We woke up for the last full day in Europe eager for adventure. We have had opportunities to visit remarkable landmarks and revisit the history of our forefathers. Today, we embarked on our next leg of this amazing trip! We left our hotel in Caen, France, at 8 a.m. and traveled via our charter bus toward Pegasus Bridge. The Pegasus Bridge was the first objective of the Allied landings in Normandy. On June 6, 1944, the 6th Airborne Division used glider-borne troops to overtake this bridge on the Caen Canal. Even though the original bridge that now resides in the memorial was replaced by newer construction in 1994, it was still surreal to stand on a bridge that British troops fought so hard to overtake.
Although we have had our share of blessings on this trip, today’s tour of sight seeing was one that we will never forget. Besides traveling in the countryside around the northern part of France and having the opportunity to see the beautiful, God-given European valleys, we were able to stop at some of the most unbelievable historic sights the country has to offer. A prime example of this includes a German dome known as La Coupole, a secret base that was at the heart of the German operation in France. Although it was an actual underground town constructed by the German army with a purpose of launching V2 rockets on London, today it is an amazing museum that shows the scientific advancements in the weaponry and navigation instruments used during WWII. It is an exceptional sight where the destiny of Europe could have played out differently had the United States not been successful, along with the Allies, in defeating the enemy.
While in La Coupole, our interactions with the French also provided a memorable experience. Knowing only a few French words and phrases made the language barrier difficult to break. One woman working at the food court at La Coupole expressed an interest in our American accents. After we paid her for our treats, she then proceeded to pick up a napkin, and asked in the sweetest way what we called it. When we told her how to pronounce the word, she then carefully and slowly pronounced, “Nap…….kin?” The camaraderie between the Americans and French is still very real and alive in today’s culture, even though it may be shown in the smallest of ways.
The drive through the French countryside was breathtaking. It was nice to see the natural beauty of the country with none of the rush of city life. Any time we did pass through the cities of France, they were small and very tranquil. After two days on the charter bus, we had the opportunity to get on the high-speed Eurostar train, leaving from the French town Calais and heading back towards the hustle and bustle of London, England. While on the hour-long train ride, we received a small dinner to carry us over to the end of the day. Then to top off the day, we got to experience the high energy Thriller Live, which was a musical review of Michael Jackson’s top hits. Although the day was long, it was a day well spent!
Tomorrow we will end our travels in London and France with hopes of coming back again someday. There is so much more to explore and experience here. We have mixed feelings, ready to be home but sad to leave the site of new discoveries.
We are truly grateful for the opportunity to visit the sites portrayed in our play, Railway to Heaven. Now, having seen and walked where our troops fought, we can give an even better portrayal of the story of Pfc. Roy Hopper. To the many soldiers who so willingly gave up their lives for our freedom, we say thank you.
By Elizabeth Stuart, Caden Peterson, and Sierra Johnson