I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about going on holiday to Jersey. While it is famous for a few things (being somewhat of a tax haven, its discreet financial regime and of course the Jersey Cow), none of these were that appealing to a seasoned backpacked like myself.
Jersey, I was soon to discover, had a lot more going for it than I could ever have expected. From the moment myself and my friend Amanda stepped on the plane at Dublin airport, we knew this trip was going to be different.
First off, it was my first time on a propeller plane which was an experience in itself. Everyone on the flight seemed so calm and peaceful. There were no loud stag parties, no stressed out business men. Just families, couples, and small groups of friends en route to a little pocket of paradise. A tranquil retreat, lying just one hour and twenty minutes from Dublin and yet what felt like 1,0000's of miles apart.
We even managed to have a peek inside the cockpit and have a friendly chat with the Aer Lingus Regional pilots upon arrival in Jersey. Turns out one of them knew a friend of mine. It was that kind of flight, and that kind of wonderful start to a great weekend.
On the bus to St Helier, we were greeted by a tanned and smiling bus driver, who had to excuse himself briefly while he scoffed down two Chocolate jaffa cakes that were wrapped in a paper towel, no doubt a treat prepared for him by his wife that morning. In my mind, I was briefly transported to summers down in West Cork, and childhood memories spent in small seaside communities. Except the reality was that the journey to Jersey was actually shorter than driving from to Dublin to Cork, and the weather was blissfully better!
We checked into the Pontac House Hotel, a small hotel in St Clement, with stunning views of the beach and surrounding coastline. The hotel also had its own private back garden with a swimming pool, much to our delight! The hotel had made a slight mix up with our booking, which resulted in us being rewarded with one night for free. "More spending money for delicious wine," I thought to myself.
Our weekend in Jersey consisted of indulging in delicious local food such as fresh Jersey Yogurt, which we were treated to with fresh fruit each morning, sipping wine at a variety of coastal restaurants and bars and many hours spent cycling the islands' green ways; small lane ways and paths through farms and along the beautiful coast, designated for people on two wheels.
I was seriously impressed by how cycle friendly the island was, with a network of over 350 miles of roads, byways and lanes to explore, It was so easy to get from village to village, or from the far East of the island to the very West. We spent both afternoons meandering around the island, stopping off at quiet beaches, sea water swimming pools, martello towers and the spectacular Mont Orgueil Castle, which protected Jersey from the French for over 600 years.
We spent much of the weekend deep in deep thought, weighing up what was so special about this tiny little island that made us feel at home within hours of arrival. While the sunshine certainly helped our moods. there was more to it than that. In a way, it was quite strange, but comforting, being on an English speaking island so close to France.
The beaches were so peaceful compared to any one would find on mainland France or Spain, and the water was clearer (and probably cleaner) than the world's most famous beaches around the world.
We are in such a rush to see the world, and to boast about how far we have travelled and how many destinations we have seen, that we neglect to notice the beauty that awaits us a little closer to home.
We forget about places like Jersey; a tranquil slice of heaven, where bus drivers always smile and offer you jaffa cakes, where hotels welcome you with welcome arms, and strangers on the promenade offer to buy you bottles of crisp, fruity prosecco!.
Jersey; a tiny little island, that we can fly to direct from Dublin, where the sun is shining, the wine is flowing and the pace of life is that bit slower..just slow enough to let you unwind from the stresses of every day life in one short weekend break, and to return to work with a clear mind, rested feet and a slight hint of summer tan!
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