Saturday 7 April 2012

A Pirate's life for me

And here's the problem, folks: On a day like this, with two picturesque landings, it is nigh impossible to squeeze all the pictures into the text. There are just too many! So, let me tell the tale of the day first, and then scroll down and enjoy the images. Aaaaaand here we go:
In the haze of the early morning there is a new sound in the ship: The anchor chain is rattling down into the depths of the British Channel. The island of Sark is so small that there is no way for a "big" ship like ours to make pier, so FRAM has to stay at a safe distance. In no time the five boats are in the water - let the tendering begin!
The conditions are perfect, no waves to speak of, so the Polar Cirkel Boat ride is a dry pleasure.
The hidden little cove that we are entering reveals a stairwell onto the bracing wall, no wonder this place was a perfect hideout for pirates in their time. Today, to our great surprise, the sea level is almost reaching the pier, so it is only a small step up. But that is going to change during the day, trust me on that one.
From the tiny tunnel in the rocks some tractor-pulled coaches emerge to bring us up the winding slope into "town". They are the only motorised vehicles on this paradise island. All other transport is horse or bicycle. What-a-bliss!
Once up, many of us change to horse carriages to begin a scenic drive across the island, the more active bunch mounts bikes to be a bit more independent. The others - well, they walk. The island is just under 4km long, so everything is sort of close by, be it the "Window in the Rock", the church, or one of the incredibly lush paths leading anywhere in this forlorn world. It is just perfect for a lonely walk, listening to birds, the waves and the wind.
After a couple of hours everybody resurfaces reluctantly at the pier. The peacefulness of this place has left its mark, we move a little slower and think a little less. A cure for the restless mind.
But our next destination awaits just around the corner, the island with probably the most colorful history in the nearer surroundings - Guernsey. The name alone is mystery, containing Norse elements ("Island")and unknown ones. Populated since the Neolithic times, it was first a target, then a stronghold for pirates, a battleground during the 100-year war, and several wars to follow, including WWII, of course. Today it is a hub for the Channel Island tourism and a shopping paradise, since there is no such thing like VAT here.
Again we "have" to take our boats to get across, a scenic ride along the looming Cornet Castle, which guards the entrance. On arrival the buses are waiting and the excursions leave. However, many decide to just stroll in town, see one of the cosy pubs (or two), or - go shopping. There is certainly enough to see.
After a loooong day everybody returns to FRAM and devours the buffet Philipino style, which normally precedes the famous Crew Show. It will take some action to keep people from falling asleep in their seats, after hours and hours of peace, fresh air, and excitement!
Smile and wave!
The first Polar Cirkel Boat ride, and not a drop of water. 
Mind the sea level in the morning
...and later. It's the same staircase!
Through the tunnel to the village

Better than cars
Our new liferaft, tested by Arne and Karin...
The idyllic hideouts in the lush greens near Dixcart Bay 
Dixcart Bay ("Dee-Kaar", like French)

Many caves and pirate holes
Daffodils - it's Easter!
Well, mind your head then...
Window in the rock, made by an artist in the 80s
Rocks and boats, all over the place
The coat of arms of St.Peter Port - written in French
Cornet Castle
The sturdy church of St. Peter Port 
This we call a low tide...
Fram behind Cornet Castle pier
The picturesque port
It's clear people are not mainly hunters...