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Guernsey and Sark - Channel Island Trip Report

Guernsey and Sark - Channel Island Trip Report

Old Jun 20th, 2008, 02:24 PM
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Guernsey and Sark - Channel Island Trip Report

Hello everyone,

I just returned from a work trip to Guernsey and thought I would add some information as there doesnt seem to be a lot of info.

I've been to Guernsey earlier this year and loved it. The food is amazing, the Island is beautiful and the people very friendly. Its like the perfect marriage of French and English.

I have some pics of both islands and tomorrow will trip to add some hotel info (we stayed at the Old Government House in Saint Peter Port) and restaurant reviews.

PS: Dont mind some of the pics, my hubby Bikerscott was being silly and I posted those pics for the family hahahaha

Guernsey Pics:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/jamie....ChannelIslands

Sark Pics:
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/jamie....ChannelIslands
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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Whoops, hubby was signed in...that last post was suppose to be under my profile name....sorry!
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 04:15 PM
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Thanks for the pics! I haven't been to the islands in many years, and it was great to remember our visits.

I loved the different pools on Guernsey for ladies and gents and the directional sign on Sark reflecting distances in minutes' walk. The garden on Sark looked particularly lovely.

Thanks again!
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Old Jun 20th, 2008, 10:21 PM
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You have a very good dentist BikerScott!
I have been to Guernsey & Jersey but we never made it to Sark. Seeing your pictures of the lovely island makes it a definite for next time.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 08:59 AM
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Okay - here is the offical BikerScott trip report:

Early Saturday morning I made my way to Gatwick airport to meet my wife (the lovely and talented Jamikins) for a weekend away on the second largest Channel Island – Guernsey. Instead of the slightly pricey Gatwick Express, I decided to try the regular overland train from Clapham Junction (about £10 one-way, instead of the £30 for the Gatwick Express – you can also get to Gatwick via overland train from London Bridge, wouldn’t expect it’s much more than from Clapham Junction). I have to say that the trip was actually less stressful than the express – a quick bus ride to the train station then 45 minutes on the train as opposed to the 35 on the express – definitely the way I’ll be going in the future, as I’m cheap enough to not want to spend an extra £20 to save 10 minutes...

The flight was on time and uneventful – I’d decided to fly with Aurigny Air instead of the slightly cheaper but infinitely more annoying Flybe (narrower seat, less legroom, no frills at all). I arrived at the tiny Guernsey airport at about 9:30 and quickly caught a cab into St. Peter Port, the main town on Guernsey.

Unfortunately the cash point at the airport was broken – according to the cab driver it had been broken for a few days. Fortunately Jamikins met me outside the Old Government House Hotel where she paid for the ride....have to love being on expenses 

The Old Government House Hotel is THE place to stay in St. Peter Port, especially if you’re on expenses and cost isn’t an issue. It’s a beautiful old building that rambles up and down random staircases and corridors, some hallways featuring only one room. It’s conveniently located just above the interesting bit of St. Peter Port and is within walking distance of several quality pubs, restaurants, and wine bars (although as Steven Wright so insightfully once said: “Everywhere is within walking distance, if you have the time”). The rooms are tastefully decorated with nice bathrooms, slightly hard beds, L’Occitaine bathroom additives (shampoo, soap, conditioner, etc), and the best of all, Gavottes from Dinard (if you haven’t tried these little cookie-like crepe thingies, find them and try them – now).

After dropping off my bags and freshening up a bit, we wandered down to the harbour to buy our tickets to Sark for the day. The £22/person ticket bought us an outbound trip on the noon sailing, and a return on the 6:00pm boat. We had a few minutes to spare so we decided to have a quick breakfast/brunch on a little terrace restaurant a few streets up from the main harbour road. I had a tasty bacon sarny (can’t go wrong with bacon at any time of day) and Jamikins went for a highly-citrusy granola, fruit and yogurt bowl thing (it may have been called “La Terrace”, although it may not have been).

The boat ride to Sark takes about an hour and is very scenic – you get to sail past Herm and a few of the really small islands before going around to the back side of Sark where they put the harbour. I suppose all the cliffs and sheer drops on the near side of the island made the far side a better choice, but it adds probably 20 minutes to the boat ride, which is just inconsiderate. The harbour is at the bottom of a very long and fairly steep hill. Sark, as an island, doesn’t have any cars or buses, just lots of horses, bikes, and oddly tractors. There’s a little tractor bus thing that for £1 per adult (£0.50 for a child) will pull you up the hill to the start of the village proper. I’m not sure if it has a name (the village, not the tractor, although I’m not sure if that has a name either).

The first thing that you’ll notice about Sark is the lack of paved roads. The second is the lack of cars, which explains the first. The third thing is the number of tractors about, which seem to have replaced cars for the most part. The fourth thing you’ll notice is what you’ll end up wishing was the first thing – all the horses and the mess they leave behind, both on the dirt roads and on your shoes.

Seeing as it was about 1pm and at least an hour and a half since my bacon, we found a little restaurant for lunch. We stopped at the first one we came across called “La Petite Poule” (the little hen) where I had a not-particularly-convincing onion soup and Jamikins had pretty tasty crab cakes.

