Day 14 - Zeebrugge, Belgium

The next day we docked in Brugge and we took the train to Zeebrugge. Zeebrugge is a canal city in Belgium. The canals used to be used for transportation, but now they are only used for tour boats. We did a walking tour of the city, and then we went to a waffle shop and ate some Belgian waffles with powdered sugar on top. Then we took the train back, and got on the ship, and packed and ate our last dinner.
The powder tower in Zeebrugge

One of the many swans in the city

Day 13 - Normandy

The next port was La Harve, and we went to the battlefield of Normandy. Normandy was a battle during WWII when the Americans and British landed on the coast of Normandy, and began liberating Europe. It was the largest fleet in history, and it was a very important battle. Daddy and I got up early and got off the ship as soon as we were allowed and began walking to the car rental place. It was a several mile walk, but finally we got there. Then we drove back and picked up everyone but Grandma, because she went on a tour to Paris.

After a couple hour drive we arrived at our first stop, which was the village of Sainte-Mère-Église. I was the tour guide because I read about the battle before we came. There we saw the town in which some of the American paratroopers landed. The Germans shot many of the paratroopers as they landed in this town before they even got to the ground. One man, Private John Steele, was caught on the church steeple. They a dummy on the steeple to remember him.

The dummy of the paratrooper

Next we came to Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches. On this landing beach the Americans did very well. They actually landed in the wrong spot, but by God's providence where they actually landed was much less defended. They did not suffer very many casualties here. We walked around and there were several German fortifications still there, and Daddy bumped his head several times in one because the entrance was so low. There were also several monuments to the troops. Both of the landing beaches and the cemetery were given to the United States by France.

This is a replica landing boat, which carried the troops ashore

Utah Beach

A German machine gun post

A German gun buried in the sand

Next we went to Point Du Hoc. It was a very large battery built on a rocky cliff with six large cannons. Two hundred U.S. Rangers climbed the cliff and took the battery, and held on for several days until help arrived. When they got up the cliff, they discovered that the guns had either been moved or never put there, but they still had to hold onto the position until they were relieved. At the end, only 90 of the 200 could still fight. The area was covered by huge shell craters from the bombing before the attack. It was one of the only places where the bombs actually hit. This was probably my favorite stop of this entire day. It was misty, so we could not see the cliffs very well but it was still neat. The overcast weather gave a sense of why they had such poor visibility and could not find their way to their meeting location.

One of the German gun positions

Here you can see the land was covered in shell craters

This is the edge of the cliff

Me standing in a shell crater

A German position that was destroyed by a bomb

Our last stop was Omaha beach. That was the most difficult of all the landing sights. The troops there suffered very heavy casualties. Some platoons were destroyed before they even got off the boat. Finally, after many hours of fighting, they gained the bluffs overlooking the beach where the Germans had put their fortifications. Many soldiers died on this beach. The troops suffered 4,500 casualties here.
This was a picture taken during the fighting of the troops coming ashore

Wounded soldiers being brought up the beach

We walked on the beach for a little, then drove along it. It is about a mile long! We stopped part way down the beach and climbed the bluff where the Germans had their fortifications. It is much higher than the surrounding ground. When we were climbing up the bluff, we saw a German position that was covered in grass and vines. All you could see was a little hole leading into the ground. We wanted to explore it, but we did not have time. After leaving Omaha Beach we went by the American cemetery, but did not have time to go in. When we got back to the cruise ship, we still had to drop off the car. We walked very fast because we did not want to miss the ship! Fortunately, we got back in plenty of time.

Omaha Beach

A cannon in a bunker

Blogging the Reformers: George Wishart

George Wishart

George Wishart was born in Scotland in 1513. He fled to England after being convicted of heresy for reading the Greek New Testament to his students. He returned to Scotland in 1544, and began preaching the Bible all over in Scotland. He traveled to Montrose, Dundee, Ayr, Glasgow and many other places. Many people were converted by his preaching. An attempt was made by a monk to kill him, but Wishart, seeing that he was holding a weapon under his gown, snatched it from him. He then protected his would-be assassin from the crowds. After this his friends always had someone accompany him to protect him. John Knox, who was later the greatest reformer of Scotland, served in this capacity for a time, but when Wishart knew that he was about to be arrested he sent him away.

St. Andrew's Castle, where Wishart was kept

In December, 1545, he was seized and then transferred to Edinburgh Castle, and then delivered to Cardinal Beaton, one of the great persecutors of the Reformers in Scotland, and was placed in St. Andrew's Castle. After a mock trial he was sentenced to be burnt. He was killed in front of St. Andrew's Castle on March 1st, 1546. As he was burning, seeing Cardinal Beaton sitting in the castle watching his execution, he said, “He who sits in such state, from that high place, feedeth his eyes with my torments, within a few days shall be hanged out at the same window to be seen with as much ignominy as he now leaneth there in pride.”1 This prophesy was fulfilled just two months later when he was killed in the same castle by some conspirators who desired to revenge Wishart's death.

