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Day 27 and 28, Return to blighty

Last breakfast in Spain.

It is a stunning guest house, shame about the owner, perhaps it’s just a problem of communication. The only thing I can say to him is “gracias”, so after about a hundred times, I think it’s losing its significance on him. In Spain they take your passport details on hotel check-in so he knew I was Irish.

Just a short 25km odd ride this morning, so can go mad with the e-power. No point taking electrons back to Blighty. It’s blowing a gale, but warm and sunny. Lots of steep hills en route, so despite trying initially legs only, give in and hit the button. With no risk of running out, even try out blue power at times. As you come in to Santander from the west, there’s a really steep, high rock/mountain that looks a bit like a small version of the Gibraltar rock.

Find a bakery on the outskirts of Santander for a mid morning top up. I’m sat outside to keep an eye on the bike and it feels like the wind is going to blow trees down or tiles off roofs.

I’m a few hours early for the ferry, so find a spot on the harbour front and sit in the sun.

Once I check in for the ferry, find lots of motorbikers going home and there are 5 other touring cyclists. I don’t want to brag but I’m way out in front on the km front.

Was facing a night in a seat as the cabins were fully booked, but go on the waiting list and once underway hear my luck is in and I have a cabin with a window. The Galicia is a new ship for Brittany Ferries this year. Cabin is great and there’s entertainment (films) and live TV on the TV.

It’s a southerly wind so the sea state is OK initially.

Brittany Ferries have worked really hard to make the evening dinner a memorable experience.

Ferry left Santander at 3pm, so by 7.30pm we’re right in the roughest part of Biscay where the continental shelf causes big seas. The ferry designers thought carefully about putting the restaurant right in the front of the ship so that the motion would be worse.

Result is like a scene from a farce. There’s plates crashing, waiters falling over carrying stuff, dinners sliding off tables. I had a big carafe of water on my table and as the ship rolled, deftly caught it just as it slid off the table. Sadly I only had one hand free as the other was stuffing my mouth at the time, so the glass made it to the floor.

After surviving dinner, retired to my suite for a full cultural experience by watching Downton Abbey, and No Time to Die. It was just like being on a flight. The noise of the ship and the continual motion was just like being on a plane. With all the background noise I couldn’t quite hear all the film dialogue, so especially with the Bond film, I’ll need someone now to explain to me who was doing what and why. Was she his daughter? He died at the end, right?

This morning it’s like we’ve warped to another galaxy. The sea is flat, everything is calm. In the dining room for breakfast buffet, in true Brit fashion, everyone is eating to excess in the help yourself buffet, including filling plastic bags with food for later. Stories are being swapped about who saw the biggest crockery crash the previous night.

I’ve had my 17th shower of the morning - well I’ve paid for the cabin, the water is hot and having tried it for the first time, breakfast television is crap, so I’ve got to do something to fill the time.

The ferry has a completely different feeling today. Yesterday, a lot of people were straight into the bar, the men especially were doing a lot of drinking, there was a lot of human noise.

Today it is very subdued, quiet, there’s virtually no talking. A lot of book reading, gazing out to sea. I sat on deck for a while, there was a bit of sunshine. There were half a dozen exercise machines, the sort of things appearing in parks now. One was a form of exercise bicycle. I wondered if it was connected to the ship’s propeller. I decided I’d give it a miss. I went and watched another film in the cabin. Belfast. It’s a powerful film, I thoroughly recommend it. Bloody glad I wasn’t living there during the troubles.

I think we were passing the Casquets and Alderney. I was comparing this ferry travel to the cycling along the Spanish coast, especially the uphill bits, which are the majority. Either it needs to be enjoyable, or it is getting you somewhere. For me whether it’s cycling uphill, or sitting on a ferry, it’s not enjoyable. So is it getting you somewhere, yes, but bloody slowly, in both cases. I’ve come to the conclusion both are too slow. I’ve now been on the ferry over 24 hours. In that time I could have got to Australia.

Getting off the ferry at Portsmouth was chaotic. For some reason nothing moved on the vehicle deck for over 40 minutes after we tied up. Then it was every man and woman for themselves. There must have been 20-30 workers in hi-viz standing around in groups just chatting to each other whilst all the vehicles just went for it.

Giles and Pauline had very kindly offered to collect me from the ferry terminal and put me up as they live nearby in Lee on Solent. So I enjoyed a proper british home cooked dinner and finally after a month have a face to face conversation.

Final ride home to Poole tomorrow.

Distance cycled on Sunday 26 km

Total distance so far 1966 km


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