Hello everyone,

Well, this weekend I traveled with Paul Kennedy to Normandy and Cologne.

We left Thursday night, taking several different trains (all of which were somehow late….it’s the dominoe effect) and got to Bayeux in Normandy, France around 9:30 in the morning.  First, we went to a museum to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  It is an embroidery in wool on a piece of linen that is 70 meters long!  Yeah, incredible huh?!  It tells the story (through pictures) of the invasion of England by William, the duke of Normandy, in 1066. 

Then, I had my first French pastry….this thing was like a foot long and had some kind of crème and chocolate chips in it…..delicious!

We went to the tourist office and found a bus that would take us to the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach.  Seeing the cemetery was very moving and sad.  For those of you who have seen Saving Private Ryan and remember the very opening scene when he is an old man, walking down a tree-lined path with his family behind him, well I walked down that very path.  There are more graves then you can imagine….all marked with white marble crosses…row upon perfect row.  The saddest ones were the graves for those who were unidentifiable.  They had something really neat written on them that I can’t remember now, but I took a picture of one of them. 

The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach, (out of the 5, Omaha was the last to be taken and had the worst fighting and casualties…it is also the beach shown in saving private ryan)

We walked down to the beach and saw the remains of a few bunkers.  The beach was pretty narrow, just how it’s depicted in all the movies, with grassy hills behind it where the bunkers were.  As we walked along the beach, I just kept thinking about how I could stop and stand in any one spot and chances are someone died there, or was wounded…maybe even someone my age.  It was raining the whole time….which added to the somber mood. 

We spent that night in Pontorson, about 2 hours away, right outside Mont St. Michel.

We got there around 9:30 at night, found a nice little hotel where we got a room for only about $10 a person!

The next morning, we took a bus to Mont St. Michel, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  I mean everything pretty much everything I see over here fits that description, but this was beyond that.  Mont St. Michel is this rocky island, that an abbey was built on hundreds of years ago.  During the day when the tide is out, you can drive out to the island.  In fact, the road rarely gets covered all the way with water, but the parking lots often do.  The bay that the Mont is in gets the 2nd strongest/highest tides in the world!  As we were driving towards it, we could see it off in the mist.  The church and surrounding buildings form a perfect triangle on the island.

This is the weirdest part….the Mont is in a Bay, but the bay isn’t water…it’s water and wet sand…patches of sand and patches of water, so that one could walk all around this bay by staying on the sand and wading occasionally.  It’s the most bizarre thing ever…I really can’t describe it…you’ll just have to wait and see the pictures!

We took a tour of the Abbey, which because it is literally built on a narrow rock, is an architectural and engineering wonder!

For lunch, we ate in a nice restaurant that looked out over the bay and had a great 3 course meal for $12 and split a half-bottle of Bordeaux Red Wine.  We didn’t really know what we were getting as it was in French, but I love to be adventurous when it comes to food, so that was fine!

Our appetizer was sea snails!  We literally each got a plate of shells that looked like they had just been pulled from the sand outside!  We had special forks that we used to dig out the insides…they were really good!

I still don’t know what our entrée was….it was like stuffed sausage, but the stuff on the inside looked somewhat questionable.  Tasted fine though!

Our desert they called chocolate cake, but this was unlike any chocolate cake I’ve ever had!  It had a layer of crust, cake, then mousse, then pudding, then whip cream, then dark chocolate syrup drizzled on top!  Wow!

Afterwards, we went to a couple of museums that turned out to be cheesy and completely in French!  Yeah, we got ripped off.  Then we bought some great, big pictures of the island for a buck that we ended up later leaving on the bus!  Bummer.

Then, we walked around the island, and let me tell you, they weren’t kidding when they said to be careful cuz it was quicksand, as soon as started to walk out there, my feet immeadiately sank…it was wild!  We left at 4:30 on the train and ended up not getting to our next destination, Koln, till 11:30 the next day….19 hours of trains and layovers!

Yeah, we had a few mishaps…just like every weekend!  I’m beginning to think I’ll never have a weekend where I don’t have to sprint to make a train at least once!

In Koln (Cologne), the famous Gothic Cathedral is literally right outside the train station, and is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen!  I don’t understand how they were able to build such amazing and grandiose things without the technology we have today!  It was a beautiful day as well…the first sunny, clear day in weeks!  There were tons of people outside the Dom (cathedral) including some skaters, rollerbladers, and bikers doing tricks, and even a guy juggling firesticks while riding a giant unicycle!  However, there was a dark moment…..we got some ice-cream and as always, I tried a new flavor, because that’s what I always like to do and I’ve never been disappointed.  So, I tried yogurt mit grunner apfel (yogurt with green apple) and it was disgusting, not just not good, but terrible!  I was so disappointed I ended up throwing it away and getting another one…a flavor tried and true.  Good thing there just 1DM for a cone (less than 50 cents)  It was disappointing but I figured that for the 15 to 20 flavors I’ve tried while here, that hating just one is a pretty good record!

Today, my friend in the Navy that I met at oktoberfest came to visit and spent the day with Crystal and I! 

Hope you all are well!

Love always,