Although the casual visitor might find the city to be nothing but a ring road, a couple of shopping malls, a High Street full of National chains and of course the multi-storey car parks to service all these a little further wandering revrals the whole eastern side of the city centre to be public parks. In fact green spaces account for about a third of the total city centre acreage and these provide a multitude of recreational opportunites for the local residents. As soon as the sun comes out the parks become the city's playground for both the sportingly active and those that just want to lie on the grass and enjoy it whilst it lasts.
The parks are part of the town's (as it was then) Victorian legacy and the local council has succesfully resisted their development even during the rampages of the 1960's planners.
You'll find that the town centre is often referred to as being two distinct entities - the half which is "above bar" and the other half "below bar". This doesn't refer to the strategic siting of one of the pubs (HaHa!) but rather the old town's Bar Gate in the middle of the High treet which was the northern entrance to the Medieval walled town. There is actually a church called "The Church Above Bar"which sounded like my sort of place of worship until I found out why and so I'll continue with my devout atheism for the time being.
The actual walls to which it was once attached have long since disappeared (partly due to the German WWII air raids) and the gateway just sort of IS. Interesting though and it is in remarkably good nick!
In its early days as a port Southampton would have been at least semi-fortified, especially as its main import was wine from the continent. It's first recorded castle was that built by the Normans, around 1150. This was originally a simple motte and bailey affair - a sronghold built on top of a raised mound - which became a major stone-built fortress as part of the city walls complex following the French looting of the town (during which they made off with the contents of the King's wine vaults) in the early part of the 100 Years War.
By 1600 AD the town's importance as a port had waned, the castle became unused and fell into disrepair and was eventually sold off by James 1st in 1613. It was never used again as a castle and in the 1960's became the site for the City Council's "Castle House" apartment block.
Some of the castle's walls and towers are still standing, in various states of repair, as are the main castle gate and it's water gate. These make for an interesting part of the city walls tour.
Southampton's TIC is located across the road from its Civic Centre, at the top end of the High Street. Here you can get all the info and assistance you need regarding accommodation, things to do, public transport etc.
There's the usual range of freebie maps and leaflets as well as guides, postcards and other bits and bobs for sale.
The office is open 7 days a week (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day) from 9.30 to 5 Mon to Sat, 10 to 3.30 Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Phone number is +44 (0)23 8083 3333 and website is Southampton TIC
The city has become of the best in leisure and cultural travel. With major international events, many pubs, clubs and restaurants, a massive injection of Lottery money to improve parks and sports facilities in the city, and the region's best arts and entertainments venues, Southampton is the South's leading leisure destination
Fondest memory: I met my dear friend gore bhai and his wife as i was leaving UK. That way i will never forget WestQuay shoppin center.
This snap is of the entrance near the port. The southampton port is managed by the British Ports authority.
Fondest memory: The thing that keeps comin back to ur mind all the while after leaving Southampton is all the stories, memoribilia, thougths for the people who set sail on the ship on that fateful day on its maiden voyage. It jus keeps comin back.. Guess there's a lesson to be learnt!!!!