Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at Caen, Pegasus Bridge and Sword Beach

25 December 2014 Christmas at Caen, Pegasus Bridge

It is one of those strange Christmas we have whenever we travel in the holiday season , out in a place where no Protestant church is nearby.

We checked out of Honfleur La Closerie on a very overcast and rainy day, hoping to hit Deavuille enroute to Caen. It was a fighting of the will as Garmin won the tussle and we totally missed the coastal road. It was such a pity !

It was raining at Deauville and we had no use for the place there. This time more proficient with the manual transmission car, Pat used part of the coastal path against Garmin’s wishes to get to Pegasus Bridge, a 30 minute drive. The museum was closed for Christmas, the weather dank and dreary and all food places were closed. We saw the original bridge and glider behind the fences of the museum grounds and made do with the working but replica one. Monuments of Gen Howard Johnson and other heroes were set up near the handglider landing place. We had even the good opportunity to see the bridge lifted up for the passage of a ferry. It was a magnificent sight and I sort of understand then the significance of taking over the bridge that D Day , so that Allied forces can enter inland via the waterway.

5 minutes down at Ouistreham, we had one of the most elaborate dinner at the Ouistreham Casino because we could not find any restaurants nearby. The €45 Christmas lunch was lengthy and elaborate with foie gras and salmon. But I will only remember it as the day I got drunk before the 1st course of the meal with Champagne. Pat must have regretted not being able to drink it because he was driving and we could not risk getting caught. Hertz had not provided us with a breath analyzer in the car.

I had the impression that the British had left a mobile bridge crossing at the beaches of Ouistreham but it was not to be. We searched the beach for miles but I must have mistaken somehow. However, the stretch, called Sword Beach was a long sandy beach where the British soldiers landed. How exposed they must have been that day, jumping off the carrier onto the beach and running the length of the endless beach  , in full view of the enemy and very vulnerable. A statue of Officer Lovat, the famous piper who led the soldiers inland, was nearby.  Though I could not locate the discarded bridge relic, the sacrifice of men who put an end to the world war made me grateful. It was human spirit at its best for the Allied forces.

With Garmin’s guide, we reported at Kyriad Caen at Republique Square. We were given the use of a day pass ( from 4 pm – 4 pm ) that will cost us €9 per day. Room was small but then we have been spoilt silly by the fancy Honfleur apartel. Briac, the concierge, was friendly and alone on duty on the wet Christmas day ,all ready for us . We hurried off to Caen Castle where we captured breathtaking shots of the setting sun against the backdrop of the city’s steeples. It was an impressive, enormous castle that was William the Conqueror’s base.

Caen was a dead town with not much in terms of food, if any at all. We took a  quick bite at Quick ( 2 burger sets, 1 solo burger €19 ) and were caught in a shower the moment we left the fast food chain.

The takeaway of the day – the Allied forces came to put an end to the Germans and their evil plans some 50 odd years ago but that Christmas 2000 years ago, Christ came to put an end to Satan’s plot forever. And for both, I will always be grateful.

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