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A little while ago, my friend Krissy and I decided to start being more adventurous. During a long conversation we shortlisted some ideas of where we could go in the UK in October, to coincide with my half term break. After looking into some other options, we finally came up with the idea of visiting Portsmouth. Neither of us had been there before, and honestly, we didn’t really know much about the city. We headed online to do some more research and decided that this was the one! Plus, the train tickets were unbelievably cheap, so we simply couldn’t pass up the chance to go there.
It took us just over three hours to get from our town to Portsmouth Harbour, and due to our very early start, we were almost too sleepy to feel excited on the train. Krissy took a nap between Brighton and Portsmouth while I sat back and listened to music, trying to conserve my energy for our adventure. As soon as the train pulled into the station, our sleepiness soon subsided. The view from the station window was stunning – the water was right outside and we could see the famous HMS Victory in all its glory, docked within walking distance from us.
Now buzzing with excitement, we headed to the harbour where the view became even more spectacular. Victory was now right in front of us, its tall masts pointing upwards into the bright blue sky, and across the water we could see the Gosport skyline. To our left, Spinnaker Tower poked up from behind the train station, dwarfing everything else in sight.
Before heading off to see what else Portmouth had to offer, Krissy and I grabbed a bite to eat, then stepped out towards the water to film a quick Periscope. Even though we were only a few steps away from the crowds of tourists at the Harbour, standing with the water surrounding us, we felt a sense of peace.
As we scanned around, trying to decide where to head next, we considered the historic dock yards, but we weren’t sure how expensive it would be. In all of our excitement, we’d forgotten to look into it during the planning stages, and when we asked the security guard about prices, we got a bit of a vague answer, so decided to give it a miss.
Instead, we found ourselves drawn into a “free expo”. We didn’t really know what we were walking into, but then a huge model dinosaur right inside the door led us to believe this was some sort of scientific exposition. Upon further inspection, we realised that this “expo” was far from scientific – it was all about disproving Darwin’s Theory of Evolution! Of course we found this quite hilarious – we’re not even remotely religious – but we decided to check the second floor out anyway. We then got stopped by a rather eccentric man who wanted to tell us all about a bear skeleton… All we learnt was that this man didn’t know much about the bear skeleton himself. He told us to “look it up online”!
After exiting the expo (and having a good old giggle about it) we headed off towards Old Portsmouth and beyond, following road signs that promised a museum, a cathedral, and the seafront. We decided we would try to find all three before heading home.
The Portsmouth Museum is housed in a striking old building and showcases a variety of historical and artistic items including paintings, Portsmouth memorabilia, and a huge exhibition about Sherlock Holmes. The museum is free to enter, and it has a decent little gift shop where you can buy souvenirs. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in town.
Once we’d seen all there was to see at the museum, we headed back, then veered left to find the cathedral. I must admit, I was expecting it to be a little more Gothic and imposing, but none-the-less, The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury was still striking, especially from the inside. The Romanesque architecture felt very familiar to me, almost like I was back in Rome – one of my favourite destinations. Krissy and I wandered around the cathedral, taking photographs and enjoying the cooler air. Despite it being the middle of Autumn, the sun was blazing outside and we were both feeling a little flustered from the heat.
Next on our agenda was the seafront. We followed the road signs through some really attractive residential streets, and eventually found ourselves on Grand Parade, where a statue of Lord Nelson looks out towards the sea.
We got a little confused in this area; we spotted some young swans on the water and wanted to get onto a bridge to photograph them, but for the life of us, we couldn’t work out how to get onto it! Instead we just took photographs of the surrounding area, and the view out to sea.
We headed along the sea wall and stumbled upon a little beach. Again, we couldn’t actually get onto the beach from where we were, but we did meet a cute dog there (always a bonus) and we saw some ferries coming in to the port.
With a little time left before we had to head back home, we decided to visit the famous Spinnaker Tower which we’d seen on and off all day, peering over the skyline. We didn’t know exactly where it was, so we tried to find it by sight, following its point like it was the North Star! When we finally got close enough to see it in its entirety, we realised there was a problem – it was on the other side of the water!
We really wanted to actually get inside the Tower, but by the time we’d even got this close, we only had an hour to go before our train. Next we faced the challenge of getting back over to the other side of the water to get back to the station, which was far more difficult than it sounds! We ended up asking a local couple for help as we kept making wrong turns and ending up back at the water. We did get there in the end, thankfully!
Although parts of our day were a little muddled and confusing, Krissy and I really enjoyed our visit to Portsmouth. We felt pretty pleased with how much we’d managed to squeeze into the five hours we were there, and we would both like to return one day to see what else this vibrant and interesting city has to offer.
For anyone planning to visit Portsmouth, my advice would be to plan your itinerary properly (unlike us!) and check out how much the various attractions will cost. We didn’t spend any money getting into the places we visited; our only costs were the train fare, food, and souvenirs. If you don’t mind missing out on some of the main attractions, such as the dockyard, you will definitely find plenty of free activities here. My verdict? Portsmouth is a super cool place and you should definitely go there!
Krissy and I did some live broadcasting while in Portsmouth. Watch the video here!