Thursday, November 25, 2004

Devon Guide - Day One

Today we trekked the hour and a bit journey from our Exmouth hotel to Plymouth. I had been warned by a friend about this historical city. He said it was a dump and was bound to offer some miserable experiences. Entering the city certainly seemed to prove his opinion. It was grotty. Grey and industrial everywhere. We voyaged into Plymouth past an odd looking Sainsbury’s and a mass of pampas grass.

Our first stop was at the National Marine Aquarium. This huge modern building dominates the harbour and was funded largely by a Lotto grant. This building is dedicated to educating the masses about water, oceans and marine life.

The displays were stunning – far superiors to many aquariums I’ve visited before. It even holds Europe’s largest tank. A dizzying 10.5 metres deep, the tank holds 2.5 million litres of warm seawater, including the adjoining life support systems, this volume increases to 3.3 million litres. The tank is especially designed to house a wide range of creatures from circling sharks to stealthy moray eels. There is also a second panoramic Atlantic Reef set in a hall that makes it look like something out of a 007 film. The rich blues and variety of colours from the sea life made staring at these huge walls of water a hypnotic experience.

After spending the morning there and enjoying one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten at a waterfront bar we ventured into Plymouth for some Xmas Shopping. The centre was undergoing a massive redevelopment scheme but even with that amount of disturbance I found the City to be a clean and pleasant experience – far from the grot I was expecting thanks to my friends advice. We did have the worst Mocha ever from Plymouth Costa but we also got loads of stuff from the huge Debenhams store. We had wanted to visit Plymouth Dome and Smeaton’s Tower, but sadly they were closed.

In the evening we headed back towards the Hoe and the Plymouth Gin Distillery this was a fascinating tour around the distillery and included some samples and history of the product. We even sat in the bar that the Pilgrim Father’s sat in on the eve of setting sail in the Mayflower to America.

After this we made the return trip back to Exmouth after enjoying a great day out. Plymouth had a lot to offer the average tourist and we were annoyed that the Dome – an interactive history of Plymouth – was closed. Still it gives us a reason to make a return visit!

1 comment:

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