The bus ride itself was fine; we left at 5:30 and arrived around 1:30 a.m. I couldn’t sleep, of course, so I was pretty tired when I arrived. Myself and two other passengers got off at Penzance, the very last stop, and they hurried on their way, clearly knowing where they were going. I was at the bus station.. which was more of a stop than a station, and on my own in a ghost town. It was freezing out and there was nowhere indoors to go nearby, so I thought I should start walking toward the ferry station. I followed the signs, and they led to nowhere, because there was also no ferry station, just the dock. Luckily I saw a sign that was for a 24 hour taxi service, which I called to help me find a place. About 20 minutes later, the rain had just started when my taxi pulled up. I had called the YMCA and had no luck, so she suggested a hotel down the road. I was cold, wet, and exhausted at this point so I didn’t really care how much I paid. Luckily, it was half the price she had assumed but still more than I would have normally wanted to pay for less than 5 hour sleep. I got there, unpacked and slept for a few hours. Even those few hours really helped.
I got on the Scillonian ferry bright and early to St. Mary’s and then onto another ferry to St. Martin’s, the island where I’ll be staying with my host for two weeks.
This time, I am staying with a host through the helpx.net website. This site gives unique travel experiences where you can go and help people in return for free accommodation and usually food. Some places are organic farms, some are hostels and bed and breakfasts, and in this case I am helping at the café of an eco cabin vacation rental. The eco cabin’s power is supplied by a wind turbine and solar power and also hosts a wormery to recycle waste.
Natasha is my host, and her café and food are wonderful. I am doing some basic help serving and in the kitchen at the café a couple hours a day and get to stay on this amazing island for free. The cabin I am set up in is fully equipped with a shower, bathroom, small oven, fridge and microwave. Natasha has lived here most of her life, apart from attending University, and runs the café next to her parents’ rental establishment. Her parents keep busy running the farm, a shoemaker’s shop and other businesses, even though they are “retired”. They have a wonderful way of living here and it is a very peaceful getaway and a close-knit community. The whole island only takes about 4 hours to walk around, so it is quite small, and there are boats to the other islands each day.
Scilly is one of the largest island archipelagos in the world with five bigger islands and many small islands and rocks surrounding them. The main islands are St. Mary’s, St. Martin’s, Tresco, Bryher and St. Agnes. Each has white sand beaches and unique wildlife to offer including puffins, seals and dolphins. The biggest island, St. Mary’s, hosts between 1800-2200 residents and is the starting off point if you want to visit the other “off islands” like the one I am staying on, St. Martin’s. Tresco is another island that is a little more sophisticated than the others, with expensive and luxurious accommodation and a running pub. Bryher and St. Agnes are smaller than the others but both have beautiful landscapes and their own unique charms.
When I arrived on St. Martin’s, Julian, the other helper from Germany, picked me up on a quad and brought me across the island to the Little Arthur cafe. I met Natasha, had some lunch and went to take a nap since I was still quite tired from traveling. I slept and woke up to get some fish and chips at Natasha’s brother’s restaurant, just down the hill. The food was delicious and we stayed around to chitchat for a while over wine with her family. I couldn’t chime in too much, but I was happy to sit quietly and enjoy their company. I was also happy when it was time to leave because it was getting hard to keep my eyes open.