Penzance is the very model of an ancient English pirate town. A Benedictine monastery, St. Michael’s Mount, was built on the spot where St. Michael appeared in AD 495. The interior is modest, but the grounds are lovely and the 30-story views are captivating. (Open July-Aug. 10:30am-5:30pm and most weekends; Apr.-Oct. M-F 10:30am-5:30pm; Nov.-Mar. M, W, and F by guided tours only. £4.80.) During low tide, visitors can walk to the mount; during high tide, take ferry bus #2 or 2A to Marazion Sq. and catch a ferry (£1). Penzance boasts an impressive number of art galleries; pick up the Cornwall Gallery Guide (£1) at the tourist office. Trains (a (08457) 484 950) go to London (5V4hr. 7 per day, £56) and Plymouth (2hr. every hr. £11). National Express (a (08705) 808 080) buses also run to London (8hr. 8 per day, £29) and Plymouth (3hr. 2 per hr. £6). The tourist office is between the train and bus stations on Station Rd. (a (01736) 362 207. Open May-Sept. M-Sa 9am-5:30pm, Su lOam-lpm; Oct.-Apr. M-F 9am-5pm, Sa lOam-lpm.) HBIue Dolphin Penzance Backpackers , on Alexandra Rd. is relaxed and well-kept, (a (01736) 363 836; fax 363 844. Internet 5p per min. Dorms £10; doubles £24.) BThe Turk’s Head , Chapel St. is a pub once sacked by pirates.
St. Ives (pop. 11,400) is 15km north of Penzance, on a spit of land edged by pastel beaches and azure waters. The town drew a colony of painters and sculptors in the 1920s; Virginia Woolfs To the Lighthouse is thought to refer to the Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance. The Cornwall Gallery Guide (£1) will help you navigate the dozens of galleries here, but St. Ives’s real attractions are its beaches. DlPorthminster Beach, downhill from the train station, is a magnificent stretch of white sand and tame waves. Trains (a (08457) 484 950) to St. Ives usually pass through or change at St. Erth (15min. every hr. £1.60), though direct service is occasionally available. National Express (a (08705) 808 080) buses go to Plymouth (3hr. 4 per day) and Penzance (20min. 4 per day). First ( (0870) 608 2608) buses #15, 16, and X17 go to Penzance (30min. 2 per hr. £2.40); bus #301 runs to Newquay (2!4hr. 4 per day, £4.50). The tourist office is in The Guildhall on Street-an-Pol. From the stations, walk down to the foot of Tregenna Hill and turn right, (a (01736) 796 297. Open Easter-Sept. M-Sa 9:30am-6pm, Su 10am-4pm; Oct.-Easter M-F 9am-5pm.) St. Ives International Backpackers , The Stenmack, is in a 19th-century Methodist church. (a(01736) 799 444. Internet £1 per 15min. Dorms£9-13.)