Spring Break Part 2. Belgium and Normandy

There are some places where you just know that you are meant to be. For me, that includes medieval festivals, and the French and or German countryside. I've been to France before (to the Alsace region) and loved it. Northern France, believe it or not, is quite different. There is something about the vast open fields with quaint 300-400 year old villages interspersed throughout, that sings softly to me like the warm spring breeze that whistles through the wild grasses. I'm sure you know the term "picturesque" or "post-card perfect". I'm pretty 99% of the Normandy countryside is like that. Not only is Normandy full of beautiful landscapes and villages, but it also has a very long, engrossing history (especially at the time of World War II). It was both a humbling and informative visit to the beaches of Normandy (Gold and Omaha) as well as the American Cemetery. What was particularly terrifying and so surreal was the 360º cinema where you stand in the midst of the battles of Normandy; hearing the voices of leaders that give you goosebumps. In fact, all of it gives you goosebumps (I think you'd have to be pretty rock-solid if you don't).

Moving in-land off the coast, we stayed in a small 300 year old cottage owned by a very funny and kind couple who moved to France thirteen years before from England. It's one of three cottages that are part of their bed and breakfast located out in the middle of nowhere (pretty much). The very first night, I was sitting before the crackling wood fire writing my ideas all down in my writing book (I know, such a creative name right?) In the morning, the visitors are awakened by the clucking of chickens and quacking of ducks as fresh eggs are dropped off by the front door for breakfast (which by the way were very good). We spent three nights here, and did our day trips from this "base camp".

One of those day trips included a drive to Mont St. Michel. This place was on my bucket list (I know what you may be thinking, "but you're only a sixteen year old girl, why a bucket list?" Well, why not? After living here for four years, I have a very good idea of the beautiful places I want to visit before I die one day. Mont St. Michel was one of them. Standing at the base of this massive "island/hill" is also a very surreal experience just because of the sheer size of the place! One has to crane their neck almost to a 180º incline to see the highest point of the abbey at the top of the hill. What my family did was walk the ramparts first. Most people walk straight through up the winding streets to get to the abbey; lined with tourist shops and creperies. If you can hold off on the food and trinkets until the end, I suggest climbing the steps to the ramparts (the upper walls) where very few visit. It is a gorgeous view out over the water and the land off in the distance. Walking the top of the wall leads you right up to the footsteps of the abbey (which are about a gazillion steps anyways). From here, you can tour the abbey and its slightly sinister caves and rooms before walking back down the hill through the village (that's when you visit the shops and get some fresh ice).

The road trip home was long (like 9 hours long...) but worth it. ;) On the road trip home, we reached Paris around noon when there was very little traffic. This was a surprise detour for us! (thanks Dad ;) We got to lounge and eat lunch under the Eiffel Tower! (I was the only person in the family who hadn't gotten to see it yet, and my dad wanted me to see it before we left Europe). After this very intimidating experience standing under the Eiffel Tower, we packed back up and moved on. Second stop was to a Pommery in Champagne to taste champagne from the Champagne region. :P There are some good champagnes, and there are some bad champagnes... that's all I've got to say... But we did buy my favorite one, and some other bottles to toast at my graduation in June. :D From there, we drove home.

That's pretty much it, haha. :)




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