Guernsey Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia
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Guernsey Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Just a 45-minute flight from Englandk and a 30-minute flight from France is Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands. Just 25 square miles in area, this pocket-sized British Crown dependency
is big on sunshine, serenity and history. Separated from the French coast of Normandy
8000 years ago by rising sea levels, Guernsey’s fortunes have been periodically
shaped by the crosswinds of trade, and the crossfire of war. For those who’ve called this island home, Guernsey has long been a safe harbour, a place of pride and inspiration. Guernsey’s capital, St. Peter Port, was a trading post long before the Romans
settled here around the year 200. Today, this harbour town is one of the prettiest
in Europe, where it seems every window reflects the English
Channel’s many moods. Standing guard over the harbour for over 800
years is Castle Cornet. Climb the ramparts for views back to the town, and out to the sister islands of Herm and
Sark. Hold you ears at the firing of the noonday gun, then explore the castle’s barracks which
house some of the island’s finest museums. Experience centuries of drama at the “Story
of Castle Cornet”. Set sail into the island’s seafaring past
at the Maritime Museum. Then explore the island’s rich military
heritage, which dates back to the formation of the Royal
Guernsey Militia in the 14th century. Continue your history lesson back in town, at the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. Discover the island’s first peoples, its
folk laws and superstitions, and the artists whose creations were inspired
by the island’s incredible beauty. Just outside in Candie Gardens, stands a tribute to Victor Hugo, the giant of 19th century literature who fell
under Guernsey’s spell. Exiled from his native France, in 1856 Hugo took up residence at Hauteville House, which he personally decorated with bric-a-brac
collected from his endless island wanderings. Climb the stairs to the forth floor Crystal Room. Hugo spent his mornings here, penning his
epic Les Misérables, while pausing occasionally to look across
the bustling port to his beloved homeland. By afternoon the writer took long walks, past La Valette Bathing Pools, and along a coastline that a decade later would inspire the paintings of fellow countryman Renoir. Follow that same coastal path which now passes
overgrown coastal defences like Clarence Battery, to sheltered beaches like Petit Bot Bay. While Guernsey’s dramatic coastline often
steals the show, you’ll find plenty to inspire inland too. In the parish of Castel, relax amid the nature trails and floral displays
of Saumarez Park. In the parish of St Martin, wander the stately rooms of Sausmarez Manor. Then, explore the estate where the island’s legendary flowers sway amid the lyrical sculptures and the rhythmic beats of the
coppersmith’s hammer. But it’s not just the coast and interior
that captivates visitors. Guernsey’s underground offers plenty of
fascinating and sometimes sobering surprises too. During World War Two, the German occupiers constructed vast subterranean
complexes all over the island. Step into the damp netherworld of the German
Underground Hospital, a maze of tunnels hewn from solid rock by
hundreds of forced labourers. Just on the outskirts of St Peter Port, a former U-Boat fuel depot now houses the
La Vallette Underground Military Museum. Back in town, visit the German Naval Signals HQ, which sent out its very last signal on an
enigma code machine, two days after Germany’s official surrender. After the war, German equipment littered the island, and scavenging became a popular pastime. For one schoolboy, collecting became an obsession, which quickly outgrew his family’s cottage and necessitated the construction
of a purpose-built museum. Today the German Occupation Museum displays
an incredible array of wartime memorabilia, and pays tribute to the resourceful islanders
who endured the years of occupation. After spending a few hours wandering through
the shadows of war, stepping back into the island’s sea air
and sunshine is all more the sweeter. Which very much sums up the magic of Guernsey. For no matter where we’re from or what we’ve endured, Guernsey is one of those places which invites
us to stop, breathe, and appreciate nature’s gifts, and to reconnect with the quiet, enduring
spirit inside us all.


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