The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a group of islands that along with the Bailiwick of Jersey makes the Channel Islands.
The islands that make up the Bailiwick of Guernsey are: Guernsey (the second largest Channel Island), Alderney, Sark, Herm, Lihou, Jethou and Brecquou (these are private islands.) The Bailiwick of Jersey consist of just Jersey itself, the largest Channel Island. The Channel Islands are found just above France in the English Channel.
Guernsey has been a crown dependency since 1066 and has its own government. Guernsey has a population of 59,000 and is 64 square kilometers. The island is 6 miles long and 3 miles wide, you can easily drive from one end of the island to the other in half an hour. It is split into ten parishes which are all different and individual.
St Peter Port: the capital of the island is always busy and includes most workplaces, shops, high street, tourist attractions and hotels.
St Martins: this is a parish which prides itself with flower arrangements and hanging baskets everywhere you look.
Torteval: the parish which works hard on the Torteval Scarecrow Festival.
St Saviours: a beautiful parish full of grass and fields.
Castel: a busy parish with a few schools and businesses.
Vale: this parish is split in two and is a quieter parish with lots of houses (this is where I live.)
St Sampsons: this is the second busiest parish. It is much debated whether the Bridge is in St Sampsons or Vale (it is half in both) and the second largest shopping area on the island.
St Andrew's: this parish is full of fields and the home of the Little Chapel.
Forest: this is where the airport is situated.
St Peters: this is a rural parish and a long way from everything.
Guernsey is very much influenced by France and used to have their own language Patois (Guernsey French). Up to the second world war this was spoken with barely any English. After the islanders were evacuated to the UK they had to learn English and many returned not knowing Patois. This died out and now local schools are trying to bring it back by teaching new children in hope they will pass it on to others. Many of the roads, hotels, restaurants are named in Patois, e.g. the local leisure centre Beau Sejour which means Beautiful View.
Guernsey is full of narrow roads and lanes, most lanes are two way but can only fit one car at a time meaning you usually end up reversing into a driveway. Like the UK, we drive on the left and require a valid driving licence.
All parking is free but you cannot always find a space. A lot of areas have cars parked along the roads.
The planes that go to and from Guernsey are Aurigny (I have reviewed under Air Aurigny), FlyBe and Blue Islands. These all go between the other islands, UK and France and can be booked on there website for around £80. The longest it takes to get here is an hour and a half from Manchester and the shortest is half an hour from Southampton.
The only boat that goes to Guernsey is Condor Ferries (I have also reviewed this separately). This is not the best boat, but the only choice we have. This goes between Guernsey and Weymouth and Poole both via Jersey at around £100 with car. The longest it takes on boat is 3 hours from Poole and the shortest is an hour from Jersey. I would advise you never to make plans for the time you should arrive back as they are known for consistently being late (by a few hours) or cancelled due to engine troubles.
The buses go all over the island and are £1 for all journeys, however long or short. All buses have a wheelchair ramp and a space inside for a wheelchair or pushchair. Ormer cards can be bought for multiple journeys from the information desk at the bus terminus, £25 for 50 journeys.
To get a taxi you must phone them or visit them in town by the roundabout but buses go most places you would need.
Hire cars can be got from the airport with a choice of a few companies.
Guernsey has stunning scenery and the outdoors is a vital part of its beauty.
Everywhere you go you will see the beach. These are always packed in the summer and some of the more popular beaches are Vazon, Cobo and Chouet (I usually go to this one as it is right next to a ice cream shop and has a walkway down unlike some others). They are great fun to build sand castles (whether a child or child at heart) and you can always search for rockpools or go for a swim in the sea. The water in Guernsey is all safe to swim in but it is not advised you swim in the beach opposite the Red Lion near town as it is dirty due to sewage.
A walk along the sand is lovely in the evening as the sun sets. Most beaches have beach cafes within a 5 minutes walk from the sand which is perfect for that much needed ice cream to cool down.
There are 27 beaches on the island and all are checked regularly for rubbish to ensure they are clean. During the summer months dogs are not allowed along certain beaches to ensure maximum cleanliness.
At Vazon you can try kayaking, surfing and wind surfing if the tide is right and this is a really long beach which is popular for water sports. Right across the road is a family friendly restaurant Crabby Jacks, which gets very busy during the summer months.
The coastline of Guernsey has many cliffs. These are often admired by visitors and there are guided cliff walks, should you be brave enough, which have spectacular views perfect for photos. These are quiet and peaceful, away from the roads and people of the island. A popular one is Pleinmont and when you get back to the road you can stop for a drink and an ice cream, phew.
Floral displays and hanging baskets are all over the island and are regularly maintained to keep them in top condition. These make gorgeous scenery and many are throughout town. Some parishes like St Martin's have won awards for their floral displays. This is just up the hill from town.
Parks are throughout the island with some childrens parks recently having been rebuilt. The largest park is Saumerez Park with miles of grass, a childrens park, duck pond, cafe and Victorian museum. Whilst some others are on top of schools or right next to beaches.
