Monday, June 27, 2016

Third week of the Tour

The following week was by far my favorite thus far of the trip. We visited 14,000 year old cave drawings, a Gaillac winery, Armagnac distillery and finally what I have been looking forward to for most of my life- Normandy. The cave drawings were absolutely unreal. Hard articulate such artifacts still exist after all this time. I was impressed by the detail of the animals. I never knew buffalo existed in Europe until them. Possibly the reason for the drawings was to commemorate the great animal after being hunted to extinction.
A vineyard overlooking Collioure
The following day we travelled to the Gaillac wine region. There we met with the owner of Domaine Rotier. He gave us a full tour of his farm and facility, answering everything I could throw at him. I was intriuged by the fact that it was all organic. I thought to myself that it must be very difficult to maintain such high quality under organic circumstances. However, he explained their IMP (Integrated Pest Management) and plant nutrition system thoroughly, making it seem so simple. I was impressed to say the least and would one day like to own a vineyard of such quality. Families as such have been growing grapes for hundreds even thousands of years. They have everything defined without fault.

Syrah Grapes at Domaine Rotier
That Friday we left for Normandy. I had been waiting my whole life to visit and pay my respects to the men that made the ultimate sacrifice liberating Europe. I grew up watching the History channel and was very fascinated with the invasion of Normandy. My interest grew looking at the relics of the war my grandfather brought back. When I finally arrived I didn't know how exactly I would react. It was surreal to finally be there especially so close to the anniversary. I was humbled to see for myself the extreme adversity the soldiers under the command of Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder over came to capture Point Du Hoc. Frankly put, I was speechless. Imagining the battle and the men that were my age or younger losing their brothers. Visiting the cemetery after was tough. Unsuspectingly I was choked up. Seeing all those young men buried there, some not known. I took a walk through the tombstones with a feeling that I was looking for something but I didn't know what. I was proud to be an American and thankful for the sacrifice they made. More people began to fill in and it disgruntled me to see them smiling posing next to the memorial. This isn't a tourist attraction or a place to take your next Facebook profile picture. To me it was there to pay respects and to honor those that had fallen. For that I say thank you.
One of the 155 mm Cannon bunkers at Pointe Du Hoc
Entrance to a bunker at Pointe Du Hoc

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