So I've been without internet (although it was advertised that we would! argh!) since leaving Paris and I've been going through a bit of withdrawal. Perhaps it was a good thing since my Facebook/Blogger dependencies were getting in the way of real life -- and who really wants to be on the computer when on vacation?
After leaving Paris we headed north to Normandy to visit the D-Day beaches and the war museum in Caen. Mr. JB is a total history buff and was really excited (and he was sick of Paris, he's a small town boy at heart). I'd like to think of myself as a pacifist, but it was hard not to be moved by the displays.
At the war museum in Caen there was a temporary exhibit on 9/11 that brought tears to my eyes more than once. I will never forget the day of the attacks. It was a beautiful day in Ottawa and I had just moved home from Europe and had started teachers' college. When a friend got the phone call that the towers had been hit she told her boyfriend that it wasn't a funny joke and hung up. When he called back and told us to find a television, we all knew that it was not a joke at all. I had never been so scared in my entire life. I didn't have a land line nor cable (which I think was a blessing in disguise). My cat hadn't even moved in with me yet so I was all alone.
Reading all of the information at the museum about World War II really brought things to life for me. I have a renewed appreciation for what the soldiers did, and are doing now. Standing on the various beaches -- Juno and Omaha as well as Cote de Hoc (where the Allied soldiers had to scale cliffs to get to land and were basically picked off by the enemy) -- I felt so grateful that people had come before me to make sure that I would live in a world that is safe.
After Normandy Mr. JB and I said goodbye to our travel mates to head south. I had already visited the Cote d'Azur and I wanted to go somewhere different. I am so glad that I chose Biarritz! As soon as we arrived at the train station (after a very long day of train travel) I could feel all of the stress melt away. Biarritz is a popular spot for families and it seems German tourists. It's not as expensive as the more touristy spots, the food is wonderful and everyone is so laid back (as one would expect at a seaside town known for surfing).
We decided that since we were already in the southwest that we should visit Lourdes, as any good Catholic should. Am I ever glad that we did. The day was cloudy and cooler and we got a little bit of rain so I wouldn't have been able to lounge on the beach anyway (a girl has to be practical, yes?). Mr. JB and I visited all of the important sites in the life of St. Bernadette (who saw visions of Mary on eighteen different occasions). The church was absolutely beautiful and all of the chapels on the site were phenomenal. We were most impressed with the underground basilica for St. Pius. I lit more than one candle for all of us infertiles and said many, many prayers. I was too hungry to wait in line to get dunked in the healing springs (and there were so many sick people waiting in line that I would've felt guilty taking a spot for someone in worse shape than I was). I was overcome more than once with the feeling that someone was hearing my prayers.
So tomorrow is our last day in Biarritz before we head to Barcelona. I'm getting pretty homesick. I've thought more than once that I would love to transport my house and all of it's comforts (like a bathroom big enough for me to comb my hair without hitting the door!) to Europe, but alas, that is not possible. I guess the best thing about vacations is that we remember what we've left back home.
But I do have to admit that a day at the beach tomorrow may take some of my homesickness away, even for an afternoon...