The island has a variety of hotels with differing star ratings. The most expensive on the island is the OGH which is right in the heart of town. Other hotels include Le Friquet and Grange Lodge among many. As I leave here I cannot comment on the rooms but all of the ones I have been to have great food.
Other accommodation includes self catering cottages and campsites. These are usually in more rural areas of the island and surrounded by countryside. Caravans or motor homes can be brought over on Condor Ferries but can only be lived in on a campsite.
Guernsey has restaurants everywhere and all have great food at a range of prices. A popular place to eat is Christies in the centre of town but you will always find somewhere to eat over here.
Most restaurants over here don't have children's play areas although they are family friendly. The two that have good safe play areas are The Longfrie (indoor area) and Crabby Jacks (outdoor area).
Pubs are very popular with the locals and serve food just as nice as restaurants. They are used as much as restaurants when finding a place to eat.
Unlike the rest of the world we have absolutely no fast food restaurants. We used to have a Burger King but after a year it left. There are chip shops and takeaways though and my favorites are Harbour View Chinese (the Bridge) and Chip Shop Inn Fountain Street (town). Cobo chip shop is great for eating chips on the wall watching the sea as the sunsets.
During October and November the island has Tennerfest. This is when most restaurants have a set three course meal for either £10, £15 or £20 per person. It used to all be £10 but over the years the price has increased and the name has stayed the same.
The Channel Islands have no VAT on goods which you would think made goods cheaper but this isn't always the case as we don't have cheaper shops like the UK (no Tesco, Asda, Homebase, Ikea, Bhs), most of our shops are local or branded clothes shops.
The two main places to shop are town and the bridge. The bridge has mostly charity shops now but it is still classed as the second largest shopping area on the island. It also has a few jewellery shops and newsagents.
Town is right next to the harbour and has a variety of shops, a lot of which are local. These include clothes shops, jewelry shops, local mobile shops, food shops, book shops, and our entertainment shops are HMV (if it's still here). I feel we have very little shops in comparison to some places in the UK. We have one department store Creaseys which sells clothes, perfume, bags, toys, homeware, fabrics. It is not all in one building though, the toy shop is the opposite side of town.
Most shops in Guernsey are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. We do not open shops on Sunday due to Sunday Trading Laws.
Guernsey has its own notes and coins, including a one pound note (this is so much better than the pound coins in the UK as coins are heavy and I often forget they are in my wallet). We accept notes from the UK and Jersey but they do not accept ours back, so don't forget to change it before you leave.
We have cash machines throughout town and the bridge and our main ones are Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HSBC.
Candie Gardens: Beautiful Victorian gardens a short walk from town. Free entry. Has a cafe for a peaceful drink.
Castle Cornet: A fortress that once protected town. It now has a museum inside and a walkway to the lighthouse.
Fort Grey: Known as the cup and saucer as this is what it looks like. It is a Martello tower from 1804 and inside is a museum.
Guernsey Aquarium: A small aquarium just outside town with lots of fish and reptiles. Great for children.
Guernsey Candles: A lovely local shop with gifts and homemade candles. There is also the option to make your own candle with assistance from their friendly staff. A popular place for parties on the island, I loved making these as a child.
Guernsey Freesia Centre: A shop and greenhouse full of freesias. A popular flower on the island.
Guernsey Pearl: A shop and cafe selling jewelry with local pearls. Directly opposite the cup and saucer.
Guernsey Clockmakers: A local clock shop right next to the Little Chapel.
Oatlands Village: Family friendly shops, mini golf, childrens play area and cafe.
Saumerez Manor: A beautiful manor open to the public.
The Little Chapel: A tiny chapel made from shells and pieces of china. (I have reviewed this separately)
Other Islands in the Bailiwick
Alderney is the third largest Channel Island and can be got to by plane (Aurigny, blue islands). It has a small cobbled high street, a church and a school. The population is only 2400. This is where the Wombles writer, Elisabeth Beresford, lived and now is where the Wombles museum is.
Sark can only be accessed by boat and has a population of 600. There are no cars on Sark and they use horse and carriages or bikes. Many people visit to see little Sark which is across a bridge from Sark.
Herm is a beautiful island visited a lot in the summer for the sandy beaches. It has no vehicles and can be got to by boat. There is only one shop and hotel on the island. It has many busy campsites in the summer.
Lihou is a tiny island just off Guernsey. It has one house and the rest is grass. You can only get their by walking so you must check the tide before you go. If not you could be stuck (unless you swim).
Brecquou and Jethou are private islands that cannot be accessed by the public. One of which is owned by the Barclay brothers.
Battle of Flowers: During the summer each year at the north show, islanders enter into competitions to see who can make the best float out of flowers. These always look fantastic and is a great day out. The north show also had fair rides, competitions for best veg, animals, cakes etc. There are also South and West shows but the Battle of Flowers is exclusive to the north.
