Five European Counties - Two TETs, Tintin, Waterloo, WWI, and WWII

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by viajarMOTO, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    Thanks for posting the pics. I loved reading Georges Remi's Tintin books as a boy and still do enjoy the stories today. The submarine model brought back lots of good memories.
    #21
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  2. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Keep it coming! It's a good and informative read and reminds me that there are still lots of interesting places to see back home.
    #22
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  3. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    Street Art in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

    The city of Louvain-la-Neuve surprised me with the wide variety of street art we saw in our short walk to find the Hergé Museum and some Belgium waffles.

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    An ugly tagged door in a beat-up street caught my eye...

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    …because of this beautiful stencil art of two girls dancing.

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    A unique way to lay bricks. I wonder if one could practice wall climbing on these?

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    A boring stairwell brought to life through vibrant colors and strong lines.

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    For some reason I like this lion. Perhaps it’s the stylized use of African patterns?

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    C’est la Vie by Claude Rahir

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    I like the smile on this cow!

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    This mural titled “U’est-ce qu’un intellectuel?” by Roger Somville seemed to compliment the colors of the red and blue “no parking sign”.

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    Enjoying a fresh orange juice and remembering to “Live great, enjoy the little things.”

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    As we were leaving the city, we stumbled across these three walls near a parking lot.

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    A smiling panda bear looks over the parking area below.

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    Trans Euro Trail – Belgium

    The rest of the day was getting through some challenging parts of the TET since the recent rainfall created a lot of mud on the trail.

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    My turn to drop my mule! Rider and mule OK. Mud definitely makes riding a lot more challenging.

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    Mostly cloudy today with a few rays breaking through the clouds for a few minutes.

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    Our mules will definitely need a bath after this trip.

    This may be our last day on the TET since the mud is really slowing us down and more rain is expected tonight. Pounding pavement is not a fun but we still need to explore France before we run out of vacation time.
    #23
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  4. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    I tend to take A LOT of pictures. Glad you’re enjoying them. More to come - especially WWI and WWII history...

    I wish I knew about Tintin as a boy - I would have definitely read them all. My wanderlust of foreign lands was filled by National Geographic.

    Netherlands is a great country that I loved for many reasons. Much more than windmills and wooden shoes for sure!
    #24
  5. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    I have also noticed on a few trips to Belgium the vibrant street & wall art. Unlike the primitive graffiti that usually festoons urban spaces, the Belge seem to foster art that's skillful & amusing.
    #25
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  6. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    8 April - Day 8 of 13 - Remembering World War I

    Today was an opportunity to learn and experience “The Great War” of 1914-1918. We started by visiting Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood followed by a nearby cemetery.

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    Hill 62 is one of the last areas to have preserved the trenches of WWI and it provides an interesting view into the harshness of war and trench warfare.

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    Imagine living in these muddy trenches for months at a time?

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    With the constant fear of an enemy mortar whistling from the sky, exploding nearby, and sending hot shrapnel ripping though your body.

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    The poppy flower is the symbol of WWI remembrance.

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    The museum featured stacks of old shells in all various sizes.

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    The museum shelves were filled with WWI memorabilia from both the Allied and Central Powers.

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    A poster for helping identify friendly vs enemy aircraft.

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    A recruiting poster to join the cavalry.

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    Manfred von Richthofen’s, also known as The Red Baron, famous red Fokker Triplane. He is buried near Frankfurt, Germany.

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    Nearby was just one of hundreds of cemeteries within this area.

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    Here rests the bodies of men who never returned home.

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    So many where unnamed.

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    A Canadian soldier without a name.

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    Well wishers leave notes and their promise to never forget.

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    The history lesson continued as we rode our way to the city of Ypres, Belgium.

    Saint Martin’s Cathedral


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    This Romanesque church was completed in 1370. The church was heavily damaged during the First World War and from 1922–1930 the ruin was cleared and the church was entirely rebuilt following the original plans.

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    An impressive architectural building!

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    With beautiful stained glass windows throughout.

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    The church had a variety of artwork and sculptures.

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    A symbol of the city that stretches 102 meters high.

    Leper War Victims Monument

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    Just outside the church is the Leper War Victims Monument…

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    …which is dedicated to remembering the 176 civilian and military victims who died during WWI and WWII from Ieper and Ypres.

