Posts Tagged With: history

Normandy France Day 7

Day 7 of our trip was June 6th – the 68th anniversary of D-Day.  We did the only thing possible – visited the Normandy coast.

We made a brief stop in Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tapestry – no pictures of that, as photos aren’t allowed, but it was extraordinary.  By itself it would have been impressive – a 230ft long embroidery, for goodness sake!!  But viewing it, realizing that it was made over a thousand years ago…incredible.

Afterwards, we headed up to Arromanches-les-Bains, where the artificial harbor was built in 1944.  Since this was the anniversary of D-Day, there was a big party – tons of people, lots of veterans, period costume and automotive relics.

Poppy wreath at the statue for Royal Engineers – “They shall now grow old as we that are left grew old, age shall not weary them or the years condemn…”

We also made a stop in Longues-sur-Mer, where the German Artillery battery stands.

Looking back at the artificial harbour in Arromanches from the German Battery

Next, we headed on to Colville-sur-Mer, where the American Normandy Cemetery is located.  We walked down to Omaha Beach in the rain and looked out to sea and up the hill, imagining what those who saw it 68 years ago were thinking.

Looking down onto Omaha Beach from the bluff

Looking up to the bluff from Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

I’ve heard the cemetery described as memorable, touching, moving, beautiful, somber, heart-wrenching.  It’s all those things.  You cannot truly appreciate those words in association with that place unless you experience it yourself.  Yes, rows upon rows of white crosses and Stars of David, some with names, some without.  Thousands of people walking around in almost complete silence.  The weight of what you are seeing is immense.

We purposely stayed until the flag was lowered at 5:20pm.  There was a little old lady there, all of 4’1″, who was apparently a nurse in the war and being honored that day.  The man in charge of the flag lowering invited any WWII veterans up to help with folding the flag – there were nine men there who stepped up.  Next the man in charge asked for any other veterans to please help with the flag folding, some who might be “a little stronger” than the elderly men up there already.  It was a windy day, and that flag was snapping around like crazy.  The flag was lowered, and folded, and to be in that place, at that time, was something special.

The flag being folded

“Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.”

“Their graves are the permanent and visible symbol of their heroic devotion and their sacrifice in the common cause of Humanity.”


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A trip to Lappi and Sammallahdenmäki

A few weeks ago, my allergies were killing me.  I had heard, once upon a time, that eating local honey helps with allergies, because it has all the local pollen in it.  Makes sense, right? So I made Stephen get a ride to work, picked up some of the other wives, and we drove out to Lappi, about 15km to the east.

Polar-Honey Finland collects honey in Western Finland and north into the Arctic.  They sell mostly at festival-type markets in Finland and Germany, but they have a store in Lappi.  I bought some Arctic Honey, some Vanilla Honey (which I think will be great on top of ice cream), some Buckwheat Honey (fabulous on top of pancakes), and some very good mustard with horseradish.

After tasting many types of honey, we bought our honey and moved on to our next stop – Sammallahdenmäki.  Sammallahdenmäki is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although some people might consider it “a bunch of piles of rocks.”  It’s a group of burial cairns, laid out over about a kilometer.  The burial mounds are from the Bronze Age (1500-500BC), and at that time this area was on an inlet of the Baltic Sea.  I won’t go into the historic detail of the site, you can read about it at the link above, but I will say it was quite interesting.  Later in the summer, there is a guide who can tell visitors much more about the site than what we could see walking around, so I intend to go back!

Looks like just a pile of rocks, right?

But you can see that these were placed with intention.

After walking through Sammallahdenmäki, we stopped at what we thought was a cafe nearby.  Well, they did have some lunch items, but it turned out to be a butcher shop.  So, now we all know where to get fresh meat nearby!  We had some lunch, and I had to try something called a Rio Rita – non-alcoholic, I swear!  See the label below:

“Squash Drink” – Tasted kind of like a Fresca.

Categories: Finland, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Contest: Where should we go for our first vacation?

My husband is probably going to kill me for this.  He’s left it up to me to choose where we take our first vacation, and I am at a loss.  The problem?  I’ve never been to Europe, and I want to go EVERYWHERE. How the hell am I supposed to narrow it down to one place?  Where should we go first?  Hence…

THE CONTEST.  Tell me where we should go and why, and what we should see and do while we’re there.  Is it a vacation that you’ve been on and enjoyed?  Is it a dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take?  Is there a festival that we absolutely must attend?

DETAILS: We’re going for about 7 days, around the end of May, early June.  We like art and architecture, food, wine, history, and the outdoors.  I’ve never been to Europe before moving to Finland.  Hubster lived in Germany for a spell, and has traveled some, including Paris and Rome.

THE PRIZE:  A nice little gift from wherever we go.  Do you collect anything – snow globes, shot glasses, ornaments?  Is there something in particular you want from the area – soap, textiles?  A pretty piece of handmade jewelry?  Let me know if you want something in particular!  (Don’t tell me in the comments – I’ll contact the winner to find out what you want.)

Leave your suggestions in the comments below by 4pm GMT, Wednesday February 29th.  (That’s 11am EST.)

(FYI – currently on the Want To Travel To List, in no particular order:  UK, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Poland, Budapest, Prague, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and more.  You can see my issue about trying to determine where to go first!)

Ready.  Set.  GO!

Categories: Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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