July 14, 2017

Gotta snap the beach trip

Today Caleigh and I took a trip to Brighton, which is a city on the southeast (ish) coast of England. We bought “Anytime Day Return” tickets, which meant that we could travel on any train that did not pass through London terminals. Apparently Gatwick Airport does not count as a London terminal, because basically the only trains we were allowed to use were the ones that went through Gatwick. The route we decided to take was from Oxford to Reading, then from Reading to Gatwick, and finally from Gatwick to Brighton, which was supposed to take about 2.5 hours total. We got on our first train, that left Oxford at 8:51am and was supposed to take us to Reading in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, our bad luck with transportation was in full force today. There were some signaling problems between the train stations, which meant that we sat on our train, unmoving, for over an hour, which made us 77 minutes late coming in to Reading. We obviously missed our next train, which was supposed to be at 9:30, and the next train through Gatwick Airport was leaving at 10:34. We pulled in to the station at 10:33, as far away from our next platform as we could possibly be. Once again, we found that this train station lacked sufficient signs, so we frantically looked around as we heard them calling for our next train, until an employee finally pointed us in the direction of our platform, at which point we ran through the train station and made it just in time. There were, of course, some more issues on this train, and we arrived late to our next train at Gatwick. Luckily for us, this train was also experiencing issues, because we were on it, so it was delayed and we didn’t miss it. We finally got to Brighton, and were really hungry, so we started walking toward the beach in search of food. We passed a Pret a Manger, because you can’t walk more than 10 feet in England without passing one, and decided to finally try it, since it was quick and fairly cheap. As a bit of foreshadowing, lunch at Pret was going to become a recurring theme for us for the rest of the trip, but for now we enjoyed it and headed to the pier. The beach was rocky, which made it difficult to walk on or sit on, but it was really pretty. The pier was pretty much exactly like the Santa Monica Pier, but it was fun to walk around, at least until we made the worst decision of the day.

This was taken just before the Wild River disaster, before my opinion of the Brighton Pier was tainted by the trauma

The Brighton Pier has a lot of rides, as piers do, and we thought it might be a fun idea to ride one of them. Caleigh wanted to go on the log ride, which I believe was called the Wild River or something like that, which should have been our first clue that we shouldn’t ride it. I said that I would only ride it if it was one of the ones where you don’t get completely soaked, so we watched about 17 carts go around the ride. There were two hills on this ride, a smaller hill and a larger hill, that ran next to each other. We determined that the only possible way you could get soaking wet on this ride was if you just so happened to be going down one of the hills at the same time that someone else was going down the other one, which happened only once in the entire 15 minutes we were watching, so we figured we would be fine. I’m sure you can guess what happened to us. We spent the next couple hours in clothes that were soaking wet on only one side, because it was only about 68 degrees outside so we didn’t exactly dry quickly, and I tried to laugh it off even though I was pretty traumatized by our horrible luck.

Here we are after the Wild River, looking happier than I actually felt in the moment. It may not look that bad here, but I can assure you, our sweatshirts and hair were dripping water.

After this experience we left the pier and went to the Royal Pavilion, which is some sort of palace in the middle of the city, which was pretty cool.

The Royal Pavilion

There are a lot of shops in Brighton, most of which ended up being jewelry stores, but we still had a good time walking around. We found a shop that sold vintage maps and a store that sold chocolate that was carved into animal shapes, so it was pretty interesting. We went back to the beach for a while and found a spot that actually had sand, and just enjoyed the ocean. Before we left, we stopped to get fish and chips at one of the stands on the beach. It was my first fish and chips experience since I’ve been here, and it was pretty good. Not my favorite, but not bad. We decided to head back to Oxford at that point, and this time the series of train rides we had to take ended up working out like it was supposed to, which was nice. We got home at around 10, and went to bed since we were getting up early the next day for another trip to London.

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