By the British Dockyard
Portsmouth Travel Blog› entry 3 of 25 › view all entries
October 5th, 2007 – by: maplefanta
After a long crossing, by early dawn we saw the lights of England... but it would take still hours before we reached and sun would rise by the time that we dock. The sun started rising while we passed next to the Isle of Wight and entering the straight that led us to Portsmouth harbour. Though it was still a dead morning with not too much activities, some ships arriving, other departing that is it.
By after 7am, the ship was docking and not long after we were driven out to the terminal. Of course, I was feeling a bit tired and such after you had a sleepless comfortable sleep outside bed. I relaxed in the terminal as it was early and also cold outside. Looking at the maps to try to memorise my way downtown and using the restroom to clean up a little.
I made my way downtown to the Gunwharf area, passing next to the Dockyard, which I wasn't sure if it was paid or not.
I sat by a bench next to the new marina in Gunwharf eating a bit of my lunch and napping there while the city was waking up, as well as the new trendy architecture mall right behind me. Then I walked around and first I got really amazed by this new development and new architecture, just by the shadow of the Spinnaker tower.
The new regeneration going on in Gunwharf was a thrill for a young town planner like me, and it was a concrete realisation of most of what I studied in books and supported as the future of my profession.
At first, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect of Porstmouth and was not even expecting spending more than few hours in town moving by the afternoon to another place, Southampton or simply back to Poole. It revealed that I got particularly attracted by that city, both the older part than the new development. It seemed that even though Portsmouth sounded like it would have been a direct target for destruction in World War II (which it has been) and that usually English cities rebuild in the 50s and 60s are quite horrid, I liked Portsmouth and found some really nice sight in the city.
The sun was shining and the day became more warm as it went by. I walked back to the Historic Dockyard and finally it revealed that only a few exhibits were toll, so I walk the rest and instead, visited the free ones and watched the ships from the outside.
I watched a free exhibit about the life of the Dockers Builder, and had an overlook at the 'Warrior' first steel ship standing by the exit gate. That was a bit enough as it was already getting past noon and I had not seen the rest of the city.
I immediately walked inland into the historic downtown centre, passing next to the university buildings and made my was to the City Hall building square. A huge building looking a bit like a capitol facing a totally modern and ugly extension building for the administration of the city.
I decided to continue my tour by going through a tiny gate by the City Hall, which was a gigantic monument for all the troops of the World War and made me end up in 'Victoria Park'.
People and students were just relaxing there during this lunch break which gave a smooth atmosphere to the city, another thing I enjoyed and that you don't see in many cities but that would be such a great way to create 'life' for everyone in a tiny way of the urban life was the huge cage including different birds and other animals which is a major distraction for children and others who want to change their mind from their appartment life.
Another feature of that park was all the major war monuments standing here and there all around the park, totally marking out the link that Portsmouth is having with warfare history. English death during the Boxer conflict, the Boer conflict, the African Conquest, The Falklands ... a stolen Chinese Church Bell etc... Landmark of a nation that has never stopped terror and conquest all over the globe.
I walked back to the sea side and started following the Jubilee/Millennium path from Gunwharf Quay eastward along the harbour and coast towards SouthSea, passing by the departure ferry port to the Isle of Wight and reaching the remains of the fortification of the city.
A huge wall and fortress protecting the shore which you can walk on the wall and have an overlook on the ships entering the city and leaving as well as other landscape elements such as Gosport (the other side of the channel entrance), the Isle of Wight and some lone fortress standing in the middle of the Channel well fortified and protecting the harbour against potential enemy of the past.
Finally, I realised it was already getting late afternoon and that I would have been spending all my day in Portsmouth and didn't regret it as I would even have continued to walk along the coast and discover more feature of that vibrant city. Though I called Dave who was going to help me moving out of my flat in Poole, host me for the week end and keep my furniture stuff at his home... as it was my leaving day from my flat today I absolutely needed to start making my way to Poole soon. So I walked into town and fearing that hitching would be complicated and long (going through Southampton and such... not knowing the way) I bought a train ticket and board the next train to leave.
I then made my way to Parkstone, the nearest station and home finishing packing my things and waiting for Dave to come over later that night to pick me.
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