Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Daytrip from London

When London actually has some summery sunny days, many Londoners escape the city and flock to Brighton Beach – just a 50-minute train ride away on the south coast in Sussex.

One hot Sunday in July we did exactly that. After dropping off our bags at our hotel, we walked across the street to the beach – a very rocky place indeed – and found a somewhat less rocky place to lay out on our Turkish towels. We opened our bottle of Prosecco from home and took in the scenery around us.
Brighton Beach (the polar opposite of its namesake in Australia) was not what I expected. In fact, after taking in the scene, the noisy boardwalk and cheesy amusement park area, Brighton Beach reminded me a lot like the Atlantic coast of New Jersey, which, by the way, has much better (sandy) beaches. I’m probably going to offend some local Brits here, but I was not a fan of Brighton. It was super crowded, too touristy, and most shocking of all, it was dirty.

After beachgoers had a day and night of partying here, the beach was filthy!
However, on the positive side, my husband and I actually had a day off together, and it was sunny – two rare occurrences. We intended to make the most of it.

Eating Seafood by the Seashore
After bubbles and sunbathing, we ventured along the boardwalk in search of food. I didn’t simply want fish and chips, but some proper seafood. We stumbled upon The Salt Room because it had good reviews online and available outdoor seating. This modern British restaurant absolutely blew us away with its perfectly-cooked seafood! We shared: grilled octopus with white beans, pancetta and seaweed; raw scallops with elderflower and lumpfish roe; raw tuna with kalamansi, chili and sesame; half a dozen Jersey oysters; and halibut with peas, verjus and jersey royal potatoes. Wow!

We probably ordered one dish too many, but everything on the menu looked so good that we couldn’t resist. I highly recommend a visit to The Salt Room! After all that food and wine, I needed a nap.
For dinner, we ate more oysters and delicious seafood dishes at Plateau, a French-inspired wine bar that features natural wines, located near the Lanes.
Walk Along the Boardwalk
Much of the town is centered on the seafront promenade which is lined with bars, cafés, shops and amusement arcades. If you fancy some old-fashioned arcade fun, then head to the historic Marine Palace and Pier, opened in 1899. I quickly peaked inside the funfair, but the hordes of children and tourists led me to make a quick exit.

Cycle next to the White Cliffs
After my husband left Monday morning, I had a free day to explore before I took an evening bus back to London. (Note: Southwestern is notorious for cancelling trains, so be prepared for backup transport options like the National Express buses.) After sunbathing for awhile, I got motivated to rent a bike. Brighton Beach Bikes is located in one of the arches on the west side of the Pier and staffed by a super friendly guy. Soon, I was on my Californian cruiser. A one-hour rental costs £6, or £9 for two hours.

Heading east from Brighton Pier, I pedaled past the marina and along the paved Undercliff Walk, which features the stark white chalk cliffs on one side and the English Channel on the other. It was a peaceful and enjoyable ride. I made it to the historic village of Rottingdean (about 4 miles), but I was too hot and sweaty to explore. Instead, I parked my rental bike on the beach and enjoyed an ice cream cone from Molly’s, a small café in front of the beach.
Shopping and Street Art in The Lanes and North Laine
I’m not much of a shopper, but I did enjoy browsing through the vibrant-colored and funky shops located in The Lanes and the North Laine. The latter is a bit more bohemian/retro chic and offered several pub and café options too. Perhaps, if the sun wasn’t beating down on me, I would have enjoyed shopping at one of the 300 unique shops along here.

While Brits may love the seaside town of Brighton, I think there’s a lot more of the U.K. I want to explore before rushing back here.

My Traveling Joys

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BacktoBodrum said...

Having lived near Brighton for 12 years, it is fun to visit but drive inland just a few miles and you have fantastic scenery and beautiful villages. Put the Charleston Festival in May in your diary for next year.

Amanda said...

Brings back memories of summer weekends with school friends when we lived in Kent taking the train down to Brighton for the day... you're right thought there's many better seaside towns, try the Cornwall in the South West for stunning little fishing villages and amazing beaches. Did you go the the Brighton Pavilion while you were there?

Sinty said...

I remember the time we've been to White Cliffs, it was amazing!