Christie H. (ac_holl) wrote,
Christie H.

Cemeteries and Alcohol Do Not Mix

If I continue to follow my pattern so far, I will finish blogging about my time in France sometime at the end of next year.  2012.  As in, 18 months after I arrived back in the U.S.  In fear of family rioting, the apocalypse, and my memory issues, that isn't going to happen.*

One of the best things about college is that you learn a lot about yourself.  I've quickly learned that I need self-imposed goals in order to do things on a regular basis.  I shouldn't say goals.  My goal for this year was to blog at least once a week, if not more.**  I should call them challenges.  As in, How I Met Your Mother-worthy challenges.

As we can see from Barney Stinson's wonderful (though very poor-quality) example, the best challenges include time limits, an audience, and humiliation when failed.  While I won't be finishing my blogs in the next 24 hours, I will finish before November 1st.

That's right.  I will have finished all blogs pertaining directly to France in 19 days!  This is because as of November 1st, it will be National Novel Writing Month.  And I know I won't have any desire to write about France when my mind will be stuck in Novel Land.  If I do not finish before November 1st, I will do something.... Though I haven't decided what yet.  Probably embarrassing or difficult and hardly any fun.  For me.

Since I now have a limited amount of time to finish this project, let's continue, shall we?

If you're like me and need to refresh your memory, you'll remember that we last left off in Caen, with a cliffhanger ending of this:

That, my friends, is the German World War II Cemetery.  But, before we get there, I should probably mention something else first.

In Caen, one of the biggest and most impressive buildings is the Hotel de Ville.  (Sorry, I'm too lazy to add the accents for now.)  Every city has one, and they all have a rich history.  Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the history of that building, but that was mostly because the woman who gave us a tour spoke in French the entire time.  While I followed a little bit of what she said, this was still really early in the trip and my French listening skills have never been great.  What I do remember, thanks to these lovely pictures, was how pretty it was.  And how huge.  Observe:

See what I mean?  We also visited a cathedral, but I won't post any pictures from it.  Once you've seen one cathedral, they pretty much all look the same.  Though I think I could spend the next year going to a different European cathedral every couple days and not get tired of it.  There's something special about European churches that Americans just miss out on.  You'll see what I mean when we get there.

So, anyway.  From this point on, we spent most of our time in Caen/Normandy traveling to different World War II memorial sites.  This was absolutely fantastic.  I've never been a big history buff, but that's mostly because I only like the cool parts of history.  Like, I hate memorizing dates and names and stuff but fun facts?  I'm full of them.***

The first thing you realize about La Cambe German cemetery is that it's really creepy.  This is mostly because the headstones were black and it was raining when we went there.  Have I mentioned how much it rained?  I'm convinced that it's impossible to go to Normandy without getting rained on every day, though that may be because of its location in relation to the ocean.  Yeah... That's probably it.

The cemetery, like all cemeteries, was also really quiet.  We were the only group there.  There was no one there when we arrived, and I think only two or three other people were there when we left.  I think all cemeteries are quiet out of respect, but this quiet was more like a stillness.  Like the tombs were soaking up the life above it.  Or maybe that was just my over-run imagination combined with my zombie obsession.****

Fun fact, the German cemetery holds way more people than the American cemetery does.  This is really surprising because of how small the German cemetery is in comparison to the American cemetery.  The American cemetery is divided into blocks (you'll see pictures later).  The entire German cemetery could be set inside one block of the American cemetery.  That means that there are a whole lot of bodies buried on top of each other, and the graves aren't hardly marked. 

Going against the ominous setting, we decided to climb this really big hill/statue in the middle of the cemetery.  Don't worry, there were stairs.  It was meant to be climbed.  That's how I got that first picture you saw in this post.  Though I wasn't afraid I was going to fall, it did make me think.  Standing up on the top of the hill, it's nearly impossible to not be effected by the war.  Those little gravemarkers only had a few names on them, leaving many graves unmarked.  Not to mention that while standing on the top of that hill, you can see the entire cemetery clearly.  Edge to Edge.  You can see every grave and feel the pain and suffering WWII caused.  It's one thing to sit in a classroom and read about the battles and deaths.  But to be standing above 21,000 graves was heartbreaking.  I didn't know who these men were, but I do know that they died because they believed in their country and their cause.  Standing in that cemetery was one of the closest experiences I've ever had with war.  However, it was not the closest experience I would have by the end of the week.  We had only begun our journey of WWII memorials.

After that lovely experience, Roby, our awesome driver, decided to give us a surprise.  We went to an apple cider company that was literally just behind the cemetery.  Seriously.  From their driveway, you can see the trees that surround La Cambe.  Oh, and it was also before noon.  That's right.  Our bus driver and GTA let us drink before noon.  And if I remember correctly, at least half of the group was hungover from going out the night before.  It was extraordinarily entertaining.

The cave where they ferment the cider and where we had our tastings.

Normandy is famous for its apple cider.  And when I say apple cider, I mean cidres des pommes.  It's alcoholic.  And they make a LOT of different types of alcohol from their apples.  I tried (and finished!) a glass of the cider, as well as some of the whiskey.  I didn't buy any, but some of the others did, though I'm not entirely sure their alcohol made it all the way back to the States...


After cider tastings, we got back on the bus and visited a few beaches... Which you will get to see next time!  Á bientôt!

*I would like to point out, that I really really REALLY wanted to upload a video with this post, which is why I haven't done it yet.  However, since I have a PC and not a Mac, video editing is a gigantic pain in the ass.  I'm watching lots of tutorial videos, trying to figure out how to use a decent program that I don't have to spend a lot of money on.

**Hahahahahahahahahaha..... I'm so optimistic sometimes.

***Did you know that Renee Decartes used to like mooning women?  This was because he had a fetish for being spanked and assumed mooning women in public would be the easiest way to get spanked.
****BTW, Happy Zombie Awareness Month!  Have you bought your machete yet?

Tags: france, stories, travel
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