Pros and Cons of Ferry Crossings

If there are many ways to get from England to France (plane, rail, boat), I have certainly done my fair share of channel ferry crossings. I spent many of my childhood summer holidays in France so have crossed umpteen times. But that was as a child where I was shepherded from place to place in a blissful bubble. As a fully fledged adult, I am now aware of my surroundings, and have to take responsibility and be in control of everything! Since I’ve been in charge, I have done two such crossings; Dover to Calais, and Poole to Cherbourg. So what are the Pros and Cons?

Pros

No pesky luggage restrictions. Pretty much as long as you can fit it in the car it’s ok. So you can take that extra pair of shoes or two, and the warm coat, and even the tennis rackets or snorkel just in case! You don’t have to worry about fitting it in a carry-on bag.

Easy Stress-Free Boarding Process. If you want a relaxing holiday this is a great way to start – you just drive up, wait a short time, and then straight onto the boat.

Space to move around. Once onboard you can walk around and stretch your legs, fall asleep, relax. You’re not stuck in a confined place.

Leisure facilities onboard. There is also a lot to do onboard – restaurant, shop, bar, i think the bigger ships have discos, casinos, and kids play areas. I normally spend the time on deck watching the sea, or in the restaurant which we found to have surprisingly affordable and delicious food.

Fresh Air – ferry is the only method of travel across the English Channel that enables you to get fresh air. On deck you can see for miles, catch some rays, watch ships going by, and best of all, not be trapped in a tin of recycled air (which always gives me a sore throat!). On our last crossing it was a glorious day and a flat sea, so we spent the crossing dosing off on top deck. It was like being on a cruise!

Not Flying – for someone who is scared to fly, the fact that I don’t have to fly is a massive bonus! It means i can enjoy the start of the holiday as opposed to being rigid with fear.

Cons

Driving onto the boat. I was worried about this but it was much better than I thought – you don’t have to drive up a plank or anything!! There is a large concrete bridge taking you on, which is no worse than driving across a normal bridge. However inside the boat I had to drive up a steep slope, and of course the car in front stopped so I had to do a hill-start. I stalled it twice!! I was starting to sweat and worry that I’d have to get a ferry man to come and drive my car for me, but luckily I did it!!

Possibility of Sea Sickness. This is always a risk with any form of transport but i am especially aware of it on the sea. Ironically it was worse on the short Dover-Calais crossing than the longer Poole-Cherbourg crossing. Luckily it was fine both times and I have got anti sea-sickness wrist bands to press on my pressure points. I also like to spend my time on top deck in the fresh air where you can watch the horizon to keep steady, if needed. See here for advice on how not to get sea sick if this is a problem for you!

Conclusion: Overall I love a ferry. If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!

Next blog: Normandy, France

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My Top 5… Reasons for Travelling in the Christmas Season

I like to travel in the run-up to Christmas, around November / December. Here’s why…

1. Christmas Decorations

By this time all the Christmas decorations are up, so you get to see some beautiful trees and decorations all around the world Continue reading

My Top 5… Worst Travel Experiences

So these are my “Top Worst” travel experiences… otherwise known as my worst. We have been very lucky with travel overall (touch wood) and we have been healthy and safe for the most part, with only 2 near-miss car accidents , a rather scary red laser being trained on us, and 1 nearly missed flight to our names. But we have had our moments. Here are my Top 5:

Continue reading

My Top 5… Best Travel Experiences

Needless to say, I love travel, so it is difficult to pull together my best 5 experiences ever. Here is my best try:

Five:  Driving the open Road on a Road Trip

We have had various awesome road trips (around New Zealand,  France,  Florida,  Utah, Tennessee,  Santorini and Yellowstone) and I love the open road. I love the independence you feel when you’re in a car. We don’t have a car at home, so maybe this is why I love it so much. It feels convenient, safe, and personal, like our little bubble. Driving a road trip has to be one of my top 5 travel experiences ever! Continue reading

A Humbling Dumpling Experience: Food in Shanghai

We tried many different foods in Shanghai, but my standout food was dumplings! Either steamed or fried, we were big fans of the humble dumpling.

In a short space of time we became dumpling connoisseurs. We tried steamed dumplings from posh restaurants containing vegetable, prawn and pork respectively, including our fave steamed pork dumplings at Din Tai Fung (just like in Singapore, Macau and Taipei). We also discovered a local joint called Yang’s Dumpling which had a queue out the door and delicious and  inexpensive fried dumplings (above). Continue reading

144 hours in Shanghai

What can I say about Shanghai? The pictures in the guidebook showed an exciting fast-moving city with bright lights and an impressive cityscape. And it did not disappoint.

Shanghai felt fairly western so was not difficult to navigate. Signs were in English, and there was an abundance of western high street chains. This centred around Nanjing Lu (Nanjing Road) which is full of neon lights and large shops and shopping malls. You can find the likes of H&M, Forever 21 and the Apple shop here as well as Chinese brands, souvenirs, jewellery, electronics etc. Continue reading

How to Travel to Shanghai Without a Visa from Taiwan

While planning our trip to Shanghai, we read about the TWOV (Transit Without Visa), meaning you can transit through Shanghai without the need for a Visa. There are some restrictions, but if you read and follow the rules you can get yourself a big fat trip to China without the hassle (and cost) of a Visa!

I should say that this does not constitute immigration advice – this is just my understanding of the information online, and my experiences. If you are going, you should also research it yourself!

Essentially, if you are from certain countries, you can take advantage of the 24, 72, or 144 hour Transit without Visa rules which apply to certain cities in China. You also need to be coming from a third country, transiting through China, and travelling on to another third country. There are other rules about where you can go when you enter Shanghai, and when the time starts running to measure the 144 hours. Continue reading

Eating “Poo” out of a Urinal while sitting on a Toilet?! – Food in Taipei

Probably the funniest and most bizarre culinary experience we have had was at the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei. This is, um – UNIQUE – to say the least! A whole restaurant themed around Toilets. The seats were toilets, the plates were like urinals, and all the interior design was themed around toilets.

The meals – all themed around excrement, naturally, included dishes such as Turd Sub Sandwich, and Poop Meatballs. These were advertised outside with a sign saying “Welcome to try our crap!”. Continue reading

Exploring Thermal Valley and Tea Plantations near Taipei

Enthralled as we were with Taipei, we also wanted to escape the city for the cooler air of the countryside, and see some of the rest of Taiwan.  We chose two easy day trips from the capital; Beitou Thermal Valley to see some geothermal action, and the Maokong Tea Plantations in the hills.

Beitou Thermal Valley

Beitou is just north of Taipei and is known for its thermal activity – namely hot springs! Upon arrival I was slightly taken aback to read all about where the local earthquake shelter is – but as Taiwan sits near the egde of two tectonic plates, earthquakes are possible so it pays to be prepared! Continue reading

Travelling 101 in Taipei 101

Having explored the ancient sights of Taipei it was time to see the new heart of the city. Taipei 101 is one of the most iconic buildings in Asia. At over half a kilometre tall (a staggering 509.2 metres to be exact), it was the tallest building in the world until 2010 when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (at 829.8 metres) took the title.

Taipei 101 is 101 floors high, and can be seen from most places in the city. If you want to visit, check the boards in the 5th floor lobby as this will tell you how the visibility is and which sections of the observation deck are open. Continue reading