Monday, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
We arrive in St Peter Port, Guernsey via tender.
May weather: Average temps of 58°/43°F. Average precip of 2″.
Currency: Pounds Sterling (£). Guernsey issues its own coins and notes. UK currency is used interchangeably.
Our day in St Peter Port started reasonably early–especially for us. We crashed before 9 pm our first night on the ship. We both woke, very unclear on how much time had passed–and Stan said it was 10:46. I thought we’d slept the night through and were going to be late (or miss) our visit to Hauteville House–but it was 10:46 pm. I was very disoriented, and, of course, an inside cabin contributes to that feeling of not knowing if it’s day or night.
We disembarked without breakfast and began the series of “it’s a small ship” running intos. We sat across from Karl in the tender. We walked together a while but then separated and Stan and I went into the Information Centre and got a map and a direction to look for breakfast.
We ended up buying breakfast from a place that didn’t really have anywhere to sit. I’m not sure we’d have gone if we’d realized that in advance, though! San ordered a beef pasty and I got a ham and cheese doughy thing. She didn’t heat them quite enough, but they were still good. Stan said his was like beef stew in crust.
We wandered through the town, which was incredibly picturesque. As we were window shopping (most shops weren’t open yet), I saw a man who was clearly taking my picture. He was wearing a hat and a coat and had a camera in front of his face–I didn’t have a clue who he was. Then I saw Marie just beyond him and was able to deduce that it might be Ernie–and indeed it was. They were also just wandering around. I told Marie we were headed to look at the church and she said it had some beautiful stained glass.
The church did have lovely stained glass and it had a beautiful altar. Some of the woodwork was just amazing. Stan took a picture of me inside the church and I saw a woman posing for a snapshot, but I don’t really like people shots in places of worship. It seems disrespectful, somehow.
As is usual for me, I wanted a beverage. The little cafe we found had free wifi and Pepsi Max for Stan. I had an orange juice and emailed Dean to get his new address so I could send a postcard to Jennica. I didn’t see any Guernsey cows, but that didn’t stop me from buying the postcard!
The Old Quarter
The Old Quarter had many more empty shops than I’d expected. We did go into two different vintage/antique stores. In the first, I bought a Guernsey pottery bowl. The woman told me they’d stopped making those in the 1990s. I’m going to take it to work and have paperclips live in it. I saw a beautiful piece of malachite that I really wanted. It only met that one of my shopping criteria though–I wanted it. I didn’t want to carry it, though–it was heavy. I didn’t want to pay for it (not inexpensive) but most importantly, I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with it. I left it in the store–but it was beautiful.
We arrived early for our tour of Victor Hugo’s mansion in exile and spent the rainy part of our wait in the passageway out to the garden.
The garden beckoned, and I recalled the traveler’s weather maxim: There is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices. My clothing included a raincoat, so I walked in the garden in the rain–and it was lovely. I don’t seem to have the motivation to make that kind of area, but I can certainly enjoy it!
We’d sat across from a Quebec couple on the tender and they were on our tour. Our tour guide was French, which only makes sense since Hauteville House belongs to the Paris Museum. The house was amazing–many of us wondered how he got enough money to finance the furnishings. It was full of carved wood, tapestries (walls and ceilings both), beautiful tile, elaborate candelabras and a vast collection of books. I was a bit surprised to see the paperbacks. Somehow I’d thought that was a more recent innovation.
We didn’t get to visit the castle–and I love castles, and I love castle ruins. (In fact, I love castle ruins more than I love furnished manor houses.) We did get some great pictures of Castle Cornet, though.
Returning to the Ship
We walked back to reboard the ship and found a long line. Dave and Shirley found us while we waited and had a wonderful chat–it made the hour wait for a tender go by quickly. We met up for lunch and a long visit. Getting back from lunch after 4:00 means it won’t be long until (formal) dinner.
Planning our Visit
There’s a novel by Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) set primarily in Guernsey. I read this on the recommendation of someone on CruiseCritic.com. It was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.
Plan for the day
We don’t have a lot of time in Guernsey, especially since we have to leave time for the tender. Although we arrive at 7:00 am, usually those with ship tours get to leave first–and it doesn’t seem as if much will be open in Guernsey that early anyway!
At first I thought it would make sense to try and get off the ship until 8:30 or 9:00, assuming that shops open around 9:00. Stan suggested instead that we get off early and have breakfast in St Peter Port–what a wonderful idea!
After breakfast, our first stop will probably be the Guernsey Information Centre. I think that’s the same as the Culture & Leisure Department.
Places we might visit
Walking literature is available from the Guernsey Information Centre, including five walking routes for St Peter Port. Open 9:00 – 5:00.
The Old Quarter is “a mixture of antique dealers, art galleries, craft shops, fashion boutiques and unique privately run shops of all types and descriptions. With its narrow cobbled streets, it really is like going back in time to what most of the town of St Peter Port once looked like, but with a modern twist of quaint little shops.” It sounds like a wonderful place to wander around. I think we’ll spend most of our time before (and maybe after) our tour of Hauteville House wandering around in The Old Quarter. If I understood my google results properly, the Old Quarter area is Mill Street.
Hauteville House (also) is Victor Hugo’s exile home, where he lived in exile for 15 years (from 1856 to 1870) Open 10:00 – 4:00 for guided tours. Admission £7. The website indicates that guided tours are by appointment, We have an 11:20 slot and are to arrive fifteen minutes early.
After the tour, it will be about 12:30, so we’ll have about an hour to slowly meander back towards the ship. I expect we’ll get some great pictures of the castle but we won’t be able to tour it. I hate not being able to do everything!
Transportation in Guernsey
Per Cruise Critic: The island’s excellent bus network takes you directly to all the important attractions and provides a scenic circular drive via Routes 7 and 7A, operating both clockwise and counterclockwise every half hour. The 80-minute island overview follows narrow lanes through small settlements, passes farms raising the prized Guernsey cows and, in places, skirts the rugged coastline. The flat one-pound fare for any distance is payable to the driver as you board.
Places we won’t have time to see
Castle Cornet was constructed in the 13th century; it has guided tours most days at 10:30 and a cannon goes off at noon daily. There are five museums within the Castle, including The Story of Castle Cornet (there are also Maritime and Militia museums). There are four period gardens. Open 10:00 – 5:00 pm. Admission: £9.75. It’s about a 25 minute walk from the tender pier. Since we’re going to Hauteville House at 11:20, we won’t be able to visit the castle for the tour.
The Guernsey Tapestry is in St James’ Concert Hall. It illustrates 1000 years of local history in ten panels of embroidered canvas work, each panel covering one century. Open 10:00 – 4:30. Admission £4.75. We probably won’t visit this one, but thought I’d leave it on here.
Guernsey has a Discovery Pass (£15) which includes entry to Castle Cornet and its museums, Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, and Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery. We won’t have enough time in Guernsey for the Discovery Pass to make sense.
26 Cornet Street, National Trust of Guernsey Victorian Shop & Parlour is a remaining medieval building which is within walking distance of the pier. We may walk by it, but its opening hours are Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm, so we won’t be able to go in.