Liberation Day: on the 9th May each year we celebrate being free from the war by closing the seafront and car parks in town to make room for parades, music, food, events, all of which are in the street. The fun day ends in fireworks over Castle Cornet. This is a bank holiday in Guernsey so all the shops are closed.
Town Carnival: one week each year town is filled with bands, choirs, punch and judy, town crier and other entertainment throughout town making it an even better atmosphere than usual.
Donkey Derby: a donkey race at Saumerez Park.
Torteval Scarecrow Festival: the parish is full of homemade scarecrows for people to look at.
The weather is mainly the same as England but a little warmer. It's sunny in the summer and rainy in the winter. Unfortunately it rarely snows here and when it does there is barely any. The other day it snowed a tiny bit and my snowman was smaller than a football.
Other Interesting facts
If coming from the UK or Ireland you don't need a passport.
Guernsey has a smoking ban on all public indoor places, as it has been since 2006.
Many visitors like to see our cows as they are brown and white and produce a much nicer creamier milk than in the UK.
Guernsey gache is a popular island fruit bread. (yum yum)
Ormers are a local delicacy (yuck).
Some famous people from Guernsey are:
Heather Watson (tennis player)
Victor Hugo (les miserables writer)
Lee Merrien (runner)
Andy Priaulx (racing car driver)
John Savident (former corrie actor)
Guernsey is a great place to visit for adults and children but there is very little for teenagers to do. Summer is a popular time to visit for the beaches and is always busy with people off cruise ships.
Isn't it annoying when you go on holiday to a place you have never been before for 1 week and by the time you are approaching the end of that week you feel you are just starting to really get into the spirit of things, you've found out so much more that you feel you could do with another week. Well this was what it felt like when I went to Guernsey in August 2005.
I have written the majority of this review from my own experiences, rather than giving you lots of facts about Guernsey that you could read about in any travel guide.
The Channel Islands consists of a group of 5 small islands: Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney. Guernsey is the second largest of these islands and is 24sq miles in size. St Peters Port is the main part of Guernsey and has a harbour there. It is at St Peters Port where me and my husband stayed.
From Stansted Airport it was a 1hr flight to Guernsey. We went on the airline Algriny which is a company this specifically does flights to and from the Channel Islands. It was a small jet plane holding just 60 passengers. On the flight we were handed a newspaper called the 'Guernsey Press'. So I shot straight to the weather page to find out the weather forecast. It said August 19th (today) Fair, August 20th Overcast with showers, some heavy at times, August 21st Heavy Showers. Oh no, I thought. We are going to Guernsey at a bad time. As we approached Guernsey I could see across the island lots of bright white lights glaring up at us, and as we got lower down I realised it was where the sunlight was catching the many greenhouses that Guernsey has.
As we stepped off the plane the temperature didn't feel much different from what it did back home, however I had left Stansted Airport with thick rain clouds and here there was not a cloud in sight. Guernsey Airport is small, but very modern. It's a new airport that was built only a couple of years ago. Collecting the luggage was a very quick easy process and the airport seemed very calm and there were few people about.
We had an adventurous journey up to our hotel in St Peters Port. We got a mini bus up to our hotel and the driver had to drop off two other groups of people at there hotels first which were in quieter parts of Guernsey, but as many roads in Guernsey are extremely narrow it caused quite a few problems getting the mini bus up to the hotel grounds as we met several cars coming in the other direction.
We were pleasantly surprise with our hotel when we arrived. We were staying at The Moores Hotel. It looked very pleasant from the outside and very classy on the inside. We had a friendly reception and caught a glimpse of the conservatory area on our way up to our room where all the meals were served and this had a really light pleasant feel. Overall we were very pleased with this hotel.
Our first stop was to the Tourist Information. We were pleased to find it open on a Sunday and found many interesting leaflets - one of which was on Condor Express Ferry day trips to Jersey. Now before we went to Guernsey we had looked on the internet wondering if we should book the ferry in advance. The price on there was £40 return per person. But we were glad we waited as in the leaflet it said it was just £28 return per person. We also considered a flight to Jersey but that would have been £90 return per person so knocked that idea on the head straight away.
St Peters Port harbour is just on the other side of the road to the Tourist Information. As we walked over here we noticed a very impressive sand castle standing about 2 metres tall on the harbour wall. It had apparently been built back in May so had been there nearly 4 months. I was glad we took a photo of it because a couple of days later it finally started to collapsed following there first spell of very wet weather.
At the Harbour booking office we arranged to go to Jersey on day 4 of our holiday (which was the day of my birthday as a special treat). It was booked to leave Guernsey at 9.40am and leave Jersey at 8.40pm.
