Jersey warrants repeat visit . . .
St Helier, Jersey — what a wonderful surprise. We loved it — the history, the people, the food and the laidback life style was beyond expectation . . .
St Helier, Jersey — what a wonderful surprise. We loved it — the history, the people, the food and the laidback life style was beyond expectation.
For a place that we had decided was just another convenient step in our journey, it was awesome.
The hosts of the B&B we stayed at were a very friendly couple; she was an expat Portuguese and he was English. They were both quite happy to spend time chatting to a couple of wandering Kiwis and direct us round their home own.
An evening meal downtown introduced us to a Jersey-style kebab. It came on a very long kebab stick hung from a frame and was large and delicious.
The narrow winding streets were a bit confusing. Even using our very smart phone with its GPS we found ourselves back where we started quite unexpectedly.
Jersey is part of the Channel Islands which lie off the coast of France. It is not surprising then that the population is a blend of English and French with a sprinkling of other EU nationalities. Although the islands are not part of the United Kingdom, they are British Crown Dependencies and the UK is responsible for their defence. They were the only part of the British Isles occupied by the Germans in World War 2, the occupation lasting from 1940 until 1945.
The memorials scattered around St Helier testify to the trauma experienced by the islanders during the occupation.
The islands did not join the EU, which has limited economic growth, but certainly has not diminished the uniqueness of the island culture.
The Jersey cow, which originally came from Jersey Island, is very important to our own dairy farmers.
Jersey is not a large island — it is very walkable and we enjoyed the slower pace of life it offered. Because the islands are not part of the EU, there are few tourists, which has had a negative effect on the local economy, but makes for a very peaceful place to visit.
The weather is generally temperate and during our stay, was very pleasant. For us it is a place that if we have another opportunity we will visit again at some future date.
We left St Helier for St Malo, France, on the same ferry we had travelled on from Poole and as with that crossing, the English Channel was calm and the voyage smooth and speedy. Our passports were stamped at St Helier, the only border control we saw on the whole journey.
We boarded at 9am and were in France before 10am. A short look around St Malo included walking from the ferry terminal to the railway station.
Our first impressions were good and we were really looking forward to our planned rail journey through France and into Italy.
After a bit of French cuisine for lunch, we caught the train to Nantes via Rennes. The Rennes railway station was in the process of a very major modernisation.
The hour we spent there waiting for our connection to Nantes was spent marvelling at the money being spent and trying to imagine what the finished product was going to look like. Our assumption was and still is “magnifique”.
Already our rail journey was giving us an insight into “The Rail's” unpredictable part in modern transport; The abandoned railway in Jersey, the closed-down lines in England, our own almost-abandoned Napier link, historically for us, traversing across America, the 9000 km jaunt across Russia to Moscow.
We have enjoyed our rail travel but realise that the continuing maintenance of this form of travel is dependent on vast amounts of money being spent. This will only be found where there is enough demand and rail-friendly geography.