The letters in the pavement mark where Whishart was burned

1 As quoted in As quoted in J. H. Merle D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 3, book x, p. 206

Day 11 - Vigo

On the eleventh day of our cruise, we docked at Vigo. There was a fort at the top of the hill (like most ports) and since there was really nothing else to do we went up there. There was a fort half-way up the hill too, which was pretty nice, but we kept on going to the top. At the top there was a monument to three Spanish warships which were destroyed when Drake raided along the Spanish shore. Most of their valuable cargo was got on shore, but the ships sank. One neat thing about it was that it had the three anchors, one from each ship, and five cannons which were also recovered. At the top was an abandoned hotel built to look like a castle, which looked like part of it had been burnt. There were a few walls, but it was mostly gardens and fountains inside of it. After that we went back to the cruise ship to eat lunch. Then, Mommy, Daddy, and Joshua went shopping. Joshua bought a couple replica pistols, but Mommy and Daddy did not buy anything. Here are some pictures:
The outside of the fort

Me looking into one of the watchtowers

The courtyard of the castle (Mommy and Rachel liked the snapdragons)

The opposite side of the bay

Some flowers in the garden

Day 10 - Lisbon

On day 10 we docked at Lisbon, which is the capital of Portugal. When we got off the ship, we found a taxi that could take seven people. The reason that Portuguese is a lot different than Spanish is because the Portugal was settled by people from Tyre. The first stop was a palace, which was the King and Queen's vacation home when it was built. After we went through that, we stopped at another palace, which was the main palace at one time. After we had gone through that I was tired of palaces, and we went to a Moorish Castle. We had to wait for our taxi driver, because he was having lunch. All of the other taxi drivers said that he was a bad taxi driver.

The Moorish Castle was built on a steep hill, so even though the taxi took us most of the way there was still a hike up, so our Grandparents stayed behind (they had also seen it before.) The Castle was very strong, and since it was on a hill could not easily be surprised by any large number of men. This was one of the first castles that the Portuguese drove the Moors out of. It's walls were not very high from the inside but since it was on a cliff, the walls were high from the outside. After we went through the castle we asked the driver to take us to a place where we could go shopping. He did, and we looked around there for about ten or twenty minutes. After that we came back to the cruise ship. In the port, the taxi driver showed us some monuments at which he stopped to let us take pictures. When we got back to the ship, and Daddy was paying the taxi driver, the taxi driver hid one of the bills and pretended like Daddy had not given him enough. Daddy had seen him do it so he did not give him another one. Here are some pictures:
An aqueduct built in the 18-century that the driver said the Romans built (but they did not)

Looking down the wall (you can see the ocean far out there)

Me standing next to the wall

The Castle from the bottom of the hill

The steep castle wall

Daddy talking about the castle

The Castle walls from inside the Castle

One of the Bastions

Some of the ramparts

Day 9 - Cadiz

During the night we passed through the Strait of Gibralter. The Strait of Gibralter is a very narrow point between Africa and Spain. We got up at midnight to see if we could see Gibralter. We couldn't, although we saw lights near it and also Africa.

In the morning we got up and went ashore in Cadiz. We wanted to drive to Gibralter, but no car rental places were open because it was Sunday. Daddy did a talk on the Battle of Trafalgar, which was a very important sea battle between the Spanish and French and the English which happened near Gibralter. The Spanish and French fleet came out of Cadiz. We videoed it, and we may put up a clip of it soon.

After that we did a walking tour around the walls and forts of the city. Many of the fortifications were built because Sir Francis Drake of England attacked Spain and burned several cities. After walking around and seeing interesting things we went back to the ship.

Blogging the Reformers - Patrick Hamilton

St. Andrew's Castle in Scotland, where Patrick Hamilton was kept

The Cathedral of the "Scottish Rome"

Patrick Hamilton was born in 1504 in Scotland. He was in the royal line of the kings of Scotland, and his father was one of the last great knights of the Middle Ages. When he was fourteen his father sent him to Paris to be educated. He was saved there through the beginning of the Reformation in the university at Paris, and his sadness over the death of his father in a sword battle. He returned to Scotland in 1522 after getting the Master of Arts degree. When he returned he went to the University at St. Andrew's, which was called the “Scottish Rome”. He explained and taught the Bible to those around him. He was not a great preacher such as Luther or Farel, but he knew the scriptures and could teach them ably. In 1527 he was declared a heretic by Archbishop James Beaton, and fled back to the continent. After studying the scriptures there for some time, he returned to Scotland. He began preaching to the common people in his home-country and many accepted the gospel. In 1528 he married, although he was a priest. Bishop Beaton invited him to St. Andrew's to discuss the gospel, but really he wanted to kill him. There he continued to preach, and at length the bishop summoned him before a council, which convicted him as a heretic. At noon on February 28th, 1528 he was brought out to be burned at the stake. The fire did not burn well, and there were six hours of slow torture before he died. As he was about to die, he raised his hand, off which two fingers were already burnt, as a signal that he held true to the gospel to the last. His death was the start of the Reformation in Scotland. The university and all of Scotland were inspired by his example, and he strikingly fulfilled that saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” 1

Last year we visited St. Andrews on the Scotland Faith and Freedom Tour, and we saw where Patrick Hamilton was killed.

It was in front of the college where Hamilton was burned

These initials mark where he was burned

1 J. H. Merle D'Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 3, book x, p. 70