Now St Peters Port is on the east coast of Guernsey and it's the east and south coast that is the hilly part of Guernsey with the North and West being quite flat. So when we decided to take a walk to Fermain Bay which was a 2 mile walk along the east coast you can imagine how we must of felt or should I say how I felt at the end of it. All I can say is that this is a great walk, but don't attempt it unless you are feeling fit. Because to get to every beach in this area you have to walk down a long steep coastal path and to come away from the beach you have to walk up on. The walk took 1 ½ hours at a steady pace and I have to say, as tired as I was it was well worth it. Fermain Bay is the most picturesque part of Guernsey. I suddenly felt I was in the tropics with the clear blue sea, and white sand. It was unbelievable. There is a café called 'The Beach Café' situated her and the food was exceptional with good presentation and service. I could of sat there all day watching the little twinkling stars that caught each wave from the sunlight but it was time to make that dreaded walk back up the hill.
This time we decided to walk back a different way not following the cliffs edge but going slightly more inland. Here we stopped off at a War Memorial Cemetery. Following this I have to say I have never seen such big houses with incredibly large colourful gardens. This was definitely were some of the many Guernsey Millionaire's live.
We decided to try out a restaurant that was directly opposite our hotel called Christies. It offers a 3 course meal for just £10.95 if you get there before 6.30pm but the catch is that you have to be out of the restaurant by 8pm which wasn't so good. Here they have live music most nights and we got a window seat which overlooked the hotel and some of St Peters Port Town. The food there was great and the live music so good that often people walking through the town would stop to listen.
Today we decided we would visit a few places in St Peters Port. So in the morning we did a short 10 minute walk from our hotel, up to the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. One thing we noticed with this Museum and with the others that were to follow was that even in the peak summer season, because Guernsey is such a small island there are never many crowds anywhere so when you visit a Museum you can walk around at your own pace and not feel pressured in anyway. It was £3.50 per person and you could easily spend a couple of hours in there. There was also showing in there a video of Guernsey people and what it was like for them in World War 2. There is a shop and a restaurant. I would class the food in here as average, but its well worth visiting as you will get amazing views from the restaurant through the lovely gardens and down into St Peters Port harbour.
In the afternoon, we went and visited the house that would have been Victor Hugo's many years ago. In this house he wrote many books including Les Miserables. There was quite a few French people wanting to see the house and I think out of all the places we went this was the only one that was busy. It cost £4 for a guided tour and we was very surprised to find out that the tour would be 1 hour long so it seemed good value for money. We waited in his garden before being called in for the tour. There were about 10 people in our group for the tour.
Well today was the day of my birthday and I was up at the crack of dawn. I couldn't wait to go to Jersey. We had to be at the harbour 45mins before departure time which mean't we was to get there by 8.55am. We went to hand in our tickets and was told there was no Condor Ferry going to Jersey today as it had technical problems. I have to admit I was quite upset, however that soon changed when we found out we could re-book for day 6 of our holiday, so that's what we did. Oh well, what a start to my birthday. So we decided instead that we would get a bus and explore some other parts of Guernsey so we got the bus to the south of the island and went to the German Underground Hospital. Now a word of warning - don't go there without something warm on because you will freeze to death like I did. Never the less it didn't stop me enjoying going through the underground tunnels and seeing where many of the French were taken after D-Day. As of yet there has been no refurbishment done on this place so everything is as it was. You get to see the casualties wards, the place they did operations, escape shafts and much more. It takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour to see the whole place and cost £3.00 per person. There is no café there.
From there we took a 20 minute walk to the German Occupation Museum at £3.50 each. This has a café and outside garden. There were video's shown and lots of interesting memorabilia.
From there we took a 10 minute walk down to Petit Bot Bay which was very nice although nothing I don't think would beat Fermain Bay. Here we sat in the café which had a sea view.
We got back on the bus and discovered that buses here charge 50p for whether you want to go. So the bus we are on takes you right round the island and because we didn't stop we went right round for just 50p. It took about an hour. What an incredible price! We nearly didn't get back though. The bus had a near miss round the tight bend and narrow roads that Guernsey has. It is really not built for big buses.
That evening we went to the Bistro One restaurant again, and had a nice view of the harbour and wondered if our ferry would go alright.
Today was our first rainy day and boy did it rain hard. So our first stop was to the Beach Café just across the road from the hotel. We went in there and had a hot chocolate to warm ourselves up and watch everyone else getting caught out in the rain. We took a moment to look through our travel book. Today was a day we decided to do as much as we could indoors. So we decided to get a bus up to the Sumerez Manor. We arrived there at 11.45am and realised we had missed there last morning tour. They have tours at 10.30am, 11.30am and 2pm. There were a few other things to be seen in the grounds of the manor but because it was raining so hard we decided to take shelter in the café there. It had a lovely country feel out here and there were many ducks and hens just outside the door attempting to make there way into the café every now and then. The café's roof was leaking and we struggled to find a seat that wasn't wet. Before long a few drips of rain every now and then fell on us. As I looked up I noticed a grape vine was growing in there as well. Very traditional out in Guernsey. Well we managed to drag out our 2hrs in there. It was quite adventurous what with the birds and the rain that it kept us entertained.
The tour consisted of just me and my husband. Most people apparently saw the house in the morning so we had a private tour of our own. A lovely gentleman showed us around the house and it was very informative and interesting.
