“The Baltic Route is coming and I’m still blown away! I have prepared some warm clothes (doesn’t matter that it’s August, I’m Greek, we don’t survive in the North). Come explore with us some of the most beautiful, but overlooked countries in Europe!” – Achilleas
Our travellers’ week along the French Atlantic coast really had everything: lessons in wine making and fish net repair, encounters with awesome nature, and, most impressive of all, encounters with some very brave and inspiring people.
Bordeaux had to be the place to learn about wine – wine for the future, with less additives and a more sustainable cultivation, to be precise. Fabian and Yldau also enjoyed the vibrant street life and welcoming atmosphere of the city.
On the beautiful island of Oléron, our travellers spent a day working with and learning from a group of fishermen who are still contributing to their beloved trade despite unfavourable circumstances. Because of injury, illness or disability they were cut off, but thanks to the Atelier des Gens de Mer they can work again and play an active part.
Near where the river Loire flows into the Atlantic, Yldau and Fabian went into the wild and explored the Brière Regional Natural Park: an area of that is famous for its birdlife – and that reminded Yldau of the marshy flatlands near her home city of Rotterdam.
The keepers of the park take their mission very seriously – as our travellers were somewhat shocked to witness, they do not hesitate to eliminating invading species that could endanger the ecological balance of the park.
It was perfect timing for Yldau, Fabian and the crew to arrive in Arromanches, Normandy, exactly on the anniversary of the D-Day landings which marked the final push to rid Western Europe of Nazi control in 1944. They took part in the celebrations, and they met with a very special guy: 94-year old former British Army special operations officer Joseph. Apart from his own amazing story, “Joe” also called on Yldau and Fabian and the younger generations to value freedom and peace.
They were then able to deepen their awareness by taking part at the first World Peace Forum nearby Caen, and by visiting the exhibition History through their EYES, a project realised by the Liberation Route Europe Foundation. The main aim of the EU-funded EYES project, as one of its volunteers explained to our travellers, is to keep the memory of the struggle for freedom, peace and democracy alive: not least for young people, and especially so as the original witnesses, the WWII veterans like Joseph, will not be with us forever.
Passionate about WW2 and D-Day stories? Check out this documentary website by Normandy for Peace,created in collaboration with the French national audiovisual archives INA, cinematographic news archives, TV news broadcasts and archives from private individuals, amateur movies or unpublished footage. It provides a unique insight into the stories, memories and messages conveyed by Normandy since June 6, 1944.
The Atlantic Route continues. Next: Belgium and the Netherlands!