“Portsmouth/Southsea = Portsea*”
Monday Feb 29:
We ventured out our first Monday in England, to Portsmouth (pronounced ‘portsmith’) & Southsea. Our day started with a 20 minute walk up to the Swanwick (pronounced ‘swanick’) train station, the nearest one to where we’re staying and bought our return tickets from the ticket office. First time on commuting train for awhile, the sun was shinning, despite the cold air and we were off on the first of many day trips to be had.
We got off at the main station in the centre of town (there is one down by the Harbour) and headed out and about. Our wanderings took us around the older part of Portsmouth, near the University, leading us down to Gunwharf Quays – a large shopping area by the wharf/harbour, mall like but all open. There were plenty of clothing & accessories shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and a Lindt shop (delicious).
Down at the Wharf, at the seaside end of the shopping area is tall spire – the Emirates Spinnaker. It is a 170m tall with 3 viewing decks, the middle has a cafe. As the day was a beauty, with blue skies and the sun shinning bright, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to experience the Spinnaker. We took the elevator to the 1st viewing deck and WOW!!! The view was fantastic, you could see all around over Portsmouth, across to Gosport, you could even see as far as Chichester (which is further round the south of England) and to the Isle of Wight. The view was magnificent.
We continued to walk up to the 2nd deck (cafe – mentally noting to come back to have a coffee here another time) and finally the 3rd deck. We’re so pleased that we decided to go up, and thankful it was such a great day to do so.
Once we came back down to earth, we headed round the wharf to Southsea, this walk took us round past where the Wightlink Ferries dock, that go to the Isle of Wight regularly. There was a ferry in, loading up with cars. It’s quite popular to take the car over and drive round. An experience to be had, so therefore added to our ever growing list of things to do, in just England alone. (yet to do the list for Europe)
Past the Wightlink terminal, the walk lead us into old Portsea, round the waterfront an a top the old walls lining the waterfront. It was, again, fantastic views. At Southsea pier there is a fun park, with arcades of gaming machines, numerous top grabbing machines (filled with Minions toys, despite 3 attempts, Sara didn’t succeed in ‘grabbing’ a minion), food and next to this the Hovercraft bay. The Hovercraft goes back and forth to the Isle o Wight, every half hour – it only takes 10 minutes to get across. We’d only seen the top of the Hovercraft as we approached the pier, we waited for it to come back, but it didn’t anytime soon, we waited and waited but alas, nothing.
We did, however, get to see a Brittany Ferry coming into the Harbour, returning from France. It’s about a 3 hour crossing from Portsmouth to France (about the same time frame as taking the Interislander from the North to South Island of NZ).
It was lovely sitting by the sea, watching the ships coming and going. This channel of water is a busy part, so many ferries coming and going on a regular basis – to and from France, Isle of Wight, container ships and many more.
We enjoyed our day out, walked many, many steps (over 20,000 according to the fitbits). Simon was happy with KFC for lunch. He had sworn it was better and different than NZ KFC – it does taste better. Taking the train was a new adventure, since we’re so used to just driving everywhere & anywhere around NZ. The pricing of the train isn’t too bad, but if you were traveling that way 5 days a week for work it would add up. But to experience for a day out it was great fun.
Here’s to being tourists, while living here….
Factoid: A spinnaker is a 3 cornered sail, which is generally set in front of the mainsail on a yacht, to fill with air when catching the wind.
*Portsmouth & Southsea is referred by many of the locals as ‘Portsea’ as it is really an island next to England. If you look on a map you will see there is a body of water that surrounds this part England, hence the combined name.