Located in Hampshire, southern England, Portsmouth, otherwise known as 'Pompey', boasts a natural harbour which has been used for naval and civilian industries for many years. Recently, Portsmouth celebrated its 800th anniversary.
The dockyard, used for naval and civilian purposes, is located on an island, the island of Portsea, which is connected to the mainland via road and rail bridges. It's home to Horatio Nelson's flagship The Victory, used in the Battle of Trafalgar, and Henry VIII's flagship The Mary Rose which sunk just outside the harbour. The latter ship apparently had all its portholes open, ready for action, but being laden down and far too heavy, the ship sank after taking on water. Portsmouth was also the base for some of the fleet used in the D-day landings of World War II and more recently, the Falklands conflict.
With only three roads entering the island, traffic jams are frequent at rush hour making it difficult to get around at times - although there is public transport for the stout-hearted1. Having said that, public transport does allow connections to most major cities, including London which is approximately 90 minutes away, and also Bristol and Cardiff.
Places to Visit
The city of Portsmouth also has one of the highest proportion of students in the UK. One in ten of the population during University term time is a student.
There are numerous pubs and clubs in Portsmouth, and a football team nicknamed 'Pompey' which held the Football Association Cup for the longest ever period from 1939 to 1945. Here some places to visit:
The Tricorn is a multi-storey car park complex in Portsmouth. It was voted the third ugliest building during the 1980s, since when the first two buildings on that list have been knocked down. The Tricorn is soon to share the same fate, which is unfortunate because it is an exquisitely ugly building. Not just ugly like brown flared trousers, but ugly like a Goya painting, or a Bosch portrait of hell. The original architect built his prototype in the south of France, where the sun bleached the concrete a lovely, Spanish-Amercian kind of desert look. The Portsmouth weather, however, intensified the brutal grey concrete while adding strikingly dull streaks of grey rust.
Baffins Pond is a pleasant little pond on Portsea Island. It can be reached by turning off from Copnor Bridge, and following Tangiers Road. The pond is quite big, but can be circumnavigated in about ten minutes at a very leisurely pace. There are plenty of overhanging trees and park benches to rest on. One of the pleasant things about the pond is that you can take some bread and feed the swans and ducks, who are always pleased to see you. Once you have exhausted your bread supply, there is a handy pub just across the road called The Baffins Inn, where you can sit outside. There is a also charity shop near one corner of the pond, which is open on weekdays, and sells old records of the highest quality.
Eating Out in Portsmouth
Mexican: Fist Full of Tacos, Albert Road. It can be a tad expensive. If you are vegetarian try the Quorn Fajitas... nice even for a meat eater. If you arrive late on a busy night, be prepared to have a few drinks in the bar, before you get a table, to get into the spirit of things. It can get very busy.
Greek: Zeus, Elm Grove. Take three friends... Start with the meze and ask for some olives (they're not on the menu, but they always have some handy). Try the Chicken Slovaki. Interestingly the choice of beer changes from week to week, sometimes you almost think it matches what's on offer at the local supermarket. Really friendly people.
Indian: The Indian Cottage, Albert Road. Over-friendly staff, and a little pricey, but their Indian food is good.
Italian: Café Uno, Port Solent. Fairly new and much better than the other Italian restaurant.
Café culture: Café Citrus, Albert Road. If you like the relaxed atmosphere of a foreign caf´ then this is the place. Walk in, sit down, and take a look at the menu and choose a tapas, panini or something else. Order a drink and relax. The cool blue sofa, if you can get to it first, just adds to the feeling of relaxation. The tuna and olive paninni is sheer heaven. However, the chilli sauce that comes with the cheese and chilli fries changes every time it's served, and sometimes it can be unpleasant, like eating cold tomato soup mixed with chillis. Having said that it's usually served on the side and it is the real thing. This place is good and can get quite busy at lunch times and in the evenings. Try the Czech beer.
Pub: The Vines, Albert Road. Order the nachos - you get a huge plate, even bigger if you choose the Grande. Great selection of beers and generally quite a friendly place. Being a pub it can get busy of an evening - especially at the weekend - so eat early.