After we left Mont St. Michel we headed straight for the ferry. We didn’t sail until 9:30 – which meant we had to get there by 8:30 at the latest. But, we weren’t taking any chances and arrived by about 6:30pm. We were all so excited when we first caught a glimpse of the sea.
Shockingly, even though we were 2 hours early, we were definitely NOT the first people waiting on line for the ferry! There were campers, tractor trailers and lots of regular cars as well. We passed the waiting time taking walks, eating the dinner I had packed and looking around at all the other cars and people.
I was really worried about crossing the border patrol since I had packed tons of food in order to save money while traveling. I thought they might be more strict about bringing things into an island nation. Surprisingly, they didn’t even ask us if we had anything to declare and we were able to keep all our stuff.
After what seemed like an eternity, they loaded us into the belly of the ship. They really packed everyone in tight and even had staff helping to make everyone as close as possible . There were plenty of people traveling with pets – but they had to leave them below decks. I loved the ‘cattery’ sign! After the cars rolled up this crazy ramp, they actually lifted it up so more cars could pack in underneath – I was beginning to worry about how long it would take to get off this thing the next day.
We headed straight for our little ‘cabin’. It was actually bigger and more comfortable than I had expected it would be. We spent about half an hour exploring the boat. It was basically like a cruise ship – there were several restaurants, a casino, game room, a few clubs and bars, a small play area and even a movie theatre. Unfortunately, unlike the other cruises I have been fortunate enough to sail upon, all these amenities were not included in our ticket –and were also ridiculously expensive. Movie tickets (for old movies) were 10 euros! We decided to eat the food I had packed and stick with the entertainment at hand. I mean, we were on a boat, and even the elevators were fun – for some reason they even had ladders inside them! Why do kids want to climb up ladders? Well, because they are there. So try convincing your kids that climbing while in the elevator is probably not the best idea. Well, then, they wonder, why do they have the ladder in here anyway? Why indeed…
We spent the next day with Daddie and Callie both pretty much incapacitated with seasickness. The Irish Sea is very, very rough and this boat really got rocked. I had been woken in the night quite frequently by the hard rocking. We wandered around the boat a bit and the open sea air made the sickies feel better. Unfortunately, it was much too cold and windy to stay out there long. Later we had the kids watch a movie while André and I tried to rest. Griffin, in his typical fashion, only watched for about 20 minutes and then wanted to play with me – so much for my nap! For the last hour or so of the journey we headed back out to the top deck. We couldn’t wait to see Ireland!
We passed the time chatting and playing but, at one point, I realized Zander was alleviating his boredom by, what appeared to be, well, eating himself! It seems he had made the discovery that if he licked his fingers, they would taste salty. Zander lives for salt and was practically in ecstasy – whenever he licked it off, he just stuck his hand out into the air for a few minutes and the spray would take care of the rest. Reload, resume…. Soon, I noticed Callie doing it as well and, also, at one point, I caught Griffin licking the wall to get the salt off. That’s one way to swab the decks, I suppose! So, all my children thank Irish Ferries – for the salt overload! We also experimented with shadow pictures – what do you think?
Finally we began to catch glimpses of the land. This seemed to be a never ending trip not only because we were bored and sick, but also because time zone changes as well as daylight savings made it 2 hours different than France. So, even though our boat docked on time and we were on our way by about 3pm, it was 5pm France time! It is amazing how perspective changes everything. Our boat didn’t seem all that big when we departed – and of course it seemed tiny when out on the ocean. It wasn’t until we docked in Ireland that I got a better sense of how big the ship really was. It is amazing how such a large thing can even float. .
We got a bit lost coming out of Rosslare, which was frustrating. Of course, we are now trying to navigate using only our Google maps instructions (which stink anywhere outside the US) and we also are trying to deal with driving on the wrong side of the road. We did see this rainbow very shortly into our trip and decided it was the fairies greeting our arrival on their fair, green isle. One of our best friends, a witch named JennyDragon, had promised to send her spirit to greet us once we arrived in Ireland. Thanks for the rainbow Jenny! The getting lost detour also took us past many, many beautiful thatched huts like the one shown right - so every dark cloud has a silver lining, right? Or maybe even a rainbow….
Once we found our way, we headed for our bed and breakfast in Rathdrum. We couldn’t resist stopping at the beach in Courtown before heading for our beds. The eastern Irish coast is beautiful but I think the very best part was the look and sound of the waves (see video) and the ease of finding so many large, beautiful and original shells. And of course, there was also the large heart shaped mud puddle – who could forget such an important detail? The sunset over the water was amazing and we had a great time there. Here are some shots…
Of course, being us, we stayed on the beach a bit too long and ended up having a hard time finding our bed and breakfast. Not only was it located in a small town – it was dark and reading Irish road signs is, challenging, to say the least. When we finally neared the town we weren’t sure which way to go on main street and asked a local for help. He told us it was about 100 yards down the street…. Hooray! Ireland, as a whole, seems to have some confusion between metric and non metric measuring systems. The road signs are all in kilometers but people use non metric when talking. The odometer and speedometer on our camper vehicle (which is only 2 years old and clearly made for the Irish market – with the steering wheel on the right) are both in miles. Well, we are always up for a challenge – and a little mental math! When we finally arrived, the bed and breakfast was wonderful. We had dinner in an actual Irish pub- and it was both surprisingly expensive and delicious. I had a parsnip apple soup that was out of this world and we also had fish and chips and a roast – lovely! Upon returning to our room, André got to use all the cords we brought along in some sort of complicated way so we could use our crazy combination of French and American plugs in the Irish sockets – man I am glad he figures that stuff out! We are determined to blog a bit as we go along this time around- and as I am writing this Wednesday morning – though I won’t be able to publish until I get back to France – so it is working to some degree or another.
We woke up refreshed in the morning and enjoyed our full irish breakfast. I started out the meal with porridge – you know, like Goldilocks and the 3 bears? It was totally awesome and we all loved it. Why hasn’t porridge made it over the ocean? André claims that he remembers having it when young – called it mush. Is this the ‘bowl full of mush’ in Good Night Moon? Then the rest of the breakfast was also delicious. Those Irish really know how to do breakfast – toast, eggs, bacon, 3 kinds of sausage, roasted tomato and baked beans. Callie, Zander and I all ate every bite! The kids were really excited about the idea of a bed and breakfast. At first they thought it meant they would bring us our breakfast in bed…. The name of the B&B we stayed at, by the way, was Stirabout Lane - http://www.stiraboutlane.com/ – in case you are ever in the neighborhood.