    In Flanders Fields Museum

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    The museum was named after the famous poem by Canadian John McCrae.

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    The displays were educational and well designed. There are hideaway sections, like this one, where the horrors of warfare are discussed and shown with photographs taken during WWI.

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    The weapons of warfare. The horse was a key player in the success of moving heavy machinery throughout the battlefield. Watch the movie War Horse to get a better understanding of how horses were used during WWI.

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    Artifacts from a sad part of our human history.

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    21 million people were wounded during the four years of the First World War. Many suffered the rest of their lives.

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    Trench warfare was hell, with not much to look forward to other than the same meals and maybe an occasional cigarette.

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    We walked the stone stairs to the top of the tower. Halfway up we discovered that up until 1817 there used to be a ceremony in May where the town fool would throw living cats from the tower to chase away evil spirits.

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    Sadly, from this height, there was no way the cats would have lived.

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    Fortunately, the ceremony is now changed! Every three years on the second Sunday of May there is a huge celebration and parade for our furry feline friends. A cat is still thrown from the tower; however this time it’s a velvet cat. If you catch it, you can make a wish.

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    The final display asks the question “Is war worth it?” This is a complicated question…

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    …Europe is much better off today than it was in the 1910s and 1940s…

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    …but it took numerous wars and unnecessary bloodshed to get to this point in history.

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    Perhaps it’s best if we just remember history and promise to ensure that this dark past is not repeated.

    Menin Gate


    The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I.

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    Two stone lions stand guard at the Menin Gate. These were gifted from the Australian Government to the city of Ypres.

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    Red Poppy wreaths are dedicated to those who died while serving their country.

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    So many names…

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    …The memorial lists 54,896 names. All of them have unknown graves.

    After visiting the sites of Ypres, Belgium we made our way across the border to France and then found a campsite near the beaches of Normandy. Tomorrow we will begin our tour of the La voie de la Liberté (Liberty Road).
    #26
  7. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    9 April - Day 9 of 13 - La voie de la Liberté (Liberty Road), France

    The Liberty Road - This 1,146-kilometer commemorative roadway marks the route of the Allied forces from the D-Day landings of Normandy, France to Bastogne, Belgium. We first heard of this road when we visited Bastogne lat year and saw the marker (borne) that signified the end of the Liberty Road. I figured traveling this route would be a great way to remember the Allied Forces who were so influential in freeing France from the clutches and oppression of Nazi Germany.

    My original plan was to ride a bicycle along the route but I didn’t have the vacation time to dedicate the two weeks it would have taken to properly ride and explore the liberty road. So, a couple weeks before we left for this trip, we decided to ride it together on motorcycles. Happy-happy-joy-joy for all you folks on advrider!

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    Here is the route of the Liberty Road. We’ll ride the entire route over the next 5 days.

    Today we explored Utah Beach, Utah Beach Landing Museum, Sainte-Mère-Église, Dead Man’s Corner, The D-Day Experience, and the Eglise Notre Dame des Champs in Avranches.

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    On our way to Utah beach, we came across A monument to Richard Davis “Dick” Winters. Read more about this Easy Company commender of the 101st Airborne Division: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Winters


    Utah Beach

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    The KM 00 stone marker (borne) located at the start of D-Day at Utah Beach, Normandy, France.

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    The beach where 21,000 US, UK, and Dutch Infantry landed here on June 6th, 1944.

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    Well-wishers leave flowers to remember the fallen. The 4th Infantry had relatively few casualties at 197. The airborne divisions suffered a staggering 2,500 – nearly 18 percent of the airborne divisions involved!

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    A horse pulls a Sulky cart and rider through the surf of the English Channel.

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    Looking back at the beach entrance and museum from Utah Beach.

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    Monument de l’US NAVY – A monument dedicated to the US Navy Sailors of Operation Neptune. 6,939 vessels were involved: 1,213 combat ships, 4,126 landing ships and craft, 736 auxiliary, and 864 merchant vessels.

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    A small section of barbed-wire still exists as a reminder of the German fortifications which were built here.

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    A M4A1(76)W HVSS Sherman Tank marks the entrance to the museum.

    Utah Beach Landing Museum


    A museum dedicated to the individuals who served during the D-Day assault and those who keep the memories of the world’s largest naval, air, and land operation alive for future generations.

