Utah Beach.
the westernmost of the landing beaches during the D-Day landings & invasion.

this is Pointe du Hoc.
if you look really close… see those white specs?
that was a large flock of birds flying in an amazing pattern against that cliff.
it was a site to see!

one of the bomb craters.

these were bunkers… tunnels and living quarters of the Germans.

companies of rangers landed by sea and scaled the cliffs to face battle at top.

we then went onto Omaha Beach.
this is often referred to as Bloody Omaha…
and was the beach depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan.
there were crafts that sank before making it to land.
there were men who drown from the weight of their packs
before making it to shore.
there were men who made it to shore only to face heavy attack.

we heard more individual stories again like that of nineteen year old
Harold Baumgarten.
he was shot upon & hit several times and yet survived against all odds.
you can read more of his truly amazing story in his words here.

the thing that immediately struck me was the depth of the beach itself…
i had never seen a beach so wide from water to sands end.

our last stop was the American Cemetery & Memorial there in Normandy.

there are almost no words.
for the lives.
for the families.
the sacrifices.

some things i know for certain…
and i know i speak for my hubby… toby… jason & sophia…
we were so proud… so honored to be standing there as Americans…
so thankful for those men & women who protected us then AND
those that protect us today.

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once we made it back we quickly made our way back by the hotel for our bags…
and we were off to the train station.
we all agreed we wished we would have had another day to enjoy Bayeux.
what a special place.

even their train station had personality.
look at that paint color!

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already after six that evening…
we’d be arriving to our next spot JUST in time for a nice dinner!
of course i am speaking on euro time table…
i’ve never eaten so late in all my life!

we sure loved you!

next stop…
we were heading there!

some of the things i will remember most about our stop in Bayeux and Normandy…
our d-day tour… what an experience.
those church doors.
our… oh so french… hotel.
the crosses… the lives.
standing where heroes fought.
sitting right where a brave man died.
looking out onto the ocean.
the bursting personality of Bayeux.
experiencing it all with friends.