Sorry that I’m a bit behind on my posts, I had spotty internet connection on the 2nd half of my trip. I just got back Stateside on Monday night after 14 1/2 hours of travelling! Yikes, I’m tired but alive!
On the third day of my trip I decided to get out of the city for a day and head south to Brighton. I started the day in Victoria Station and I arrived early as there is no bringing back a departed train to the station. Sitting there in the morning I observed many people running with suitcases catching connecting trains and others just stopping for a second to catch their breath.
While I was waiting for my cousin to get there, I decided it was a good idea to have a familiar North American style breakfast so I grabbed McDonalds. Our train was set to depart at 9:21 and by 9:09 I am starting to get nervous as my cousin still hadn’t arrived to meet me. I call him and his train was delayed and he still has to pick up our train tickets. He tells me to meet him on the platform. When I get there, I wonder how to get on the platform. Why is there a subway oyster card machine to get to the trains? I see other people swiping in and I shrug my shoulders and follow them. My cousin calls me and asks how I got on the platform. I told him I swiped in. He tells me they will charge me a fortune if I do that. I ask if I should swipe back out and he tells me not to. We don’t have time to sort this out and to Brighton we go. It is strange as there are first class carriages and you not only need a train ticket but also seat reservations. No one comes to check our tickets. We only use them to leave the station.
Initial thoughts on Brighton are that it is quaint and has a historic quality to the city. A town clock with an ode to Queen Victoria is at the center of the city. Main streets are lined with shops, many which you will find in London, but the winding side streets yield more unique boutiques, bars and restaurants. It’s a seaside town so the air is crisper and the cold cuts to the insides of my bones despite my best efforts to layer up. I see seagulls but they are not like any I’ve seen before, they’ve been supersized and would dwarf your average Coney island seagull.
I see the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Museum and they are so distinctive and odd to see in surroundings such as this. Amongst the city of colorful townhouses and classic European architecture, these structures look like they belong in India rather than this seaside city. There is not questioning their grandeur or how much attention they command.
Inside the Royal Pavilion, photography is forbidden (photo courtesy of Chris Giles). I find myself feeling I’ve been transported further East as the insides are all about China/Chinoiserie style décor. The entry way and initial hallways are serene and almost static while other rooms like the Great Dining Hall and the Music Room take your breath away. They are both majestic and in some ways terrifying – with dynamic design elements like Dragons and Snakes abounding in 3-dimensional fashion. After learning a bit of history, that took it from humble farmhouse to Queen Victoria to a hospital for Indian soldiers, it’s time to wake up at the beach.
The beach at Brighton is crisp, picturesque and quite peaceful, apparently a sharp contrast from the bustling summer activity. The water is sparkling, the sun looks awfully low for noon, you can see water for what seems like forever, although I’m told France is just on the other side of the channel. There is an orange tint to the pebbles by the shore and bits of sea life are washed up and dried amongst them. You can see the pier in the distance on your left hand side, full of modern day amusements and on your left, the sunken skeleton of a pier that once was. We stop at a seaside seafood shack and feast on some seafood and oysters.
At the pier and I witness the British love of gambling via countless machines dedicated to coin balance/tipping. This pier is kind of amazing, I cannot believe that the pier holds 2 roller coasters and countless other rides over the sea. To be on one of these rides, with extra height must add an extra layer of peril.
It’s time to warm up but unfortunately the Brighton Museum is closed on Mondays and so are the tea shops. So after some wandering down the roads, we return to the Royal Pavilion for some Cream tea – that is Tea served with scones, clotted cream and jelly.
Still 4 hours left to kill until our train leaves, so the rest of the day is spent shopping the local shops, the mall and chain stores like Topshop and Primark in hopes of finding jems while avoiding London crowds. Unfortunately, the merchandise is subpar in Brighton and I don’t end up finding anything that is worth buying. At least the streets were quaint and lovely. Had the little shops not closed so early I would have liked to explore them. Oh well! Caught the train back to London and finished the night with a steak pie veg, some mashed and a Magners and a mini exploration of Covent Garden.