So you might remember we had a global pandemic which affected a lot of travel plans. One of those plans was a family transatlantic cruise from Southampton to New York–or, as my mother repeatedly described it, “the Titanic route.” That trip was eventually rescheduled for April of 2023, and so last month we flew to London, visited some tourist sites, and then hopped a train to Southampton.
En route, I checked my phone and realized our train journey wouldn’t make it. The final leg was shut down due to an accident (someone had gotten onto the tracks). I worked to re-route our party, knowing we had a countdown to board the ship. But as we prepared to disembark early and find an alternate route, another message came in: our cruise was canceled, less than an hour before boarding began, due to a technical issue on the ship. (Later information revealed that it was an engine/scrubber problem.)
We got off the train and found a café, where we got breakfast and made new plans. We couldn’t return to London; the London Marathon had made hotel rooms nearly impossible to get even well in advance, and there’d be nothing available the day of. Flying directly home would also be a challenge; the marathon hosts tens of thousands of entrants, many international, and now hundreds of would-be cruisers also needed what few tickets might remain. Besides, we had Broadway tickets for New York that could not be exchanged, including for Mischief’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong (you’ve heard me talk about Mischief before), with limited time guest star Neil Patrick Harris. After some time, I found an affordable flat available, and we hopped a new train.
And that’s how I ended up spending a week in Brighton.
If you’ve read much classic English literature, you probably know Brighton. It’s the historic seaside holiday town of England, and it’s where Lydia Bennet went off to make a fool of herself with the soldiers and eventually run away with Mr. Wickham. It’s home to the famous Brighton Palace Pier, the arson-destroyed fabulous West Pier, the fantastic and surreal Royal Pavilion, the iconic tiny beach changing houses, and more.
These are just a very, very few of my photos at the Royal Pavilion, which is absolutely worth looking up. It has a fantasy-India exterior with a fantasy-China interior, a sort of Arabian Nights mashup for a hedonistic playboy prince. It has been restored and preserved as the only royal residence not owned by the state.
Because I was terribly behind in my training for an upcoming half-marathon, I went out our first day for a long walk, despite the threat of rain. I went along the beachwalk, then the undercliff, and the up the chalk cliffs and over the downs on a country tramp through tiny villages and a national park.
The next day I took the group back to visit some of the downs and small villages through which I’d passed. I particularly enjoyed this 11th century St. Peter’s Church in Southease! The paintings on the wall are from the 12th century, illustrating New Testament scenes for the illiterate, and one bell in the rare circular tower is from ~1270.
Eventually we flew to NYC and picked up as planned, with a run through Broadway. I saw the new Shucked, & Juliet (second time), Peter Pan Goes Wrong, and the new Grey House in previews. Also we ate at Max Brenner’s, a delicious destination restaurant, and visited two famous bookstores, The Strand (absolutely enormous!) and The Mysterious Bookshop (staffed by a very curt and unhelpful guy).
It’s all about flexibility, and overall, it was an enjoyable trip despite the changes in plans!