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    The monument of the 4th Infantry Division marks the museum entrance.

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    Utah Beach was just one of five planned amphibious landings. Omaha Beach, to the east, suffered the most American losses.

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    The flag of the National Socialist League of the Reich.

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    June 6, 1944 – Allied landing in Normany: D-Day

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    Dollar bills recovered from the beaches. All were dated before 1944.

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    French aviators, although small in numbers, also participated in Operation Overlord. Their presence symbolizes the rebirth for France. When we visited the UK last year we saw plaques dedicated to many of these French aviators.

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    A Martin B-26 Marauder named “Dinah Might” painted to represent the 386th Bomb Group – 9th USAAF.

    One of my personal favorite sections was a display dedicated to those who were part of the Utah Beach landings...

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    This is Guy Whidden, he served in the 101st Airborne Division.

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    Here is Vernon Moon Miller. He served on the USS Cincinnati as a Boatswain’s Mate Third Class.

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    This character is George Shenkle, who was a part of the 82nd Airborne Division.

    In addition, there was a small section dedicated to those who are preserving the memory of the Normandy Beach landings...

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    Charles de Vallavieille who dedicated his life to building the Utah Beach Museum.

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    Cécile et Yves Osmont, who had dedication much of his like to model building and preserving the memory of the naval units involved in the D-Day landings.

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    James Flanagan and his comrades proudly display a trophy taken after the attack on Marmion positions at Ravenoville.

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    The Willys MB were successful, off-road capable, light utility vehicles. Willys built over 350,000 of these from 1940-1945.

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    Somehow, I doubt soldiers heeded this limit .

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    This 48-star US flag was raises over the first German bunker captured on June 6th. It remained in place there until November before it was claimed by a local and then later donated to the museum.


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    One last photo before we mount the mules to enjoy the beginning of the Liberty Road.

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    The start of our ride! In 5 days we plan on reaching the 1,146 km borne marker at Bastogne.
    #27
  8. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    Totally agree, Since moving to Europe we’ve started following quite a lot of exceptionally skilled street artists.
    #28
  9. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    Sainte-Mère-Église

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    A short ride from Utah Beach is the the first town liberated by the allies: Sainte-Mère-Église.

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    The Sainte-Mère-Église church is famous for a paratrooper named John Marvin Steele, that got his parachute hung up on the church tower. John hung there for two hours pretending to be dead. The Germans later took him prisoner but he escaped and rejoined his division.

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    Beautiful stained glass windows dedicated to the valiant paratroopers of Normandy.

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    Peace...

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    …and paratroopers is now the theme of the church.

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    Those who enter are asked to think and pray for peace.

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    Across from the church we found a cafe that served the most interesting grilled ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever tasted. It combined cheese slices and cheese sauce which was different but delicious.

    Dead Man’s Corner

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    A few km south of Sainte-Mère-Église is Dead Man’s Corner. It was named for a battle in which an American tank was disabled by a German rocket. The American tank commander hung dead from the turret for a few days before follow-up crews could clean-up and identify the dead bodies.

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    The home is now a museum full of thousands of WWII memories.

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    German for ‘sick collecting point’.

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    French pamphlets written in a English to welcome the Allied invasion.

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    We also learned about the Jake McNiece and the Filthy Thirteen of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The demolition section cut their hair and applied war paint to honor the “mohawks” and McNiece’s Native American heritage.

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    The 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles”!

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    The “D-Day Experience” takes you on an interactive journey as you prepare to board a C-47 named Stoy Hora in preparation for the D-Day aerial assaults.

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    The Dakota C-47 Stoy Hora has an interesting story and does a great job of making the paratrooper experiences more personal.

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    A museum features items from the crew, including this jacket with a lucky rabbits foot worn by Pvt. Edward Joint.

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    Papers reported the allied invasion shortly after it’s success.

    Liberty Road

    Our route continued to the southwest through the following towns:
    • Montebourg liberated on 19 June 1944
    • Cherbourg liberated on 26 June
    • Carentan liberated on 12 June
    • Pont-Hébert liberated on 17 July
    • Saint-Lô liberated on 16 July
    • Marigny liberated on 25 July
    • Coutances liberated on 28 July
    • Lengronne liberated on 29 July
    • Avranches liberated on 30 July
    Eglise Notre Dame des Champs

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    The unique colored door of the Eglise Notre Dame des Champs in Avranches.

