Day 3 - Wednesday 9th May
Another fine start to the day so we had breakfast & got away on the bikes on the ride along the coast to Ouisterham at the East end of the invasion beaches. After struggling up the hill out of Arromanche we made our way past Gold & Juno landing sites to Sword beach at Omaha probably about 17 miles. We saw various sites & monuments along the way, the odd Pill Box, tank, gun etc. all remnants of the invasion.
In Ouistrham we visited the Blockhouse Museum a five story reinforced concrete observation post. Lots of interesting exhibits & stories. This was eventually captured some days after the invasion by three British troops who managed to last the heavy metal entrance door to get in. Once they were in the 53 Germans inside calmly surrendered without a fight.
As it was a lovely day & we had plenty of time we headed South a few more kilometres to the famous Pegasus Bridge. Three troop gliders landed close to the bridge in the early hours before the invasion & captured the bridge before the Germans could set off their demolition charges. The bridge was vital for the allies to ensure ammunition & supplies were available for the invasion troops as they advanced inland from the beaches. Other strategic bridges were blown in order to stop or slow down German reinforcements.
I should mention that we did stop at a McDonalds on the way to the bridge for lunch. Unfortunately they wouldn’t accept my UK tickets for a £1.99 Big Mac & Chips but they did have a pasta & Mozzorela cheese pasta, which suited Roger(Did I mention that he is a confirmed vegetarian?)
After we visited the Pegasus Bridge Museum it was getting late in the afternoon so we headed North back to the coast at Ouisterham & then West towards Arramonche. The wind had picked up a bit & unfortunately we had to ride into it. I was tiring fast but we pushed on, although we took a couple of wrong tracks along the way which didn’t help. We eventually made it back to the Motorhome just after 8.30pm, some twelve hours after we left this morning. Guess who was shattered? Although Roger was pretty tired also so we just had a baguette with cheese, beetroot & pickle for dinner. A bit of nutty chocolate went down well for dessert. Saved on the washing up too.
One interesting little thing happened on the long ride home though. I have currently been researching a bit about the Santiago de Compostela which is a pilgrimage walk across the North of Spain. It starts in France near the base of the Pyrenees mountains & goes nearly 500miles across Spain to Santiago near the West coast. It is a pilgrimage but people go for all sorts of reasons, some religious, some just for the challenge. However the route is well marked on the ground by yellow arrows & by scallop shell markers. A lot of the pilgrims or walkers also carry a real scallop shell tied on their rucksacks or clothes as a symbol or good luck charm.
It interests me but I’m not sure I am up to a 500mile walk. However on our ride home tonight I had to stop & and answer an urgent call of nature behind a hedge on a deserted stretch near the coast. As I was returning to my bike I spotted a scallop shell lying in the grass & picked it up. Now I am wondering if it is a sign that I should indeed do the walk? Watch this space.