Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013...heading home

We had put the address for the pet kennel into the GPS the night before to get an estimate of how long the drive was back. The GPS said 8 hours. We figured we'd add an hour for stops along the way and because we had run into so many "deviations" (detours) in France.

So, we got up around 5:00 a.m. and headed out by 6:00 a.m. The kennel closes at 4:00 p.m. and we wanted to try to get them that day. They're normally closed on Sundays, but they had planned an Open House for this particular Sunday, so we did have the option of keeping them there one more night. We know Socrates (the cat) does not like it there, so we wanted to try to get back in time to pick them up.

We drove and drove and drove!  We made a couple of pit stops. One of them was just to use a restroom.......I walked in and there were some very large, loud men arguing inside (looked like they were closed to physically fighting!) so we left right away. We couldn't find the restrooms in there anyway! So, we kept driving...

There were several places we had to stop to pay tolls...

 We were happy to cross into Belgium!

Then into The Netherlands!

We made it to the kennel by 3:30!!!  Sammy and Socrates were very happy to see us.....and visa versa!
We feel okay leaving the pets there knowing they are safe and well cared for. They are very friendly there and it's obvious they love the animals. Sammy loves it, and this time Socrates at least ate. I think he's starting to get used to it there.

 We had a great vacation.....but ahhhhhhh, it's always nice to be home!

We had made a few purchases while in France....most of which are "consumables"!!!

Fish soup......which is delicious!!!!

 Cidre, which is a sparkling apple cider with a very low alcohol content (and a couple of cidre cups!)

And, of course, the champagne!

Friday, April 5th...our 10th anniversary!

Friday morning we headed out to du Mont Saint Michel, which was about an hour drive away:

Mont Saint-Michel (pronounced: [mɔ̃ sɛ̃ mi.ʃɛl]; English: Saint Michael's Mount) is a rocky tidal island 247 acres (100 ha) in size, and is a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country's northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The island's highest point is 92 metres (301 feet) above sea level. The population of the island is 44, as of 2009.[1] The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the eighth century AD been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. One of France's most recognisable landmarks, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites[2] and more than 3 million people visit it each year.[3]
From Rick Steves:

The actual abbey of Mont St. Michel is the reason to visit. Saint Michael, whose gilded statue decorates the top of the abbey's spire, was the patron saint of many French kings, making this a favored sight for French royalty through the ages. St. Michael was particularly popular in Counter-Reformation times, as the Church employed his warlike image in the fight against Protestant heresy.
During the French Revolution, the atheistic government kept 300 priests here.
Tough prison sentence? During the French Revolution, the atheistic government kept 300 priests here.

Mont St. Michel has been an important pilgrimage center since A.D. 708, when the bishop of Avranches heard the voice of Archangel Michael saying, "Build here and build high." With brilliant foresight, Michael reassured the bishop, "If you build it...they will come." Today's abbey is built on the remains of a Romanesque church, which stands on the remains of a Carolingian church. Visiting the abbey, imagine the headaches and hassles the monks had when they built it. They ferried granite from across the bay (without the causeway back then) and hiked it uphill.
Monks built on the rock to get as close to heaven as possible. The downside: not enough level ground to support a sizable abbey and church. The solution: Four immense crypts were built under the church to create a platform supporting each of its wings. In 1421, the crypt that supported the apse collapsed, taking its end of the church with it. Today's crypt boasts immense columns (15 feet around), rebuilt with a determination not to fall again.

We found the set up once we arrived to be quite unusual. They have you park 2.5 kilometers away from the Mount itself. You have to walk through the parking lot, then through a small town before you finally reach the shuttle buses that takes you to your final destination. Because of the way the causeway was constructed, they have special buses that has a driver's seat on both ends, so it doesn't have to be turned around!

We walked up the hill and went into a few of the cute little shops...

Then we went into a little museum and headed up to the Abbey:

The entire Mount is surrounded by quicksand:

As we went up we went through a wax museum.......

then headed up to the Abbey:

we had to climb lots of stairs!

 Reassuring to see and AED there after climbing all those stairs!

The drive in seen from above!  You can see people walking to the shuttle bus area on the pathway!

By this time it started to rain......and it was cold and windy too!
At the top, we had arranged for a guided tour in English. It was wonderful!!!  Our guide was very knowledgable, gave us lot of historical facts and a few good stories too!  

After our tour, we headed back to the hotel in Saint Malo. 

Because it was our anniversary we wanted to celebrate with a nice dinner and some champagne!  Sooooo, we had the woman at the hotel call earlier in the day to make us a reservation for dinner at a restaurant close to the hotel. Our reservation was for 8:00 and we had arrived back at the hotel around 7:00! So, we got changed and headed out for dinner at Le Benetin Restaurant.  The restaurant overlooks the ocean...we had a beautiful view! 

We got a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which was delicious!

 I had some cauliflower soup....
 and rabbit for the main course....(yumm!)
 Andrew (happily!!!) paying the bill. The machine for payment is brought directly to the table so you can input your password.

The end of a wonderful day.....and a decade of marriage! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thursday, April 4th Normandy Beach Tour

We had to get up around 6:00 a.m. to get to the town of Bayeaux where we were to meet the tour bus for our Normandy Tour. The hotel staff was kind enough to open up the breakfast area early so we could get a bite to eat and some coffee before leaving!

We had booked the half day tour for 8:00 with "Overlord Tours". We parked the car and walked over to the meeting spot a little before 8:00.

Our first stop was at the Battery of Longues sur Mer:

Next stop: Omaha Beach:

Next stop: The American Military of Colville-Ser-Mer where 9287 military service members are buried.

 Names on the walls of the missing:

Another stop along the beachfront:

 Our last stop was Point du Hoc, where the 100 foot cliffs were scaled and the military took this area:

Looking out from inside the bunker:

The day was cold and very windy. It gave a small sense of what it was like that day, June 6, 1944. That day had actually been cold, windy and raining. So many died for our freedom.


After our tour we walked around the town of Bayeux, France. We had a little lunch at a creperie in town.
Then we walked over to the Bayeux Cathedral:

then we walked over to see the Bayeux Tapestry:

Bayeux Tapestry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William and Harold in Normandy
The Bayeux Tapestry (FrenchTapisserie de BayeuxIPA: [tapisʁi də bajø], Norman : La telle du conquest) is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry—nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

(No pictures were allowed to be taken of the tapestry......above description is from Wikipedia.)

Cute little cat greeted us in the morning before our tour....and then we saw her again in the afternoon!

After seeing The Bayeux Tapestry we got in the car for the drive to Saint Malo, France.

We checked into our hotel: La Vilefromoy where we stayed two nights: 

After checking in, we drove downtown and walked around....

It was just a "tad bit" cold and windy!

 We have found that in Europe most shops close at 5:00. It's always fun to window shop though!

Stopped for dinner, had crepes and Cidre:
Looked around a bit more, then headed back to the hotel.

 There are eight chimneys coming out of this rooftop!