Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, near the Historic Naval Dockyards.
Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, near the Historic Naval Dockyards.

So we bought our national rail tickets.  Destination: Portsmouth.  Mission: HMS Victory.  We tried to get to this exhibit last time we were in London. But alas, bad traffic (and I mean really bad traffic), and congestion in the harbour area meant that we were so frustrated, we left Portsmouth without seeing HMS Victory. It was probably one of the worst traffic experiences I had ever had.

Today however, we were travelling by train!

Actually, the trains are very good.  Admittedly, we did have some stress initially in making sure we were at the right platform, and changed at the right states.  But once you are used to all that it is smooth and fast.  To be honest, I much prefer it to driving.  No need to worry about maps and turn-offs. Even on a public holiday, the trains came with relative frequency; around half an hour wait between each train.  So if you miss one, all is not lost.  It’s a great alternative mode of transportation, particularly if you are going to a quite a large town.  The other thing to note about towns in England is that parking stations can be quite difficult to find and the ones close to your place of interest may be full.  So even if you make to the town, you may still have to park some kilometres away and take a bus in anyway.  All of this adds to confusion if you’re not familiar with the area.

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Portsmouth, door-to-door.  The carriages were relatively empty, and clean.   Train travel requires patience.  With a good book, or good company, it all passes pretty quickly.

Low tide.
Low tide.

At Portsmouth, we took a few pictures around the harbour, and I also noticed a big Marks and Spencer Factory Outlet in the shopping mall near the station.  From Portsmouth, you can catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight; apparently Queen Victoria’s favourite holiday destination.  One of the main towns in the Isle of Wight is Ryde.  No doubt I’ll have to visit it sometime.  The Portsmouth terminus building itself is pretty ratty looking.  But who cares when your eye is drawn to the rigging of the Tudor ship The Mary Rose, which I initially mistook for HMS Victory.

The Tudor ship "Mary Rose" belonging to King Henry VIII.
The Tudor ship "Mary Rose" belonging to King Henry VIII.