From here we then took the bus to the Shipwreck Museum at Fort Grey. The journey up there though was horrendous. We had a learner bus driver with his assistant guiding him, plus the bus was so crowded that many of us had to stand, and no sooner had we gone a few yards down the road, and the bus driver slammed his foot down on the brake so hard that we all went flying forward - fortunately no one got hurt, but it wasn't long before more drama happened on board the bus as the lady who was standing behind me fainted. She clasped to the floor and the bus driver had to stop the bus - fortunately slowly this time. The lady had her sister with her who said she was pregnant and had been prone to fainting and so when the lady came too she escorted her off the bus where they called for an ambulance.
There was a bus stop right outside Fort Grey Museum which was very convenient and the exhibition was held inside a tall Martello Tower. We spent about half an hour there and headed back to the bus stop. We didn't have to wait long before another bus arrived and this took us round the rest of the island and back to the town at St Peters Port. We was lucky to get back in one piece however as the bus had a near miss with a parked car as it clipped the edge of what sounded like the mirror of a car as it was going past, and the bus driver had to stop suddenly to check the damage.
That night we went to the Riva Restaurant on the seafront. It was an interesting restaurant as every 15 minutes the lights would change colour from a blue to a red, then perhaps to an orange or yellow. This created a different feel to the place and made it individual. The food was lovely and we had a view of the harbour, although we felt the tables were placed a bit too closely together. For 2 main meals, 2 desserts and 2 drinks it came to approx £40.
When we got back to the hotel we had a phone call from the ferry company. They said the ferry is still having problems. It would be leaving Guernsey at a later time of 10.30am and that there was a chance that if the ferry problems became more serious we may not get back to Guernsey. So we was in a dilemma whether to go or not.
Well we decided to take a chance and do our day trip to Jersey seeing as it was part of my birthday treat. The departure lounge is great because it has good views out to sea and of the entry into the harbour, so there was lots to watch while we waited. The ferry arrived at 10.55am but it was due to arrive at 10.30am. Due to the problems the ferry was having it couldn't go as fast as normal. Despite this however we arrived into Jersey at 12pm.
Jersey is also a lovely island, not perhaps quite as scenic as Guernsey, but still very pleasant. There are also a lot more people there than in Guernsey so you don't get that same relaxed, calm feeling and also if you want to visit a gallery or go in a shop you are more likely to experience queues, where as in Guernsey you can visit practically anywhere and have just a pleasant amount of people about.
The main reason I wanted to go to Jersey was because many items on the Channel Islands you don't have to pay VAT on. I had my heart set on a watch worth £1500 but knew if I could find it here I would get it for £300 less. To my delight I did find it, saved myself £300 and this helped to cover some of the costs of the holiday.
The ferry was due to leave at 8.35pm so we got to the harbour on time to find out that it was running late due to the technical problems the ferry had, and it would not arrive until 11.30pm. We wasn't happy, however glad that at least we knew we would get back to Guernsey even if it was later than planned. The departure lounge here wasn't so nice as there was no area like there was at Guernsey to watch the harbour.
However something very interesting happened ..as we were waiting a couple came and sat just to the left of us on the opposite side and my husband whispered to me, 'I think that's Helen Mirren!' I had only seen her in the 'Calendar Girls' film before and because she was very casually dressed and had no make-up on I wasn't sure, but after a few more glances we both decided it was her, and the man sitting next to her we found out later was her bodyguard.
Well we couldn't believe our luck. The ferry in the end didn't leave until 1.45am and we boarded with Helen Mirren just in front of us. I kept saying to my husband - if this is Helen Mirren then how come she hasn't got crowds of people coming up to her asking for her autograph, but I have to say I did see several people looking at her probably saying to each other 'is that Helen Mirren' in total disbelief. I suppose she wasn't quite as well know then as she is now she has been in 'The Queen'.
The sea was really rough going back to Guernsey and I didn't dare to get up off my seat and have a walk round as the ferry was swaying about all over the place. There were a few brave souls walking about but they walked in a drunken manor which was quite funny. I was quite glad when we finally arrived back in Guernsey but sad to leave Helen Mirren, who got on a coach with several other people to a hotel they were staying at in Guernsey.
The main entrance to our Hotel closed at 12am, but we was told not to worry if we got back late as the porter would let us in. So we rang the door bell and there was no answer ..rang again still no answer, and we were starting to think we would be sleeping out on the street for the night, until 5 minutes later the door finally opened. It appeared the porter was fast asleep which was why he didn't hear the door bell ring.
Today we was to return home. We had to leave the hotel at 5am in the morning as our flight back home was at 7.30am. Once again the simple task of going down stairs with our luggage to leave the hotel wasn't so straight forward. When we arrived downstairs the porter who would let us out of the hotel was fast asleep on the settee. We didn't know what to do, we thought should we wake him up, or should we accidentally make a noise and hope it wakes him. Well we went with the second option and fortunately it worked. The mini bus was on time and away we went. As we was leaving early in the morning the roads weren't busy so we didn't have the adventurous journey like we did when we arrived in Guernsey, but then again our whole holiday seemed full of adventures and I think although Guernsey is a nice quiet, scenic and relaxing place, it is also a place where a lot can happen in just one short week. I would certainly return there again.
