1. From Cherbourg to Rosslare
To start with, I had to drive from my place in the middle of France to Cherbourg where I was going to take the ferry to Rosslare in the south east of Ireland.
Leaving Chateauroux at 9am I arrived at the car ferry terminal in Cherbourg at 5:30pm and took my place in the queue for embarkment as the 5th car there. There was plenty of time before embarkment. My ticket one way for myself and my car cost €159. A cabin would have been an extra €60 so I declined. Waiting for embarkment at 9pm, either inside the terminal or in my car, was not much fun. At this time of the year there are no crowds of tourists and the café in the terminal building was closed. I could just have a soup and a snickers chocolate bar from a machine. Never mind! I was happy to be leaving for new adventures.
Once on board with my car duly parked on deck 4, I picked a nice spot on a cushy bench in the main lounge-dining room of this mighty ferry, called Celtic Horizon of the Celtic Link operator. On port side. It was past 10pm and pitch dark when the boat started moving. There were plenty of trucks on board but very few passengers. This is the good side of travelling off season. Last time I took off for a travelling spree it was in March 2008 and I loved it. The lounge was warm and I had a fine woollen blanket, so I got organised to have a good sleep on this bench.
Other people were trickling in looking for a good spot too. Lucky that I had been the 5th car in line for embarkment! I had the best places to choose from. After a while a young man decided to settle on that same bench between me and a family further up. Funny how you quickly get possessive of 'your' space. They looked at him and I thought 'ah blast'... He really meant to stay there, pulling out of his bag various items, turning an armchair his way so he could put his feet up. I did the same to send the message across not to enfringe too much on 'my' space. And then he said hello and smiled and we started some kind of a conversation. About permaculture. Yes, he was a student at a specialised school on the south coast near Cork. I got onto my wild horse saying I didn't believe in permaculture or full blooded organic agriculture. No, but we do need to stop pouring chemicals on what we grow. Yes, I agreed, as long as all this does not become a religion or some kind of missionary sect for growing food! No, he was not Irish. Actually he was coming back from a short holiday in Hungary where he has family. Had been driving 12 hours in a row and wanted to sleep. He offered an apple, he had two, he said. Thanks.
I slept fine and woke up real early. I love sun rise anywhere. This time I wanted to see the sun rise on the ocean. Yes, the ocean. The ferry trip from Cherbourg to Rosslare takes you way out to sea and you sail for a long time before you get a glimpse of the Irish south coast towards lunch time the next day. So I saw the sun rise and started getting hungry. That chocolate bar plus the apple given by my neighbour on the bench had been digested and gone to oblivion! When they announced that the dining room had been opened and that breakfast was ready, I looked at my neighbour passenger just waking up and asked: are you coming for breakfast? He jumped on his feet and came along. I had a grand Irish breakfast, a hot plate with plenty of bacon, a slice of black pudding, a sausage or two, a fried egg or two, a fried tomatoe, plus on the side some fruit salad and a yoghurt. After that, my friendly neighbour got some coffee from the machine and we went on chatting about travelling, why and how you can lose your hair after an emotional shock, the various means of communication and landing on the moon, among other things.
When the ferry finally turned into the harbour of Rosslare, after 16 hours of sailing, we had become best friends. Exchanging email addresses and promises of staying in touch. In the end on deck 4 going back to our respective vehicles, we said good-bye and good luck and all that.
That's what I like the most when I travel. Meeting people. Meeting interesting people.
Driving out of the ferry onto the left handside of the road, I stopped my car somewhere and went looking for a B&B on foot. I soon found one that appealed to me, booked in and spent the rest of the day taking a shower and emailing that I was alive and well and in Rosslare!
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