North America, Europe · 10 Days · 145 Moments · July 2016

Kathy's World War II Tour through Europe

21 July 2016

So thankful that I got to travel with Megan, along with Madison, Abby, D'Auviyon, Tyler, Joshua and Aiden, all of which are former students. And great to get to know Vera, Blake, Elizabeth and Joel who I didn't have the privilege of teaching.
Saying goodbye to Simon at the airport. This man is a gem. He had us on more trains than any of us want to see again but we always got safely home. He had us laughing so hard with his amazing stories. He ended each night with a Soft Kitty song that we all adored. We will miss him but he promises to visit us in Greenville.
Day 10 part 2 We all met in an interesting part of town for dinner but it was very good. We had lamb and a salad with watermelon to drink. I forgot to take a pic of the place. The NM group returned to the hotel while the rest of hopped on the train to spend the last night in Potsdam which is outside the city. It was Eastern Germany territory during the Cold War but it was lovely. Kevin our tour guide for today gave us a tour showing us the Soviet barracks and King Frederick the Greats palace. He ruled during the 18th century. The gardens and grape vines were beautiful. We finished the night with some ice cream and playing games in the square. Pots dam is absolutely beautiful.
Day 10 - part 1 Today was a full day. We spent the morning on a bus tour through Berlin. It was interesting to hear the history of the city, especially the differences between the East and West. To see the double cobblestone bricks that is the remnant of the wall is quite remarkable. We did get to see an area where they called the death zone or something like that which was between the inner wall and the outer wall. The soviets lined it with broken glass, guard dogs and armed men to shoot anyone who tried to escape. I cannot fathom what that was like - and it literally was right down the middle of the street. After the tour we had 6 hours of free time. I have never walked so much in my life. I logged 22,334 steps which equaled 9 1/2 miles. And my feet are now screaming at me. But we had a great time shopping and eating outside listening to them prepare for an opera singer and orchestra give a concert tonight. It was quite lovely.
Best chocolate place in Berlin - this is the Titanic made out of chocolate.
The sites of Berlin. There were too many to remember what each place was.

20 July 2016

In the evening of our last night we went to Potsdam. Potsdam during WWII was barracks to thousands of German soldiers who trained before heading out to war. The city was communist after the war since it was in the Soviet sector of Germany. Today it is absolutely delightful. Home to many palaces one of which we visited Frederick the Great. Here the girls enjoy some gelato after our walk through the palace grounds.
The Berlin Wall was sobering but the freedom of expression on the East side of the wall that is there today is beautiful. Swipe left to see all pics

19 July 2016

Aiden was very tired after a long train ride to Berlin
Berlin train station
More lunch pictures in Cologne, Germany
American memorial and cemetery at Ardennes
Some got Chinese for dinner in Berlin. Lol. The rest weren't much better - we went to the American diner called Andy's.
Our hotel the Ibis in Berlin. The view is incredible.
We have arrived in Berlin. The train station was incredible.
Day 9 part 2 After the cemetery visit we went to the city of Cologne which took about 2 hours. We had a great lunch at Wastaus Brungs. It was very good food. It was veal with a mushroom sauce and noodles. Yogurt and strawberries for dessert. Simon surprised me and another boy from the NM group with a birthday cake. It was a cherry tart and a custard tart. We had to eat fast so we could have a few minutes to see the city before getting our bags in order to catch the train to Berlin. We finally arrived at our train car to be told we were on the wrong train which will be the umpteenth time that has happened. But Simon always sorts it out and we eventually get to where we are supposed to be.
Happy birthday to me πŸŽ‰πŸ’πŸΌπŸ‘œ
Our lunch today except most had noodles and not potatoes. It was delicious. It was veal in a mushroom sauce.
Our German lunch restaurant. We ate in the basement. Since everything in Cologne was flattened by bombs in the war they used artifacts from around the city to rebuild it.
The cathedral in Cologne. Towards the end of the war the Americans and British bombed the major cities of Germany and Cologne was one of them. The city was completely flattened except for this beautiful cathedral. It stood unharmed.
American Cemetery in Ardennes
Here lies Robert Collins. My maiden name is Collins so I thought I would take this photo.
American Cemetery in Ardennes. This is the cemetery that holds 5300 soldiers that were killed in battle in the surrounding towns. Many are unknown. They work hard to find the families of the soldiers that they do know of in order to tell them and keep their memory alive.

