6.30.2013

Brighton: Royal Pavilion, Beach, and Tiny Shops

Inexplicably, I found no daleks anywhere.
A thousand pardons; Wifi has been iffy in a few places recently, and I'm behind on life. Catchup time--Brighton! When I first got off the train, I walked past a BBC window and noticed this guy, Davros, watching the street:

But that's neither here nor there. People don't come to Brighton looking for aliens, they come for bachelorette parties, or "hen-dos." See, Bath used to be relaxation/party central, but a while back, starting about with Henry IV, Brighton usurped Bath as the tiny vice city vacation town of England. With Henry IV royal pavilion to oggle, the historical sea-bathing escape of Austen novels/that time period, Brighton continues to be a thriving beach community, with a massive LGBT population. In the city center, it's kind of like San Francisco or Asheville, but more posh. If you stay out closer to the beach, it gets a lot more like the Outer Banks.

Pause city talk. Let's talk about the palace, by which I mean The Royal Pavilion:

Henry IV's private pleasure palace; a postcolonial pastiche,
If you like decorative arts, you have to go inside of the castle. You can't take pictures inside, which makes it a horrible stop for a blog, but you owe it to yourself to look at the 16-foot chandeliers suspended from dragons.

The Pavilion was constructed to boost his ego shortly after the loss of the American colonies. Thus, to proclaim that England was still a rich colonial power, the place is infused with styles from India, as a reminder that they still had it going on, internationally speaking.  Meanwhile, the interior is a totally not-matching style mimicking China. The style is called "chinoiserie," because we need a French word for that.

Henry built this palace to chill out with his various long term committed mistresses. Evidently he didn't value any mistress's ability to take photos of the place; it's impossible to get a good angle anywhere.

You can't see the palace for the bushes.

Here is a photo of a postcard of the inside, which should give you an idea that there is more colour and life inside. It's overwhelmingly garish/beautiful/excessive.

This is the smaller chandelier without dragons.
On the bright side, it looks like it's on fire.

But let's backtrack. When you first get off the train from London, you can wind through the Lanes, which will transport you to what London must have looked like 200 years ago. While you have the option of sticking to the main street, you can also turn down narrow twisty alleyways to find Starbucks. Follow signs, since you will get lost, and wander into North Laine, which is a massive collection of independent shops. Among them, an Indian-Goth fusion store, and some other things that made less sense and were even more expensive.

Pedestrian mall: possibly only here because there is now way cars are fitting.

See, as evidenced by the tiny winding lanes and old buildings, they don't really build new things in Brighton. The emphasis on preservation makes it a good counterpoint to London, which, as I mentioned, is a blend of very old and rocketships.

A random backyard(?) Why not have it in the middle of shops!

Unfotunately, you can't get a good picture to demonstrate narrow winding streets when you are inside of them. Something about angles and visual blockades.

The streets: they were narrow. 

And when you get tired of shopping, you can go to the beach! And enjoy the nice weather!

Beautiful weather! Water is the opposite of warm! Beach! All without sand in sight!

By any definition of good, this is a beach. It's legitimately a nice place to sit by the sea and let the sea breezes cool you on a hot day (and this was taken in perfect beach weather). There's the pier with all the pier stuff, if you're into that sort of thing. Unfortunately, the above pic was taken while passing through. I was busy that day with all the tours and shops and things. I would leave the full day of beach enjoyment until tomorrow!

This was tomorrow.

On the whole, I like my beaches warmer. It was a nice place to walk around, if you wanted to wear a jacket and shoes and pants and then leave anyway because the wind was too cold.

Brighton: by all accounts a great place to live. But if you want to rent, you'd better have six months rent to pony up front. Not everyone does. Consequently, you will meet a lot of local residents in the hostels. Unless they get tired of having the same conversation, they are friendly and can give you good insight into viewing the city as a local. 

If you go hosteling in Brighton, stay at Kipps. Avoid the Smart Sea View, because it isn't. 
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