Friday, December 23, 2011

A winter's day in Brighton

I made a visit to Brighton one Saturday in December. Winter is not the season to visit Brighton, it being a favourite summer destination due to its location by the sea. But traveling in off-season has its advantages - I was able to enjoy the sights minus the crowds. And, to make it even better, the day was a bright and sunny one, albeit cold.

I left London in the early morning by National Express coach. The coach was nearly empty and we made the journey in a little over 2 hours, via Gatwick airport.

On reaching Brighton, I first made my way to Brighton Pier. The Pier extends out on to the sea and has numerous rides, attractions and pubs / restaurants. It seemed like a place that children would enjoy, but not much to interest adults.

I then made my way to an area called 'The Laines'. This is a complex of narrow, winding streets, lined with interesting shops. I was on the search for a cup of coffee and found a place that looked inviting. The chilli mocha helped warm me up considerably!

My next halt was The Royal Pavilion. Constructed during the time of King George IV, with Mughal, Moorish and classical European influences, the palace is now open to the public to explore and find out more about how the King lived. An informative audio guide is included in the admission price. In addition to the richly decorated and preserved rooms, one of the highlights for me was a small, but good, exhibition that documented the time during the first World War when the palace served as a hospital for injured Indian soldiers. In recognition of this, The Maharaja of Patiala had a gate (called India Gate) constructed close to the Pavilion as a gift to the town of Brighton.

Next to the Royal Pavilion is Brighton Dome, an entertainment complex with a museum. The museum had a temporary exhibition of Indian miniature paintings called 'Ragamala'. But it left me underwhelmed.

Being on the sea, I was keen to have the local fish. But this is where traveling in the off-season revealed one of its drawbacks. Most of the fish and chips shops were already shut. I finally ended up at what turned out to be the local branch of a national fish restaurant, and the food was not very satisfying.

By now, it was turning dark. I spent the rest of my time walking around the city centre, taking in the festive lights on the streets and the pier, before catching the coach back to London.

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