Monday, May 11, 2015

American Cemetery in Normandy, France

Have you ever gotten to visit the American Cemetery in Normandy?  Jon has been several times, but I had yet to make the trip.  We set aside a weekend in May to visit this area of France that has been so important to Americans and it did not disappoint.  The visitor's center at the cemetery is beautiful and well done.  There is a short introductory video when you first walk in and also a longer version (16 minutes) that you can watch as well.  Be ready when you watch these movies, they are well done and tragic. 
Garrett and Addie watching the first film.

I feel like there have been several movies and tv series done about D-Day so that I feel like I know a lot about the over all campaign.  I even feel like I have heard a lot of the more interesting stories.  This visitor's center brought to light many more amazing stories of bravery and courage.  I was inspired by this story of a female spy that was involved with D-Day.

And then it was time to visit the actual cemetery.

It is always challenging to visit places like this. 

Inside the chapel on the grounds.

From here we drove through Carentan and then on to Sainte-Mere-Eglise.  Sainte-Mere-Eglise is where about 20 paratroopers landed on the evening before DDay.  It is known as the first town liberated. We did not visit the museum there, but it did look like a good time.  We walked through the church, checked out a couple of Army/Navy surplus stores, got a snack and then headed out.  It was a nice place to stop and there are quite a few things to do there if you have the time.

Here are the kiddos enjoying their afternoon snack before we loaded back into the car.

Juno Beach

When I booked our house for this weekend in Normandy I chose Courselles Sur Mer.  I didn't know at the time that it was near Juno Beach, about 45 minutes from the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach.  At first I was frustrated with myself, but after seeing the house where we got to stay and enjoying a visit to Juno Beach I was pleasantly surprised.  We were able to walk from our Airbnb house to the beaches.  Malachi was pretty excited.

Addie and Ben were enjoying the fresh air.

We checked out a bunker and then headed to the beach.

There were lots of rocks to throw.

It was a wonderful evening.

I got lots of love.

I love this one of Malachi.

And finally the whole gang on top of a bunker.

From here we walked by the fresh seafood sellers and I bought fresh scallops and took them home and sautéed them for dinner.  It was a great night and the start of a wonderful weekend.

Our Favorite Day in Spain

We have traveled a lot with our kids.  We have taken them to cities, museums, and very significant cultural sights.  Their favorite place so far was an afternoon visit to the lake in Navacerrada.  The monkey bars started our visit off.  

The path through the forest was our next step.

Garrett was protecting something here.

He was very intent on making sure it was okay.

See that tiny little lady bug?

Jon got to carry the stroller over the mud patch.

Did I mention we were celebrating 8 years with this sweet girl?

Ah, the lake.

Malachi was ready to be out of the stroller and exploring with the big kids. 

They had so much fun climbing and exploring.

I love that Ben has been posing for me lately.

I love this man and all of our adventures!

This little guy loves being outside.

He is growing up so fast and thinks he can do anything the big kids can.

It really was a very beautiful spot.

I love the next 3 pictures.  Addie had jumped out to the smaller rock and Ben really wanted to try as well.

I love his arms raised in victory.

Another jumping shot.  Can you believe no one fell in?

Throwing rocks in the water is a favorite past time here.

I posted this picture last week and it got a lot of attention.  

Garrett managed to carry that big rock.

Malachi got his own rock too.  Can you believe this guy is just 18 months old?  

Speaking of growing up fast, this is girl 8 years old now.  She is such a joyful girl and we so blessed to have her in our life.  Can you believe she is on her first over night field trip this week?  Living in Europe 

We went home and had a yummy cake to celebrate how much we love Addison.  She is a loving daughter, an amazing big sister, and a great friend.  

Celebrating Addie was a great way to finish off our last big trip in Europe. 

Don't worry, we still have a couple of adventures while we are in France.  Less than 7 weeks until the move happens!

El Escorial, A Great Day Trip from Madrid

Towards the end of our week in Spain we were trying to decide what else we wanted to do.  We had thought about going to Toledo, but it was about a1 1/2 hour drive and none of us felt up to that much travel.  When I googled day trips from Madrid El Escorial kept coming up.  I looked at it and it was only about 30 minutes from Navacerrada.  We decided to give it a try.  
The palace was beautiful, but they did not allow photos inside.  I did buy the book from the gift shop so we could remember all of the beautiful images from inside the palace.

After we visited the palace we had lunch and spent some time at the park.  There just happened to be a market going on at the park so I was able to do a little shopping for clothes and we got some fresh fruit for a snack.

This park was our next stop, it was an activity park for the senior crowd.

The view of the market.

The view from the park, not too shabby.

The kids had so much fun.

It was fun watching them figure out how all the pieces worked.

Malachi liked the view too.

The name of the park was Parque de Felipe II.  

And it was right around the corner from our parking garage.  

I would recommend El Escorial as a day trip if you are ever in Madrid.  There was more to see, but we were impressed with the Palace and the park that we saw.