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My French Life: Olympic spirit on board P&O Ships

The outside deck of P&O Ship Spirit of Britain

I was in the UK last week and took the excellent P&O foot passenger service from Calais to Dover. I love travelling this way as I get lots of quiet time to write and read in comfort.

As I am a curious (some say nosey!) person by nature I thought I’d ask at the Information Desk about the Olympic athelete travellers who may have come on board.  Pas-de-Calais has been a hot bed of training for Olympic athletes in recent months.  Hundreds of teams from 50 countries have taken advantage of the state of the art facilities that have been created to cater specially for those training for the London 2012 Olympics. From the Olympic Nautical Stadium of Gravelines at Dunkirk to the fabulous weight-lifting gym at Berck-sur-Mer – 70 venues have been created or transformed.    I figured many of the athletes taking part must have made the crossing via P&O – I wasn’t wrong.

Liz and Alex, Olympic Greeters on P & O Ship Spirit of Britain

Liz Dimech from the Kent Greeter group and Alex Alba from the Pas-de-Calais Greeters were on board The Spirit of Britain in their capacity as Olympic Ambassadors for customers travelling to London for the Olympic Games.

Dover being the main port of entry for the UK the P&O company provided this fabulous free service for customers – helping people to travel to the games and providing helpful information. They were also there to help those taking part in the Olympics – the athletes and administrators but they insisted that they had not had a single person in this group want any different treatment from regular passengers.   All of them it seems were incredibly down to earth, excited to be taking part but no special treatment whatsoever although an Olympic dressage team travelling the week before had been up and down to the hold checking their wonderful horses with a very attentive vet!

Liz is a greeter for the Kent Greeters and was also there to promote Kent and tell people about what’s on where to go – visits to the cliffs of Dover and the Castle and all of the great things on offer to do in Kent for visitors. She is unfailingly enthusiastic and friendly and even though I didn’t have time I was really tempted to take advantage of this wonderful service. Alex was flying the flag for Pas de Calais on behalf of the French Greeter team – a student who has volunteered to help promote this lovely region he is happy to help the French visitors on board and also to promote all the wonderful events and places to go in Pas-de-Calais. His sister was a volunteer on another P&O ship and like everyone you meet in Pas-de-Calais incredibly proud of all the region offers visitors.

They’d had a very busy time the week before the Olympics helping and directing though they say it was quieter the second week- it looked pretty busy to me! We say Bravo P&O for such a terrific initiative and bravo to the Greeters who made life easier for all those on board wanting information on how to get to the Olympics or where to go and what to do on both sides of the Channel – entente cordial at its best!

A bientôt


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