1. Don't book a ferry trip on the internet - wait until you get to Guernsey.
2. The Moores Hotel - great hotel by the sea and in the heart of St Peters Port town, where there are lots of lovely restaurants to choose from. Highly recommended, but watch out for the sleeping porter.
3. No VAT so if you have something expensive to buy then get it here.
4. Beware of the fact you are putting your life at risk on there narrow roads, and the use of the bus service will definitely prove to be adventurous.
5. It only costs 50p to travel on the bus right around the island, and this is highly recommended.
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Guernsey is the second-largest of the five Channel Islands, after Jersey (the others are, in descending order of size, Alderney, Sark and Herm). It often seems that Guernsey is overlooked in favour of the larger and more famous Jersey, due in no small part to Bergerac (for those of you who have no idea who or what Bergerac is, it was a very popular 1980's TV show about a Jersey detective). In fact, due to Bergerac's storylines featuring so many murders, you'd expect that people would be put off Jersey and come to Guernsey, but I digress. Guernsey lies to the north of Jersey, and all the Channel Islands are in fact situated just off the north-west French coast. They lie approximately 80 miles from Portsmouth or Weymouth (if you take the ferry - more on that later). As a result of being so close to France, the architecture and district/street names have a distinctly French feel, but the atmosphere of the island is a very genteel, relaxed facsimile of 1950's England. Not that I was alive in the 1950's, but the island maintains some quaint customs that hark back to that era. For example as Sunday is the day of worship, shops generally do not open (a bit like it used to be not so long ago on the mainland), although this may change in the near future. Guernsey is self-governed and as such makes its own laws, although it keeps an eye on the mainland to keep itself abreast of the latest developments. Interestingly, it is not part of the European Union, although this too may change in the future. Pubs can also (currently) only open between the hours of 12pm and 3.30pm on a Sunday. Some petrol stations do not allow you to pump your own petrol, either. A by-product of Guernsey (and Jersey) not being in the EU is that the islands set their own tax rates, as a result Guernsey is one of the famed "offshore investment centres" in the world along with Jersey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Briti
sh Virgin Islands (this is where I come in, as I am an accountant working out here on a long-term contract). Because the Channel Islands would obviously make very attractive places for a lot of people to live (such as retirees), the island governments have cottoned on to this and as such you can only live here if you have been born here, been resident for over 20 years (and thus are deemed local), or have a Housing Licence which will be granted to your employer if there is not enough local staff to fill specific positions of need (such as chartered accountants). I've been here since September 2002, so have experienced both the "summer" Guernsey and the "winter" Guernsey, two very different animals! The upshot of this strict "immigration" policy is that the local people can still afford to live here (although property prices are still pretty sensational), and also on the other hand the financial sector jobs draw in a large number of young professionals from around the globe with a high disposable income which helps sustain the island economy in the off-season. Tourism is still the biggest industry in Guernsey, although this has fallen in recent years as package holidays to mainland Europe have become cheaper. So should you come and holiday in Guernsey? Well, it's ideal for the more mature traveller or for those who covet the quiet life. Those who enjoy Ibiza and the like should look elsewhere (although nightlife in St Peter Port, the capital, isn't too bad as there are a lot of young people working in the financial industry here these days). There is excellent scenery, and the people are friendly, and of course they speak English! St Peter Port and St Sampson's are really the two major centres, and offer a wide range of shopping. There's no VAT here and all the major High Street names are represented in St Peter Port's high street (which is traffic-free, incidentally). There are also som
e excellent restaurants in St Peter Port, offering a wide variety of cuisine. Throughout the month of October is the "Octoberfest" where a number of the restaurants compete with each other to provide the best set three-course menu for £10, which is judged by top chefs. Of course, you as the consumer are the real winner here as the food is excellent. What you will notice is the absence of “chain” pubs and eateries, i.e. no Beefeaters or Brewers Fayre’s, or even McDonald’s or Burger King (St Peter Port did have a Burger King, but it closed just before Christmas 2002). Guernsey is shaped as a sort of triangle with the airport in the centre and St Peter Port and St Sampson on the right-hand edge. These two towns play host to the marina where the expensive yachts are based, but don’t offer any real beaches. These are found on the other side of the island, in districts such as Cobo and Vazon. The best thing to do is to hire a car (the hiring agencies are found either at the airport or in St Peter Port) and have a drive around. We drive on the right side (in both senses!) and speed limits are 25mph in town, 35mph out of town. Believe me, with some of the windy country lanes, that’s fast enough. You could also take the bus between major districts, or get a taxi, but in my experience the latter is only really easy to get hold of at the airport. Incidentally, if you do drive here, watch out for a funny thing we have called “Filter in Turn” at junctions, where the first car there has the right of way. I only say this as I’ve had several near-misses with terrified tourists in hire cars. Also, there are no “pay and display” car parks about. What you do have are on-street parking with varying time limits – your hire car should come with a small card “clock” which you set when you leave your car. Streets in the towns are quite narrow and parking is at a premium. Also, i
