France Day Trip

Sunday, November 12th, 2006 at 22:38 | by Alistair Baillie

Friday was a rather good day with only a stability lecture before lunch, then the rest of the day off.

At around 1900 Helena, Fran, Ben, Simon, Marc, David, Luke & me met up outside Shackleton and then went to Portsmouth where we boarded our ferry to France, the rather nice “Pont Aven”. We sailed on time, and after backing out of the berth and turning around we left the rather wet and windy Portsmouth harbour behind, and set out towards the Isle of Wight.

We seemed to split up and after some exploring Ben, Fran and I ended up in the duty free shop then met up with everyone else in one of the bars.

The weather going over once we were clear of the UK was ok, you could barely feel the ship moving.

We all ended up in bed around 0200 on Saturday morning ready for our nice and early arrival in France at around 0700. The cabins all have a radio in them, which comes on to wake you up automatically around an hour and half before you dock. We ignored it and got up after we heard the announcement that we would be arriving in 30 minutes and to please vacate the cabins.

We were in France a bit before 0800 and proceeded to head towards the old area of St Malo, which is on the left of the ferry port. Although we all headed there together we ended up splitting up as we wondered around. Ben, Fran & I found a café serving breakfast about 1000, and the rest appeared shortly afterwards.

After breakfast we went on a wonder in the direction of the Aquarium, unfortunately after a rather long walk following signs for it, we ran into some locals who told us it was 10km away – the plan was quickly abandoned, and we returned to the old city to wonder around some shops and to get lunch.

Luke, Marc, Simon and I found a Crêperie and had crepe’s for lunch, except Marc who had a steak?? We then met back up with the rest and wondered along the walls surrounding the city heading for a museum, unfortunatley I cant remember what it was called but when we got there we descovered it was a guided tour and that it was in french which was kind of a problem for us – I do wish I had paid attention in Standard Grade French, so we gave that a miss and ended up spliting up again. Helena, Luke, Marc, Simon and I found a bar which was showing rugby and stayed there for a few hours.

Around 1800 we had all met up in the bar, and decided to head back to the ferry terminal. When we got there our ship had left to wait off the coast to allow another ferry to use the terminal, so we weren’t able to board. Ben & I went a walk while the rest slept in the terminal. Although we were planning on getting pictures of our ship docking, we ended up back in the city, where I bought this giant doughnut filled with fresh raspberries. We headed back up onto one of the walls to take pictures, but unfortunately none of them have came out. I also twisted my ankle walking along the wall not paying attention – damn doughnut!

I limped back to the port, and managed to beat the ferry which was still reversing in when we got their. Luke, Marc, Simon and I went out to the ferry on the first bus, and were onboard around 1900. Helena, Ben, Fran & Dave attempted to make a fool of us by phoning and saying they had missed the check in and weren’t being allowed onboard, I didn’t believe them, Luke was skeptical but Marc was rather gullible and even went and asked one of the crew in reception.

When they eventually got onboard we headed for dinner in the self service restaurant. It was rather nice and reasonably good value, I had Roast ham with chips, which was 8 euros including a drink.

After dinner I went back to the cabin and had a shower – the showers were brilliant onboard, and then lay down for a while. The girls and Marc went to the cinema, and we all kind of ran into each other in one of the bars around 2300.

The drinks onboard were quite reasonable, similar to prices in Yates and Weatherspoons type pubs, as were the cocktails. I had a Pina Colada, of which I had to down half of so the guy could fit the rest of it into the glass.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a tour of the bridge as they don’t do it during night crossings which is fair enough, we weren’t that bothered as we had a great time anyway.

The crossing back was slightly rougher, apparently force 7 gales according to some of the cadets here at Warsash who looked it up yesterday. It was really windy out on the decks during the night, but the ship didn’t sway that much which was a tad disappointing.

The Pont Aven is a really nice ship. The majority of stuff onboard had closed by 2200, with the bars closing shortly after midnight but during the day I guess the bars, shops and restaurants are open throughout the crossing and the pool is probably open for some of it.

Most of us were exhausted and disappeared to bed quite early, while the other cabin managed to get up at 0600 for breakfast, Fran, Ben & I didn’t move until the announcement telling us to get out the cabin.

We docked in Portsmouth just before 0800 this morning, we were off and out of the terminal by 0830 and we were back in our rooms at Warsash just before 0900, where I promptly proceeded to fall asleep until noon when I went for brunch.

It was a great way to spend the weekend, far better than being stuck here at Warsash bored and it only cost £40 per person which isn’t that much for two 12 hour crossings and a day in France. Admittedly now I’m going to have to study quite hard this week to make up for the time I have lost – yes I am actually studying here, well I need to, it’s not that easy.

I will stick some of the 100’s of pictures I have up in the Photo Gallery section of my site, if you want to see the rest come and find me and I’ll let you see them.

Lastly, some people have mentioned about my spelling. I do not profess to be the worlds greatest speller, so everything I write is spell checked, but unfortunately occasionally typing mistakes slip through. In most cases you should be able to work out what the word is, but if its bugging you please feel free to email me and let me know what is spelt wrong.

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