Finally, it’s off on Reg’s (motorhome) new adventure leaving the UK at last, as the International Driver’s Permit finally arrived from Australia.
Background on the International Driver’s Permit
Australians require an International Driver’s Permit to drive through Europe. You can only apply for a permit from Australia in person or via an online facility.
The third application arrived in Australia on the Monday, processed and returned on the same day, and arrived back in the UK on Thursday morning of that 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 a little late in the season, winter is upon us, and we 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 cost £224 for a motorhome and two people, plus £39 for a cabin with ensuite, and 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 take your car across. Although, as the booked eleven-hour crossing is an overnighter, we decide to splurge and 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 to the Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal with the journey taking around 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 lose our way today. This may also have something to do with the driver’s knowledge of the area. I haven’t sussed out Lizzy the new SatNav yet.
Portsmouth Ferry Terminal
Arriving at the terminal quite early, we venture through the port’s entrance where our passports are checked out of the UK with ease. Maybe the reason for this is because there aren’t any stamps these days.
Provided with our cabin cards, it’s time to check out the parking spots at the terminal.
Parking Reg in the St Malo lane – not many cars here yet – we head for a coffee and the free wi-fi in the terminal.
This port is massive.
With around 28 lanes I’m sure it gets super busy most of the time. Although, it seems a little quiet today and not sure if this is because it is low season at the moment.
Returning to Reg, port staff motion us through at around 18:00hrs to board the ferry.
Some cars are searched although officers motion Reg to move straight through to the ferry. Quite strange as Reg could potentially have 30 refugees stowed away or worse, contrabands – slight exaggeration.
If you arrive at the port the day before, you can stay inside the secure gated 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.
Everything is 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 suddenly walk away, and you’re left on your own to find your way.
Once on the ferry’s deck in your allocated garage, there’s a little shunting back and forth that takes place with the crew directing you to get the motorhome positioned just right. This is so that the crew can strap Reg down with chains for the channel crossing – comforting thought.
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 a private ensuite, Wi-fi is also available but at a cost.
Once settled in, decide to explore the ferry and stroll through each deck 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, children’s playing area, and other smaller stalls will keep most 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 tonight as portions are quite large.
One main meal of juicy salmon in white wine sauce with vegetables, one medium-sized raspberry tart, and two glasses of red wine cost €26.
Whilst on the ferry, pay with the Pound Sterling currency at shops and when buying food as you receive a much 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 prove to be a breeze to navigate around…