Yesterday, after one last fantastic “full English breakfast” at our hotel, and following one last night of non-sleep in the tiny bed, we hit the road again.
This time, we traveled to Southhampton, and got on a cruise ship.
But first – a shout out to the amazing cabbies of London. Being a taxi driver in this big city is not a menial job, especially not one for someone with little navigational tools. Rather, London cabbies frequently study for years to begin their careers, having to pass an exam that includes minute details of London geography. It's a highly-skilled, well-thought of profession here and we have found our cabbies to be amazing people.
We took a cab from our hotel to Victoria Coach Station, which is where we were to begin the embarkation process by boarding a bus to Southhampton. We talked of many things, including current politics, UK and US, which I won't elaborate on here, as that's not the purpose of this blog. However, I will say that we have found the people here, virtually all the Europeans we've met recently, to be fascinated by the current state of affairs in the US. Kind of interesting in it's own right, regardless of your political leanings.
Once finally in Southhampton and aboard the Royal Princess, we had lunch. Doesn't everyone getting on a cruse hit the food first? In our experience, most do. Our regular embarkation stops also generally include the spa (which we're skipping this cruise), the Sanctuary (an adults-only fee-based lounge area of the ship, which we're also skipping this time), the specialty dining venues (which we'd already booked) and the library. We can't help ourselves around books. That's just how it is.
[A side note – we'll be cruising again in a few short weeks, and we'll talk about the spa and Sanctuary then … we won't leave you in the lurch about those experiences, just not this cruise.]
I managed to hurt my knee our last night in London, so we actually took it pretty easy in the afternoon. We wanted to watch sailaway, and on our last trip on the Royal Princess in October of 2017, the sailaway party on the top decks was pretty amazing. So ten minutes to sailaway time found us leaning over the railing on deck 18 hoping for a bird's eye view of the festivities.
No such luck.
The cruise director and some of his staff did come into the “fountain pool” area and invited others to come and dance with them, but that was pretty much it.
The highlight of sailaway on the Royal class ships of the Princess Cruises fleet is always the horn – the Royal, the Regal, the Magestic and soon to come Sky and Enchanted Princess ships all have the elaborate horn structures to play the theme from “The Love Boat,” which is, of course, the TV series that really launched Princess Cruises. It's amazing to hear that familiar song belted out at top volume as the ship sails away.
Not at all disappointing.
At dinner, we met two of our four other dining mates – two British women, Glynnis and Jennie. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and swapping stories. I'm sure I'll write more about them as time goes on.
Today we are in St. Peter's Port, the chief town of the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, those heroic but isolated places once overrun by Nazis and famous for the wonderful book “The Guernsey Literary and Sweet Potato Peel Pie Society.” If you haven't read it, you should. It's an amazing book in it's own right without even seeing this area.
The town is built, like so many port towns, into the hill. Although we walked to nearly the top, we didn't actually do much of the stuff we'd planned because of my knee, which is still a problem. Our tablemates took Bus 91-92 all around the island (it cost a pound!) and saw a lot of lovely scenery and well-known places. They highly recommend it, if you get here. Apparently they picked it up just opposite Albert Pier, where our ship's tenders docked.
Castle Cornet is also close by, within walking distance of the port, with five museums in it. We had planned to do a cliff walk and we heard of others who took off across the island, or walked further afield in the town itself. There's a Victoria Tower from which views are said to be amazing, and the Candie Gardens are also said to be spectacular.
I'm mourning my inability to walk just now, and hoping for healing by tomorrow, which is Cobh and Cork, Ireland.