After our lunch at Yukisan, we went to the National Marine Aquarium. We walked past the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrims set off to America in the 1600s, walking across Sutton Harbour to the aquarium, which is said to be the biggest in the country. We purchased one adult, one student ticket which came to £35. This included the option to return for free within the year, as well as a discount to the nearby Dartmoor Zoo (handy if you are staying in Plymouth for a few days). There is quite a lot to see and a wide variety of marine species. One section I found interesting was the clownfish, which saw a surge of popularity after the release of Finding Nemo in 2003. There was a greater demand to buy them as pets, and this led to overfishing – in some areas of the sea they are now extinct. There are fears that after the release of Finding Dory, the same thing could happen again. This display was quite popular with visitors.
Another thing which was interesting is that the aquarium breed their own Moon Jellyfish. They look magnificent in the water!
There are walkways where you see the fish underneath and above you, which looks quite spectacular.
The animals are well looked after, and the aquarium places a great emphasis on sustainable fishing and protecting our sea environments, taking care of species for the future. There is an information board which gives you a list of alternative fish to eat, rather than the common ones like cod.
We managed to go through the aquarium in about a hour and a half. When we finished, we headed to the Mayflower Museum, which was nearby.
The Mayflower Museum contains a lot of information about the Mayflower, the first ship to travel from Plymouth to America. Most of the interesting parts are the storyboards on the walls, but there are dress up and activities to keep younger visitors amused. On the very top floor, there is a balcony which gives you a view of the marina – recommended for great views and phototaking.
There is also another floor devoted to types of boats and model ships. There isn’t much to see here, but you can learn a lot. The price is quite cheap to visit £3 for adult and £2.80 for student.
We also saw Smeaton’s Tower, a famous lighthouse.
Plymouth also has hidden gardens. When we went to the entrance of the Elizabethan Gardens, we were puzzled (as were some other visitors at the time) – it didn’t seem like a garden. It is only when you go up the stairs that you see its true beauty. I think it would a perfect place to sit in the warm summer.
For dinner, we went to Sizzall. On the website, they advertise that they do hotpot and Korean BBQ, which interested my partner. We paid £15.99 for the Korean BBQ (you can’t have both, only for groups of five or more). The hostess was friendly but I felt they didn’t explain the Korean BBQ properly. We were confused on how to get our meat! We were led to the top floor (only us, was that a sign?) and we had a electric barbeque to cook on. We eventually received our meat – a selection of squid, prawn, chicken and beef. The quality wasn’t great, and the sauces that the meat came in weren’t that nice in my opinion. The price also included the normal buffet, but I felt there wasn’t a great selection – a few Chinese, Indian, Italian dishes. The food was lukewarm, overcooked and salty. The carbonara was awful – very watery sauce. The bao were kept in steamers, but the dough was very soggy and not a lot of meat inside. I spent most of the time eating the desserts, which were nothing special but fantastic compared to the rest of the fare. I came away feeling hungry and wasting money. The Korean BBQ is not a proper Korean BBQ, or at least, what we were expecting.
Evening time, we went to the Reel Cinemas to watch Beauty and the Beast. The ticket prices are quite cheap although the seats inside weren’t in the best condition. Some seats around us were damaged. The film was great. I wasn’t expecting great things because of the casting but I thought it was truly magical. The set designs and the CGI effects worked well. You almost believe that the objects living in the Beast’s castle were real! The emotional moments were well done, and well balanced with humour. It features the original songs, as well as some new music. Evermore is a new song and I felt it really fitted in the movie, and was a highlight for me.
We stayed in the Imperial Plymouth, a 4 star rated B & B, close to the centre of Plymouth. The staff were friendly and welcoming and the rooms have lots of facilities, and was on the whole, very clean. The only negative was that the wi-fi didn’t work very well, but most of the time we were out sightseeing. The breakfast we had the next morning was delicious! We had the full English – you can tell they use good quality ingredients and it was well cooked. There is also a choice of cereals, yoghurts and fruits at the front of the room. Breakfast and tea/coffee was included in the room price.
Other things we would have like to have seen is the Plymouth Museum and the Elizabethan House (both closed due to refurbishment) and gone to the shops. The Plymouth Gin Distillery is also quite famous – so head on there if you like gin! Also, we would like to go to some better restaurants if we return. Any suggestions?