Tag Archives: City

Why hello there!

So, I just dropped my parents off on their train. They will take it to the airport and leave tomorrow, homeward bound. It was a really good visit, no major incidents and only a few items on mom’s list that she didn’t get to do. But there were things not on the list that we did do, so overall I’d call it a success. It has been really nice being back in Caen, I now consider myself Normand so it feels like a second home. Plus Caen just brought out ALL of the sunshine for us, it was happy to have me back.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Caen lately. When I first arrived I was not sure what to think about it at all and that kind of continued all the way through the year, just unsure. But now that I’m so much older and wiser, since September, let me lay it out for y’all:

Caen was virtually destroyed in the war, unfortunately destroyed while trying to be liberated. Since then it has been rebuilding, re-growing, and redefining itself. It shied away from rebuilding exactly as it was and that has led to bits of growth spurts, in my opinion. If one were to visit Caen and visit say, Rouen, Rennes, or Nantes, they would think that Caen was much more open in a way that most other French cities aren’t. Some may argue that it makes it feel less “French” as it were but to me it just makes it feel more comfortable and able to breath.

It hasn’t been easy for Caen to grow during the decades in a consistent manner. Styles changes, leadership changes, and so it has some odd buildings that stick out or a few areas that were designed in a less than aesthetically pleasing period (sorry Herouville and a few other spots). Also, from my experience, it is really trying right now. It is the Basse-Normandie capital and as such it needs a bit more, its hard being outshined tourism and attraction wise when you are the capital and yet because of the history (WWII) the coast and other areas draw the crowds. So Caen is adding, it’s building, first Zenith and Les Rive D’Orne, and now the newer, not yet finished, Parc Expo. Luckily it has lots of room to grow and expand.

Caen is also playing host to a lot of things this summer, starting small with the channel race, then going big with the 70th DDay anniversary (mostly held outside of town, but still a major part of it all), followed by the World Equestrian games, and finally the smaller but still awesome world championship of Kayak Polo.

So what does all of this, in my small, humble opinion mean? Caen is ready to be taken seriously as a major city. It is proving that it can host major events, it can continue to grow and expand, and that it is finally finding its voice in an area that smaller cities usually shine and where the capitals on each side of it tend to out shadow it as well. Really, Caen is ready and moving into the future and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

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Nantes!

I love Nantes! But more on that in a bit.

We had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner in Argentan, a cute little town only 40 minutes from Caen by train. They had their Christmas lights on and another display going up when I arrived. It’s pretty small but nice. The dinner was fun, I helped prepare the green beans AND the turkey. Thanks to the oven the turkey took a bit longer than expected but it was all worth it. Chelsea, one of the girls hosting the shindig made pumpkin pie and I mean she mashed the pumpkin and everything. It was also delicious. Most importantly, the wine flowed all night and us three Americans got to share Thanksgiving with British and German folks and make them all say what they were thankful for, in French 🙂 After a dance party and more wine we finally went to bed around 5:30am. Good times!

I woke up at 10am, jumped from bed, grabbed my stuff and ran outside, where my friends were already waiting for me with a rented car because we were off to Nantes! It’s 3 – 3 1/2 hours away but SO worth it. I believe it is the 6th biggest city in France and while it isn’t gigantic by any means, it is definitely an improvement over Caen (sorry, love ya Caen but the truth is the truth). I got to see some cool chapels, a Christmas market, the Chateau, some museums and more. Pictures will hopefully be up tomorrow.

One thing and I’m sorry if this sounds self-centered but, while traveling with people is nice for some moments, I would much rather have us split off in the morning, meet for meals, and have our own agendas. Maybe I’m just selfish but getting to see the things you want to see and at your pace are amazing gifts that you don’t appreciate until you’re stilling for a half an hour in a tiny museum waiting as someone reads every last word… Love him, but wowsa.

Anyway, the best part of Nantes for me was the little Christmas market, it was just fun and lovely. The churches were beautiful too, and really just the livelihood of the place was refreshing. Weather was a bit warmer than Caen and didn’t rain!!!!

Ok, well, off to bed soonish. I don’t have work tomorrow so I’ll get those photos up. Until then, enjoy the video 🙂

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors

So you’ll notice whilst strolling through Dublin that many of the doors on the Georgian buildings are brightly painted. Curious, no? They really are all beautiful and add a pop of uniqueness and character to the otherwise similar buildings. Well, the tradition started “back in the day” when Ireland was still under British rule.

One of the Kings passed away (I don’t remember which, maybe one of the Georges). The people of Ireland were ordered to paint their doors black to show their mourning. Well being the spunky people that they are many Irish painted their doors alright… just not so much black. Reds, blues, greens, yellows, magentas, teals, and more can be seen all throughout the city. Yes, even some black ones can be found. But that is the supposed beginning of the paintings of the doors.