We arrived in Southampton this morning, and it is the end of the second segment of the cruise, so many people are leaving and a whole new group coming on. A good day to be away from the ship. We did have a face to face immigration check today with a passport stamp, the first one of the cruise. The rest of the time, the ship keeps the passport. Today, we collected it, went to the security area that was set up on the ship, they stamped it and we handed it in before we left the ship. I assume they stamp them when we leave but they must do that somewhere on the ship.
My colleague from the UK, Hilary Oliver, recommended that we take the ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, so that was the plan for the day. We took the high speed red funnel ferry to the town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. It was the end of Cowes Week, an annual sailing regatta that is a very big deal here. The harbor was full of all kinds of sailboats, looked like hundreds.
We decided to take a hop on hop off bus, the Downs Breezer. The only problem was that when we got off the ferry in Cowes, we found out that the bus leaves from Ryde, which isn’t easy to get to from Cowes, so we bought a full day bus ticket – we had to travel to Newport, then take another bus to Ryde to get the Breezer. So we went to the bus station and got on the number 1 to Newport, then caught the number 9 to Ryde. We got to see a lot of the countryside on those two buses.
So, since we needed to catch the 2:15 ferry back to Southampton to be back on the ship on time, we were ready for the hop on hop off bus. Lovely open top bus, and about half way through the route, the driver stopped at a planned stop where everyone except us and one other couple got off – there is a big garlic festival there that was on yesterday and today. We unfortunately didn’t have the time to go to that, but it looked crowded and fun.
So, then, the driver comes upstairs to tell us that there is something wrong with the bus and he cannot go any further (do you think he really wanted to go to the garlic festival??) Anyway, he said there would be a number 8 bus coming in a few minutes and it would get us back to Newport (not Ryde). So we hurried to the other side and down to the bus stop, and as the number 8 pulled up, I realized that I didn’t have my phone… Norm ran back to the disabled bus and found it, luckily there were so many people getting out for the festival that he was able to run back in time to get the bus. Crisis averted. That’s the first (and hopefully last) time THAT ever happens!
So we arrived back to Newport, took the number 1 bus back to Cowes and had a delightful lunch and walk around the town. Well, we got a tour of the island, just not the way we originally planned! It was full of people who had attended and sailed in Cowes week events and it was a charming visit.
Now a sea day before arriving in Bordeaux France on Tuesday – staying there for 2 days.