Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brighton - A hip and historic day out of London

We had a houseguest recently who wanted to take a day trip out of London. We discussed the usual suspects: Bath, Stratford, Stonehenge and many more and then it came to me, lets go to the seaside city

 of Brighton. An easy train ride from Victoria Station, it has the over-the-top Royal Pavilion, the Victorian Brighton pier and cool little shopping streets called the Lanes with all kinds of crazy stuff.

And so we went. The Indian/Chinese inspired Royal Pavilion was big fun -fantastic and fantastical all at the same time. I’ve been keen to see it for 20 years and I wasn’t disappointed. It was Monday so the Brighton Museum in the Pavilion gardens was closed. Too bad.

The Brighton pier is like most piers these days, filled with rides, arcade games and bad food. But if you try, you can almost imagine what it would have been like in Victorian times, when building a place for pleasure and entertainment jutting into the English Channel would have been exciting. As it was a cool, gray weekday, the rocky beach was empty except for the occasional rough sleeper and teenage smoker.

As part of its alternative and bohemian reputation, Brighton is known for its vegetarian restaurants and we had a superior lunch at one – Terre a Terre on East Street. Their publicity states that it will change your mind about vegetarian cuisine forever. Not really, but it did change my mind about excellent vegetarian restaurants. We loved it.

After our lovely lunch, we wandered around the Lanes looking for a non-homogenized shopping experience. We certainly found plenty of independent shops selling such essentials as vegetarian shoes as featured above. I was ecstatic when I found a bookstore selling desirable books at greatly reduced prices and filled my backpack with as many as it would hold.

On the train ride back, my American friend and I discussed what a jolly day it had been, historic and hip all at the same time, a great break from the relentless pace of London and while filled with tourists, ours were the only American accents we heard all day.