You see, I'm Scottish. Being Scottish comes with certain responsibilities - like never passing up a cheap deal. No matter the consequences. Which brings me to today's post about a deal in the local paper for cheap boat tickets to France. A deal I couldn't resist.
The paper offered tickets on the small catamaran ferry from Newhaven, over the English channel to Dieppe for $1 a ticket! That's a day trip to France for $1!!! Of course, I jumped at the chance and bought three, one each for me, my hubby and my friend Emma. I didn't let a little fact like it being November, winter and stormy, distract me from a day in France. Mainly, I was too busy crowing from my deal to think about when it was happening.
|the tiny ferry|
Until I got on the boat.
The English channel had been hit by a winter storm. The winds were howling. The waves were massive. The port had been closed behind us and the captain announced that if we'd left five minute later we wouldn't have been allowed to go. Comforting it was not, seeing as we were being tossed around like a toy boat in a bath with a three year old.
And then the vomiting started.
I mean, EVERYONE on board was vomiting. The poor crew spent all their time dispensing cold cloths and sick bags. In between being sick, I watched the crew trying to walk up and down the aisles. They were bouncing around so much that I suspect most of them were bruised by the time we got to France. The trip, which should have taken a couple of hours, took almost five.
By the time we arrived in Dieppe, I honestly thought I was on death's doorstep, begging to be let inside. I looked like a cast member of The Walking Dead. I felt like someone had whisked my internal organs. The whole world continued to sway. I have NEVER to this day, felt as bad as I did then. I lay on my back, on the bathroom floor of the Dieppe ferry terminal, and wished for death. That's where my friend Emma found me. She hauled me up and together with my husband, they dragged me to a pharmacy where Emma (the only one of us who spoke French) asked for something for sea sickness. The pharmacy, Emma told me later, said she didn't think there was anything strong enough to make me feel better and suggested the hospital. She also told Emma that the ferry company were in trouble with the authorities for sailing in such bad weather. Emma didn't pass any of this on at the time, probably fearing for my fragile sanity. Instead, she bought what sea sickness medication they had and force fed it to me.
And what about our lovely, cultural day in France? Well, the famous market we were going to visit was over and all the shops were shut. We spent two long hours sitting in a bus shelter watching the wind and rain before it was time to leave again. At which point, I pulled out my credit card, brandished it like a sword and declared I was flying home. I'd walk to Paris airport if I had to, but there was no way I was getting on another bloody boat.
As it turned out, there was no boat to get on anyway. The channel conditions were so bad that the company was no longer sailing to Newhaven. Instead, we were put on a bus to the larger port of Calais and the much bigger and weather appropriate ferries. I was still adamant (read hysterical) that I wasn't getting on ANY boat. EVER. But my hubby and friend talked me into getting the bus by using the argument that Calais was closer to Paris - and therefore the airport. He lied! I found out later it's in the opposite direction.
We got on the bus. The driver couldn't speak French. The bus got lost on the way to Calais. My friend Emma, the only French speaker on a coach full of British folk, had to go sit beside the driver and navigate him back to Calais. By the time we got to Calais it was late at night and most of the day trippers were hanging on by a thread. It wouldn't have taken much for one of us to snap and go on a rampage.
My husband bullied, blackmailed and cajoled me into getting on the huge boat. He even enlisted the help of the officials to inform me that the boat would not be as rocky as the little one we'd arrived on. I took as many over-the-counter-drugs as was allowed and got on the damn boat.
|the big ferry (NOT big enough!)|
I spent the trip vomiting in the ladies loo. I also threatened my husband with divorce.
When we arrived in England, we were in Dover. Which is nowhere near where we started and meant another long bus journey to get to the car we'd left in Newhaven.
We arrived home at two in the morning, sick, exhausted and depressed. We'd spent $1 to spend a day vomiting. We didn't see France. We didn't eat at a nice patisserie. We didn't buy fresh French cheese at the market. Nope, we paid $1 to ride on boats that should have been docked and sit on bus coaches that wandered over a dark and rainy France. We saw nothing. We did nothing. We came home ill.
Some would say we got our money's worth!
I learned two lessons from this experience:
1. I will never, ever, even if my life depends on it, get on another boat. (Seriously. NO BOATS EVER.)
2. I will never, ever jump at another too-good-to-be-true cheap offer...probably...mostly...unless it's really good and doesn't involve a boat, then all bets are off. After all, I am still Scottish...