NaNoWriMo starts in a mere 11 days and I'm psyched. I don't think I've ever been as excited for a specific month. I can't think about much else. I'm constantly thinking about the characters, what I can do to ruin their lives, how I'm going to build their lives through more than just plot twists. It's exhilarating. Not to mention that I have multiple friends who have decided to join me this year! Cue happy dance! My mind is so consumed with this book that I haven't been able to do homework this week. Which was a big problem considering I had to write a twenty page research project due Wednesday and a five page paper on Shakespeare today. But I did it anyway.
Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure I can focus on France right now. I'm spent the past four days writing analytically and scientifically. If you were around me at all after I came home from France, you'll know that my mind does NOT do well by switching back and forth between different subjects. When I came home from France, I constantly tried to speak French. Especially when I got tired. It was that ingrained into my brain.
I've also decided I'm going to start a new project soon, too! Which I'm almost as excited about as I am excited about NaNoWriMo. (And it's a secret! For now. Until I get a good start on it, at least.) I honestly can't believe there's enough room in my brain right now to do anything other than get lost in one of the books that have come in the mail recently that I haven't had time to read yet.
So, here's the next part of my journey in France. There will be a LOT of pictures. I hope your computers are prepared to load them all! Hopefully they will be interesting, but if they sound all analytical and critical and sciency, I apologize. It's going to take a few hours until I can think straight again.
When we left off last time, the group had just gone to an apple cider factory. And everyone was hungover. And it was hilarious.
But the day became a little more serious as we continued our WWII portion of the trip (which will continue until we leave Normandy) and traveled to Pointe du Hoc.
Pointe du Hoc is a lesser known, but no less important, point of attack on D-Day. It's just West of Omaha Beach and was filled with guns that were aimed directly at Omaha Beach. In order for the Allies' campaign to be successful, these artillery weapons had to be taken out, or the attack on the beach would have been a disaster. Soldiers scaled the cliffs and attacked, and though the guns that were stationed there had been moved, they succeeded in overtaking the bunkers that were still a threat, early on the morning of D-Day.*
The view from standing at the point, back toward the main land.
One of said bunkers.
Another of said bunkers.
When I walked out of the bunker pictured above, I was walking with Marcus, an avid history buff on the trip. We talked about how weird it was to be in a place that held so much history. You could see where explosions had hit, stand in the same position as many soldiers, see the view they had before they died. It was very surreal. While we were walking, we were studying a map that we had picked up in the visitor's center. Omaha beach was on it. We spent the last 15 minutes walking around, trying to figure out where it was. It looked close on the map! It wasn't until we asked another visitor that we found out that it was a 10 minute drive from where we were. Marcus and I were a little disappointed, but we carried on and walked back to the bus.
I took a video while walking around here, and I specifically remember trying to speak in Franglais (half-French, half-English) because our GTA was right behind me at the time. I hadn't figured out how strict she was going to be yet. It was really windy that day.
We got back on the bus and ended up at Omaha Beach. This was one of the most surreal experiences I had during the whole trip.
How could a beach so beautiful have been the place of so much terror and death? I know what happened on this day. The beach was covered with bodies. The water ran red. The Allies won.
This was also one of the few things we did that made me want to cry. I know my eyes got watery, though that could have been from the wind. I made a Thoughts From Places video here. I talked about how emotional the scene was, how I couldn't believe that such terrible things had happened in a place that was no so beautiful, calm, an attraction to thousands of people each year. There were houses not 500 yards from the edge of the beach.
Memorial stationed just above the beach
The memorial set on the beach
I remember walking up and down the beach, trying to picture what it was like that day. It was horrifying.
Flags flanked both sides of the memorial that was just above the beach
What I was trying to understand, was how could something as beautiful as this:
End up looking like this:
Now, because my memory is crap, I can't remember if we went home after this or if we went to our next adventure. However, to keep with our lovely, happy theme, we traveled to another cemetery next.
Specifically, the American cemetery.
The Normandy American Cemetery is HUGE. Seriously. I took a very long video to try to encapsulate how gigantic it was. It killed my battery.
By this point, it was raining again. This is a very often occurence in Normandy, when you're so close to the ocean.
I walked up and down the rows of graves and was astounded. How can this cemetery, which is so big they have maps so you don't get lost, house less people than the small German cemetery we just visited? There were rows of graves, monuments, videos, an infinity pool. (No, really.)
All I could think about when I saw this, was Monet
Not my picture, but it gives you a better idea of how big this place was
About 1/4 of the way through
There were inscriptions everywhere: The museum/entry building where we watched a video, on both of the buildings in the cemetery.
After all of that depressiveness, Roby took us on another surprise. We went to a French Chocolotier. It was delicious, though I didn't buy anything. I had no idea where to even start. They had every kind of chocolate you could imagine. We also go to learn about where they got the beans for their chocolate, the history of chocolate, and get free samples.
It was a good day.
Though very exhausting. I'm emotionally drained after re-living all of that. Because of that, and because of where we went the next day, I'm going to end here. I hope you're excited for the next post, because it was breathtaking. I might devote an entire post to it. Here's a teaser:
*See what I mean? Habits, I'm telling you. Thank you Wikipedia!