A Day in Eden

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
White Hart Hotel, St Austell, Cornwall UK
What I did
Eden Project

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maybe I won't write so much today because everything was so straightforward getting to the Eden Project.  Since I slept so well, I woke up around 7:30  and went straight to breakfast.  Today I had the tomatoes, mushrooms and a piece of hashed brown potatoes with a poached egg and toast and coffee.  You get to order what you want for your full English breakfast.

I walked up to the train/bus station and asked a bus driver about a bus to go to the Eden Project.  He said he wasn't a city bus driver so I should ask the driver at the first bus stand.  As I walked over, I noticed the bus sign said "Eden Project."  I bought my ticket from the bus driver and sat down while more people got on the bus.  It is only about 3 miles to the place but we passed some nice houses and at least one little town, some horses in a field.

Once at the site, after buying my ticket - so many choices.  My garden brochure got me about 10 pounds off the admission which was quite pricey but then I bought the guide for an extra 6.  Still saved some money though.  Then they did some special deal so that my entrance was a contribution and I get a year long pass so I can come back for free.  Seemed worth it since it didn't cost any more.  Then it was a hike down to the gardens and exhibits.

The Eden Project is just 11 years old.  I was surprised at that.  It is built in an old china clay pit and because it is based on sustainability and improving our care of the earth and each other, they use recycled materials, the most energy efficient methods.  They recycle gray water, use rain water, compost, etc.  In their outdoor gardens, they have a lot of plants that we use as food and in daily living, like tea, hops, grapes, hemp.  There are also lots of flowers and shrubs, some trees as well.  A large section is based on wild Cornish landscape and other sections on various food crops, including Andean potatoes.

But the main attraction are the biomes:  the tropical rainforest and the Mediterranean.  Liz from my Penzance B&B had suggested to me that it would be better to visit the rainforest first because it is so hot, it tires you out.  Go there first, take a lunch break, and then visit the Mediterranean biome.  Since it was a little cloudy in the am, I decided I would do the outdoor sections first in case it rained later on.  As it turned out, the sky cleared for another gorgeous sunny day.  Quite a bit of imagination and attention to people's needs has been woven into the design of the Project.  Amid the gardens, there are play features for the kids and educational signs for both kids and adults.  There is tons of interesting information given in small doses along the paths

Again, since this place is in a china clay pit, it has hills and steps.  Of course, it is Cornwall after all - a place of hills and steps not unlike the Balkans.  So first I went down and then up and then wound my way down again to the biomes, but I missed an upper section above the rainforest biome that I wanted to go back to after seeing the biomes.  Liz was right:  the Rainforest was very hot and it seemed even hotter as you walked uphill to see all the exhibits.  Yet, really, it should have gotten a bit cooler because they planned different plants at different altitudes.  I will have to look at my millions of photos, but I don't think I made any startling discoveries - but maybe I may have identified by name some plants familiar before only by sight.  There were some refreshing waterfalls.  The plants were nicely arranged.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the rainforest canopy walk was closed due to high humidity.  It looked fantastic way up there under the biome covering.  But it might have been unpleasant to walk up all those steps to get up there.  I wonder if there were an elevator??

I took a short break and ate my breakfast yogurt before going into the Mediterranean biome.  Oh, I did get a Cornish ice cream earlier with one scoop of lavender ice cream and another of white chocolate/raspberry.  Quite nice, except for dropping a big piece on my camera.  Later I had a pineapple-coconut milk drink at a stand in the rainforest biome. 

Back to the Mediterranean biome, there were exhibits of olive trees, cork trees with some cork sculptures of a mama boar and two babies, citrus trees and landscapes from South Africa like the fynbos and poppies, from California.  Even though the Mediterranean biomes didn't seem smaller than the rainforest ones, I seemed to go through much faster.  Maybe because there weren't so many levels and maybe partly because I wasn't so hot.

By this time, I would have really had to rush to make the 4:30 bus, so I strolled back to the section that I had missed before and saw the beer-related plants, some tea bushes and the sculpture of Adam, who looks like the SW Native American iconic figure - the trickster.  I can't remember the precise name at the moment.  Then I followed some people assuming they were leaving until they went downhill again.  So I left them and retraced my earlier steps and then I saw them on another path ahead of me.  I found another gift shop at the top, so I checked it out and found a few postcards that I liked.  I waited for the bus for about 45 minutes but I had my Eden Project guide to read.  I am writing all this up before dinner.  I think I will go down to the hotel restaurant and get something light.

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