Jersey War Tunnels and Gorey Crustaceans

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
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Trip End May 12, 2012


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Flag of United Kingdom  , Channel Islands,
Friday, June 1, 2012


So this morning I skipped the eggs and English breakfast and just had toast with butter and marmalade.  I talked to John the owner's sister-in-law (I still don't know her name) about stuff for a little while.  Then I paid my bill since I will be leaving so early tomorrow morning.

I headed off for Jersey cow postcards and got 2 occupation tapestry postcards - no, those were later.  I got my cow postcards, went to the bus station and checked on the country life center.  It has been closed for a while already so I regrouped and caught the bus for the Jersey War Tunnels that was just leaving.  And I am glad that I did.  Kerry had mentioned it last night as being a worthwhile sight.

The tunnels are extensive and pretty cold.  I am glad that I brought my jacket and sweater and hat.  The tunnels had been used as the German occupation hospital during WWII but now they are a museum commemorating the occupation of Jersey.  The topics were nicely presented in multimedia but not much different information from that at the Occupation Tapestry museum.  It was quite sobering, as are all war memorials, especially the photos of those men and women who were executed or died in concentration camps.  There were lots of videos with people from Jersey who had lived through the occupation telling of their experiences.  There was a section on fraternization, especially in regard to Jersey women.  I wondered how the many German tourists dealt with all of it.  Many of the presentations showed sympathy for the German soldiers, especially the young men who may have been appalled by their roles.  There was one screen with a German soldier giving thanks for his invitation to a Jersey home and a sign said, "Would you invite a German soldier to your home?"   Another section told the story of a Jersey girl who fell in love with a German soldier.  He was executed and she was imprisoned. 

After the tunnels, I thought I might do some walking and see what was to be seen in the area.  I saw some impressive houses and villas and some fields, horses and potatoes.  I saw two old mills, neither of which were operational even though some of the tourist literature said one of the mills was open to tourists.  While I was walking on the roads, I was quite uneasy.  I should really have taken some photos to show what it is like.  I walk facing on-coming traffic - which means that on these narrow curvy roads, I face cars hurtling down the road toward me.  Some give me wide berth, some seem to come within inches of me without slowing down - especially if there is another vehicle coming in the opposite direction.  I tried a small path at one point but it got very soggy and I had to abandon it for the road again.  It was one of the reasons I gave up my walk.  It just was too uncomfortable.  At one point after walking up a bunch of hills, I couldn't find where I was on the map so then I gave up and took the bus (when I arrived fortuitously at a bus stop).

While I waited for the bus, I talked with a woman from Madeira who had been working in Jersey for 24 years.  She doesn't like Jersey as well as Madeira but the pay was better in Jersey, or at least had been before the economic downturn.  Kerry had mentioned that there are a lot of Portuguese in Jersey.  Now I think the woman at the Best Western may have said Madeira instead of Majorca.  It seemed as if a lot of jobs in the tourist trade here are filled by people from other countries.  Farming used to employ a lot of foreigners as well, but has down-scaled with the use of machinery, according to this woman.

I got back to the St Helier bus station and then I walked over to the Occupation Tapestry museum to get my tapestry postcards.  The woman at the museum told me not to walk to the castle.  I had no plans of walking to the castle, but she reiterated that I should not walk to the castle because it was closed due to the fog.  I forgot to mention that the last few days have been very foggy in the morning and then cleared in the interior of the island.  She was rather abrupt.  I then asked her where she would recommend I go for mussels.  She herself did not eat mussels but said I should go to Gorey because that is where they are collected.  At first, I thought I wouldn't be leaving St Helier since I had an early morning tomorrow, but then my obsession with mussels won over and I hopped on a bus for Gorey Pier.

The ride to Gorey was about a half hour.  I took a few photos of the pier area because it was a very photogenic place, cased the restaurants on the pier and facing the bay and then found out to my dismay that the restaurants would not be serving until 6 or 6:30 and it was only around 4:30 so that meant I would have to kill 2 hours - a long time to wait for my mussels.  But, no turning back now!

I sat down at a picnic table at the Dolphin Hotel and Restaurant and nursed a glass of pinot grigio while I wrote my postcards.  The barmaid would not let me have a tab for the two hours until dinner so she billed my credit card for the minimum 10 pounds and refunded my change in cash.  A waiter came around a put out plates of chips (i.e., french fries) with some little sausages.  20 minutes to go - and nothing left to do. 

I just had my half dozen oysters and bowl of mussels delivered.  Mmmmm!  My table has been vacated by the blonde young women smoking and texting and calling on their cell phones.  They've gone to see the dolphins.  I forgot to mention the lady with the two little overheated dogs.  She and her friend were very pleasant.   She was born and raised on Jersey and married in 1969.  In 1971 she and her husband moved off Jersey.  She said every year when they came back there was another piece of Jersey gone and replaced with more concrete.  So I guess I should have gotten here back in the 60's.

I had almost finished my wonderful meal of oysters and mussels (In my haste to eat, I forgot to take a photo) when a youngish couple joined me at my picnic table.  They were visiting and reminiscing about when they used to live on Jersey.  The woman said she liked Cornwall better but the man preferred Jersey - I think it was a romantic attachment he had - I had the feeling they had met here in Jersey.   They affirmed that it used to be more rural.  I think everyone liked it better in the old days.  Not the Occupation years though.  Progress.  Oh, well.   I still enjoyed my stay here and wished I had a few more days to explore some of the wilder parts that the couple mentioned.  Oh, well. 


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