The Longest Day


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Europe » France
September 11th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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A very flaky pain au chocolat, but interestingly, none of the chocolate had oozed out as it normally does. While good, it just didn't have the visual appeal it usually does, because that little bit of oozy chocolate is a hint of the yummy goodness within, and makes you anticipate the whole beautiful experience of munching on a pain au chocolat. A nice apricot danish was the second part of the breakfast - flaky, with a creamy filling, and topped with some crunchy bits of rock sugar. SO good! There were other options available at the patisserie, but the buzzing wasps deterred me from them. A cafe au lait would have been supreme with these wicked little pastries, but the patisserie didn't offer it :(
Geo: 49.2764, -0.705529

The bathroom in my room has an odd odour ... I have no idea why, since it's only got a shower stall and a sink, and the toilet is down the hall. Maybe it's smelly gases backing up through the drains, or perhaps it's me??? Another bad sleep, because I didn't bother with earplugs last night since I had my own room. Some other guests checked out quite early, fumbling around with their luggage, and some irritating seagulls woke me up way too early.

Breakfast was at the patisserie just a few doors down from the hotel, the same place where I had the divine St. Eve yesterday evening. The hotel's cafe/bar offered a breakfast for 6 euros, but I didn't feel it was good value, especially when a couple of pastries only cost me just over 2 euros. Though I suppose Pierre-Henri also charged 6 euros for breakfast, but that came with the whole experience of eating in a beautiful garden.

I ate and waited around for the D-Day tour company to pick me up, along with a Kiwi couple. The tour operator called to advise they would be 20 minutes late, so I grabbed a cafe au
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Maintaining a cemetery for the Germans is significant, as it demonstrates much respect.
lait at the hotel. That and the pastries ended up costing me about 5 euros - still preferable over the hotel's breakfast, as a croissant and bread could not stack up to a pain au chocolat and apricot danish.

The van picked us up, and we were off to the German cemetery, for the first brief stop of the day, then to Ste. Mere Eglise. Ste. Mere Eglise is famous because many paratroopers landed off target around the area. D-Day was all about timing - only for a brief three-day period once a month would the invasion be possible, as low tides were needed to invade by sea, and a full moon was needed for the paratroopers to have some lighting.

Weather conditions were far from ideal, but Eisenhower made the decision to proceed with the invasion, because missing this window of opportunity would mean waiting another month to invade. Many German factories had been destroyed through earlier attacks, but they were starting to be rebuilt, so the time to invade was now, before they recovered. The exact location of the invasion was kept a complete secret, and even the soldiers did not know where it would be until they landed
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Enemies or not, they are fallen soldiers who still deserve to be honoured for sacrificing their lives.
on the beaches. They only knew that it would be France, because they were given some local currency and a French phrase book.

Because of the weather, many paratroopers missed their drop points, and many ended up landing in flooded inland areas, drowning themselves. Timing of the paratroopers arrival was also terrible, as there happened to be a fire in Ste. Mere Eglise that night - normally there was a curfew, so no townspeople and few German soldiers would be out on a typical evening. But the Germans allowed the residents to be out in the streets, fighting the flames, which also meant additional soldiers were around to watch over them. So not only did the flames light up the sky and ruin the element of surprise, but a large number of German soldiers were there to witness it, and as such, many paratroopers were shot and killed before even landing.

One of the tour members from the States commented that it was unfortunate that I missed out on the Canadian sights, and it was, but since it's all shared history, it's still a worthwhile experience, either way. Due to my poor planning, I wasn't able to reserve a tour
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Ste. Mere Eglise - part of the D-Day invasion plan was to send paratroopers behind enemy lines to secure key towns and bridges.
to any of the Canadian sights - you usually need to book a couple of days in advance, so I was lucky to even get on today's tour.

Knowing I was Canadian, our guide gave us a bit of info on the Canadian participation in D-Day - Juneau beach was where the Canadians landed, but it was originally named Jelly beach. The Brits named their beaches after fish (ie - Gold, Sword), but the Canadians objected because Jelly didn't sound all that great. So instead, it was named after the Canadian General's wife.

