The first stop on our British Isles cruise will take us to St. Peter Port, our gateway to Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands.
Here’s what I knew about the Channel Islands before I started researching them for our trip: it had been the only British territory occupied by the Germans during World War II.
And I only knew that the same way I know most of the things I know: from a TV show. (Specifically, Island at War. It’s a mini-series packed with familiar British acting faces, including a now very recognizable one from Downton Abbey fame, Joanne Froggatt, a.k.a. Anna Bates.)
Let the Research Begin
Of course the first place I headed was to TripAdvisor to research what Guernsey has to offer. This sentence on the Overview of Guernsey page immediately caught my eye:
Explore Neolithic sites, stoic Castle Cornet, and ancient burial sites like Le Creux es Faies, a tomb that was once believed to be the gateway to a magical fairyland.
Ancient burial sites? A gateway to a magical fairyland? Say what?
I had no idea we’d be jaunting to someplace with history dating to Neolithic times or that it was someplace with alleged magical fairyland gateways. How exciting! And throw in a castle to boot? Score!
Things to Do: TripAdvisor’s List
The next step was to check out TripAdvisor’s Things to Do listings. I was now specifically interested in finding out where the ancient burial site with the fairyland gateway was and what the reviews said about it, but I ended up finding other things I’d like to see. Such as:
- The German Occupation Museum – This small museum gets good reviews from travelers, making it the number one museum on TA’s list. Many agree it gives great insight into what occupied life was like for the Islanders. Address: Les Houards, Forest. Website: http://www.germanoccupationmuseum.co.uk/#_=_
- German Naval Signs HQ – There weren’t many reviews for this, only 7, but all said it’s a very interesting restored bunker packed with history. Address: St Jacques, St Peter Port GY1 1SN.
- La Vallette Underground Military Museum – Have you noticed a trend yet? My list is heavy on museums, especially ones with a military or WWII predisposition. In fact, I decided to note the addresses here as they were listed on TA for reference when we’re jaunting about. That way I’ll know where to find them. Address: La Vallette, St Peter Port GY1 1AX Website: http://lavalette.tk/.
- Castle Cornet – My first question was “Is it haunted?” I had to look beyond TA. I didn’t immediately find anything, but on the castle’s website it did advise to allow at least three hours to tour its museum and grounds. Okay. Noted. If we visit, I will of course ask about any paranormal activity. Address: Located in St. Peter Port. Website: http://www.museums.gov.gg/article/101089/Castle-Cornet#_=_.
- Hauteville House – I wasn’t too interested in seeing this until I read the description on TA: “Author Victor Hugo’s home while living in Guernsey during a 15-year self-imposed exile.” Ooh! Jaunting to see where a literary giant once lived? (You know, he’s the author who penned such classics as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables.) What piqued my interest even more, he was into the Spirtiualism movement of his time and, if Wikipedia can be trusted, participated in seances during his exile. Perhaps even conducting some from the Hauteville House? I don’t know, but if we visit I’ll be sure to ask. Address: 38 Hauteville, St. Peter Port. Website: http://maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr/fr/informations-pratiques/votre-visite-hauteville-house-guernesey#_=_.
- German Underground Hospital – Creepy, depressing and haunting seem to be the main comments travelers leave about this site on TA. Which of course is the kind of place that appeals to me. It seems like the kind of place where restless spirits must roam, given it’s history. A quick online search didn’t turn up anything definite, so this is something I’d ask about if we visited. Tactfully of course. Out of respect for those who died there. Address La Vassalerie, St. Peter Port.
Points of Interest: Princess Cruises List
The other place I consulted for what to do in Guernsey was the excursions under Princess Cruises’ itinerary section for booked guests.
They listed eight Points of Interest, a few which I’d noted from TripAdvisor, but two others which we perhaps might try to see:
- Little Chapel – Apparently this was started in 1914 by a man who wanted to create a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. TripAdvisor reviewers say it’s big enough to walk in. More of a curiosity than perhaps some place that’s haunted, but might make an interesting thing to see if we have time? Address: Les Vauxbelets, St Andrews, St Peter Port GY6 8XY. Website: http://www.thelittlechapel.org/#_=_.
- Sausmarez Manor – The description on Princess’s site didn’t really spark my need to see this site. (“Enjoy a guided tour of the Sausmarez Manor and experience a time capsule of Guernsey’s changing fortunes. View the Tapestry Room, containing King James II’s wedding coat, and the Dining Room, which holds a collection of family portraits.”) Eh. Sounds like just another fancy house. Then I read the description on TripAdvisors. (“Sausmarez Manor is still the seat of the seigneurs de Sausmarez since C1205. There are a number of interesting things to do or see whilst you are there;- Historic House tours a Subtropical Garden, a Sculpture Park, a ride on train, Ghost Tours, a Short Golf course, Craft shops.”) Ghost tours? That means it’s haunted? A Google search instantly turned up this article: Guernsey, Ghosts And A Fruitcake Called Gache. Then a visit to the manor’s website made my heart leap with joy. They have a Ghost Tours page on their site. (Many of which are given “by the Seigneur himself.”) Excellent! Except I think the tours are only at night. Still, it’s got ghosts which means it might be someplace I find myself jaunting to. Especially because it seems pretty easy to get to. Their website included super handy instructions for cruise ship passengers to get there by bus. Love it! Address: Sausmarez Road, St Martins GY4 6SG Website: http://www.sausmarezmanor.co.uk/index.html.
But What About the Fairyland Place?
Thanks to what amounts to Guernsey’s CVB site, it explains Le Creux ès Faies Passage Tomb and where to find it:
Le Creux ès Faies is a well preserved Megalithic passage tomb dated between 3,000 to 2,500 BC. The passage is affectionately known as the entrance to the Fairy Kingdom in Guernsey folklore. The tomb is located on a small headland to the north of L’Eree Bay on Guernsey’s west coast.
Can’t say there’s not a lot to see in Guernsey! The trouble will be packing it all into the short time we’ll have there.