18 July 2016

Tyler got a great shot of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night
Simon is the best!
Playing soccer with new friends at the hotel
Downtown Bastogne
Looked for any tombstones with our last names on it. This is the only one we found. It is in the German Cemetery. Only 18 years old . . .
Sitting in one of the many foxholes that still remain in the Ardennes from the battle
Overlooking Bastogne from the Ardennes Forest on the battle field
Michael and Aiden at the Sherman Tank
The American Memorial to the Battle of the Bulge
The monument honoring the Screaming Eagles
The Sherman Tank
This is part of the group who is traveling with us this week. They are from New Mexico. Here they honor their own heritage who fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
The German Cemetery in Bastogne. There are 7000 buried here - 3 on each side of the cross. The soldiers here range in age from 16 to 60.
Day 8 part 2 It is his greatest honor to lead veterans of the war through the memorials around town. They have special plaques for the men who fought in the Battle. The whole town really reveres the American soldiers. We got to spend a little bit of time going through shops in the city and then loaded the bus for the hotel. It is nice to get an early night at the hotel because we have had so many late nights. We are staying at the Vayamundo which is like a resort. The students were hoping to swim but it closed at 6. We are a good dinner from the buffet at the hotel and now we get to just relax. It's been another packed and wonderful day!
Day 8 part 1 This morning started out with a 3 hour drive to Bastogne, Belgium which is the site of the Battle of the Bulge. It was a living history as we walked through the city, the Belgium and German cemeteries, American memorials, the front line of the battle grounds and so much more. What made it so great was the first hand account from our guide who was named Henri. Henri was just 9 years old when the battle started. During the battle the German soldiers had taken over the homes of the local people. His father was killed by a German SS but Henri and his 11 year old brother were rescued by American soldiers as they liberated the cities surrounding Bastogne. The soldiers gave them chocolate (which was hard and very unlike Belgian chocolate). Henri is a tour guide for the 'Beyond the Band of Brothers' guides. He has personally met many of the actual men who were part of the 101st Screaming Eagles as well as the actors who portray them.
Day 7 part 2 From there we went to dinner at a restaurant called Flam's which was like pizza but more like a cracker with a white sauce, cheese and ham or mushroom. It was delicious. It comes from the Alsace region that is between France and Germany. We then walked to the Eiffel Tower where almost all of us went up to at least the 2nd level and many more brave ones went up to the top. It was a beautiful night. It was late though as we didn't get back til nearly midnight.
The Vaysmondo Resort where we are staying tonight.
The Sherman Tank
Our guide Henri
The Ardennes Forest - the front line of the Battle of the Bulge
The mosaic created at the American Memorial in Bastogne
The barracks where the 101st Airborne resided during the war prior to the battle.
The city of Bastogne
Day 7 - Part 1 On this day we toured Paris. We had a guide that took us through the beautiful city of Paris. So much history here. We stopped at the Arch de Triumph and took a photo as well as the Eiffel Tower for a photo although we would have a chance to go up the tower after dinner. From Paris we went to the Palace of Versailles. This palace is ridiculously humongous and decadent. It started off as a hunting home for Louis XIII and when Louis XIV took power he built it into his palace. He was called the Sun King and his likeness is engraven in gold all throughout the palace. It was wonderful because we actually got to go in the rooms and not just look on them. The Queens quarters were closed because of renovation but we did get to walk in the King's quarters. It was quite interesting. After the palace we went shopping along the Champs Elysees which is like 5th avenue in New York.
The countryside of France as we traveled to Bastogne.

