St. Malo, France/ Guernsey, UK (4.21.10 – 4.26.10)

After the long drive, we checked into our hotel and promptly left. This part of our journey was towards the tail end of the problems with the volcanic ash, but France was taking their sweet time in reopening their airspace. We were due to fly to Guernsey the next day, and the chances of this flight taking off looked slim. This being the case, my dad had booked ferry tickets across to Guernsey, just in case the flight didn’t take off. We drove to the airport to ask them if they knew anything about the flight status, as the airline website was as good as useless when it came to offering pertinent information about our flight. We were informed that the whole airport was shut down, and they knew nothing at that time about whether or not they would open the next day. We then headed to the port to check out the ferry terminal so that we would know what we were doing in the morning, if we needed to use our backup plan. My dad was horrified to discover that the long term parking lot did not have a single available spot, due to the fact that we were not the only ones taking advantage of the ferry route to the Channel Islands in the midst of the flight troubles. We went to get dinner at a creperie, which was superb, and afterwards, returned to the ferry terminal so that my dad could check to see if there was room in the parking lot at this point. A ferry had arrived in the time that we had been gone, and lucky for us, there were now parking spaces. We returned to the hotel to get some sleep before our early morning.
On Thursday, we got up at 5:30, so that we could get to the ferry terminal with enough time for out 8:30AM ferry to Guernsey. Due to the influx in business, the company was advising to arrive two hours in advance, which we did. The place was a disorganized nightmare, but eventually, we were on the ferry, headed for Guernsey, with a five hour stop in Jersey en route. We disembarked at Jersey and went to walk around for a while before returning to the port. We got brunch and I bought a new Moleskine, which I was desperately in need of. We then went back to the ferry, and traveled onto Guernsey. We were met at the port by Peter Niven, another friend whose travel had been affected by the volcanic ash. Originally, we had not been expecting to see Peter, as was supposed to be on a business trip to India, which ended up being canceled. We were supposed to e greeted by Peter’s wife, Anne (you may remember both Peter and Anne from my first trip to Guernsey), whose travel had also been affected, and consequently, she was still in Arizona. Anne didn’t mind her prolonged stay in Phoenix, Peter was glad not to go to India, and we were glad that at least one of them was there; everybody was happy! We went back to their house, and chatted for a while, before having to leave again to pick up Anne Burt from the airport (you may remember Anne from when I went to visit her in Worcester, England). So, the funny story here is as follows: My dad has known Anne Burt since University days; in fact, my dad lived with Anne for a while when he was working one of his first jobs. Peter has known Anne since around that very same time, yet my dad and Peter never crossed paths. Cut to over twenty five years later, and Peter (and his wife Anne) have a holiday home in Arizona, which is how our families met. Eventually, the connection was made and everyone realized that there was this triangle; it’s really quite remarkable that they never met before. Anyway… once we safely had Anne (who, luckily had no problem with her travel), we returned to the Nivens’ house and Peter opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate everyone’s safe arrival. The night was tremendously enjoyable and was spent catching up with everyone.
On Friday, we went to do some sightseeing around Guernsey. We started off at a little chapel, aptly named ’The Little Chapel,’ that’s been decorated entirely with broken plates; it was remarkably cute, and impressive because it was the work of just one man! After that we drove to Sainte Appoline’s Chapel, which has been standing since 1394, and still contains some remarkably well preserved paintings. We then spent some time at the beach where there are still some fortified lookouts remaining from WWII, before we headed to St. Peter Port, to see Victor Hugo’s house where he lived after his exile from France. We had to wait for a later entry into Victor Hugo’s house, so we went and got coffee while waiting. The tour of the house was very well done, and the house itself was totally bizarre. Hugo liked to decorate in quite a unique manner, and consequently, the ceilings are covered in tapestries, cabinets and walls are made from pieces of wooden chests, and plates are used to decorate the ceilings in some rooms. We then went to the fortress in St. Peter Port, which was very interesting. We had dinner out that night at a local hotel, where Peter and Anne had taken me when I was in Guernsey in February.
On Saturday, it was my dad’s birthday! We started the day of fun by taking a ferry across to Herm, one of Guernsey’s small neighboring islands. We walked around the island, and along some of its beautiful beaches for a while, before returning to the port, the get lunch. After lunch, we got the ferry back to Guernsey. We rested for a while and got ready to go out for an absolutely unbelievable meal for my dad’s birthday, at a magnificent restaurant called The Nautique.
Sunday meant that Anne (Burt) was leaving and Anne (Niven) was coming back from Phoenix. Before Anne’s departure, we returned to the beach that we had visited on Friday, because we wanted to visit a small island, called Lihou, that is only accessible in low tide. The path is only accessible for short amounts of time, so we had to make our trip across and back within an hour. After visiting Lihou, we returned to the house so we could get Anne’s things and take her to the airport. We then went back to the house, and after no time at all, went back to the airport to pick up the other Anne. With another Anne in our company, we went back to the house and toasted Anne’s safe return with champagne. I drank more champagne over the course of a week than I have had in my cumulative existence up until that point. That night we had a nice meal in, and enjoyed Anne’s company.
On Monday, my dad and I were due to depart, and took the ferry back across to St. Malo, so we said our fond farewells and headed back to France.

The Little Chapel

Sainte Appoline’s Chapel

The beach with old fortified turrets left from the war; you can’t see Lihou in this picture, but it’s off to the left.

My dad and me, with the island of Lihou in the background.

A snap from Victor Hugo’s house… I don’t think we were really supposed to take pictures inside, so I was stealthy. I know it’s not really a great picture, but if you look carefully, above the door is written: EXILIUM VITA EST. Life is exile. I thought it was neat, especially given that he lived most of his life in exile.

The back of Victor Hugo’s house, as seen from the garden.

The front of Victor Hugo’s house.

St Peter Port

I told Anne to mimic the strange wax figure in the fortress museum, and she did. ❤

The fortress

A beach view on Herm

More of Herm

Anne and Peter

Dinner at the Nautique for my dad’s birthday. From left to right: Peter, me, Anne, and my dad

Seagulls on the rocky coast of Lihou

My dad and Anne, on the path from Lihou

My dad and me, on the path back from Lihou. As we were coming back, we could see the water slowly flowing back in to cover up the path.


The end. Paris next… be still, my heart!


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