I took a tour with Ed Robinson earlier this July but have been touring Europe for a month and now that that is completed, I can sit and write about my experiences.
I booked a tour for two days with Ed. The first day comprising of the Airborne area of operations and the second day consisting of Villers Bocage and the Falaise Gap. I have been to Normandy before and had spent most of my time there touring the beaches so I was not interested in seeing that aspect. I had also toured some of the Airborne areas but had done that on my own and felt I had missed a good number of things. I had done some research, read some reviews, and viewed a video on YouTube showing Ed giving a group a tour along several areas in Normandy. I was impressed with the video in St. Mere Eglise showing Ed demonstrating the trajectory of bullets and shrapnel that caused damage to a particular fence post.
I decided to e-mail and after a few exchanges, the dates were set. I have to admit at this point, that Ed is very expensive. But, I have a strong passion for history, especially the Second World War, and so I was willing to pay for a quality experience. At least that was my mental justification for dropping the amount of money I was going to do for the two day tour.
Ed met us at our B&B and we began the day. I need to add also that I have been reading and studying battles of WWII II since first grade (not an exaggeration). So, I was excited to actually stand at some of the locations I had missed before and have read so much about.
The first day consisted of the Airborne areas and also a diversion to Omaha Beach. My wife was with me and at the beginning of the tour, Ed laid out the plan for the day and asked if it was okay to overview Omaha at the end. My wife is very tolerant of my passions and since she didn't have the in-depth background of Normandy and it was her first visit, I thought that would be good for her. The day went by touring several areas and it was good to gain a visual perspective of the terrain. As the day went on, I found myself actually getting a little bored. When we arrived at Omaha, I became more distracted and disinterested. When Ed was done, he commented to me that in the nine years of touring, he has never seen anyone as bored as he saw me in the last fifteen minutes. I laughed, apologized and explained to him that the information wasn't new and it really had nothing to do with him. I did agree to seeing Omaha and in my mind it was for my wife as well. My wife was hanging on every word he was saying and I hadn't realized that I was being obvious with my boredom.
The second day was a completely different story. To begin with, I have never seen Villers Bocage or Falaise. Secondly, Ed was genuinely concerned that I gain a meaningful experience. His tone and approach was different the second day. He knew that my knowledge was at a different level and he approached me in that manner. There was an active effort on his part to give information that engaged not only me but my wife as well. Not an easy task given the disparity in knowledge levels of she and I. He successfully engaged my interests and hers as well.
He brought us to Villers first and we did comparison shots of the various locations using photographs of 1944 and viewing them from the spots they were taken at. The first half of the engagement was covered in great detail.
Then we moved on to Falaise which was even better! The depth of the battle was covered in great detail also. The highlight of this portion was when he showed us an aerial picture of a field with destroyed vehicles. He then took us to the same field, asked me to toss a rock he had handed me, and then began to dig where the rock landed. At about six inches deep, he scooped up the dirt and we began to sift through it. The fragments of battle began to appear! Bullets, casings, D rings, nails, bolts, and the best find is credited to my wife. She found a pistol clip that was fully intact. Granted, these pieces have been buried for 69 years and are in various stages of rust but it was quite the experience (some of those pieces are soaking in vinegar as I am writing this).
I had read the reviews including the negative one. I'm not sure what exactly happened but I can see how certain personalities wouldn't click with Ed. Yes, he is very opinionated. He likes to talk a lot and has some very strong views on things. But, he is a walking encyclopedia and has many areas of knowledge that engaged my wife and I during our drives from one location to another. I would go as far to say that if I lived in Normandy, I would consider him a friend and would be sure that many hours would be spent discussing history, politics, and philosophy.
So, if you are someone who is easily offended or do not do well with sarcasm, maybe a different tour guide might be a good idea. But if you can appreciate a sharp wit and understand strong opinions, along with a great depth of knowledge, go ahead and take a tour with Ed. Understand that he is expensive and has a complex personality but in conclusion, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with Ed.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.