Castle Cornet at the entrance to St. Peter Port harbour.
The first port of call for Caribbean Princess was Guernsey and its capital, St. Peter Port. The harbour is too shallow to accommodate large cruise ships, so Caribbean Princess anchored offshore. The ship launched its own boats to serve as tenders to convey passengers ashore.
I was looking forward to making a visit to the Channel Islands. There are not many opportunities to visit here during a European trip. Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, greeters in local dress welcomed us. Guernsey's dependence upon the sea was evident as there are three large marinas at the harbour. Slips accommodate local and visiting craft. Ferries operate to England, France and to the other Channel Islands, including the mysterious Sark. St. Peter Port is very tidy with the focus of the entry point a statue of Prince Albert and the 15th century Town Church. Guernsey is a self-governing dependence of the UK and has its own currency, though UK pounds are accepted.
There was even a large palm tree in the central roundabout, shades of a Caribbean island! An open-air market was in progress along the waterfront Esplanade, "Seafront Sunday with Taste Guernsey". Time was at a premium so we did
Victoria Tower (1848) rises above Saint Peter Port. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Guernsey in September 1846.
not visit it. Instead, our objective was to walk over to Castle Cornet.
Castle Cornet has been guarding the approach to Saint Peter Port harbour since the 13th century. If you arrive by cruise ship or ferry, Castle Cornet is the first sight of Guernsey you will see. The fortification was intended to protect against French attacks after Normandy passed from English control. Castle Cornet was expanded in the Elizabethan era. During the English Civil War, Castle Cornet was a bastion of Royalist authority, at odds with the Roundhead support shown by the citizenry of Guernsey. Castle Cornet continued to be a coastal defence fortification into the early 20th century. When Germany occupied the Channel Islands during World War II, the fortress became a German anti-aircraft battery. After the war, the fort was decommissioned and opened to the public as a museum.
Today, visitors can see structures and additions representing all eras of Castle Cornet's evolution, from Norman times to World War II and the often friction between the town and forces occupying the castle.. There are five separate museums within the fort, each telling a different story. The main museum, The Story of Castle Cornet, traces the
Vale Castle and Bordeaux Bay
View towards Vale Castle and Bordeaux Bay.
history and building of the castle through a series of dioramas illustrated with figures of individuals known to have been at the fort. The Maritime Museum tells the story of Guernsey's seafarers, beginning with Roman amphorae discovered in Saint Peter Port harbour. The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum focuses on the unit's role in World War I. Other museums on site are the 201 Squadron (RAF) Museum and the Royal Guernsey Militia Museum.
At Noon each day, the traditional Noonday Gun is fired.
Caribbean Princess was due to sail at 2:30 p.m. Only too soon, it was time to return to the ferry terminal and reboard the tender.
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