By Naomi Wong 6:00 PM europe, seven, travel
This is really late I know, but I've had really cruddy wifi signal this past week which has made it impossible to upload photos or even surf the net. I've decided to continue blogging by the day instead of grouping everything into one massive post because there is simply too much to cover, it's also much easier for me to look back and read on my trip, a better way to organize everything!
Since we didn't slot much time for Normandy we maxed out the day and made the most of it. One of main reasons we decided to take time out of Paris to head north was to check out a bit of Canadian History, so what better place than Juno Beach, the place where Canadian soldiers landed during the allied invasion of France in WWII.
We were greeted by a large bunker set within fields of tall grass.
You walk into the bunker and it's a tight fitting space. It's cool, it's calm, but there's a sense of urgency and a feeling of uneasiness that is hard to shake off.
A center has since been set up by various donors to commemorate the occasion and location and although it's a stunningly calm place now, I can't even begin to imagine what it was like on the day it landed. I feel extremely privileged to be able to visit and thankful for the people who sacrificed so much and gained nothing in return.
It's difficult to think that many soldiers selflessly lost their lives here, all for the ambition of one man. It's simply not fair. Too much blood shed for nothing.
If you ever come to Normandy the D-Day beaches are a must. Different countries landed on different sections of the coast, we chose Juno because of it's Canadian background, but a closeby Omaha where the Americans landed is also a popular choice.
We came on a scorching hot day though, so by the time lunch rolled around, we leaped at the chance to sit down and enjoy some drinks.
We found a pond nearby which if you look very closely, you'll see shrimps, crabs and even jellyfish!
We sat down with the intention of ordering mussels, but a massive platter of seafood was brought to a nearby table and it was too tempting to resist, so we.... copied them and ordered our own.
It didn't take us long to finish lunch though, so my cousins and I ran back to the pond.
Living in Canada, we never find jellyfish, crabs or shrimps floating around in the water, so not going to lie, I was pretty excited.
Like a little kid in Disneyland with the biggest bag of candy.
We tried using a stick to "fish" out the jellyfish, but it really wasn't working, so plan B. I used to be a huge American Girl fan and I remembered that in one of the books, a girl made baskets by weaving together straw. I used the only thing I could find, grass.
I felt super proud of my heavily mangled and basically non-functional basket because it's probably the most creative and resourceful thing I've done in my entire life.
Clearly I haven't done much.
But while picking the grass we found some tiny little friends who had clung on!
It took us a while to actually scoop the jellyfish out of the water, but we succeeded (using my mutated basket might I add).
I was expecting tentacles and all this crazy stuff a la Man O War.. and instead we got a blob of jelly, but it was still exciting nonetheless and also my first jellyfish caught. Definitely a momentous occasion.
No worries, we released it back into the pond quickly after and watched it swim away since it was time to move onto our next destination.
After a fun-filled lunch it was onto something more solemn, the Canadian Cemetery. Rows and Rows of white. Some young, some old, some who left behind parents, others who left behind their children and wives. So many lives that were unnecessarily but so valiantly lost.
We were the only ones there at that time and it's hidden so far away in the countryside that if you stopped moving for a moment, you could hear the wind blowing through the flowers in between each gravestone. What was inscribed on each stone was even more heart-wrenching. People from all walks of life, with families they've left behind. There were soldiers from Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver, all across the country that could have been our friends and neighbors if they had been given a chance.
It was getting hot though and we had a night tour booked at the Mont St. Michel, so it was time to say goodbye to the Cemetery and hello to the Monastery.
The mount is set up so that a fully functioning village lies near the bottom and the monastery is at the top.We arrived just as the stores were closing so there wasn't much chance to visit them at the bottom of the mount, but the walk up was absolutely breathtaking.
It takes about 20-30 minutes from the entrance of the mount to the actual monastery, but definitely worth every step.
They provide you with a guide sheet when you first enter the Monastery which makes it a million times easier to figure out which room you are actually in. It's all laid out very well and there is a definite path you follow which makes it much more organized.
One of the perks of the night tour is that in various rooms around the Monastery, various musicians are positioned where you can sit, enjoy and relax for a moment. The acoustics are out of the world.
Out of the different places I have ever been to, the view here definitely ranks high up there. You walk off of at the top of the Mount from the Cathedral and all you see are miles and miles of unending water.
It really feels like you are at the top of the world and there is this sense of calm that completely washes over you as you look out. All you see are the ocean, the sky and the clouds.
It was definitely hard to leave.
We watched the sun set from the top of the mount and it was nothing like I've ever felt before, but it was time to leave and we had already missed dinner so I grabbed a waffle slathered in Nutella in lieu of.
I should regret it but I really don't.