Tuesday July 5th
Trip Start Jun 17, 2011
28Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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On then to the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial. I’d been last year on the way to the ferry but we didn’t have much time & I never got to see the displays in the (free) visitor centre. The place is guarded by serving Marines so getting in was like an airport security check but at least you knew you were safe from terrorists. Again a very well put together & thought provoking exhibition but I could have done without the femare voice in the last couple of rooms continuously reading out the names of the almost 9500 buried here. The place is stunningly well kept and the rows upon rows of small white crosses in perfect vertical, horizontal & diagonal lines were a sight to behold.
Pointe de Hoc was next, another ‘been there, done that’ but Sam hadn’t been. And it was free ! There’s nothing here except shell craters & the casements and associated concrete bunkers but it’s none the worse for that. It has a proper ‘used’ feel to it which feels slightly more gen uine than the tarted up places. A quick wander around & we were off again. I say ‘quick’ but really there’s nothing quick about stopping on a motorcycle in warm weather. You either carry your stuff with you & walk slowly so you don’t drown in your own sweat or you spend half an hour taking it all off, finding the requisite locks to secure it to the bike and then doing the whole lot in reverse when you get back. I often thought a support vehice would be handy. Or maybe I should just go in the car.....
One last stop was on the agenda, the German cemetery, before dashing to Cherbourg to buy provisions for the ferry – not only do I begrudge spending the money but I’ve never had any food on this boat that even approached mediocre so I buy bread / baguettes and cheese, pate, etc and have a picnic on board. This time we got prawns as well (I was tempted to buy a bag of shell-on prawns but good sense prevailed. Can you imagine the mess...) but I was in a hurry & forgot to weigh the grapes so we had to do without them.
I’ve never been to Cherbourg yet, especially on the homeward leg, where it hasn’t rained. My old man spent a year here as a POW & to this day swears it rained every day for that year. So you’ll be glad to hear that Cherbourg is keeping it’s 100% record for another year. After a cracking day the clouds started to gather while we in the American cemetery & I thought ‘you can’t be serious’. But it was. And spookily, it started to rain in almost the exact same place as it had last year. We put on the waterproofs at the German cemetery (21,000 buried there by the way) but a 60km blast in lashing rain was never going to be pretty. I imagine we looked happy as we trudged around Carrefour in Cherbourg. We parked behind an 1150GS on the boat but luckily he was long gone by the time we got on as my light black, almost grey, bike jeans had a big wet, dark patch all around my crotch.
And with that vision in your heads I’ll bid you adieu....