Set Victorian seaside holidays against prostitutes, drunkards, and a lot of bloody cursing sailors, and the 900-year history of Portsmouth (pop. 190,500) will emerge. On the seafront, visitors relive D-Day, explore warships, and learn of the days when Britannia truly ruled the waves. War buffs and historians will want to plunge head-first into the unrivaled Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in the Naval Base, which houses a fleet of Britain’s most storied ships, including Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, the HMS Victory, and the HMS Warrior. The entrance is next to the tourist office on the Hard. (Ships open Mar.-Oct. daily 10am-5:30pm; Nov.-Feb. 10am-4:45pm. Individual site tickets £9.50. Combination ticket £15, seniors and children £12.) The CJD-Day Museum, on Clarence Esplanade, leads visitors through life-size dioramas of the 1944 invasion. (Open Apr.-Sept. daily 10am-5:30pm; Oct.-Mar. 10am-5pm. £5, students £3, seniors £3.75.)

Trains ( (08457) 484 950) run to Southsea Station, on Commercial Rd. from London Waterloo (lVavr. 4 per hr. £21). National Express buses ((08705) 808 080) arrive from London (2V4hr. every 2hr. £17) and Salisbury (2V6hr. every 2hr. £17). The tourist office is on the Hard, next to the dockyard, ( 9282 6722; www.vis-itportsmouth.co.uk. Open daily 9:30am-5:45pm.) Moderately priced B&Bs (around £20) clutter Southsea, 212km east of the Hard along the coast. Take any Southsea bus and get off at the Strand to reach the DiPortsmouth and Southsea Backpackers Lodge O, 4 Florence Rd. which offers immaculate rooms, energetic owners, and a pan-European crowd. (fax 9283 2495. Internet £1 per 30min. Dorms £12; doubles £26, with bath £29.) Birchwood Guest House , 44 Waverly Rd. has bright, spacious rooms, an ample breakfast, and a lounge with digital cable and a bar. ( 9281 1337. Prices vary with season; call for rates.) The owner of the Brittania Guest House ,

48 Granada Rd. loves to share his maritime interests with guests. (814 234. Full breakfast included. Singles £20; doubles £4045.) Country Kitchen , 59a Marmion Rd. serves savory vegetarian and vegan entrees. (£4-6. Open daily 9:30am-5pm.) Pubs near the Hard provide sailors with galley fare and grog. Postal Code: POl 1AA


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