The Jersey Diary, Day 4: If Those Walls Could Talk
Staring into the Past
Huey Lewis & The News said it best as to how our 4th day in Jersey unfolded, "So take me away, I don't mind...I gotta get back in time," for that is exactly what we did. Our planned itinerary strategically led us through from the Neolithic Age into the Middle Ages, and bringing us back into the present moment...all this without the use of the DeLorean.
Our day unfolded from a logistical perspective - starting from the farthest attraction site, which happened to be Gorey, a village in the parishes of St. Martin and Grouville on the east coast of Jersey, and working ourselves back into St. Helier, where we were staying.
True to form, we left the B&B right after breakfast, and we took the LibertyBus from Liberation Square bus terminal. After half an hour of gazing at delightful coastal scenery, we got off a few bus stops prior to reaching Gorey Harbour for some unmissable photo opportunitie - this is a suggestion we encourage all to follow in order to get some really good snapshots of Gorey.
If Mont Orgueil's Walls Could Talk...
They would echo of its defensive importance throughout the centuries as it soon became of crucial strategic importance. The building of Mont Orgueil, also known as Gorey Castle by English-speakers, and lé Vièr Châté (the Old Castle) by Jèrriais-speakers, was part of a campaign by the English king to defend this territory in the early 1200s. 400 years later Sir Walter Raleigh, Jersey's Governor, had the vision to keep Mont Orgueil as a good second line of defense to the new fortress Elizabeth Castle.
They would resound of the castle being an icon for Jersey pride, strength and independence. The castle itself is an imposing and impressive building which is located in a spectacular setting and is more or less intact. It has a picture post card view and it offers a panoramic view of Gorey.
They would rattle of how Mont Orgueil has acted as a prison, a spy station, a seat of government, been occupied by Germans who used the castle as a barracks and observation center, and now proudly presents Jersey's history in fun and numerous exhibitions throughout the castle.
A short video at the start of the visit offers tourists a good understanding of the castle's evolution. After 3 hours of discovering rooms and a network of stairs leading to multiple exhibits and breath taking views, Mont Orgueil proved to be a great place for all - children are allowed to have imaginative adventures while the inner child in adults can fantasize how life would have been back in the day.
Time Travel Break
Before we progressed with our time travels we made a pit stop at the Dolphin Grill & Bar for a quick and light lunch. We embraced the clear and sunny skies by joining the rest of the tourists sitting outside on the benches. Oh dear, the food was tasty! Barry's steak and fried onions on French bread sandwich with chips was absolutely delish! Afterwards, we embraced the present moment by exploring Gorey harbour and its surrounding area offering spectacular views. Undoubtedly, Gorey offers a nice selection of restaurants and cafés, but it was clear that the prices tend to be a bit pricey. After our lunch break we began our time travel journey once again by hopping on the LibertyBus and arriving in front of one of the ten oldest buildings in the world.
If La Hougue Bie's Walls Could Talk...
They would proudly announce that it is the 9th equal oldest building in the world! It would speak about a prehistoric time when farming first evolved, where rituals were essentially seasonal activities, and where the natural phenomenon of the Equinox coincided with sacred rituals and the belief of the afterlife. And all this prior to the construction of the Egyptian pyramids!
They would explain how once upon a very long time ago La Hougue Bie acted as a mix of community hall and tomb. It would educate how the Neolithic people created a passage grave, one which was aligned according to the position of the sun during the winter or summer solstice - allowing the sun on the shortest few days of the year to shine directly in to the central burial chamber...possible scenes of ritual/religious performances?!
Entering the mound can be a bit uncomfortable for it requires you to crouch for 9 meters of the passageway prior to making it into the main chamber. Once inside, it became clear that there are various sacred areas with two side chambers and one private section at the back which is where the Equinox sun initially concentrates in that area. All I could do was visualize ourselves in the midst of those early peoples living life with their knowledge, wisdom and understanding at a time when the world was a much simpler place.
Aside from the passage grave, we visited the archaeology museum which holds the largest Celtic coin hoard on display. We also stepped into a command bunker built during the German occupation which houses a memorial to the slave workers brought to the Channel Islands by the invading Nazi's during WWII. And we visited the two medieval chapels found on top of the mound. Tranquility, spirituality and reverence were all perceived in La Hougue Bie, all timeless.
Two hours into our visit and closing time was around the corner. American singer and songwriter Alan Jackson was right when he famously sung, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" for that was us right then and there. It was 5:00pm and it was time to change garb in order to make it to our dinner reservation at Banjo, a chic restaurant located in Jersey's town center. The food was exquisite, the atmosphere was upscale, and the service was of high caliber. It was a perfect way to reminisce on the past, embrace the present and mentally prepare for our near future - day 5 in Jersey.
Join us in our next BESPOKE travel blog post when we cover one of the Island's best exotic and fertile sites along with the long awaited Touch Rugby opening ceremony in which Barry participated.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!
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