Jersey - At Last

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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What I did
Maritime Museum St Helier and Tapestry Room

Flag of United Kingdom  , Channel Islands,
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I awoke with a start at 8 am after falling asleep again last night after uploading the day's photos onto the netbook and a few photos from my travel day to Guernsey onto the blog.  I guess I more than made up for any loss of sleep.  Perhaps I overdid breakfast in my attempt to store up food to cover lunch as well.  I had yogurt with fruit, orange juice, white coffee (with milk) with lots of refills, two pieces of smoked haddock and a poached egg, and a buttered roll.  I took a chocolate croissant for later.  I packed up and was ready to pay up and leave by 10:10.

Veit, the young man from Germany, was back at the desk with a dark-haired young woman from Madiera who may have been the person in charge at that time.  She arranged for me to get a ride with the hotel van back down to Moore's Hotel at 10:40 and for it to take me to the ferry terminal.  While I waited, I pumped them for info on the islands.  I found out that Jersey was bigger AND busier - with more for tourists to do.  They assured me that there would be Jersey cows and Jersey potatoes and that Guernsey cows existed as well.  She made a statement about Guernsey people not wanting to farm anymore - or even to work - but concurred with Veit that most would work in the offshore finance world.

The vanman dropped me off right in front of the door to ferry departures where I stood in line to get my boarding pass and then sat in the waiting room until 12 noon.  This time the ferry did not board much before departure. 

Even though I had planned to go up on deck and watch for Jersey, the couple with whom I was seated were so pleasant that I never left.  They were from Yorkshire and going on a camping trip to France via St Malo.  They had to get their car off at St Helier and wait for about 4 hrs before getting back on.  We talked about the Olympics and different ferry routes, driving cars on the opposite side of the road.  I asked about the status of the Channel Islands and they tried to explain it, as well as Scotland and Ireland and Wales.  They mentioned that there probably will be a referendum to make Scotland a more separate country like Eire.  Apparently the Isle of Wight is very expensive to reach by ferry = 80 pounds round trip.  Their son and daughter-in-law are avid walkers and went to NYC for a weekend to do a walk.  They can get badges for completing these walks.  Sounds like fun - I wonder how long these walks are.  The couple mentioned that they have never been to the US but have seen it at Niagara Falls.  They are probably saving it for their old age as I have saved the UK.

After collecting my backpack and getting off the ferry, I inquired where the Kensington Hotel might be and started walking toward it.  I immediately reconsidered and went to the cab line.  I was standing there when a cab pulled up and a young woman went to engage it.  The driver got out and pointed to me and waved me over.  He must have seen me there and realized I had been first in line.  How amazing!   As we drove to the hotel, I noticed a lot more high rises - some apartments, some modern office buildings on the way.   I guess that bucolic look harkening back to the 50's is no least in the capital.

Dropped off at the hotel doorstep, I had to ring the bell.  John answered, opened the door and asked if I swam over?  I told him how I missed yesterday's ferry, he gave me my keys, took the backpack upstairs for m, and off he went.  I went back down to try to ask him about wi-fi but couldn't find him.  I looked over some literature on Jersey and a map I picked up at the ferry terminal and set out along the Esplanade and coastal road.

I found a little marina and that oriented me, so I then set off for the Maritime Museum and the Tapestry Room housed in the same building.  The wife of the couple on the ferry had mentioned being impressed by the tapestry.  Actually it is 10 separate tapestries commemorating the 50-year anniversary of liberation from the German occupation of Jersey during WWII.  There was a video with the designer explaining some of the work required.  He said the design was relatively easy - what was time consuming for him was marking the design with the colors to be used.  They used a limited palette of colors so that there would be consistency in the panels.  There was a panel for each of the 10 parishes of Jersey.  There were about 300 assigned stitchers and then others contributing single stitchers so the total number of contributors was in the thousands.  The scenes depict various aspects of the occupation:  coming of the soldiers, the restrictions, daily life events like schooling, the Red Cross packages and liberation.  I moved from panel to panel behind a pair of white-haired ladies, who at first I thought were talking in a foreign language, but then I realized it was English.  The smaller lady would point out features of the panels - as if in recognition of the experience from her own life - and the taller would would give a one word assent or mumble a few words in response.   The occupation obviously was a traumatic period for the Channel Island residents and a visitor cannot escape awareness of this history - even in the short space of 2 or 3 days that I spent on each of the two islands.

Perhaps it was my over-sized breakfast - or maybe the combined effect of breakfast and ferry ride - but I wasn't feeling that well.  So my enjoyment of the Maritime Museum was a bit diminished.  There was no map because it was a hands-on, interactive kind of museum.  I found it certainly interesting but a little overstimulating.  Maybe because there was a lot in a relatively small space with ramps and exhibits on multiple levels - with the levels visible on all levels.  There were videos and sound tracks going on.  On one wall were paintings and across the way, you could push buttons and different parts of the wall would be illuminated while a voice discussed an individual painting.  I was looking at one painting and listening while a man came by and started pushing all the buttons.  Luckily, the commentary wasn't interrupted, but the unconnectedness of some of the interactive parts was demonstrated. 

I did like the museum - it wasn't at all dry (except maybe for all the ship models because I had seen so many now in different museums from the Balkans to Guernsey and in Cornwall too).  Best of all were the old photographs and this museum had walls filled with them!   One video of sea life off the Jersey shore ended abruptly with a big fish looking for its next meal since the museum was closing at 5 pm.

I walked back toward the hotel along the main coastal street and found Liberation Square and the Pomme d'Or hotel featured in one of the tapestries - it was where liberation was announced.  I took a few photos and then happened along the bus station (a real indoor one) and Tourist Info center.  A very helpful young woman gave me some brochures and a sheet with the major attractions, their opening hours, prices, AND the numbers of the buses going there.  She also marked a map of Jersey with areas where I might be likely to see some Jersey cows.   For some reason, I am having a much better experience with the tourist infrastructure here than on Guernsey.  I was ready to walk out and then remembered to ask where the Post Office was so that I can send my last batch of postcards with Jersey stamps.  Too bad I slacked off and missed Guernsey.  Maybe in light of my tourist experience, it is only fitting.

Instead of going right to the hotel, I went past it to look for a little store to pick up some carbonated drink and found a nice one right on the corner.  I settled into my room and did nod off again after reading a few chapters of Middlemarch and drinking my diet coke.  I will have to stop this since I can't afford the habit.  Of napping, that is.  I don't really drink much coke.  Now I am back blogging without the use of wi-fi because I couldn't find any for this hotel.  Maybe it is available downstairs in the lounge area.  I will ask tomorrow at breakfast because I need to contact Kerry and find out where and when we are meeting for our pints of ale.

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