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Penzance is a market town and port in the west of Cornwall, England. Despite being one of the most westerly towns in mainland Britain Penzance does not feel like a backwater. It is in fact one of the largest towns in Cornwall with a population of over 20,000. The town's economy is finely balanced between being a local administrative and shopping town and a tourist trade that has much declines from its heyday. The harbour is still the scene of much activity although most of the fishing fleet is based in nearby Newlyn.
Pick up many guide books and they will tell you of the Maritime Museum, National Lighthouse Centre and the Cornwall Geological Museum. Sadly all are closed, a sign of changing times and a different breed of visitors.
Penzance itself still has plenty to offer though. In general it is an attractive town with a mix of Victorian and Georgian granite buildings. There are two parks close to the centre of town and it is the only town in Cornwall with a promenade. There is a reasonable selection of shops in the town centre, but nothing you won't see in every other town in the UK. The other main shopping streets; the Pedestrianised Causewayhead and Chapel Street are a lot more interesting though.
Causewayhead has a good selection of independent shops selling everything from pasties to suits. It is also home to the town's cinema, the Savoy. Chapel Street is without doubt Penzance's most historic street. It runs down from the middle of town to the harbour and is lined by an eclectic mix of shops, hotels and pubs. The buildings are an interesting mix too with the wonderfully decorated Egyptian House and the Admiral Bembow pub half way down.
St Mary's Airport (ISC) operates flights between St Mary's, the main island of the Isles of Scilly, and Penzance. Tresco Heliport has helicopters between Tresco and Penzance Heliport. Newquay is about 70 kilometres away and has more flights, including those to London, Dublin and Cork. Plymouth airport is about 120 kilometres away with more destinations from there.
Cross Country offers train from Penzance to for example Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow. First Great Western has most services, including regional ones and onwards to London. Cornish Main Line offers the most trains in Cornwall itself.
Isles of Scilly Travel operates ferries from Penzance to St Mary's.
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Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.
Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.
The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.
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I have lived in Penzance for 30+ years and being a keen photgrapher and writer have explored virtually all of its nooks and crannies!
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