Shearwin's in Europe 2015 travel blog


Today's drive to Honfleur ( 176 Km's ) is the second major change to our original itinerary. The first was the cancellation of our third day in Rennes for a night in Brix to visit the seaside village of Barfleur.

There must be something about these country chateau's as we awoke again to absolute stillness with only a few chickens crowing and the infrequent chiming of the town's church bells. The sky was also clear, heading for a "hot one" at 22 degrees C.

We had breakfast alone at 0830hrs as being a Sunday, the other four guests were sleeping in. Our hosts at Castle Craig have been brilliant, probably more impressive than Annie, only because they work as a husband and wife team in the house. Breakfast was a gem and the breads reminded us of the thing we are going to miss the most when we return home. Our bed was an antique like so many other of the fine furnishings throughout the house and was quite uncomfortable ; not that I can say anything to Booking.com now that Kaye has told our hosts that everything was lovely, and it was. The history of the house, as explained to me, started in the 17th century with the now attached cottage being built by a priest who was forced to flee to London during the revolutionary years to avoid religious persecution. The main house was built as WW1 started but was never fully completed due to resource restrictions. Both the German and American troops occupied the house during the WW2 and both left scars on it that are still visible today.

We departed at 0915hrs to a genuinely nice farewell with a plan to stop at La Cambe, the German military cemetery ( 60 Km's ).

GeePS appears to be terminally ill and we have moved to navigating by Michelin and Google maps ( wifi only); a less than desirable option. We started our trip with an iPad overlay of our departure point, to reach the motorway and from there we had no problem finding the cemetery as it sits alongside the highway and its entry is clearly defined by a tree lined road.

We walked the cemetery with particular interest in Michael Wittman's grave. This was quite easily found as it appears to have developed a shrine status; candles, wreaths and a well worn patch of lawn distinguish it from all others. The cemetery is as tranquil and perfectly maintained as all other war grave sites. There is also a visitor centre that adds to the story of the recovery and burial of all lost German soldiers.

In a flash back to the sage of my stolen camera at the Omaha D- Day beach site in 2012, I misplaced my camera briefly and after a frantic search had it returned by a German tourist who had picked it up and obviously saw us both rushing around in circles. I was quite fearful of losing a thousand photos of the last five weeks; a very strange feeling that all would have been a waste of time.

We continued on to Honfleur and with the aid of our iPad captured Google map found our way to our hotel in the near centre of the town, arriving at 1315hrs. As it was too early to book in, we left the car and bags and walked into the centre which is less than a km away. We explored the old town and the harbor area before taking an essential drink break. The town has many old and interesting buildings including a complete wooden church started in the 15th century and a wooden detached bell tower. The towns history as told by the buildings and its layout is its big drawing card and this is reflected in the commercial development that has followed. I can't recall any area with so many seafood restaurants stretched along a harbor front and also hidden in adjoining streets and alley ways as in Honfleur; huge!! It being a Sunday, the crowds were significant.

Later in the afternoon, we returned to our hotel to complete our check in and to prepare for dinner. The hotel is quite unique as it comprises a large main house with rooms dotted around other buildings nearby. It is difficult to identify what makes up the hotel, however, one gets the impression the owner has his fingers in many different property's nearby. We are staying in the main house which is beautifully decorated in antiques and fine furniture that reminded me of the comfort of last night's accommodation but some how seems out of place here.

Nearing dinner time, we set off to wander other areas of the town before settling for a seafood meal at one of the many restaurants on the marina, table over looking the bay and boats. Kaye had the two course formula, I had the three course formula with both sharing my sweets.

After dinner and ice cream, knowing it will probably be my last, thanks to Paleo, we ambled back to our room for an early night. A latish start is planned for the morning as our limiter objective is to find our accommodation and return the car to CDG safely by 1600 hrs.

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