In mid-July (2016) I went to the famous seaside resort of Blackpool. It was my first ever visit to this town; growing up in Pembrokeshire I’ve never felt a need to visit any seaside resorts as Pembrokeshire is more beautiful than most seaside areas. But, I got a cheap deal for 3 nights in a hotel in Blackpool, so I thought “why not?”. It is a bit of a drive to Blackpool from Cardiff, in theory it should take about 4-5 hours; but as it involves the M5 and the M6 it often takes longer. As I was heading up during the summer, on the first weekend of the school holidays for many, it took a lot longer. About 7 hours!
There were lots of roadworks, and the ensuring traffic jams. Not a nice drive. It was even worse coming back; it was one of the hottest days of the summer so far, and with the high temperatures there were lots of vehicle breakdowns. Both the M6 and M5 resembled city centres at times, with the cars barely moving for tens of minutes. I ended up coming off at several service stations to try to let the traffic calm down before I continued. The journey back took me 12 hours!
The hotel where I was staying had definitely seen better days. I guess that is why they were offering a cheap deal in the summer. Unfortunately they had no parking, so after unloading my bags I went off in search of some. I found a car park just up the road, about 200 metres from the hotel. However, this parking was right next to the Winter Gardens, and this apparently presented a problem. There ensued one of the most bizarre exchanges I think I’ve ever had.
The car park attendant : Are you here for the darts?
Me : Um, I had no idea that there were any darts going on.
Him (with a look of either disdain or incredulity) : Well, you’ll have to pay extra then.
Me : Oh, ok. And, if I were here for the darts?
Him : Same deal mate!
At which point I decided it wasn’t worth asking why he wanted to know whether I was there for the darts or not……. It turned out that the town had been taken over by darts fans because the Winter Gardens was hosting the World Matchplay Championships. The entrance to this event was 150 metres from the hotel; I didn’t venture in once.
Anyway, back to the main point of this post, which is Blackpool and its tower. Blackpool was, for many decades, the main holiday destination for large numbers of people living in the north-west of England; places like Manchester and the surrounding town. I don’t know how popular it was with people from Liverpool, presumably they tended to go to the North Wales coast; and people from Leeds and Sheffield would presumably have tended to go to Scarborough. Does anyone know?
With the advent of cheap package holidays to Spain, Blackpool has seen a huge slump in its popularity, hence why hotels are offering cheap deals in July. I am not sure if I will ever return; although I liked it, it does not have the beauty of places like Pembrokeshire or the Gower peninsula, which are closer to Cardiff. I was, however, keen to see the famous Blackpool Tower. Having seen and been up the more famous Tour Eiffel, I was interested to see how they compared. Here are some photographs, so judge for yourself.
Blackpool tower was opened in 1894. The wikipedia page about it says it was “inspired” by the Eiffel Tower. Inspired? I’d say that it’s a copy of the Eiffel Tower, albeit not as tall or majestic. I think if I were M. Eiffel I would have sued for copying my design! The Eiffel Tower was opened in 1889, and stands 324 metres tall, and when built it became the tallest man-made structure in the World. The Blackpool Tower, on the other hand, is 158 metres tall, less than half the height of the Eiffel Tower; and is far less impressive in my opinion. Still, it has become the most recognised attraction in Blackpool, and I glad to have seen it. I did not bother to go up it; maybe that gives me a reason to return to Blackpool again in the future. But, I suspect that I will return to Paris first😉