Sunday, December 28, 2014

D Day beaches

26 Dec  D Day beaches
Hitting the road early in the morning 

It was a 40 minute drive from Caen to the American War cemeterie off Omaha beach in Normandy and the sunrise along the way was one of the most beautiful we have seen on a road trip.

The exhibition area has exhibits of American war heroes who laid their lives down so that France can be delivered from the German, which were touching and comprehensive.

In garden of remembrance where the graves were was beautifully laid out and offers a panaromic view of Omaha beach. Thousands of crosses were neatly laid with the occasional flower wreath from visiting families. It was both a poignant and somber place to reflect, worth more than 2 hours of our time.

30 minutes down , we came to Arromanches les bain area where the remains of the Mulberry Harbour was, strewn in the waters bordering the horizon. This section is Sword beach where the British troops landed.

Lunch was at restaurant of hotel de normandie -  2 crepes, 1 mussels and an assortment of desserts and coffee ( €50 ) – which H did not find as impressive. We sesarched for Arromanches 360 high and low but could not exactly pinpoint it with the natsav because it lead us to the no-entry road. Pat found a little hiking path that led us to the cinema. The view of the Sword beach was breathtaking, spanning from west to east. It was not difficult to understand the difficulty of the troops landing because the enemy was stationed off the beach on the cliffs. D Day was a suicide mission for many that 6 Jun 1944.

At 10 minutes past the hour, we watched the 20 min silent documentary that details the events that led to the D Day attack. ( €5 per person  ) It was so touching I was having problems controlling my emotions – those who died on that day were folks doing it for a bunch of people most did not know.  Perhaps that is what makes a nation great – the spirit of generous and big hearted men and women who believed in the ultimate good of freedom.

Juno Beach. The Canadian's sacrifice are not any lesser.

Another 30 minutes down east, we stopped by Juno , the beach where the Canadians landed. Here,  300 odd Canadian soldiers died doing what the Allied forces did, to secure the beach and push back the Germans. It was a smaller memorial place, just set up in 2003. There was not enough materials to detail the sacrifice of the Canadians and the place did not do those who fell justice. We saw the cross of Lorraine, to mark the place General de Gaulle landed with the troops and a couple of beach bunkers overlooking the sea. It was hard to imagine that a fierce battle happened there 70 years ago with a sea of blood further down the sea.

We made our way back to Caen Kyriad in 30 minutes, and most of the time spent in the thick traffic to the carpark !

Dinner was a fancy affair at Hippopotamus – steak set, set dinner, desserts, wine and cocktail, salads etc for only €100 ! We made a second 1.5 km back to Kyriad where we prepare to check out and leave for Avranches the next day.

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