Day 11 |
May 08, 2010

St Peter Port, Guernsey, United Kingdom

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 49°27’N, 02°31’W

Weather: sunny, partly cloudy

It was just a short “hop” of 42 nautical miles from St. Malo, France to the island of Guernsey. The Prince Albert II anchored in the bay of St Peter Port at 7.30 a.m. St Peter Port is the only port on this itinerary where we could not go along side. So our Expedition Leader and 2 Expedition Team members went in a scout boat to the jetty for checking the landing conditions there.

On Guernsey, two tours were offered to our guests. The first one visited the unique German Occupation Museum and afterwards the scenic Vazon Bay and Fort Hommet. The second tour went first the western part of the island and then to the Sausmarez Manor before coming back to the ship. Today, I was on the second tour together with my colleague Chris Cutler.

At 8.45 am disembarkation started for the museum tour. Although the majority of our guests had never sat in a Zodiac, the disembarkation went smoothly and without any problems.

The second tour began at 9.15 am and after a short drive through the town of St. Peter Port we headed westwards. Along the coast road one can see the old bunkers from the Second World War, which had been established by the German troops. The beautiful beaches, like Vazon Bay or Rocquaine Bay together with the green landscape and the colorful flowers give the island a very charming character. Now in spring I could see everywhere the Blue Bell flowers, the Common Thrift, Alexanders, the Red Campion and Navelwort to mention only some of the botanical treasures of the island. The first stop was at the Rocquaine Bay with a scenic view over to Lihou Island on the right hand and Fort Grey on the left hand. From there on we made our way through the inland part of the Guernsey to the Little Chapel. It’s possibly the smallest chapel in the world made of pieces of broken china, pebbles and shells.

Shortly afterwards we passed the German Underground Hospital, a massive underground complex hewn out of the rock by the slaves workers between 1940 - 45. Today the former hospital is a museum. Ten minutes later the bus arrived at our main stop of today’s tour: the Sausmarez Manor. Our guests were welcomed by the owner of the manor and an interesting guided tour through the house gave us an insight into the lives and history of the family and of the island itself. Afterward, our guests had about one hour of free time to explore the gardens of the manor, famous for its enviable sculptures. 200 sculptures from 90 international artists are exhibited in the garden in an informal setting.

For me, as a botanist, not only were the art works in the garden of interest but also the lush subtropical garden vegetation. There I found palms, magnolia trees, Gunnera herbs and bamboo grass. It was really an exciting excursion into the botanical world on a small island in the English Channel.

From there we drove back to the harbor and our guests could enjoy an afternoon in the charming town of St. Peter Port. I also went into town to look for botanical literature regarding the island and I was lucky to find “Channel Island Flora”. The rest of the afternoon my colleagues and I had duty on the pier or driving Zodiacs.

At 18.00 the Prince Albert II heaved the anchor and sailed for the next stop: Honfleur, France.

In the evening, Captain Luigi Rutigliano invited guests to the Farewell Cocktail in The Theatre and afterwards I enjoyed with our guests and my colleague the delicious dinner in The Restaurant.