Mini Ulloo - Caen, Normandy, France
Sudesh, what do you think of Caen?
(Raj) I arrived the night before the other Ulloos and stayed in this hotel in nearby little town of Cabourg. Typical Norman architecture. In the morning, after a breakfast of croissant and coffee (what else did you expect?), went for a stroll about the outdoor market. Then drove to Caen to meet the Ulloos who came by ferry from Southampton. I was the driver for the weekend.
Not just any beach
(Raj) No, this is Normandy's Omaha Beach the landing place of the American troops as members of the Allied Forces during World War Two. Many lives were lost during the landing and the ensuing battles to liberate the nearby towns. This monument was erected recently by the Americans to mark the event. Located close to here, the American cemetery closed before we arrived so it was a shame not to have paid a visit.
A very fitting monument
(Raj) On this grey day, the backdrop of the bluish sea and clouds was perfect. I thought it a bit dreamlike, invoking a mood of calm and reflection on those events of not too long ago.
The first monument
(Raj) Sudesh takes an interest in the monument erected much earlier. Probably thinks it's alright.
What's going on here?
(Raj) Just as Hastings is remembered to this day for the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 A.D. so Normandy and Caen will be remembered for the Allied Landings and World War Two (oh, they haven't forgotten William the Conqueror either). We just happen to chance upon this ceremony being conducted beneath the towering spires of Caen cathedral.
The imposing spires
(Raj) Caen is a town of spires belonging to various churches. Next time must remember not to put my finger in front of the camera lens. Alas, this was the only snap I took. What an Ulloo!
A "thank you" to the Canadian forces
(Raj) We only realised who the ceremony was in honour of when we saw the white and red maple leaf flag. The Canadians, who contributed to the war effort.
(Raj) This was really the highlight of our trip to Normandy. It loomed out of the horizon at a distance as we drove nearer. An impressive, strongly fortified, citadel with the awesome Abbey of St. Michel at it's heart. (OK Saif, Mount Saint Michael to you. But don't call it Micky Mount or they'll throw us out.)
Would it have been better if it was sunny?
No, it's impressive even more so on a grey day.
The evolution of Le M.-St-Michel - 1
(Raj) Rome, they say, wasn't built in a day and neither was Saint-Michel. It took planning and time to arrive at its present form.
"That's a good idea!" said the Abbot.
"Oh no, I don't fancy that, take it down and start all over again!!"
"Now we're getting there! How about building a big thick wall to surround it so no one can see us from the outside? This place needs to be well hidden!"
"Told you, no one will ever find us now, we're well hidden for miles around!"
Ulloos start to climb
(Raj) Should be there soon..... Looks a bit like Colditz Castle.
What, through there Samji?
Are you sure........? We can't see the Abbey from here! "He'll take us around in circles you know Saif."
Who's idea was this? You Ulloos!
(Raj) Well, it is quite a climb and even though it's a mild day with a little drizzle falling it can soon begin to feel pretty warm. Good job the summer sun is not shining or Raj would still be sitting at Base Camp! You know what he's like at his age!
Is this it?
(Raj) I've seen a few abbeys and cathedrals around Europe; often adorned with lavish interiors, the Abbey of St- Michel however, is rather plain. "What after all the effort they took to build it, did they forget to put in the stained glass?"
Something for the mechanical engineer to ponder over
(Raj) Saif, where are you? This wheel was used to haul up goods into the Abbey. It was worked by men who went for a walk inside the structure in order to turn it and wind the rope. Any volunteers - Samji and Sudesh?
(Raj) what surprised us were the many imposing halls we passed through. Never would have thought they could cram so much into such a small area.
A view from the top
Very flat countryside
A popular place
(Raj) with tourists by the coach load from around the world. Must have heard over ten different languages being spoken that afternoon.
And by night
(Raj) We did not stay long enough to take a snap like this. Isn't it even more beautiful?
Sudesh, what do you think of Le Mont-Saint-Michel?