Busy Weekends in Europe: Part 2

Joseph Kalmar
March 12, 2020

The weekend after I visited London, almost all the students in my program embarked on an IES Abroad led weekend trip to Normandy. We started in the town of Bayeux, which apparently was the first town to be liberated by the Allies after D-Day (I recently found out that the “D” just stands for Day, making the name of such an important event sound kind of comical when you eliminate the abbreviation). Bayeux is also the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which dates back to the 11th century and is about 68 meters (!) long. I kind of regretted not having read up on the history of the Battle of Hastings, which is the event depicted on the tapestry, before visiting it; keeping track of names, dates, and places is difficult enough when you’re just reading a history book, but is made exponentially worse when you’re walking along a dark, crowded hallway, craning your neck to see the relevant parts of the tapestry and trying to keep your arm from falling asleep as you hold the little speaker telling you what’s going on in the embroidered scenes up to your ear.

After Bayeux, we drove further east to the city of Caen, which I still haven’t quite figured out how to pronounce. We checked into the hotel and walked to the Château de Caen, which apparently not only contains what remains of the castle that William the Conqueror built around 1060 CE, but also an art museum and a history museum. That evening I actually enjoyed eating in a somewhat fancy French restaurant for the first time, which was likely due to the fact that the fish they served us had an underlying flavor other than “fish.” 

After enjoying a lovely night in the king-sized bed in my hotel room, I was ready to take in a somewhat prohibitive amount of information at the D-Day Museum in Caen the next morning. And although we weren’t able to visit the American cemetery due to inclement weather, that certainly didn’t stop anyone in the group from sprinting toward the ocean as fast as possible when we got to Omaha Beach. The wind was so strong that I was able to lean my entire weight on it and only just start to fall over! My favorite part of the Normandy trip was definitely when we visited Pointe du Hoc, which included not only very visible craters from shelling, but also mostly intact Nazi fortifications.

I really enjoyed the trip to Normandy because it was a perfect combination of beautiful sights and interesting historical information. And although the weather derailed our plans a bit, I still got to visit the American Cemetery with my mom when she visited (which will, of course, be described in a later post).

Joseph Kalmar

<p>I'm a sophomore in college who has studied French for over seven years. In addition to reading, singing, and playing various musical instruments, I'm an avid fan of birdwatching, watching hockey, and traveling.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
College of Wooster, The
Bowling Green, OH
French Language
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