Saturday, September 8, 2012

Last Day in Normandy + Journey to Edinburgh

On our last day in Normandy I feel a sense of accomplishment combined with a sense of incompleteness. I want to stay longer and see the things I didn’t get to see: Caen, Bayeux, the Tapestry, the museum in Arromanches… There is so much history and beauty in Normandy and even more in the rest of France. I wish I could see it all and then some. I know there are other beautiful places in the world but I just want to see the shit out of France. I will return to Normandy, but first I want to see the south so I can fall in love with that too.

After leaving Andre and Nicole’s I was feeling over emotional. I kept thinking about the last 24 hours and remembering what we talked about, and our sad goodbye. It was making me upset but I didn’t want to leave crying (although I did). It’s hard to differentiate happy and sad feelings when it comes to emotional experiences like this. But I will be leaving France feeling immense satisfaction as well as a bit of longing and sadness.

On the agenda for the remainder of our final day was enjoying the city we were staying in, Courseulles, as well as seeing Gold beach and visiting Juno beach once again. It was important for us to go into the Juno Beach museum because it is all about the Canadian Allies.

First we went to Gold Beach, it’s only about 5 km from Juno, it’s another American landing beach. It’s not as pretty and large as the other ones we went to, but maybe it seemed smaller because the tide was high. We did manage to walk along the sands and see some French fishermen on the shore. It was a brief visit, but at least we did it.

Gold Beach fishermen.

Gold Beach. The tide was high, I guess the full moon has passed.

We went back to Juno and went straight into the museum. It’s a new museum, modern and interactive. The girls that work there are in their early 20’s and Canadian. We were told that the museum was completely funded by the Canadian veterans as well as local fund raising. Since the Canadian veterans were responsible for the museum being there, they requested that the people that work there are Canadians who would have been the same age as the soldiers who were at war in WWII. I found that very sweet and genuine. It was also nice to come across other Canadians.

I don’t love museums. I like going to museums about dinosaurs, actually. When it comes to other historic things, I feel like I get bored fast. Not that the history itself bores me, just that the artifacts and objects that are there are just that: objects. I feel like once I’ve seen one Canadian WWII uniform, I’ve seen them all (no disrespect). There is tons of information to read and a bit too much for my short attention span. I find the internet is a great resource for any of that knowledge if I ever need to seek it, although I do appreciate the whole idea of a museum. I found being on the beach itself a lot more touching and rewarding than going through the museum of staged ‘things’. I did, however, love seeing the guns and helmets that had been washed ashore in recent years. Imagine coming across that?? There has got to be SO many incredible things in the ocean that no one will ever see. Ugh, don’t get me started on the vastness and scariness of the ocean, it’s almost like the universe.

Cool poster at the Juno Beach Museum.

More advertising from WW2 times.

Which plane did grandpa B fly in?

One last look at Juno.

After Juno we went and grabbed some last minute things from the g-store and headed home. Oh, first I went to the nautical store along the harbour and got myself a sweet wool striped sweater. Like a true sailor. Ok, THAT was a cool keepsake I bought at a shop. Still not as special as my moments with the family though. I was considering wearing the sweater on the ship because I figured if we were to sink, at least I'd be warm. But then I decided to not be paranoid and crazy and packed it away in a tight plastic bag just in case something leaks in my bag. :|

We had dinner at the same place we had pizza at the other night. It’s right below the flat. I had a pot of mussels again, this time the “mariniere” kind. I was expecting a tomato sauce but it was actually a white wine sauce with onions. Still good and not as heavy as the creamy ones I had the first night. They probably give you like a hundred of them. I bet I ate 50 plus some fries. Just thinking about it is making me feel sick. My conclusion is that mussels don’t sit with me well because my stomach felt queasy all night and into the morning. It still doesn’t feel normal but I’ve also abused it with rich delicious foods I wouldn’t normally eat. Note to self: DO NOT EAT MUSSELS EVER AGAIN. Barf. So good at the time.. not so good after the time.

Ketchup and mayo for my fries please. They like to eat their fries all plain. Blech, needs me some sauce.

Baguette with everything. MM.

Jamie's beer and my port.

Cool little restaurant, decent prices and quite popular among the locals I think. Also right under our flat.

That's the patio we sat on, on the right, covered in orange plastic (? probably for the cool sea breeze and rainy nights).

of course the sunset was breathtaking on our last night in Normandy.

Pink sky at night, sailor's delight!

We decided to gorge ourselves on a crepe after that nice big meal. I got a chocolate and vanilla one, Jamie got an apple one. This is where a creepy hobo on a bike pulled up to me while I was alone on the patio while Jamie was inside paying. I was going through my wallet when I looked up and saw him stop right in front of me. I immediately said "bonjour" all friendly-like before realizing he was a potential weirdo. I looked at him, he looked at me, grunted and raised his eyebrows at me like I was dinner and kind of shimmied towards me on his bike. I looked inside to Jamie, he wasn't looking out. This man looked inside and saw some men in there as well and Jamie, then continued on his way. I was freaked out. I wonder if anything would have happened if no one else was in sight?

