Do you enjoy great seaport cities? Then a visit to Plymouth is a must. Recently, I toured Southern England's coast for 3 month with an investigative eye that would make Sherlock Holmes blush. Why? To see if I wanted to call this region home. Although it didn't satisfy my need for warmth (I froze all summer), its coastal cities brim with history and, believe it or not, marvelous food. In other words, put this on your Life List. Go on, do it...now!
With a limited stay in Plymouth, I hit the ground running. Top of the list was exploring its deep connection with North America; the Pilgrims. You know those immigrants who donned bonnets, strived for religious freedom, and had lunch with local Indians. Ya...just what you learned in 4th grade. Ha!
So, I offer 2 fantastic experiences to enjoy while visiting Plymouth. Of course, there are many more, but this is a blog post, not a book. Right?!
* Plymouth Gin Distillery Located in The Black Friar Building, circa 1400's, this distillery is the oldest working gin distillery in England (since 1793). And, they still use the original recipe. Take that all you corporate distilleries.😂 Reservations; a must. I chose first thing in the morning whilst the docent still had energy...and a voice. This tour was enlightening and costs a measly ₤11.00 (about $15.00). I didn't realize how many ingredients go into Gin, and evidently I had misspelled slow (Sloe) gin for years. I only have 1 thing to say about Sloe Gin; it's sexy! As I write, I'm craving it's juicy, spicy taste...excuse me whilst I go fetch some. Ahh, I'm back; feeling satisfied. You know, sort of like sex...minus the man.
Our group explored processing rooms, sniffed a multitude of ingredients, and finally, the tasting. YUM! Afterwards, you're invited to redeem your complimentary drink coupon in the medieval Refectory Room, the oldest part of the building. Check out the timber, hull-shaped roof from 1431. Here, I met an American lady (we do stand out with our accents) who was visiting Plymouth researching family history. Together, we looked at one roster listing the original Pilgrims and found her ancestors name. How serendipitous to share a moment with a fellow citizen from Massachusetts in her country of origin. There's something enchanting about this city with it's rich history, polite British, and the seriousness in which they produce Gin. Plus, the complimentary bottle of sexy deliciousness you get to take home for later, or now.
*Mayflower Museum-Strolling down The Barbican, I expected to see a sign stating, "This is where the Mayflower launched." Instead, I did a double check of Google maps as I approached a harbor seawall sporting tall construction walls engulfed in scaffolding. It resembled a sea monster clawing its way onto land. Evidently, the Mayflower steps were being "restored." I say restored because the actual steps don't exist and this is where historians place their best guess to show a location. C'est la vie. Another trip.
Across from the sea monster scaffolding, you'll find the 3-story, modern museum. With your ticket costing ₤3.50 (about $4.80), this is another bang-for-your-buck destination with something for all ages. Err...let's make that kids of all ages. There's sound effects, Pilgrim clothing to don whilst you navigate the seas, an impressive 1:11 inch scale of the Mayflower, and insider stories you never learned in school. Plan on spending a few hours to explore and chat with docents.
Their vast knowledge about the Pilgrims will remind all Americans (including this little fire cracker) just how void we are of our own history. Sad, but true. Let this encourage you to dive into our heritage, read, and learn (maybe for the first time) all the good, bad, and ugly of our mighty nation. I left craving Turkey.
Trust me, after achieving your 10,000 steps for the day, and consuming a lot of Gin, you'll be ready for a Cornish Pasty. In 3 days, I must have downed a dozen of these meat-filled, buttery afternoon delights. Part of a proud Cornish heritage, with roots dating back to the 1200's, there is a plethora of cafes to pop in and grab either a pasty or excellent fish and chips. Don't forget an ice cream chaser. With more shops than you can shake your bonnet at, Plymouth will not only fill you up, but supply you with more souvenirs than you can fit in your Mayflower...aka...suitcase.