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Back when I was in high school, we lived near Lake Huron and the St. Clair River in Michigan. Every winter, we’d get a gazillion feet of snow. Every spring, we’d get another gazillion feet of snow. And every summer, we’d have an annual Tall Ship festival, where schooners, barquentines, and full-rigged ships would sail along the border between Canada and the thumb of the Michigan Mitten. They would stop along the river near the St. Clair Bridge and let visitors take tours below deck. I was enchanted, and while I’m not much of a sailor, I dream of owning a sailboat someday.

A big sailboat.

Leslie and I left London on Wednesday morning and took a train down to Portsmouth on the southern coast of England. From there, we would take a ferry across the English Channel to France, but since our ferry didn’t depart until 6 in the evening, we had allllll day to explore Portsmouth.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I like boats, because that’s pretty much all there is to see in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is home to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards, where they have tall ships, military vessels, and museums to tour.

It also costs an arm and a leg and your first born child to get into, so we opted against it. However, it’s free to just walk around the docks, and if you’re not too worried about seeing the guts of a big boat, it’s still a pretty decent way to spend an hour or two.

There were small boats…

Big boat with big guns…

And some very amusing statues and figureheads scattered about.

Later, we would get to experience the inside of a boat for our very selves when we boarded the Bretagne, a ferry bound for St. Malo, France. We didn’t have a private berth, so we spent the night voyage in reclining seats with 50 snoring strangers.

It’s kind of a strange sensation to go to sleep in one country and wake up in another—especially when you’re woken by an announcement over the PA that’s in French, and because you don’t speak French, you feel like you’re part of some surreal dream.

We would very quickly come to wish one of us did speak French, but that’s a story for another post…

Read more about my grand adventure with Leslie here.

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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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