So this is it, we’ve left the UK and we’re on the ferry to Santander! Anna’s mum saw us off from her flat in London yesterday and we wobbled down to the station to catch our train to Portsmouth. It’s the first time I’ve ridden my bike fully loaded, and it’s a weird sensation. The frame flexes and wobbles with the weight, and I’m constantly making micro-adjustments, which makes it worse! Apparently it wears off once you relax.
Luckily the train was pretty empty so there was room for our massively over-laden bikes!
We got into Portsmouth and found the ferry terminal; we then found a little grassy bank near the road to sit and have a quick snack before checking in. Security was tight, we declared our two sizeable knives before having two of our 14 bags scanned, revealing a gas canister. That was all fine though apparently and the friendly Security team waved us on. Not sure what you would have to be carrying to actually be stopped!
My hopes were high that we would be allowed to board first as we were directed down an empty lane almost to the boarding ramp, but Anna’s prediction proved correct and we sat there for an hour while about 500 cars boarded in front of us. It was a lovely sunny afternoon though so we had no complaints. I did find out what a pain it is to move your bags around once they’re off the bike though. We couldn’t carry everything in one trip so we had to relay our bags to the cabin. Maybe we shouldn’t have brought the 60m climbing rope??
We sailed at 5.30 pm, and once we’d taken some artistic photos of the Spinnaker Tower and waved goodbye to the mainland we sat down to dinner while sailing past the Isle of Wight. It was sunset and the sea was amazingly calm; we enjoyed the beautiful view while maximizing the value of the all you can eat buffet. We figured we need to make the most of available calories!
After dinner we wandered around the ship and went outside to watch some gannets before heading to bed for an epic 11-hour sleep! Anna has a bit of seasickness, so the more time spent asleep the better as far as she’s concerned.
Today we’ve eaten, walked around, read and watched the sea for signs of life, to no avail so far. However, I expect the marine mammals will turn up somewhere near the continental shelf break, which is pretty close to the coast on the Spain side. Hoping to see some dolphins and if we’re lucky, some bigger whales too. While I’m writing this I’m listening to Brittany Ferries’ resident lounge singer and piano player, collectively known as “Liaison”. There is an elderly couple waltzing around the dance floor and maybe 3 other people watching and providing occasional applause. It’s amazing. I hope I’m happy to dance around by myself at 3 in the afternoon when I’m old.
I’m really looking forward to getting into Santander and meeting our Warmshowers hosts Silvia and Carlos this evening. Anna is pretty chilled out about it, but it’s all new to me and very exciting. I have to keep reminding myself I don’t have a job or anything to go back to after this, and we aren’t expecting to go home for months. It’s the first time I haven’t had a job since uni, and I think it’s going to take a while to sink in. Maybe some tasty Spanish food and a beer tonight will help!