Mines. The vanilla ice cream in France is never pure white and you can always see the black vanilla bits in it. drooooool.

We had to tidy up and pack because we had an early morning Friday. 5am wakeup, 6:30 head to drop off the car and take a taxi to the ferry port.

Bye apartment!! :(

We ended up leaving just after 6:30 and we needed to get gas. The road was really foggy and I was getting stressed out driving. I wanted to be on route to the ferry by 7:15 latest but we still needed to get gas and driving in Caen is a bit freaky. I ended up driving in the bus/taxi lane at one point. Not enjoyable for anyone in the car at that moment. Blab blab la we dropped the car off and found the taxi spot outside the train station and made it to the ferry on time.

I booked a cabin with bunk beds for the five and a half ferry ride because I knew we’d be zonked. Plus we had a long haul up to Scotland on some trains from the south UK. We napped in those bunks (I felt woozy from the mussels still and my breath smelled like fish from them rotting in my stomach). Actually, Jamie told me my mouth smelled like that dumpster full of fish heads at the dock ahhahahha which made me laugh and blow it in his face harder. Ahhh yes, romance. So sleeping on the boat was fine, we slept about two hours, but it does feel a bit weird because you are kind of swaying – even though the ocean was calm.

A perfect day to be on a boat, bright, warm sun and sweet ocean wind. The previous evening's pink sky was right!


Taking the ferry is nice. They have stores, bars, restaurants, a games room and a nice deck to sun on during your trip. The ship was full of British and French people. One older man was actually topless with his frizzy blond chest hairs all out in the open and wearing shorts on the deck out in the sun. It was warm but.. no one else was tanning and clearly he didn’t give a damn. Do what you want, eff the po-lice.

Calm waters and the south UK in the distance. Almost there!

I'm obsessed with this photo.

Inside the ship, a dj was entertaining people with a music trivia game (3 people to be exact) and that is a little gift shop on the right, of British things. Also, what decade are they in?

The ride went by pretty fast, with the napping and all. Getting to the train station was easy and now that all the signs are in English it’s even better. But understanding the Brits isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I hate asking people who speak English to repeat themselves numerous times. It’s friggin embarrassing especially since I watch coronation street all the time. right? 

We had to take one train to London, then then London Underground to an international train station and now we’re on a train direct to Edinburgh. It’s been just over five hours and we’re 10 minutes away from our final stop.

Lovely ceiling lights at King's Cross Station in London.

When they say "mind the gap" they really mean it.

Healthy snacks for the road. I feel gross from all the food I've been eating... but I'm not stopping til I'm on that plane home.

See those white bits on the green between the tracks? Oh that's just toilet paper and poo because the trains just dump the toilet waste on the tracks. Turds and all.

(switch to past-tense mode because I'm continuing writing this Saturday evening after a nice nap)

Lugging a heavy ass suitcase around, up and down escalators is not ideal. But a lady needs her thangs. You have to calculate precisely when you step on escalators and when to pull the suitcase on behind you. Its quite scary and there were some moments when I thought I’d lost my balance and fall down, bringing everyone with me.

Finally arrived in Edinburgh, on time like most trains in Europe are, at 10:25pm. Hopped in a cab and arrived at the flat 5 minutes later. It was dark out and I didn’t know what buzzer to press… it makes me nervous standing outside at night in a new city with all of our luggage. Two Scottish men exited the building and one said to the other semi-nervously..”was that a cop?” talking about me. I was wearing a fedora. I took it off. What kind of neighbourhood am I in and what is this building?!!? Turns out it’s a nice building in a nice neighbourhood.

We were greeted by Geoff, who informed us that the boiler wasn’t working so a hot shower was not an option. What’s with our luck and hot showers during this trip?? He felt really bad about it and the fixer man was going to be coming to fix it Saturday morning. To make up for it he gave us two bottles of wine and a box of Maltesers. Works for us. The apartment is beautiful. Really high ceilings, very very charming and old. It’s smaller than the one in France, but with much more charm. Not that the French one was shit, they’re just different. It even has a candle lit chandelier in the middle of the living/kitchen. It’s got a cozy, warm feeling to it; the bed is nice and toasty with two feather duvets, and there is a great bathroom with a great tub and shower. I could live in a place like this for sure.


Super high ceilings and lots of character and natural light.

Large windows and lots of apartments surrounding us. Must remember this.

nice kitchen for the cooking we probably won'e be doing.

It was a long journey but it seemed to go by fast, the only negative parts was dragging my luggage around, up and down stairs. But all worth it for the relaxation and exploration in the end.

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