17 July 2016

View from the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower
Mood before going to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Josh and Tyler dabbing their way to the top of the Eiffel Tower
These girls are ready for the Eiffel Tower
Ground view of the Eiffel Tower
Dinner tonight was delicious at Flam's. A flam is a pizza with a cream sauce. This comes from the Alsace region between France and Germany. They just kept bringing us more and more.
Had fun shopping on the beautiful streets of Paris today
The Palace of Versailles - decadence to the max
The gardens were amazing
Blake, Aiden and Collin in the Versailles Gardens
It's been a dream of mine to walk into the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles where King Louis XVI married Marie Antoinette and the Treaty of Versailles was hammered out after WWI. It was stunning!
Mirror selfie in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
Collin is our brave one who tried escargot
Eating baguettes before we go to the palace
Asked these knuckleheads to take a pic of me and Megan and this is what I got 😏
Megan and I at the Arch de Triumph
The Arch de Triumph
They love the city
Day 6 part 2 We took a double decker train into the city of Paris where we walked to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It was stunningly beautiful. We were able to visit inside and see a lovely mass taking place. We then went to dinner and had steak and French fries and apple tart for dessert. It was all delicious. Simon our guide led us to the Seine River where we took an hour long boat ride. It was the perfect way to see so many beautiful sites of the city. The Eiffel Tower was breathtaking as we came upon it. We will have the chance to visit there tomorrow. We went up to Momont to see a view from above the city that was of course beautiful. We did a bit of shopping but one of the boys from the New Mexico group got his pockets picked which put a damper on things. When we returned we had a regrouping session where we discussed proper safety precautions. The students have been absolutely fabulous!

16 July 2016

This bridge was one of many things built by Napoleon
I cannot remember what this building is but it is gorgeous.
Paris from the Seine
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Seine
Boat ride along the Seine
Our restaurant for dinner tonight in Paris.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame
Street view of the Seine
The Paris City Hall which reminded me of the Biltmore House.
How you know you're in Paris 🚴 loved seeing this as we walked the streets.
Riding the double-decker train into Paris.
In the city of Rouen - beauty everywhere
Place where Joan of Arc was burnt in 1431.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen
Day 6 part 1 We left Caen this morning around 8 am and had a two hour bus ride to Rouen. Rouen is where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake back in 1431. We were able to see the spot where it apparently took 3 attempts to completely bury her. Yikes! We visited the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen and saw the amazing architecture and beautiful stained glass. I believe it was constructed in the 1300s. We then got to have an hour or so of free time to get some crepes and coffee and just enjoy their lovely city. We were back on the bus for an hour and a half to our hotel which is called the Inter Hotel. It is outside of the city of Paris. It is a modern look. I'm happy this one has hair dryers!
Quiche Lorraine was delightful at Paul's Cafe.
The girls outside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Rouen this morning. It was beautiful. Swipe left for more pics.

15 July 2016

Vince, D'auviyon and Vera at Ponte du Hoc
The lookout from Gold Beach
Day 5 - part 3 We ended the day in Caen for dinner where we had some free time and then ate at the Caen Grille. We finished the night by walking to William the Conqueror's palace where we had a beautiful overview of.the city. We are all back at the hotel now and we are getting refreshed for our drive to Paris tomorrow.
Tnroughout the city of Caen
Bunker at Ponte du Hoc
Here you can see the vastness of the beaches. 60 miles long.
The statue of the famous picture from the New York Times (I think) celebrating the end of the war in Germany.
Richie and Logan at Point du Hoc. In the back you can see the cliffs that the soldiers had to scale.
Michael and Aiden at the Point du Hoc.
Day 5 - Part 2 We then went to Omaha Beach where we saw just how far it was for the men to run up on the beach making it difficult to make it alive. There was a beautiful monument as tribute to the hope that still lives on. We then went to the American Cemetery which was quite emotional. There was a special ceremony taking place and they played the most moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as the flags flew half-staffed. They then played taps and ended with a salute. There wasn't a dry eye on our crowd. We then spent some time walking through the cemetery. It was beautiful! We then went to Gold Beach which was invaded by the British. It was fascinating to see the remainder of the concrete barrier that was still out in the ocean. It was used to create a lake effect so that the soldiers could function in much calmer waters.
Day 5 - part 1 Today started with breakfast at the hotel. They have the most delicious croissants and jellies with food hot cocoa and coffee. We left the hotel at 9 am to head to the D-day Memorial Museum. It was a self-guided chronological tour through WWII. They showed an excellent film that was actual footage from the invasion put to music. After the tour, we got a delicious sandwich from the cafe for lunch before loading the bus with a guide to go on a 5 hour tour of the beaches. We drove first to Point du Hoc which is between Utah and Omaha beaches where we saw the remnants of the invasion. Our guide did an excellent job setting the scene for what we would see and how and why Normandy was chosen for the invasion. We saw the German command bunker where you could see the different rooms and could even tell where they slept, where they held the machine guns, and even the kitchen. There were still huge craters all around from the massive bombs from
Dinner tonight at Caen Grille
Aiden, Tyler, Blake and Josh take in the American Cemetery. Be sure to scroll through all of the photos of the cemetery by swiping left.
The monument at Omaha Beach
Flags flying at Omaha Beach
Kathy inside one of the craters left from the bombing.
D-day Memorial Museum showing all the flags of the countries that participated.
Day 4 cont'd: July 14 is Bastille Day here in France. We hear fireworks in the distance as the country celebrates their revolution day marking the end of an absolute monarchy in France long ago. We are safe and far, far away from Nice where there seems to be a bit of trouble. All are tucked in and ready for an early start as we tour the beaches of D-day.