Our guide also brought up the ill-fated Canadian-led mission at Dieppe - while none of the major objectives of that mission were accomplished, and also suffering huge casualties in the process, the mission resulted in later successes for the Allies. The Allies learned important lessons and applied them to the D-Day invasion; these lessons ultimately contributed to the successful execution of D-Day.

It was a packed itinerary today; after Ste Mere Eglise, we went to Utah beach, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha beach, and finally, the American Cemetery. It ended up being the longest day, especially with the early start, but also because it was so overwhelming - there
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John Steele was the most famous of the paratroopers, because he and another got caught up on the church. The other was killed, but Steele was shot in the foot and ended up playing dead for two hours, so that no Germans would shoot him. He was captured by the Germans but later escaped, and rejoined his comrades, who were shocked that he was still alive - he was too convincing in playing dead and they were certain he was dead up on that church. One of the tour members commented that this recreation looks a bit creepy.
is so much information to take in, and is quite mentally draining.

After returning to town and having a snack, I popped over to a souvenir shop that runs a couple of Internet terminals. Seeing a couple of girls struggling with the French keyboard, I pointed out that you could easily change that by clicking on an icon at the bottom right hand corner of the screen, or use a couple of short cut keys to toggle between languages. It was funny how grateful they were for that simple tip - trust me, they'll save tons of money on Internet time with those simple tricks. I've wasted a lot of time in Internet cafes before finding out those tricks.

I later ran into them at the grocery store, where they were standing over the freezer section, debating whether or not they should have ice cream for dinner. You can tell it's their first time traveling on their own, and on such an extended trip. They reminded me of that group of three American girls from Barcelona because they were so excited just to have the chance to travel, and it definitely puts a smile on my face to see young
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The ''Our Lady'' window in the Ste Mere Eglise - it's probably the only such window where the Virgin Mary isn't surrounded by angels; she's surrounded by paratroopers. For the locals, they were the angels of the town, who rescued the people from their German oppressors.
people like that traveling and discovering the world.

Back to the hotel for a bit of relaxing, and then off to find dinner, which was a very difficult choice tonight. Shall I have a sit-down meal, a kebab, or maybe a crepe? I was hesitant to make a choice, because of the disappointments I've had lately, and none of the menus around town seemed to jump out. I finally chose a place called "Le Petit Normandie".

After dinner - I was too full again, and I needed a walk. I heard some French women practicing their Spanish which, quite frankly, made my night! They are the two most beautiful languages, and combining them is always a treat to hear. The walk didn't last long, as it was very cold and windy tonight. Back to the hotel for some reading, TV, and more smelly bathroom odours.


Additional photos below
Photos: 52, Displayed: 26


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Some of the paratroopers returned many years after WWII, and commissioned the creation of this other stained glass window.
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The airborne museum - this is quite a famous work, honouring the paratroopers.
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This bomber is the showpiece of the museum.
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Through displays and movies, a number of locals recounted how they were so touched that young men from a foreign country so far away, would risk their lives for them.
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Some very touching poetry.
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A tattoo on the skull HAS to hurt. I had to be very careful and discreet about taking this photo, because if he caught me, he might have snapped me in half. He was a pretty big guy!
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Nothing like a little war propaganda.
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I didn't quite get this one, however.
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The Longest Day - one of the more famous movies inspired by the events of D-Day.
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Utah beach - very windy and sandy. It was quite uncomfortable for all, because the sand kept going up our noses and into our eyes!!!
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Our tour guide was excellent, but I've unfortunately forgotten her name. She pointed out a few different types of clams, held here in her hand - some of them weren't native to this part of the world, and were brought here by American ships. She lamented that the foreign type weren't good for eating, and they compete with the tastier local varieties for food, reducing the supply of the yummy ones. Those French foodies!
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Anti-tank barriers.
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One of the transport boats that soldiers arrived on during D-Day. They weren't very sturdy.
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Lunch at Utah beach: Poisson soup - a puree, bland, blah. The cheese was good, the bread not so good.
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Salad - nice dressing, but otherwise pretty pedestrian. Pricey, as it's the only restaurant in a very tourist spot.


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