Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

PHIL

"PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

Recommended Posts

The November schedule for "PONT-AVEN" gave the normal outbound crossing of 18 hours, but an 'out-of-schedule' return from Santander of 22 hours tipped the balance and throwing caution to the wind we booked a second break this year to the Costa-del-Sol, the overnight drive from the North East had us arriving at the Plymouth check-in at 10:00 hours, in good time for the 13:00 sailing to Santander. An easy walk to the city-centre for a panini and coffee breakfast, across to NatWest's 'tin-man' for the usual cash withdrawal and free heart-attack, then back to the terminal for check-in which was done very efficiently as always and by 12:30 the car was left on deck 4 and we began the hike to cabin 6132. Magic! The furthermost port-side cabin on deck 6 with a view over the bow, but through the 'wrap-around' passenger walkway - and no, we never did get used to people walking round outside having a peek, this despite the fact that although they couldn't see much from the outside due to the tinted glass, from the inside looking out you felt very, very exposed and a little uncomfortable. The vessel seemed to have a very healthy load for the time of year, both passengers and freight, and driving up the stern ramp and noticing the already-onboard hgv's were ready for a departure via the stern in Santander, suggested the bow-door problems were still ongoing. Heading for the main bar I ordered Kronenbourg for me and a bottle of Strongbow for my missus. Problem! "Sorry m'sieur, we 'ave run out of Strongbow, but we do 'ave Normandy cider" I order Normandy, knowing she won't be best pleased! The 2nd Kronenbourg was well on it's way down when shortly after 13:00 main engines shuddered slightly as propellers bit water and the vessel left the berth under the command of Capt. Talarmin, making her way into the Sound. As usual on my BF trips the 6 to 5 and decreasing forecast meant that yet again I was in for a fairly smooth crossing, much to my annoyance! One of these days......

 

Kronenbourgs drained, thoughts turned to food and the delights of a BF entrecote, now a tradition on every crossing. What a disappointment! After years of ordering through the hatch on my beloved "VAL DE LOIRE" we saw the steaks go directly under the grill-press timed for medium-rare, they both came out a beautiful reddish-brown, a dash of bernaise sauce (no pepper sauce this trip) chips and vegetables as required - bon appetite m'sieur. I,ve never tried to cut shoeleather before but believe me, this was it. As no Stanley knife was available I persevered, working up a real sweat by the time I was halfway through the thing. I know, I should have taken it back straightaway and had it replaced, but this is Brittany Ferries, these things just don't happen, ever. Well, it did this time. Cut and chew, cut and chew, that's it, you're nearly there, just a bit more, then push empty plate away totally exhausted. That, was one tough piece of cattle from Argentina. Another Kronenbourg to replenish lost body fluid, then 10 minutes on deck as the light faded before a little nap as the M1-M42-M5 took its toll. Showered and shaved, the Kronenbourg's again helped work up an appetite and we again visited the IFC, narrowly avoiding being involved in the bingo about to start in the bar. Should I? Should we? Lightning doesn't strike twice etc...etc... and whilst I went for the entrecote (remember - Who Dares, Wins) my missus opted for an alternative. This entrecote was better, definitely better, but not yet a return to the superlative entrecot BF have provided us with over the years. Still, definitely better. Meal finished, we headed for the Fastnet Bar where I ordered my Kronenbourg, but noticed bottled Strongbow in the bar fridge! "You have Strongbow" I remarked. The barman smiled and giving a little smirk, nodded up to deck 8. "As 'e run out up there" he grinned? Now I'm no Einstein but if you've a bar on a ship WITHOUT Strongbow, and a bar on a ship WITH Strongbow - I can see a dead-easy solution! However, after half an hour or so tiredness crept in and cabin 6132 welcomed us again and we were soon knocking out the zzzz's as BF's new flying machine thundered through the night, rounding Ushant and swinging down to the Bay.

 

With Cabo Mayor to starboard, "PONT-AVEN" eased round into the channel approach for Santander in warm sunshine, the fishermen waving as ever to passengers old and new as we proceeded with harbour passage, berthing stern-on at the terminal on schedule. Unloading took some 45 minutes and we were soon through Customs and Immigration control, climbing out of Santander and ready for the run through Burgos and Madrid and by 21:00 had reached the Med !

