Northern Europe 2006 Trip Our Trip to Northern Europe in November of 2006

Our Trip to Northern Europe in November of 2006

In early November 2006 we spent over two weeks in France, the BeNeLux countries, and Germany. We started in Paris where Marguerite was a speaker at the annual conference of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUALTD). Her colleague, Dr. Tony Catanzaro, has been active in IUALTD for many years and they were interested in learning more about UCSD’s NIH project, the National Tuberculosis Curriculum Consortium (NTCC), that is now in year 4 of 5 years of funding. Marguerite was one of 5 presenters during an afternoon symposium, then Tony, his wife Maggie, George and Marguerite had dinner together in an Italian restaurant near our hotels. While in Paris we also had dinner with two recipients of the Marguerite Jackson Award for Professional Nursing Excellence – Jeanne Maiden and Patty Graham were in Paris presenting a critical care conference at the same time as the IUALTD! After Paris, we moved into George’s war history agenda (described below) and then came home from Amsterdam. It was a very good trip but we were major jet lagged this time – we just are not as young and energetic as we used to be, but we walked at least 5 miles most days, so came back in much better shape!

Marguerite in Front of Paris Hotel

We stayed in a 3-star local hotel that was near the Metro, the Arc de Triumph, and also the conference center. Weather was cool with little rain, so Marguerite is in her traveling red coat for most pictures! Hotel elevator could not lift George and Marguerite together so they had to ride one at a time. It was built by Napolean III.

Marguerite at the Louvre

We spent a couple of hours in the Louvre seeing different things. Marguerite checked out the Mona Lisa (again) and George visited Napoleon’s apartments. The Louvre is so big it is overwhelming! We also visited the Rodin Museum – a first for George – but didn’t make it to the other big museums this time. While Marguerite was at her conference, George spent the day visiting Napoleon's tomb (again) and other sights seen before during our 2000 trip.

An Afternoon at Versailles

We took the train out to Versailles and visited the recently-opened Marie Antionette Trianon buildings. While there, Marguerite (with her gloves on) dropped the digital camera – the button “popped off” -- apparently somebody stepped on it and it must have stuck to their shoe, so the camera repair had to wait until we returned to the USA. Alas...other photos were with disposable point and shoots – which worked pretty well, considering we had no flash capacity! George scanned the photos for this story – they look pretty good, we think! We saw some new stuff at the Versailles Palace that was not open the last time we were here like the Opera House in the Palace, like you don't have an Opera House in your home?, and Marie Antionette's little palace and village in the boondocks of the palace grounds. We also saw the prison in Paris where Marie Antionette was kept before she had her head cut off.

The Gardens of Versailles

En route to the Trianon we waited for a bus next to these beautiful gardens. Obviously they require a big staff to maintain! Thousands of trees are topped and skirted to look like soldiers as you go down the lanes on the Palace Grounds.

George on the Normandy Beaches

After four days in Paris we took a train to Caen, Normandy, France. We rented a car and explored the province of Normandy. We drove along all the Normandy invasion beaches. Two were British, one was Candian, and two were assigned to the USA. Here George is on the Beach, Juno Beach, where the Canadians stormed ashore. We went to an exhibit center near this spot. If the Canadians were George's size, WWII would still be going on.

Marguerite at American Cemetery, Normandy, France

There are over 9,000 graves in this cemetery. There are over 300 unknown soldiers within the cemetery. All graves are marked with either a cross or a star of David – name, home state, dates, service affiliation. Very sad. There is another American cemetery with over 4400 graves; two Canadian cemeteries with over 5000 graves; and 16 British cemeteries with over 20,000 graves. Probably the best cared for US Government facility George has ever seen.

Exploring the American Cemetery

There are beautiful flowers throughout the cemetery and everything is very well maintained. The day was beautiful, clear, with just a sprinkle of rain. There weren’t many visitors – off-season for tourists.

Pointe du Hoc

This promontory looks out over the ocean and is where the Germans were when some of the landing crafts came up on the beach below. From here the Germans could fire at both the American Beaches, Omaha and Utah. It felt like mass slaughter with the Germans having the advantage of being on the cliffs. This is a mounting for a very large gun – there were many of these as well as bunkers for people and for ammunition. The American Rangers scaled the cliffs and knocked out this fortification at the cost of many lives.

