Finally, the International Driver’s Permit arrived from Australia and it’s off on Reg’s new adventure leaving the UK, at last.
Waiting for 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, the third one was sent by courier.
Decided to explore Cornwall whilst waiting.
The third application arrived in Australia on the Monday, processed and returned on the same day – an arrived 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, winter is upon us and we need to catch up with our friends in Spain, booked the ferry immediately to leave on the Sunday, for the crossing to St Malo (Brittany).
The Brittany Ferries ticket cost £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, you’re taking your car across. As the booked eleven-hour crossing is an overnighter, decided 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 drove us from Street (Somerset) to the Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal, which took 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 didn’t get lost. This may have also something to do with the driver’s knowledge of the area…haven’t sussed out Lizzy the SatNav yet.
Portsmouth Ferry Terminal
Arrived at the terminal quite early and went through the port’s entrance where your passport is checked out of the UK (I think – no stamps these days, so not sure) and provided with our cabin cards.
Deciding to park 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, but it is low season at the moment.
Sitting back in Reg, we are motioned through to board the ferry at about 18:00hrs.
Some cars are searched although officers motioned Reg to move straight through to the ferry. Strange, as Reg could potentially have 30 refugees stowed away or worse still, contrabands.
Tip: You can arrive the day before and stay inside the port without being charged for the overnight stay – wild camping.
Boarding the ferry
The ferry is pretty impressive with 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 guys can strap Reg down with chains for the channel crossing – comforting.
On the ferry
Wandered up and found our cosy cabin complete with clean bed linen and ensuite (wi-fi available at a cost). Then deciding to explore the ferry, ventured through each deck checking everything out, as you do…
The ferry has 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. You can even get your nails manicured, if you so wish.
Food on the ferry
Dinner at La Baule self-serve restaurant, provides a great selection of delicious hot and cold foods.
Shared only one meal between two of us as they are quite large portions.
One main meal of delicious salmon in white wine sauce with vegetables, one raspberry tart, and two glasses of wine cost €26.
Tip: Whilst on the ferry, pay with Pounds at shops and when buying food, as you get a lesser conversion rate if you pay with Euros.
I can’t wait to wake up to a new country tomorrow – how exciting!
Hope St Malo will be a breeze…