Finally, the International Driver’s Permit arrived from Australia and it’s off on Reg’s new adventure leaving the UK, at last…
Background on the International Driver’s Permit
Australians require and International Driver’s Permit to drive through Europe. You can only apply for these from Australia in person or an online facility is available.
After the first two online applications mysteriously disappeared somewhere en route from the UK to Australia, sent the third one by courier. So, deciding to explore Cornwall whilst waiting, set off for a few days.
The third application arrived in Australia on the Monday, then processed and returned on the same day, arriving back in the UK on Thursday morning of the same week.
Amazing! Only a four-day turnaround after waiting almost five weeks for the previous two applications, with much lost time.
As it’s getting late in the season and winter is upon us but also need to catch up with our friends in Spain, booked the ferry immediately to leave this Sunday for the crossing to St Malo in Brittany.
The Brittany Ferries ticket costs £224 for a motorhome and 2 people, plus £39 for a cabin with ensuite, plus an additional £5 credit card fee.
If you don’t want to dish out money for a cabin, comfortable padded chairs are available for only an additional £5/person, whilst you’re taking your car across. As the booked eleven-hour crossing is an overnighter, we decide to pay the extra for a cabin and comfort. You never know whether the seas will be kind on a longer journey and you need to be horizontal.
Leaving the UK
Reg drives us from Street in Somerset (south-west England) to the Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal, which takes about two and a half hours without too much traffic around.
With me as the navigator and only a Britain Road Atlas – paper variety – surprisingly, we don’t get lost. This may also have something to do with the driver’s knowledge of the area…haven’t sussed out Lizzy the SatNav yet.
Portsmouth Ferry Terminal
Arriving at the terminal quite early, we venture through the port’s entrance where passports are checked out of the UK – I think, as there aren’t any stamps these days – and we’re provided with our cabin cards.
Parking Reg in the St Malo lane, headed for a coffee and the free wi-fi in the terminal.
This port is massive with about 28 lanes although it seems a little quiet at the moment and not sure if this is because it’s low season at the moment.
Returning to Reg, port staff motion us through to board the ferry at around 18:00hrs.
Some cars are searched although officers motion Reg to move straight through to the ferry. Strange, as Reg could potentially have 30 refugees stowed away or worse, contrabands.
You can arrive the day before and stay inside the port without being charged for the overnight stay – wild camping at its best.
Boarding the ferry
The Brittany ferry is pretty impressive boasting ten decks in total and carries passengers, cars, vans, trucks, and almost everything else.
Reg is first in line.
It’s very organised but the guys motioning you through the lanes to the ferry do take things for granted. It’s as if you’ve done this a thousand times before just as they have, so guide you so far but then walk away, and you’re left on your own.
Once on the ferry deck in your allocated garage, a little shunting back and forth takes place to get the motorhome positioned just right. This is so the crew can strap Reg down with chains for the channel crossing – comforting.
On the ferry
Wandering up to the seventh floor and down the long corridor of doors, we find our cosy cabin complete with clean bed linen and private ensuite. Wi-fi is available at a cost.
Deciding to explore the ferry by strolling through each deck and checking everything out, as you do…
A couple of bars, two restaurants (A-La-Carte and a self-service), cinema, cafe, souvenir shops, Duty-Free shop, kids’ playing area, and other smaller stalls will keep passengers amused for a short time.
If you’re really bored, you can even get your nails manicured if you so wish.
Food on the ferry
Dinner at the La Baule self-serve restaurant offers a great selection of delicious hot and cold foods.
Sharing only one delicious meal between us as portions are quite large.
One main meal of juicy salmon in white wine sauce with vegetables, one raspberry tart, and two glasses of wine costs €26.
Whilst on the ferry, pay with Pounds at shops and when buying food as you receive a lesser conversion rate if you pay with Euros.
I can’t wait to wake up to a new country tomorrow – how exciting and hope that St Malo will be a breeze…