Finally, the International Driver’s Permit arrived from Australia – 3rd time lucky!
After the first 2 applications mysteriously disappeared somewhere en route from the UK to Australia, the 3rd one was sent by courier. Decided to explore Cornwall whilst waiting.
The 3rd application arrived in Australia on the Monday, was processed and returned on the same day, arriving back in the UK on Thursday morning of the same week. Amazing, a 4-day turnaround! Waited almost 5 weeks for the other 2 applications, with much lost time!
As it’s getting late in the season and winter is upon us, the ferry was booked 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 + £39 for a cabin with ensuite + £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. As this is an 11-hour crossing (overnighter), decided to pay the extra for a cabin and comfort – you never know whether the seas will be kind on a longer journey.
Reg drove us from Street (Somerset) to the Portsmouth International Ferry Terminal, which took about two and a half hours without 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 the SatNav yet!
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 seemed a little quiet but it is low season at the moment. Sitting back in Reg, we were motioned through to board the ferry at about 18:00hrs. Some cars were searched but we were motioned to move straight through to the ferry. Strange as Reg could have 30 refugees stowed away or worse still, contrabands!
Tip: You can arrive the day before and stay inside of the port without being charged for the overnight stay – wild camping.
The ferry is pretty impressive with 10 decks in total and takes, passengers, cars, vans, trucks, and almost everything else. It’s very organised but the guys motioning you through the lanes to the ferry take things for granted as if you’ve done this a thousand times before, like they have; and guide you so far but then walk away and you’re left alone. Reg was first in line. 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 for the channel crossing.
Wandered up and found our cosy cabin complete with clean bed linen and ensuite (wi-fi available at a cost). Ventured through each deck checking everything out, as you do. The ferry has a couple of bars, 2 restaurants (A-La-Carte and a self-service), Cinema, cafe, souvenir shops, Duty Free shop, kid’s playing area, and other smaller stalls; you can even get your nails manicured!
Dinner at La Baule self-serve restaurant, provides a great selection of delicious hot and cold foods, with great service. Shared one meal between two of us as they’re quite large portions: 1 main meal of delicious salmon in white wine sauce with vegetables, 1 raspberry tart, and 2 glasses of wine for €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.
Will be waking up to a new country tomorrow – how exciting! Hope St Malo will be a breeze…