German Cemetery

There are over 20,000 graves in this cemetery. The names are on flat gravestones; the dark crosses are in groups of 5 throughout the grounds. Very somber and dark and sad. This cemetery was originally for Americans but in the mid-1950s those soldiers were sent back to the USA and the Germans took over the grounds. Over 50,000 Germans are buried in 5 cemeteries in Normandy. If the Dill were in charge, no Germans would have been buried on French soil .... and Dill is half German. We looked at the death records and found an A. Dill buried in the cemetery.

Mount St. Michele Monastery

The next day we drove from Caen to Mount St. Michele monastery. Both of us walked up to the very top, which seemed daunting from below, but really wasn’t too bad while we were doing it! This building was started in the 700s and was added to repeatedly over the years. It is now a tourist attraction, but for many years was a prison. We parked on the beach and there were signs everywhere to move cars no later than 1800 (6 PM) because when the tide comes in, the water goes up to the edge of the buildings – all cars parked on the beach are flooded! Worth the drive to the outer edge of Normandy.


We spent a couple of days in Brussels and were a bit disappointed. We had hoped to see the European Union in action (like the United Nations in New York) but mostly there were just big buildings not open to the public. Downtown Brussels was the financial capital of the world in the 1600s but looking a building that contained a lot of contracts is not much of a turn on. But the next day was the goodie for the Georgie.


We took a train/bus from Brussels out to Waterloo (about a 15 minute ride) and walked to the top of this monument to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 (this is where Napolean lost his second shot at empire). There was an interesting film and lots of artifacts. There were also lots of school children (7-8 year olds) who were on a field trip with frazzled chaperones trying to keep up with them! Here is info on the monument:

The Butte du Lion, lion hill, rises above the former battlefield and is visible from afar. It was constructed between 1823 and 1826 on the place where the Prince of Orange received his fatal wounds. The hill was built up with 32,000cu.m/42,000cu.yd of earth from the battlefield to a height of 40m/131ft and a circumference of 520m/1,706ft on a supporting brick base. On the summit was placed the sculpture of a lion by Arthur-Louis van Geel which weighs 28 tons and is more than 4m/13ft long. The lion stands with its right paw on a globe and looks to the south from where the French came. From the platform beneath the monument (over 226 steps to climb) there is a panoramic view of the battlefield.

Cologne, Germany

Our next stop was Cologne, Germany – we used our Eurail pass to get there and enjoyed the train trip. Marguerite’s favorite thing in Cologne was the Lindt Chocolate Factory – the story of chocolate was told very well, and of course, there were samples and a very large gift shop! This town was a Roman colony, and that is where the name Cologne comes from. They had a great Roman Museum that was interesting. We have been in Roman Museums all over the world from Rabbat, Morocco to London, England. Those Romans got around.


We took a train from Cologne to Luxembourg. Here George is in front of the Luxembourg Palace where the royality hang out. It was guarded by soldiers just like Buckingham Palace in London. Not much to see in Luxembourg.

Amsterdam Hotel

We finished our trip with three days in Amsterdam. We stayed at a very centrally located hotel – 2 star and pretty small – and had a marvelous city tour that included both a bus and a canal boat ride. Amsterdam is a very old city and there is an excellent historical museum that George particularly enjoyed on our last day there. George also enjoyed walking the red light district, shopping the personnals - as he would define them.

Anne Frank Home

We visited the Anne Frank museum which is very unassuming from the street. The museum includes the home where Anne and her family spent almost two years in hiding before someone alerted the Germans that they were there. They were then captured and killed in a German Concentration Camp. There is a comprehensive museum in the adjacent building that includes lots of history. Also included is a section on tolerance that brainwashes people into the Dutch liberal philosophy. George W. Bush is used as an example of problems with inflexable minds. The Dutch seem very happy and in good shape. Everyone takes a bicycle everyplace. Funny to see a 60 year old man or woman pedaling to work with a big smile on their face. Bike parking is unbelieveable in Amsterdam. Bike theft is very high so everybody prefers old bikes.

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