I had high hopes for Brighton. Earlier this summer we visited the unknown seaside resort of Eastbourne and found it to be absolutely adorable and charming so the famous 'London by the Sea' should be much better, right? Wrong. Brighton was a mess. There were some nice bits about it but mostly it was disappointing; over-crowded with unhappy families, an unexceptional pier, over-priced entertainment, and lots of hen-dos and stag groups wandering around in fancy dress screaming, trying to prove they were having a good time. Perhaps Brighton just isn't our scene and most people enjoy it but, because it's not our scene, we'll be enjoying Eastbourne again before ever returning to Brighton.
The weather was overcast and a bit chilly with a strong breeze at the seaside when we arrived at around 10am yesterday morning. We braved the breeze for a bit to check out the beach and pier but then headed inland to see the rest of the town. We stumbled upon the Royal Pavilion, a Brighton must-see, but much like Oxford chose not to spend £6 per person to go inside, admiring the architecture from the exterior.
We found The Lanes, a charming but crowded area of small, winding streets with cute shops and restaurants, and promptly tucked in at English's Oyster Bar for an early al fresco lunch of oysters on the half shell and some live jazz. This was a nice, safe spot to do some people watching before venturing out into the crowds again.
Post-oysters, we headed back to the shore for some seafront rambling. We grabbed some cockles ('like clams'), whelks ('sea snails'), and anchovy wrapped olives for an impromptu beach picnic but the weather quickly chased us away. We did sit on the stone beach long enough to determine it was more comfortable than expected, though walking on it was not pleasant at all. Also, I liked the cockles more than the anchovy wrapped olives and the whelks were okay with some vinegar and salt but otherwise a bit too chewy for my palate.
We spent the rest of the day just rambling around town and occasionally ducking into a pub to escape the poor weather. One of the highlights of our day was discovering Bill's Cafe (thanks, Lou!), where we enjoyed afternoon tea. This area of Brighton felt very authentic and we liked it a lot, though we didn't spend too much time exploring it.
The sun eventually did make an appearance and we rushed down to the seafront to enjoy it there. We sat on the stones for a short while, just enjoying the beach and the sea. When the sun started to set, and the chilly breeze returned, we headed back inland. The crowd was beginning to change from families to fancy dress and the mood from stressed family outing to forced drunken fun. Not enjoying either mood but finding the latter to be exponentially more dangerous than the former, we decided 8pm was a good time to split.
Yes, the stone beach was charming and The Lanes were cute as well but the rest of Brighton felt like forced fun and, though we're glad we went, we're sad to say Brighton is our first day trip disappointment since arriving in the United Kingdom almost a year ago. That being said, that's not a bad record at all.
For more pictures, please see my Facebook page here.