Although we only had around four days in Cornwall, and the drive was over an hour, the Eden Project was still top of our “Things To Do On Holiday” list. Some of our friends had told us how amazing it was, and how we couldn’t really ‘get’ it without seeing it for ourselves, so in the middle of the week we took a day out to go and visit the local rainforest.
First and foremost, I highly recommend booking online before you go; your ticket will be cheaper, and you’ll skip the long queues. They also have a student price, but make sure you bring your student ID with you! Booking online will also give you an opportunity to plan out your day. It probably is possible to go around the whole site in one day but I think you’d have to be pretty dedicated, and you’d be exhausted by the end of it all! We didn’t have great weather on the day we went, so we decided to focus our day around the Eden Project’s main attractions, the two Biomes, and perhaps look at some of the other indoor exhibits if we felt we had time and weren’t too tired.
On arrive we took a wander through the gardens and made our way towards the Biomes, passing the Project’s ‘WEEE Man’ – a giant sculpture made out of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. It represents the amount of WEEE the average British household throws away in a lifetime, and weighs 3.3 tonnes. Nearby was Jason deCaires Taylor’s striking sculpture ‘The Rising Tide’, exploring attitudes towards climate change. It was previously situated on the Thames shoreline, so that the four individual sculptures were concealed underwater, only to be revealed twice a day with the tide’s changes. Eventually we found our way and headed straight for the largest and most famous: the Rainforest Biome.
The Biome setup is really smart; you follow a set path through different sections which are split up by rainforests in different countries, so you can see how different rainforests are around the world. But it’s not just about how it all looks: the heat and humidity of the forest hit you straight away, and you can even spot rainforest wildlife as you wander around.
The journey took a remarkably long time – a bit over an hour I think, but it definitely didn’t feel like that. It culminates in a treetop walkway with a view across the entire Biome, followed by a trek past the impressive indoor waterfall. Visitors can then queue to climb the steps to the viewing tower at the very top of the Biome, but the line was so long that we decided to give it a miss – this time!
The long and humid walk had made us both hungry, so we stuck to the Biome buildings and headed to the Burrito Bar. We both went for the chipotle-marinated chicken burrito coupled with their street salad; at first I wasn’t convinced it was going to be my thing, but within one bite I was sold. Someone find me that recipe! There are so many places to eat all over the Project park – I wish we could have tried them all out, but I guess that gives us just another reason to go back!
After lunch, which we ate outside in the lovely covered sensory garden, we made our way back inside and towards the Mediterranean Biome. This is set up in a similar way to the Rainforest building, with sections divided by country, but it had a totally different feel; some of the ceiling panels had been opened so it was much cooler, and the colours were far brighter. Even the scent of the place took me right back to my childhood holidays in the south of France and Tuscany.
At the time of our visit the Eden Project was holding their summer holiday ‘Dinosaur Uprising’, so we were a little surprised to be greeted with a dinosaur storytelling show and flying pterodactyls above our heads. (However, it did give us the inspiration we needed to go Pokémon hunting, which itself was a surprisingly successful venture. Take note, trainers!) The Mediterranean Biome also focuses on produce with lines and lines of fruit and vegetable plants. I had no idea there were so many different types of aubergine…!
With over an hour’s drive home we figured we didn’t have much more time, so after a quick stop in the gift shop in the Biome building we started to head back. First, though, we stopped off in the Core building which turned out to be a great decision. There we watched kids work together to get the giant nutcracker moving, saw the impressive Seed sculpture by Peter Randall-Page (it weighs as much as 10 elephants!), and had a chat with an elderly woman about how much water we use and waste. (I was conveniently clued up following a National Geographic article I’d read recently, but it’s a really sobering topic.)
There was so, so much more we could have done, from exploring more of the outdoor gardens to trying out Sky Wire, the country’s longest zipwire which sends you flying right above the park. The Eden Project really is an extraordinary place, and more importantly its work as a charity goes far beyond its Cornish home, so you know that the money you spend will go some way towards productive and stable charitable efforts. It’s one of those places that’s difficult to describe or explain; instead you just have to go and see it for yourself.