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    The Eglise Notre Dame des Champs was bright in comparison to many cathedrals.

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    For some reason I think of Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade! :jack

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    A statue of the Archangel Michael slaying Satan. This will be another popular art form tomorrow as we learn more about Mont-Saint-Michel.

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    Mont-Saint-Michel

    Just before sunset we reached the impressive island fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel. My zoom camera did a decent job of getting closer to the island but we wanted to get a closer shot…

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    So we launched the drone. I had to fly it nearly 1.2 miles to get close enough to get this…

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    …stunning shot! The timing and lighting was near perfect. Ok, now I needed to get the drone back before the battery life expired. Fortunately, I got it back with about 12 percent on the battery!

    Tomorrow we’ll visit this island in person and take a tour of the incredible abbey at the very top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. More to come...
    #29
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  10. viajarMOTO

    viajarMOTO Been here awhile

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    10 April - Day 10 of 13 - La voie de la Liberté (Liberty Road), France

    Today we explored Mont-Saint-Michel and the Abbey before continuing along the route of the Liberty Road.

    Mont-Saint-Michel

    You can ride a bus, take a horse drawn carriage, or walk from the parking lot to the island. We ended up riding the first bus of the morning so we could enjoy the site without the crowds of tourists.

    Like a medieval, fairy-tale fantasy, sprouting from the sea, Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most recognizable icons of France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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    A cloudy and cold morning. We arrived at 0800 – well before the crowds of tourists.

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    The shops with their colorful signs were all still closed. There are not many people who live here – population is about 50 folks.

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    Looking up at the Abbey from the walled streets.

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    Birds fly and roost on chimneys and rooftops.

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    A model of the Abbey with its iconic statue of Archangel Michael at the top.


    The Abbey opened at 0930. We purchased the audio guide and made our way from room to room learning about this amazing structure which began it construction in the 10th century.

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    There were no decorations except for some simple tables, chairs,…

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    …and some sculptures.

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    The cloister was especially impressive with great views of the central and surrounding gardens.

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    The dining hall was a massive room.

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    Intricate details of carved stone reliefs between pillars.

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    Simple stained glass windows.

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    Looking up at the chancel of the abbey church. This portion fell down in 1421 was replaced by the Gothic Flamboyant chancel.

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    The pillars and buttresses support the weight of the stone ceiling.

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    The treadwheel crane which served as a windlass during the time the Abbey was used as a prison. The crane was powered by prisoners who would walk inside the wheel to rotate it…

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    …bringing supplies from way down there!

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    This is the exposed Rock of Mont Tombe. Touching the stone is considered to confer healing properties.

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    We left the Abbey and continued down to the shops which were now full of tourists, except for this narrow walkway we explored earlier that morning.

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    We bought this small Archangel Michael as a memory of our trip to the beautiful and impressive Mont-Saint-Michel.

    We took a short bus ride from Mont-Saint-Michel to a small shopping area where we could grab some breakfast as the local bakery.

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    A cow destined for traveling the world!

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    This was the most delicious breakfast pastry I have tasted in a long while!! Heavenly! Délice Croustillant aux Fraises (Crispy Delicacy with Strawberries)

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    A final view of Mont-Saint-Michel before we continue along the route.

    Back on the Road to Liberty

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    Along the way we would occasionally stop to take pictures: In Ranazé we noticed a modern church building with unique murals painted on the entrance wall.


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    A bold step for a church to have such unique murals on the front of its building. Personally, I like it, but many may disagree.

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    Along the route we came across this beautiful mural painted on a large brick building. So large I had to use the pano function on my iPhone.

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    Love the detail of the people and the birds.

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    A simple brick home with unique colored window shutters reached out to my camera to take its picture.

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    Nearby was this brightly painted wagon!

    Today we rode through:
    • Saint-Servan liberated on 17 August 1944
    • Saint-Malo liberated on 16 August 1944
    • Rennes liberated on 4 August 1944
    • Angers liberated on 10 August 1944…
    …and ended the day at Camp de Port Caroline near Angers, France.

    Tomorrow we will explore Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres! More to come...
    #30
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