Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Final Days In France and Then Home

JP656/BR-S Hawker Typhoon (replica)
Entrance Hall of  Peace Memorial Musem

We arrived home today filled with memories of our trip to Paris and the Normandy area of France. On Monday morning, we disembarked from the Bizet and boarded a bus to begin our final day of our French River Cruise. The luggage had all been loaded earlier in the morning and off we went to our first stop. The Peace Memorial Museum in Caen, France. 

We spent three hours in this excellent museum, which is divided into three sections. The first exhibits showed all that led up to WWII after the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of WWI. Too many people around the world ignored the increasing sound of war drums during the 20's and 30's. The second section of the museum dwells on the war years. Heartrending photos tell much of the story along with timelines and text.  The visit is finished with a look at the rebuilding years following the war, including the beginning of the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. 

Two restaurants and a fine gift shop as well as a library filled with WWII records round out the museum. It would have been easy to spend a full day here. We had been to the Normandy D-Day beaches only two days earlier and seeing the photos and then an amazing film brought that earlier visit to life. 

The film is only 17 minutes long and not one word is spoken, nor written on the screen. The gigantic screen is divided in half with the Allied Forces shown on the left side and the German troops on the right. Being a writer who loves words, I found the film managed to convey so much with only the clips used to create the story of the war. Not a word but a powerful message for anyone who views it. 

We ate lunch in one of the restaurants which offered a marvelous view of the parklike grounds around the museum. 

Back to the bus for the 3 1/2 hour drive to Paris. We'd gone only 20 or 30 kilometers when the rain turned to huge flakes of snow which melted as they hit the road. A fitting end to a trip fraught with inclement weather. We reached the Novotel Hotel in Roissy en France, near the Charles de Gaulle Airport at 5 p.m. An hour later , we were settled in our room and then at the bar for a final drink with friends from our tour group. The hotel had prepared a buffet dinner for all in our group who wished to eat there rather than find a restaurant elsewhere. Since it was still very cold and rainy, we elected to partake in the buffet. I expected it would not be so hot but was I ever wrong! Ken and I had salmon prepared in a sauce, similar to a Bernaise Sauce, that was outstanding. Nice salad choices, vegetables that were excellent and three lovely Parisian desserts plus the wonderful breads we'd been eating for two  weeks. A glass of wine was included with the meal. 

We were up at 5:30 a.m. as our luggage had to be out in the hall by 6:15. Had the included excellent buffet breakfast at the hotel, then off to the airport where it looked like all of France was being evacuated. Got there at 7:30 a.m. to find huge crowds everywhere. We managed to get through check-in and security and on to a train to go to our gate. The trip itself was uneventful but ever so long. We flew on Air France and both of us were quite impressed with the service. The food, for airline food, was pretty decent. We had a treat in the afternoon which was unexpected--a chocolate covered ice cream bar! 

Our connecting flight was in Atlanta. We got through customs with no problem, then had to go through security again. I walked into the screening booth and raised my arms like a good girl, then stepped through. "Ok Mama," said one of the TSA workers, "I need to pat you down." She kept calling me Mama as she patted and probed. I wanted to tell her I was not her mama, but decided to keep my mouth shut. Then she sent me to a man, who wiped strips of paper across both my palms. He put them into a machine for testing and then told me I could go. Turns out my hand lotion which has glycerin in it was the culprit in this little drama. 

We flew into Kansas City next and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. To say we were tired is a complete understatement. We were up early this morning and headed home down Interstate 70. Stopped at the grocery store and post office to pick up our mail and then on to our house where we were greeted by 4 pink plastic flamingos! A fundraiser for our church youth group. They looked so cute it made me smile. 

We've been doing the Great Unpacking and Laundry the rest of this day. I had hoped to post daily while we were away, but the internet connection was not very good. Sometimes spotty and then often non-existent some days. Frustrating to be sure. Tomorrow, I'll get back to my writing world posts.

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