Sunday, August 1

Last bit of Normandy

Our trip to Normandy was very last minute - as in two days after deciding to go, we went. Ryan had discovered he must use or lose some vacation time. We originally thought we'd camp since great weather was expected. I was a bit leery about camping but thought it could be worth it to make the trip happen. Then Ryan was able to strike a deal on an apartment found through the site. HURRAY!!! A bed, a shower, a kitchen, and a washing machine all under the same roof! My needs are simple, but oh so necessary to my sanity traveling with little kids!

Here's our "stable room." Living room/dining room/kitchen, a bedroom and bathroom. Cozy but completely adequate for a place to crash each evening.

This place was a converted stable and opened up this past June. It is only for a couple plus baby, but Ryan got the owner to let us stay there if our boys camped outside in a tent. We were all very happy with that arrangement and quite luckily, the weather cooperated!

I love vrbos! I can do laundry and pack less clothes. The kids can enjoy their regular cereal breakfast and we pack lunches and snacks galore. Sometimes we cook dinner, but usually that is eaten out. We buy the bulk of our groceries on base before leaving with the dollar being weaker than the euro. It saves us quite a bit you could say! Milk and bread are really the only things we must stock up on once we arrive. Ryan's even taken a fancy to us bringing along the cooler with cookie dough for our evening treat! We're so stinkin' spoiled.

The kids were left to their own devices as we got ready to head out each morning. Morgan loved trying everyone's shoes, a rite of passage for this age.

This would also be the day she threw the contents of my wallet into the trash while I was attempting to sleep in. My car keys are also somewhere in a Normandy landfill as well. The cute factor definitely comes to her rescue often! And now I've pretty much learned my lesson that my bag must always be up and out of her reach at all times. Grrrr.

Across the road from the stable was another farmhouse with a chicken coup on the road. I took Morgan and McKay over there to see it and the loved it. Three chickens and a bunny rabbit. I kept waiting for one of them to get bit or pecked because they would not listen to my warnings.

Morgan kept giving them kisses through the fence, cracked me up!

Each morning as we got underway, we made what we deem the obligatory stop for pastries at the local boulangerie/pattisserie.

This is the local shop in our little village outside Coutances, Orval. We'd get there at 10ish and were never alone - always a stream of people in and out. Not the best pastries like those we've had in bigger cities, a little dense, but still yummy! We're quite partial to anything with chocolate!

Driving around Normandy was so scenic. We used our GPS and yet were rarely on highways, lots of small country roads. It was great to see so much of the landscape.

Morgan is our family's animal lover. She gives a high pitch squeal whenever she sees any animal and at this point her name for them all sounds the same, "DOE!" In Normandy, we drove past every color of cow I've ever seen. And Morgan would holler at them. To distract her from meltdowns in the car, Ryan and I would watch for cows with fierce intensity. Ahhh, the joys of traveling with a toddler.

I am sad I didn't really capture any good shots of the infamous hedgerows. They are very much a part of the landscape still today and made it easy to see what a horrible obstacle they were for the Allies invading Normandy. Imagine tanks, machine guns and riflemen hiding in these ready and waiting for our troops.

This road isn't as sunken as most we saw. Essentially, the Normans heaped up earth around their property edges and planted hedge-like bushes and trees to create a natural property barrier or to keep their cattle in. The heaped up earth portion seemed be be from 3'-5' and then the hedges were at least a story high or more. Between these hedges and the stone and cement buildings of the countryside, the Germans really had quite the advantage of natural fortifications defending occupied Normandy.

Thanks for bearing with all these looooong recent travel posts. You ready for more? Next up - Austria's lake country around Salzburg and also Vienna! Wit' da kids!