our excursion to normandy was a long haul: early wake-ups, hours spent on a freezing bus, cranky professors yelling at us to speak only in french. there were definitely parts of the trip that i would have done differently if i'd been traveling by myself but the moments of the trip that went right made all the others worth it. saint malo and mont saint michel were beautiful but it was the american cemetery at normandy that really took my breath away. the second we set foot in the area, which is territory owned by the united states, we could all tell we had left france for a moment. i can't put my finger on exactly what it was — the layout of the museum? the bathroom stalls wide enough for obese americans? — but there was an immediate lift in spirits among the group. without further ado, some highlights of our trip:
view from behind the walls.
hanging out on the fortress. from left to right: carl, annie, denise, maika, and valerie.
mont saint michel from afar.
courtyard at mont saint michel.
monastery at mont saint michel.
stained glass windows in the cathedral at bayeux.
remnants from d-day on the beach at normandy.
entering the american cemetery.
and on and on.
an unknown soldier.
pretty trees overlooking the american cemetery.
the altered landscape at pointe du hoc, where bomb craters offer unsettling proof of the battle that occurred here.
kids playing in bomb craters. this should provide an idea of scale... the craters were huge.
the german cemetery. the gravestones (each of the squares on the ground — the five crosses are just statues) were engraved with the soldiers' dates of birth (unlike the american cemetery) and the number of 17-, 18-, and 19-year-old soldiers killed was truly disturbing.