22 Apr 2007

I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't even manage to work out a smile

I'm not really sure where to start, and I suppose the beginning is looking more promising than ever, so I'll give her a shot. This has been a long time planning (about 2 weeks now) and it turned out better than I'd ever expect.

Since I came to Europe, my main goal has been to see northern France--specifically Omaha Beach and the like (D-day). This last weekend I have accomplished this goal and done more than ever thought. In anticipation, I found two willing travel companions and a cheap(er) rental car.

I picked up the car early Friday morning with my Hungarian counterpart Tomas--it was a black VW Polo. We both were able to drive manual cars and this paid off. Who would think it's a long drive from Geneva to Normandy? Only 8.5 hours (or so they say). At any rate, we picked up Virginia Bain and within about...oh....a day we made it to Bayeux. This was to be our home base for the weekend.

We ventured immediately to Omaha beach. We had very poor directions, so I took back roads and asked people walking on the street which way to the beach. For once, the French weren't bad. It must be the Scandinavian influence from the 11th century left over. Within about an hour, we were standing on Nazi bunkers, gun emplacements, and, most likely, shells. It was an incredible experience and I was glad to share it with my amis. We soon found the American Cemetery. I have never seen a more immaculately kept place in my life. It is honestly my firm belief that the White House garden is not kept up as avidly as this place. We also saw the American monument erected in honor of "The Big Red".

It is, in my opinion, impossible to reflect in words the feelings one experiences while at Omaha beach. The beach itself is very serene and beautiful. If not for my former knowledge of the massacres that occurred there, I would find it a lovely place to spend a Sunday afternoon laying out. Yet at the same time, the serenity is eerie. Why would such a beautiful place not be more populous? I think you might understand where I'm heading with this.

The next day (that would be Saturday), we headed to Mont St. Michel. It's an old abbey on an island just off the coast of France. It is pretty spectacular, but we didn't feel the urge to enter the abbey, just simply see the town and the castle from afar. Instead of seeing the abbey, we chose to drive to two local towns that came highly recommended from a teacher and a set of parents. The first--Cancale--was very small and quaint. We put on swim suits and spent the next 3 hours laying out on rocky beaches. I have been informed that I have a permanent white T-Shirt.

The second town--which unfortunately had nicer beaches than the first--was St. Malo. It was a larger town with a full casino located there, but all we did was walk the beach and then head out of town. With a quick dinner, we headed back to our hotel room.

Oh! The hotel! It really was a highlight. I was fortunate enough to end up with the middle spot on a double bed. That's right. The middle spot. Most people would assume a double bed would be for a single person (I know, counterintuitive, but true). We, however, are cheap college students and piled 2 half naked guys and one uncomfortable girl into one bed. Before you go saying "poor girl", just remember I was stuck in the middle!

This morning was a lovely morning downtown Bayeux. It's a larger town in the area, and if there's two things the French do well, they are pastries and cathedrals. This held true. We also saw a very long, unfortunately artistic tapestry. We had to appease each person in their own way. This one was for my Hungarian pal.

The drive home was long. I enjoyed it though, for I drove most of the 10 hour drive through winding hills and curvy roads. At any rate, I haven't eaten in a good 12-14 hour span and I have a presentation tomorrow morning that I have yet to work on. (It's 1:30 AM here). So for now I bid adieu.

A Bientôt.

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