 

We commenced our return leaving the Costa at 21:00 on Friday for an easy overnight run up through Spain to catch the vessel's Saturday evening departure from Santander at 19:00 - arriving there just before noon at the ferry terminal, and check-in completed left the car and walked towards the headland to watch "PONT-AVEN" arrive on schedule at 13:00, her arrival still watched by the many Santanderians enjoying their Saturday afternoon at the harbour. With plenty of time before sailing we enjoyed a meal and a couple of beers before returning to the terminal where again loading via the stern commenced an hour before departure. This time, cabin 8102 - furthermost for'd on deck 8 - starboard side, right under the bridge wing. No chance of anyone looking through the cabin porthole this crossing then! But maybe, if the officer-of-the-watch got down on his knees and looked through the glass set into the bridge floor.....no, give over. Departing on schedule, the tannoy once again welcomed us onboard "PONT-AVEN" again under the command of Capt. Talarmin, where it was hoped we would have a pleasant crossing (we did !!) and were scheduled to arrive Plymouth on Sunday at 14:00 hours !! Dammit - 2 hours earlier than scheduled - me not best pleased - me one very unhappy bunny - would never have happened aboard "VAL DE LOIRE" - proper ship that - should never ever have taken her off the Spanish run - moan, moan, moan. Ranting over, the return crossing took the usual format of pre-dinner drinks in the Fastnet Bar. Again, the ship seemed to have a good passenger loading on this now weekend-only Spanish run, freight units also plentiful although the caravans/motorhomes very sparse at this time of the season. Dinner in the self-service restaurant was the usual (I do vary the menu occasionally, believe me) and though satisfactory, still nothing to write home about. With the vessel heading northbound through the Bay in pitch darkness we took to our bunks to catch up on lost sleep from the previous night's drive and woke to a grey and overcast morning with a slight sea and the occasional bulk carrier heading for the English Channel, a couple of small chemical tankers probably destined for the French Bay and 4 or 5 obligatory container vessels heading across the 'pond' as the skies lightened a little. As one or two of the 'Grey Funnel Line' vessels were sighted they gave notice of our impending arrival off Plymouth, the Eddystone appeared to starboard and as engines were slowed to take the way off the vessel we entered the Sound shortly after 13:00, manoeuvring to berth stern-first as Capt. Talarmin again put "PONT-AVEN" alongside as gently as putting a baby in a cot.

 

Finished with engines.

 

 

Final thoughts : Another trip over and things are just not 100% BF.

We gained 2 hours onboard outbound but lost them again coming back although we were aware of the need for the vessel to be taken out of service for a week and this probably was the reason for the earlier arrival in Plymouth. Staff aboard were as pleasant and helpful as ever and the 'entrecote incident' just a 1-off I'm sure, given the number of times we've travelled BF. I reckon that deep-down I've never got to grips with the fact that my favourite "VAL DE LOIRE" is no longer the Spanish runner, with a schedule that must have been compiled purely for me. She was perfect for my every requirement, every time. That 24 hour passage was absolute bliss.

 

Next April it's Spain again - onboard "PRIDE OF BILBAO" - 35 hours out and 29 hours back. Compared with similar dates for "PONT-AVEN" it's about 30 pounds cheaper but we'll no doubt spend the difference and more, through being longer onboard the ship, but then, that's the attraction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

I,ve never tried to cut shoeleather before but believe me, this was it. As no Stanley knife was available I persevered, working up a real sweat by the time I was halfway through the thing.

 

Sadly i have also experienced the shoeleather entrecôte from the Pont-Aven's self service, though the quality of the Bretagne's main restaurant partially made up for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Ive eaten in the self servic eon the pont on numerous occasions and ALWAYS have the entrecote nothing better!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

partially made up
Partially!

The quality of the food on the Bretagne is stunning!

I challenge you to find a better meal on water!

:)

Dan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Ive eaten in the self servic eon the pont on numerous occasions and ALWAYS have the entrecote nothing better!

 

 

ill second every part of that

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Dan is perfectly correct in his assertion re Bretagne- though we had a meal of spiced lamb cutlets on the Mont last month that was equal in every way.

 

The inferior quality of the food was the reason that our daughter refused point blank to travel on P&O!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Never paid for a meal on a BF crossing so it always tasted so much better !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Never paid for a meal on a BF crossing so it always tasted so much better !

 

Why ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Used to work for them. Deal worked this way : I got them out on time, they didn't shout at me and fed me. Not sure if Dublin Bay prawns are a benefit in kind or taxable income !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: "PONT-AVEN" to Spain 7th-21st Nov.

 

Used to work for them. Deal worked this way : I got them out on time, they didn't shout at me and fed me. Not sure if Dublin Bay prawns are a benefit in kind or taxable income !

 

Well I won't tell the 'Revenue' if you don't!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...