The only tours available to the beaches were really expensive, over $110 per person, so we nixed that idea. My Lonely Planet book recommended the Memorial Museum of Caen to be "hugely impressive," and since it was a museum about D day, I felt it was the closet we could get (Tony and Brendan have actually seen the beach on previous trips). It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel and the price of $23 per person (converting all prices here) was much more reasonable. At first, I was disappointed because I wanted to feel the connection to my grandfather Austin (who invaded 12 days after D day and was fighting in northern France), but I needn't have felt that way at all. The museum was Amazing. We spent 8 hours there, and I left feeling hugely connected to my grandfather but also with a better understanding of my grandparents' and parents' generations and of world history in general.
For one, I went in thinking the museum was just about D day but it actually covered events that led to WWII all the way through the Cold War and the falling of the Berlin Wall. I actually loved history in high school and truly read all of the text, but I've never felt such a comprehensive understanding of the war from all perspectives until today. The museum makes the history real and easy to follow. I was so engrossed in it that I didn't even notice my feet hurting. They also have memorial gardens outside of the museum.
The museum made me think about humanity...and atrocity. It's hard to imagine on some level because I take my comfortable/secure life for granted. My grandfather went to war when he was about my age. And further, I thought of all the people who still do not have security in their lives because of mass conflict and violence. All of this made me sad but also more understanding of how desperation causes destruction. Ultimately, we must live with no guarantees and make the best of our lives...I could go on about my thoughts, but they are just that--thoughts.
After the museum, we went to town to eat Lebonese food and get a drink. We had to wait an hour for a bus by the time we finished because it was late and then we did not know the code needed to get into our hotel after 11:30. Luckily, a guest talking on his phone outside let us in!
Tomorrow is a train to Paris, and I am quite excited! We will have a whole week there and it will be nice to "settle."