Europe 2013

 

After having been to the USA we were severely jetlagged, more or less 9 hours as we did not really have the energy to go from Pacific time to Eastern time (6 hours behind Continental European time) when in New York. We landed approximately at 14.00 after a night in the air. We slept some hours in the car and then drove ca 200 km to Linköping and went to bed at 20.30. In the morning we were able to continue our journey and drive 1 150 km in a single day, at times ca 230 km/h on the autobahn.

 

In the Ruhr area we shopped a lot, visited cities like Dortmund, Essen, Wuppertal, Bochum, Düsseldorf, and Neuss, and looked at the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, which was magnificient as always. After a short stop in Aachen we saw Bastogne, which was defended by the American 101st Airborne Division during the battle of the Bulge in 1944. When asked by the Germans to surrender, the division's commander Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe gave his famous reply: "Nuts!".

 

As we in 2003 missed the fact that there was an American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg, we naturally went there and saw the cemetery. We then proceeded to Verdun and the battlefields of World War I. The night was spent in Reims, the place for the well-known cathedral and the signing of the surrender documents of World War II on 7 May 1945. In the morning we went to the city of Sedan, the actual place where the Germans broke through in 1940 when overrunning France. After that it was time to go to Charleroi in Belgium to meet our friend Hajo Schintag, but there was not much to do there, so we headed for the Lion Mound at Waterloo instead. We sat on the top and talked for an hour and after that we were hungry and went to the town centre of Waterloo and had dinner at a really nice restaurant. He went to Oostende in the evening and we to Brussels and Leuven.

 

We were thinking hard whether we should go to the Alps or Normandy in the morning, and the result was that we opted for the beaches of northern France. We saw Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah Beaches during the following days. We also had the pleasure of visiting Pointe du Hoc, various cemeteries including Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Saint-Lô, the Bayeux Tapestry, and the landing places and objectives of the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. They were Sainte-Mère-Église, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Saint-Côme-du-Mont, Hiesville, Vierville, and Carentan among others.

 

We left the invasion area for a while and went to the picturesque towns of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and Barfleur, but only after a short stopover to see the Crisbecq batteries, which were able to shell Utah Beach on June 6 1944 and some days after. Before we came to the hotel we saw one of the tallest lighthouses in the world, Phare de Gatteville. We rested during the night at La Glacerie near Cherbourg. In the morning the day after we saw the other tip of the Cotentin Peninsula, Goury, and the lighthouse nearby.

 

The next stop was, a little bit unexpectedly as we let our GPS decide the way to the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, the familiar Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. We shopped in the D-Day souvenir shops for a while and then continued our journey to the monastery, but before that we took in Avranches, the site of the breakthrough from Normandy in August 1944, and the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial. Mont Saint-Michel was nice and the opening hours totally wonderful. The same evening we went to Mercure Omaha Beach for a second time (we had stayed there two days before when seeing the beaches) and in the morning we drove through the invasion area once again. In the afternoon and evening we visited Le Havre, the white cliffs of Étretat, Fécamp, Dieppe, and Amiens, the site of the world-famous cathedral. The next day we visited the poignant battlefields of the Somme area, with its many memorials and cemeteries.

 

After stops in Duisburg, Bielefeld, Hannover, and Hamburg we arrived home after 34 days in the USA, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and the Netherlands.

 

 

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