Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Trip to France

I should have posted this earlier but better late than never. The weekend before last I decided to travel on what was the last return sailing of the "Val de Loire" in the service of Brittany Ferries. Cork people might remember the Val as the ship which served France before the Pont Aven arrived. So off I flew to Gatwick and from there got a train to Portsmouth. While waiting for the train it was announced that the first 4 coaches were for Portsmouth and the rest for Littlehampton -trains don't split over here. Gatwick station is interesting as it is on the mainline and from it you can see planes taking off - a bit of a change from Ballybrophy. Anyways after a mundane enough journey in comfortable Southern stock I arrived in Portsmouth and met up with my fellow travellers. Before being bussed onto the ferry we had to go through airline type security - car travellers had no such issues so whilst a guy in a Megane could bring along a canteen of cutlery, four blowtorches and a hatful of machetes , the poor foot traveller was searched. First stop after getting on board was the bar for a traditional cidre. The first thing that struck me was that the Val was in perfect condition and much much better than the Irish ferries Normandy which is a floating rustbucket and which costs as much as the much better Brittany Ferries offering. After a good while in the bar we got to go on a bridge visit - the bridge is massive with loads of room and was an interesting experience. Its a far cry from the bridge of the LE Roisin. Later on we had dinner - the lamb was excellent as was the starter and the desserts. The crossing was smooth as well. When we got to Caen we got off and had a quick walk down a totally closed town... A bottle of champagne was opened on the departure from Caen to toast the occasion and it was a nice experience steaming out the channel marked by the red/green lights. Lovely and quiet. For me it was a change not having the children around. back to the bar where the DJ was the subject of good humoured banter and then to bed. Arrival in Portsmouth was at 6am - it was bitterly cold and wet. The Spinnaker Tower was visible from afar. Unloading was quick (not many onboard) and next stop was the station where I got a train to Waterloo. In Waterloo I had breakfast and amused myself by counting the policemen - the place was swarming with them - there were around 20 down at the end I was at. Off into town with me and eventually made my way back to Gatwick for my EasyJet flight home - 1 hour late due to earlier issues with the seats.

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