When Easter 2008 rolled around, Tall and I decided we couldn’t really afford to go anywhere in Europe, but we wanted to do something. Having planned the last couple of trips, he proclaimed that it was my turn to sort this one out.
I decided we were going to Plymouth.
Plymouth is on the southern coast of England, in Devon. Why I decided we should stay there, I do not know to this day, but we often laugh about it as being one of those trips best forgotten.
When we arrived at the B&B, our host ushered us into a chintzy, country-cottage-style room, and heaped praise upon the various dining establishments in the city. “Huuuuuge portions”, he crowed, gesturing wildly with his hands. “Huuuuuge!”
With hope in our hearts, we set out to explore the city. It was incredibly windy, but we wandered our way to Plymouth Hoe, stopping briefly for ice cream on the way. Once there, we climbed to the top of Smeaton’s Tower, a lighthouse originally built in 1759 that was dismantled and rebuilt on the Hoe in 1877. The views were pretty impressive, but we almost got blown from the top which isn’t so much fun for two people with a fear of heights!
That night was a Saturday, during a holiday weekend. We wandered the cobbled streets of the area known as The Barbican, but every restaurant and cafe was full. Finally we found a half-empty restaurant that said they could “squeeze” us in before the rush (which never came); lucky us.
The restaurant was called Pizzaghetti; perhaps the name of the place should have forewarned us of the quality of the food on offer. Tall’s pizza was undercooked all over, except for the bottom which was charred black. I ordered a pasta dish – I can’t even remember what it was, it was that bad. Bland, unseasoned, with terribly over-cooked supposedly-fresh pasta. I kept spooning on parmesan cheese, in the hopes that this would improve the flavour. It didn’t. The only redeeming factor was the garlic bread to start, and the two bottles of Italian red we consumed to help us digest our food.
The next day, we took a train inland to The Eden Project, in Cornwall. This was awesome! It’s a huge area of gardens and exhibits focussing on conservation, regeneration, education, and our impact on the natural world. Walking down into the valley was like walking into a movie set; the domes suddenly rising out of the earth seemed alien and eerie.
The Rainforest Biome was our favourite place on such a cold day – it was a toasty 28degC inside – and I loved the Mediterranean Garden with its tulips and spice plants and olive trees.
On our final day in Plymouth, we decided to visit the famous Pilgrim Steps, where the Mayflower set off for the far-off land of America. There are steps and an inscription, but not much else, so it was a bit of a disappointment.
Afterwards, we stopped in The Barbican for the worst fish and chips EVER, then Tall dragged me onto a boat that cruised the harbour, looking at important (and boring) naval sights, ships and lots of guns.
If maritime history is your thing, Plymouth might be just the ticket. For us, however, it was a bit of a joke, and it ended up costing just as much as if we’d gone somewhere into Europe.
Needless to say, I was off the hook for planning the next holiday ;o)
NB: our camera battery died again, so the poor quality photos of The Eden Project are from my mobile phone. You’d have thought we’d have learned our lesson, but nooooo!