When I went to Normandy, France, I got an experience unlike the average tourist and it all started in Caen. I wrote a little on the subject in a previous post, but here I can go into all the details! I was lucky to not just see beautiful places, but I got to sing at many of them too – which makes the places I went all the more personal.
This entire trip was grounded in history, which happens to be my forte. Normandy has been an important part of history for a long time – named after its “North Men” conquerors (vikings), in and out of Britain’s hands throughout time, where William the Conqueror ascended from to conquer England in 1066. But I was there to honor a more recent history; the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings of World War II.
My introduction to travel was paired with an abundance of historical knowledge, so that as a choir entering an unfamiliar territory, we would be able to understand and respect the sensitive subject of World War II. I fell in love with it all – the empathetic approach to understanding a culture by learning its history. This love has led me to my dream now!
Caen was the first destination I explored. We stayed at the Kyriad Hotel, which was incredibly quaint and minimalistic – there weren’t any fancy amenities but the hotel’s soft and sweet appearance took me into a fairytale. I instantly thought that I was Aurora in Sleeping Beauty singing to my forest friends outside the cottage-like window from our room.
France comes with the cutest little things! I have so many pictures of random fixtures, like this cute yellow mailbox!
The main event in Caen was getting to visit Omaha Beach, one of the beaches where the D-Day landings happened. It was so surreal stepping on the sand and looking over the water. What surprised me the most was how peaceful, serene and calm the area is – I couldn’t imagine it 70 years ago. It was also sort of insane to think that England was on the other side of the water, putting into perspective that I was really in France! I loved looking at the various monuments and info stands at the beach, commemorating the history it had seen. This impactful experience was the perfect way to start the trip!
As a choir, we continued our honoring of D-Day by singing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which was beautiful! So much green and right on the coast of the English Channel! And of course, the same peace and serenity from Omaha Beach was present here looking at all of the white crosses along the lawn.
Going along with the theme of my trip, I also visited several museums – my favorite being the Mémorial de Caen!
We also got to visit the Chateau de Caen, a castle built on top of one of William the Conqueror’s fortifications. It was amazing! This huge castle structure in the middle of a bustling town center embodied to me the great appeal of Europe – being able to walk and shop along a modern downtown neighbored by structures that are centuries old.
If you would like to read about an overview of my first trip abroad and also get to know more about my personal desire to travel, read my last travel post: https://airplanemary.com/2017/12/05/perfect-week-france-first-trip-abroad/
I loved Caen and it was the epitome of the reason for our trip to France in commemorating the D-Day landings. I got to meet so many people that enjoyed our music and appreciated our honoring of the event, which made the entire trip so special!