Beaches & Battles = Normandie
At 7:00 am sharp, our big touring bus with a driver name Fred, and our guide, Amelia, pulled out into the Parisian traffic on the long drive West to Normandy (or how the French spell it - Normandie). The canola flowers were in full bloom as we drove west and north, blanketing huge farms of brilliant yellow - almost as bright as the sun on our cloudy day, a bright spot on a momentous day in time. Our bus contained 37 travelers, nearly all Americans.
Although our tour was close to 14 hours, it went smoothly and quickly. Our meet-up and drop-off were at the Eiffel Tower, a mile walk from our Airbnb. Walking the Parisian streets so early in the morning when the city was waking up to a new day was a treat. I was humbled to see where our American Soldiers battled the evil empire of Germany on June 6, 1944. There are no words to describe what we saw adequately; this included multiple beach areas (Utah, Omaha, and Juno), museums, and American Cemetary where close to 9500 American soldiers are buried.
The directors of two prominent movies showcasing the events of D-Day, Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day (starring John Wayne), had the gist of the entire war and the period they highlighted pretty right. It is hard to fathom all those young men - average age 23 - who died on the beaches as they ran onto the beach from the ships and tried to make it up the cliffs to battle the Nazis in their bunkers. The whole tour was unbelievably sobering on many counts. I'm so thankful for their service and sacrifices because honor and democracy won the day and the next 100 days and into 1945.
Nothing was easy about any of it - the logistics themselves (without "computers, ahem) was a behemoth undertaking to the 9th degree.
I have to admit that I am one to shy away from these types of tours, but this one was a must-do. Hubby Bill, Ryan, and I were thrilled to take it all in together. I think it will take a few days to process the magnitude of it all.
On a lighter note, we had a good lunch in Arromanche, France. I have a good story to share, but I will at a later date. It was the bright spot of the day where kindness rules!