I am forever a northern girl. I really don’t know why I decided to study in the south of France when in the US, I hate the south. I love the cold, to the different personality of the people in the North. I don’t really know how to describe it in words, but there is a different vibe from different regions.
I was able to breath in much of Normandy’s air during my 20-30 mile bike journey, and let me say it is the freshest air my lungs have every felt. From their fuzzy cows, country sides, cute houses, to their beaches, it was breathtaking.
So here is my bike journey I took to visit my great Uncle Andy, my family’s WWII hero.
My first stop was buying flowers for his grave. I stumbled upon the cutest florist shop, who was ever so helpful in making me something! I chose a tiny Christmas tree with a little present and red flowers.
I then stopped at the tourist office for a map ! She was also very helpful and showed me what is the best way to bike around the Normandy beaches. Although I didn’t listen to her because she showed me small roads to go on, instead I choose the busy roads. The reason behind this was that is was dangerous for me, but I was nervous that I would get lost on no-named roads with no signs pointing me in the right direction.
My reason behind renting a a bike for 15 euros was based on price. a taxi would have been incredibly expensive, and I didn’t want to do a tour. The tours were also expensive, and I wanted to spend more time in the cemetery and small towns than in the beaches. Even though it was a struggle for my wine and baguette diet, I would totally do it again. I was able to see and breath Normandy.
I left about 10am, and had to be back at 5:30 before the shop closed. I had no idea how long it would take me, if I would get lost, or caught in a 20% chance of rain. So my journey there I was incredible persistent and nervous to make good time. So I choose the busy road option (still isn’t busy as an American road) and looked for signs that said Port of Bessin or D-day. I headed out to Port of Bessin, because from this point I knew I would have to go left, and the ocean would keep me on path of going straight.
Port of Bessin was beautiful-it was all that I imagined an European small town by the ocean would be. These pictures are from my journey back when I knew I had time to stop and take pictures.
Through all my traveling, it is not the food I remember, or the things I buy, but the people I meet. I will always remember the old woman I met waiting in line for the bathroom in Barcelona, who no matter how many times I said “yo hablo espanol un pocco” she still talked to me like I was fluent, and for some reason I understood everything she said-and then how she called me bella and introduced me to her son. In Paris, I will always remember the person who asked me what perfume I was wearing, or the guy at the souvenir shop who said I spoke French well and wanted to know about Avignon. Well a person I will always remember in Normandy is a kind old man who pulled over his car while I was taking pictures with a donkey. I assumed it was his donkey, but he actually stopped because he was worried about me. He told me he noticed I had a map and a bicycle, and that it was dangerous for a young woman to ride along side the road. He then helped me where to go, and from this point I was only 5 miles away ! He showed me where he lived on the map because he was proud of his town, it was really nice !
The destination- Normandy American Cemetery
I am the second person in my family to visit my great Uncle Andy, which is truly an indescribable feeling. Like many of the heros that died in WWII they were just young boys. It wasn’t until I was waiting in the train station back to Avignon when I saw a young French solider-that I realized my Great Uncle Andy was younger than me. When I visited his graved and talked to him, I wasn’t imagining a 17 yr-old boy like he was. This makes him even braver and more of a hero, because it was his choice to enlist in the war. This also makes it harder on my family because it was my Great Grandma who had to sign off on the enlistment. I couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit-the weekend of Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my Great Uncle, and all men and women who fight for their country. It was a wonderful reminder of how we got where we are, and how much we have to be thankful for already.
I was sad to leave Normandy-when I graduate in hopes of teaching English abroad-I will defiantly be looking into Northern France.