Seeing as there are no cars on Sark, you basically have three options for sight-seeing – by bike (several rental locations just up from the harbour), by horse-drawn carriage, or by foot. We choose the third option and started off towards La Coupe, a tiny and precipitous bridge thingy that connects the main island with the unimaginatively-named “Little Sark”. Apparently there are stores and buildings and things in Little Sark, however we were distracted by the chocolate shop just before the bridge, where we bought several unbelievably good treats (the hazelnut one was by far the best).

After our chocolates (and the bridge thing, whatever, did I mention the chocolates?) we walked back to the main town type place and found “La Seigneurie” – the ancestral home of Les Seigneurs of Sark, who are the aristocratic rulers of the (until very recently) feudal society. A good portion of their estate is open to the public (by suggested donation of £4, a bit steep by my estimation) where you can wander through the extensive garden, play in the hedge maze, or look at field guns (one of which was left by the German occupiers at the end of the Second World War).

After an hour or so wandering around the La Seigneurie, we headed back into town to find a pub to have a pint or two as we waited for our boat to take us back to Guernsey. Tragically, all the pubs save one close between 5pm and 6pm, which, until we found that last pub, was looking to be a MAJOR problem. Fortunately, some clever people have left their quaint pub open just where you catch the tractor-bus-operation back down to the harbour. I couldn’t believe how cheap that pub was – for a pint of Guinness, a glass of white wine, and a tasty packet of peanuts I was only charged £4.60 – I’ve just been charged £8.30 for the same order save the peanuts in London. I had to ask for the amount I owed twice as I just couldn’t believe it. Best damn Guinness I’ve ever had, other than the free one I had at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin (some people say I’m tight, I prefer to think of it as thrifty).

After getting back to Guernsey, we went back to the OGH (Old Government House) for dinner. They have a fancy-pants restaurant which contains only five or six tables (there’s a less-fancy restaurant down the hall, which also has a bar and a very fancy patio). The fancy restaurant has an unbelievably cheap (£60) seven-course tasting menu, which for the price includes several amuse bouche AND wine pairing (generous pours too, not those cheap little mean pours you sometimes get – I wouldn’t recommend driving to dinner, or planning on walking particularly straight after your meal). The chef obviously takes pride in his craft, and serves fantastic seasonal dishes which are cooked to perfection. The wine pairings are well thought-out and very tasty. If you’ve read any of our trip reports before, you’ll know that Jamikins and I are definitely food and wine snobs and don’t lavish undue praise – the restaurant at OGH is by far the best value for money for a high-end meal that I’ve seen in a long time.

After dinner we made our way to the restaurant for a few quick glasses of scotch (for me anyways, Jamikins is not a fan, preferring wine instead) as a night cap. We must’ve made it back to our room to sleep as that’s where we woke up. I’m using deduction rather than memory for this leap of faith, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Somewhat unsurprising, we managed to have a lie-in on Sunday morning. After we got up, we walked down to the main bus loop and caught the (clockwise) bus (the 7 bus, the 7a being the counter-clockwise, a very reasonable £0.60 per ride) around the island, a restaurant called “Crabby Jacks” our destination for the day.

Crabby Jacks is located over the road from the beautiful Vezon Bay, one of the several sandy beaches on the far side of the island. I’ve decided to rename (unofficially, of course) the restaurant to Crappy Jacks, as the service was horrid and the food even worse. Jamikins fish and crab cakes were mostly potatoes with just a few lonely scraps of crab to be found, and my prawn cocktail (need I say more) was absolutely slathered in Marie Rose sauce. We decided to play it safe and went for burgers and chips. Not much I can really say about that.

We caught the bus the rest of the way around the island and made it back to the airport in time for me to catch my cab back to the airport. Much to my dismay (and everyone else on the flights, I presume), the plane which was supposed to go from Manchester to Gatwick and then to Guernsey where we would get it, broke in Manchester. After a few hours of waiting (at the pub, with a good friend, Mr. Guinness to keep me company) Aurigny managed to charter a plane from Stansted to fly to Gatwick to pick up the Guernsey-bound passengers from London, then pick us up from Guernsey to take us up to Stansted to get us close to home. I was incredibly impressed with both Aurigny for not leaving us stranded on the island, and to Titan Airways out of Stansted for picking us up (they’d already had a full day of flying, and the crew were on overtime to help out – they were fantastic and the flight was excellent – highly recommended if you’re doing a charter out of Stansted).

The ride back from Stansted to Clapham takes much longer than from Gatwick back home, and is quite a bit pricier. Aurigny had arranged a coach to take us back to Gatwick if we wanted, but that would have taken even longer. I got home late and tired, but glad I’d taken the time to explore Guernsey and Sark. I would definitely recommend it if you have extra time and want to see another bit of Britain that you wouldn’t otherwise see.
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Old Jun 14th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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Hello. I realize it was last year that you posted your Trip Report. But if you care to respond, i have a question. For someone visiting by cruise ship, having only 7 hours total, would you recommend making the trip to Sark versus staying on Guernsey? We like dramatic landscapes, quaint towns, local flavor, etc. Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 14th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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I would stay on Guernsey! I love the island, there is a tonne to see, it is bigger than Sark and has some great restaurants.

Sark is a boat ride away and the boat ride is affected by weather...you also dont want to get stuck on Sark and miss you boat!

Enjoy!
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