14 July 2016

Day 4: We traveled by bus from our hotel outside of London to Portsmouth to board a ferry. Before getting on the ferry we walked to a local Aldi to load up on snacks for later. What we might think of a ferry was not what we rode on today. The Brittany Ferry was more like a 5 hour cruise. It was beautiful. It didn't take long for the students to find friends. They met up on deck where there was a ping pong table and arcade games and they hung out with their new friends. They were on a field trip from St. James Academy in Manchester, UK. They were both enthralled with each other. The British loved our American accent while we of course loved theirs. The British kids were also enthralled with our American dollar and many of them asked them to sign their dollars that they had in their pocket. They danced, they laughed, they just had a great time. In the end, thanks to American technology, they all exchanged social media names and will now be life long friends. It was quite a day.
The shore of the beach at Normandy.
What a beautiful sunset on the channel.
Our ferry
The beaches of Normandy in sight
About the English Channel. Normandy bound
How you eat on a ferry
Our new friends
Nothing by blue skies across the English Channel
This view 😍 what a gorgeous day
Meeting some new British friends
Aiden meeting some new British friends
Never meet a stranger
The history teacher in me loves this. This is one of many forts built to keep Napoleon out of Great Britain. They obviously worked. πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
Mrs. Richardson is having a cards lesson on the ferry. They just announced a limbo contest πŸŽ‰πŸ˜œ
Looking off our ferry from Portsmouth
Outside platform 9 3/4
We finally made it to our hotel πŸŽ‰πŸ˜©πŸŽ‰
Tower clock at the House of Parliaments
Part of the Berlin Wall at the war museum
Buckingham Palace. Queen was in today but no sighting unfortunately.
Imperial War Museum
Waiting for our umpteenth train and we are tired
Still waiting and still tired.
We are here

13 July 2016

Tower clock at night
View of the London Eye
Some important business at the palace being delivered.
A little tired . . .
St. Paul's cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral which Churchill did everything to save during the bombing of Britain.
Underground train info London
Riding the tram in Detroit
Boys being boys while we wait to board
While this is a picture from last night - We ready! Take off at 9:30 - fingers crossed
Some held out for Popeyes chicken before boarding the plane. This is a classic Blake face right here. Love it!
Buddy's pizza for dinner in Dearborn before heading to the airport.
Fun day at Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. Making the most out of our delay in the D.
Riding in a 1921 Model T 😊
Well a mechanical problem cancelled our flight out of Detroit and we cannot get out until 9:30pm the next day. While that is certainly not how we hoped the night would go, we are handling it like the world class travelers we want to be. Hoping to fill the day with sight seeing in Detroit. Delta put us in an interesting hotel - as one traveler said, "this is trippy". It is now 3:00 am and this bed never felt so good. Life is a journey!

11 July 2016

How we manage a 2 hour flight delay in a closed airport 😐 gotta have fun no matter what. πŸ€—
Bon voyage.