f you are infirm, St Peter Port in particular is very hilly and a number of paths have some very long, steep steps. As with the food, there are no “chain” hotels, but they are numerous and there are many B&B’s and guest houses for those who are on more of a budget. Two of the best hotels are the St Pierre Park in St Andrew’s (which boasts a health suite and golf course) and the Duke of Richmond in St Peter Port. At the other end of the scale, some friends who came over in November 2002 managed to book the Hotel Dunchoille in St Peter Port for £21 a night on-line and found it excellent value. If you’re a golfer, there are the Royal Guernsey and the Grande Mare clubs, but I don’t think it’s easy or cheap to get on and play. Popular trips out include visiting Herm or Sark, both of which are short boat trips away, and are totally unspoilt (neither allow any cars or motorcycles). Be wary though if you like a drink or three – if you’re too drunk they won’t let you on the return boat. You could also visit Alderney, which gained infamy a couple of years ago due to rioting (seriously!) and is the home of many internet gambling companies, but can cost quite a bit to fly to (about £75). You could also pop across to Jersey by air or sea, and see the “concrete jungle” as Guernseyfolk call it – there’s a lot of inter-island rivalry, with the Jerseyfolk referring to Guernsey as “Donkeyland”, and Guernseyfolk calling the Jersey population “crapauds”. Don’t ask me why! I worked in Jersey for a month a couple of years ago and it’s very similar but a bit more “forward”, i.e. it resembles life on the mainland a little more. You could even pop over to France - St Malo only takes an hour by boat, even quicker if you fly to Dinard. So finally I bet you are wondering how you get here (after I’ve done such a marvellous sales pit
ch). You can fly with British European, BA or Aurigny from Stanstead, Birmingham, Gatwick, Southampton, Bristol or Exeter. I fly to Southampton regularly with British European and it costs about £90 return if you book on-line well in advance. If you want to bring your own car or don’t like flying, you can take the ferry, but there is only one ferry line (Condor) and, in the absence of competition, prices are higher. I came back to the UK over the Christmas period with my trusty Volkswagen and it cost an eye-watering £300 return. You can sail from Portsmouth, Poole or Weymouth, but here’s another twist – there are two distinct types of ferry. The fast catamaran only sails (reliably) in the summer when the sea is calmer and takes only 2 hours to go direct to/from Weymouth. However, in the winter the bigger boat (designed for freight) goes via Jersey and takes an eye-popping 13 hours. In conclusion, Guernsey has good weather, beautiful scenery, a relaxed pace of life and friendly people, so if all this sounds like your bag, come on over! We’ve even got the Island Games this summer!
Guernsey is slightly smaller the Jersey being only 24 square miles, but it still manages to pack in plenty to do for all ages. There are beautiful, clean sandy beaches where the children can play safely, and rocky promontories for scrambling and exploring. The capital of Guernsey is St. Peter Port The streets rise steeply from the harbour and afford views of sister islands Herm, Sark and Jethou. Castle Cornet overlooks the harbour, a safe haven for working and pleasure craft alike. St Peter Port has a wide variety of shops and restaurants, so there’ll be something to suit everyone. We stayed in self-catering accommodation on the opposite side of the island at Grandes Rocques. It was very quiet with a long sandy beach. Since the island is so small it was easy to get to all the attractions either by walking, public transport or taxi (which was very cheap!) The German Underground Military Hospital is well worth a visit. The Germans occupied the Channel Islands in the Second World War and forced the inhabitants to build underground hospitals on both Guernsey and Jersey. I found this a spooky experience. We were given tickets and asked to make sure that we handed them in at the end of the tour so that they could check that everyone was out before they closed up for the day. We were then free to wander around in the gloomy half-light. As we walked along all we could hear were the muffled voices and footsteps of other visitors elsewhere in the hospital. Some of the wards still had the old fashioned, cast iron bed frames in them. The whole experience was made creepier by the fact that we had been told that, when the hospital was being built, any men who died during the building were not buried but just plastered into the walls! I have to admit we came out of the hospital and straight into the pub for a stiff drink! On a pleasanter note the Little Chapel is another must for visiting. It is exactly what it says, a chapel and
it is seriously little! I have seen bigger Wendy houses. The maximum number of people who could be in there at any one time would be about 5 and then you’d have to be very friendly. The chapel is covered in shells and pieces of brightly coloured pottery. There are numerous museums around Guernsey – the Underground Military Museum, Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum, Dolls House Collection, Folk Museum, Farm Implement Museum, German Occupation Museum and Guernsey Museum. I didn’t actually visit any of the museums so I can’t comment on how good they are. Maybe next time…. There are also plenty of craft centres scattered around the island displaying the crafts of the island including clocks, toys, copper, candles, wood, pottery and jewellery. From Guernsey you can visit the other Channel Islands. We took a hydrofoil trip to St Helier on Jersey, which seemed to be just a busier version of Guernsey. I would like to take a holiday on Jersey and explore that island too. We took a small boat trip over to Herm, which took only 20 minutes. Herm is only one mile long with golden beaches, a pub, a restaurant, and a few shops and only 50 permanent inhabitants. We took an hour-long ferry trip over to traffic free Sark. This island still has a semi feudal constitution. We took a pony and trap ride around the island to appreciate the beauty of the place. Unfortunately the weather closed in and the fog became to thick to even see across the road so there was nothing else for it we all had to adjourn to the pub! It has been a few years now since my holiday on Guernsey but I still have vivid memories of it’s beauty and would like to return to the Channel Islands one day.
Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands with a reputation as being Jersey's prim little sister. But this is far from reality as it has just as much to offer the tourist as Jersey. St Peter's Port is where all the cruise liner's, such as The Oriana stop of and passengers go ashore for the shops and night life.If you want a quiet and relaxing holiday then Guernsey is a perfect place to go to, but if you want to get about there is always plenty to see and do. They have really stunning beaches, rocky coves to discover and a lot of rugged cliffs, but best of all if you drive the petrol is only 37p a litre, and alcohol and cigarettes are duty free. If you go you must go and visit The Little Chapel, the Guiness Book Of Records list it as the smallest chapel in the world. I think it is I nice little place to go to for a holiday.
Last December I went to Guernsey for a weekend. You might think me foolhardy or eccentric but apart from the flight in that is not so. Accommodation and car hire are very cheap at that time of year, but the island is virtually empty meaning that a visit to many of the sights is much better. Of course you have to be made of strong stuff to sit on the beach, but the seas and rugged coastlines look all the more exciting with the wind whipping them up. Of course it was a good time for Christmas shopping - and my family were quite happy with the gold and silver bargains. We even had the bonus of Father Christmas coming into St Peter Port! Don't go for the entertainment however - we couldn't get into the tiny cinema which you had to pre book: I think all the islanders must find life a little too dull as well and in need of some entertainment. There is a massive choice of restaurants though. I mentioned the flight - those small aeroplanes aren't so stable in strong winds. One passenger said, "oh this is exciting - it's what flying used to be like". That was true of course, but not everyone wants to go back to such pioneering conditions!
I love Guernsey!!! I fell in love with it 14 years ago when I went out there on a visit to see my sister who was working over there at the time, and I have been back many times since. I think it is a wonderful place to take young children for a good old fashioned holiday, lots of beaches, walks, and some newer attractions to keep them amused. None of those amusement arcades though!!! St Martin's is a good area for rented holiday homes, if you prefer hotels, St Peter Port or Cobo Bay has a good range, my personal favourite is the St Pierre Park, which has its own golf course, indoor pool, and has wonderful jazz evenings, not to mention the most delicious chocolate souffle -( for all those foodies out there!!!) St Peter Port has a good choice of restaurants, but as you usually find in such places, those along the harbour and marina area are more expensive, but the seafood is very good. I think the best time to go is in May, when the bluebells are out, it is usually sunny and uncrowded, even on Herm. Which is probably the best time to catch the boat out to this little island lying just off shore from Guernsey. There is a hotel and some self catering cottages, a small gift shop and a pub, and lots of wonderful walks over clifftops. Shell Beach with it's white sand (made from the tiny fragments of crushed shells washed up on it) is so idyllic. Guernsey has some excellent vat free shopping, loads of Jewellers shops, designer clothes shops, guernsey sweaters. But the best souvenir to bring home is some of the locally grown flowers. There is a good choice, not just carnations, freesias and daffodils, and as well as buying them from the side of the road, the nurseries, and shops, you can even pick them up at the airport. I always flew into Guernsey from Heathrow on Air UK, and especially enjoyed the panoramic view of the island as the plane decended. Hire a car and you can enjoy the full delights of the Island.
When you come in to land at Guernsey Airport, you will notice that the island is more built-up than Jersey, but that does not mean it doesn't have lots of woodland, beaches and green places to roam. Guernsey feels like Jersey did 20 years ago, before Jersey became over-run with big business and forgot the little person (and his business). Drinking at pubs is not permitted on a Sunday, so Guernsey's restaurants do a roaring trade on that day, not that they're not popular throughout the week too: there is a wealth of restaurants to choose from in Guernsey, many french-based in their cuisine and, of course, seafood is a speciality. Hire a car, but don't forget Guernsey's 35 mph speed limit: this may seem slow, but on many of the small lanes, 35mph would be lethal. If you hire a bike, don't forget that Guernsey has many hills and the island isn't as small as you may think! Guernsey can be reached by air or sea and, like Jersey, suffers from the cost factor - it may well be cheaper to go to Spain or Greece, but would you enjoy it as much as Guernsey? You'll have to go there to find out!