And so we arrived in Southampton!
Ouistreham didn’t turn out to be quite the most pleasant hostel stay that we’d endured; a number of little creatures came out in the night to feast on our blood and it was absolutely boiling in our room! But we had a very enjoyable meal in another fancy restaurant and fortunately had to wake up quite early to catch the ferry.
It was somewhat bizarre lining up behind the huge motorbikes and with the other vehicles to go onto the ship. We were the only cyclists and felt rather small and fragile next to the enormous lumps of Harley Davidson, which were roaring ferociously. The sound inside the ferry was terrifically loud; we should have worn ear plugs as I suspect we’ve lost a good 20 years of hearing…
The ferry took six hours. We were a bit bored, since sorting out possessions, overdue financial calculations and arranging plans for the weekend didn’t fill the time very effectively. Zara found Dobble in the depths of her pannier bag, which she had faithfully carried from Obertrum and Joanne won several games. We had initially chosen probably the coldest indoors seating area, and shivered there manfully for a good few hours until we decided to move to somewhere less draughty! The tiredness had clearly kicked in!
As we finally began pulling into Portsmouth harbour, we went out onto deck and began familiarising ourselves with the layout of the bay. It didn’t really help that Zara had confused Portsmouth with Bournemouth in her head, and that Joanne had vaguely assumed we could cycle straight from Portsmouth harbour to Gosport, directly across the water!
We disembarked and attempted to find food, but discovered to our horror that the British (still!) drive on the left. The Brittany Ferries road system emerges straight onto a three-lane roundabout with two motorway exits, so we had a scary two minutes getting around that before hopping into a pedestrianised area to calm our nerves. We had cycled through Paris, but somehow Portsmouth was harder!
Our journey back to Southampton didn’t start so well, as we got lost and demoralised in Fareham and considered taking the train. But once we had refound the A27 we slowly pedalled back West and came out in Bitterne, before heading up through Portswood to the Hartley Library at Southampton University, a nice Georgian building conveniently in the centre of the city.
We have since unpacked, washed all our clothes and begun to settle into our houses. A friend called George was an absolute saint and cooked us a decent meal, and we ended up hunting down a large ‘Apfelstrudel’ in Tesco to bake as pudding. Fond memories, Germany!
Height gained: 246m
Time taken: 2h44m
Average speed: 15,6kph