Monday, November 23, 2009

Behind the scenes...

So now that I have let you all ponder my magical day in Normandy for a week...I was thinking of letting you in on a couple of secrets. We all know that the path to enlightenment is awash with many challenges from petty to considerable, and that unless you are perhaps Buddha or the Dalai Lama, these challenges do not always bring out the best in us. So after our 5 km seaside hike, we were running somewhat short of daylight for the D-Day beaches. Dan and I decided that instead of a sit down restaurant we would get something "quick". What does "quick" usually translate into....yes that is correct...we went through the "McDrive" at the "McCafe"! Somehow the French manage to make fast food sound elegant. So I order a lovely Filet royale, which is a filet-o-fish with lettuce and tomato...and I am certain that the lovely tidbit was caught fresh that morning!!! Dan, being the "McConnoisseur", wastes ten minutes at the drive through window, while the line up behind us grows, trying to describe his special order to the unsuspecting and extremely FRENCH "McDrive" window attendant. My persistant glares encourage him gently to order something that is actually on the menu. After our romantic car dinner in le parking lot we set off for the beaches. Little did we know that the seaside town of Cherbourg held an annual marathon every November 11th, and so, all major thoroughfares were barricaded off! After circling for the better part of thirty minutes, during most of which Dan cursed loudly in French and pounded the steering wheel, and I of course insisted on commenting how nice even the back streets are...we back tracked our way out and rerouted:)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy memories with a heavy heart

The second half of our Normandy adventure had a profound effect on us both. We visited the D-Day beaches on Canada's Remembrance Day. It was near sunset when we arrived...the heavy fog obscured the light and our surroundings matched the feeling in the air. Commemorating the sacrifices which were made 65 years ago at this very locale left us stunned into silence. We both took time to unravel our individual thoughts on our own...wandering the shore both apart and together in an attempt to grasp the immeasurable ramifications the war had on so many. My Grandpa was so young when he was sent to fight. The photo of him and my Grandma at their wedding and the portrait of him in his uniform are my very favorite. I often wonder what it was like for him. I have spoken to my Grandma numerous times about what it was like for her...two years of waiting must have been excruciating! Grandpa didnt talk much about his experiences. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his performance while on duty.
I have thought much about my grandparents lives while on this trip. They came here together later on in their lives and I've always liked to look at the photos and hear about their experiences. Dan and I left on November 2nd, which was my Grandpa's birthday. He passed away a few years ago and I miss him dearly. His memory and spirit have been very close to me for these last few days. I dug out this poem I wrote for his funeral...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Backroads GALORE!!!

Our day in Normandy has been my favorite thus far! I awoke before Dan to browse the gardens and walk down the country roads surrounding Manoir Juganville. The setting had me virtually in tears...the sun rising over the distant misty fields, the sound of cows braying, a day set out before me to explore it all! I forced Dan out of bed so that we could get started! Coffee, homemade jams, and croissants were served beside the fireplace with jazz playing continuously in the background. After settling on a destination Dan and I set off to Le Nez de Jobourg! Now let me brief you all on how different Dan and I are (as far as traveling goes)...for those who don't already know of course. Now while Dan seems to prefer to get from point "A" to point "B" in a rather organized manner...I, on the other hand, tend to prefer to meander carelessly. So aside from a daily map tossing swearing "I could just bludgeon you!" temper tantrum on my part, we get along just fine.
The only route to our objective took us along the narrowest of country passages, which, of course, brought me great pleasure. I was delighted to see the fat little ponies and work horses with Hercules-like proportions grazing happily in luscious apple orchards, colorful doors and shutters lining the cobblestone streets in the smallest of towns, and finally...the coast! The vistas were more spectacular than one could ever imagine! The vast ocean crashing powerfully against the jagged cliffs and the moisture in the air that made every surface alive with greenery. There are no fences here...only massive hedges or ancient stone walls overgrown with moss! Dan and I argued as to whether or not we should take the 2.5 km walk down to the bay. I said "YES!!!!", but Dan worried as to whether we would be able to make it back up! If you don't push yourself, how will you ever know what you are truly capable of???? Who do you think won that arguement??? And guess who (at the end of it all) thought it was "alright"...(my enthusiasm makes up for his lack thereof!)

Just look at the photos!!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I am deeply enamored by the rural landscape here in France. The lush rolling hills and quaint little towns have made the adjustment from Paris much simpler then I imagined. Despite having my heart in my throat for the first leg of our journey due to the HIGH speeds on the highways, Dan has proved himself to be a very capable driver in France. Our first stop was at a B&B near St. Mere de L'Eglise. Manoir Juganville.....ahhhh! I already long to return! The winding country roads leading up to it, the warm welcome we received from Jean and Chantale upon our arrival, the roaring fire whose warm glow heated the house at all times, the jazz that played throughout breakfast, the friendly cats that would sit on your lap purring for as long as you would allow, the gardens...two nights just wasn't enough!

Here is the website for Le Manoir Juganville...we had the tower room...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remnants of Paris

Its been a couple of days. Now that we are on the move there seems to be so much to see and less time for blogging. I have much more to share but wanted to post some more shots from Paris. People watching, feeding the birds, sights, etc....all was blissful!