Thursday, August 1, part 1: London and arrival in Brighton

On Thursday morning, we took all our luggage from the airport hotel and, taking advantage of our validated BritRail passes, rode the Heathrow Express in to London (a 15 minute journey instead of the 45-50 minutes it takes on the tube). Dan wanted to do some family history research at the Lambeth Palace Library.

We started by locating the library, then looked around for a place to grab a bite of breakfast nearby. We found an open-air riverside cafe in a little park on the bank of the Thames, right across the street from Lambeth Palace and adjacent to the Lambeth Bridge. After we each got some food there, I sat in the park babysitting our luggage while Dan did his research.

It was a brilliantly sunny day, warm but not too hot, and I was delighted to find myself stationed by the water with a view of the Houses of Parliament.

On the right of the picture you can see the London Eye.

Closer view of the H of P.

View back towards Lambeth Bridge. We would later walk across this bridge to get to Victoria station to catch our train to Brighton.

Unfortunately, with the slowness of library services and the importance of staying on schedule to get to our next destination, Dan found that he wasn't able to do very much research in the time available. I think he learned a little bit, though. Meanwhile I very much enjoyed basking in the sun by the water. It was one of my favorite activities of the trip! I spent a while shooting "selfies" to document my delight.

Like my new sunglasses?

After Dan left the library, we walked across Lambeth Bridge and made our way to Victoria station. By the time we got there, it was close to the departure time for our train to Brighton. At first we did not observe that there were at least two different sections of the station serving different train companies, and we almost got on the wrong train. My instinct was to hop on the train departing at (nearly) the correct time, even though its departure time was a minute off and its list of destinations did not include Brighton. Fortunately Dan kept a clearer head and asked a railway employee for the train to Brighton; he pointed us to the other side of the station. By RUNNING for the platform and diving into the first open door on the train, we managed to board the correct train with very few seconds to spare before the doors closed. Whew! (The doors close 30 seconds before departure. We saw another traveler who didn't quite make it standing outside the train door, fruitlessly pushing the button to try to open it. I feel bad for the guy.)

The train was fairly full but not crowded. We were able to get seats together. I was a bit annoyed by some noisy children nearby, but later rail journeys during our England trip would put that inconvenience in perspective as a fairly minor one.

Once we arrived in Brighton, we walked from the station to our hotel, the MyHotel Brighton. Even though I had seen pictures of the rooms on the hotel's website in advance, I couldn't get over how ostentatiously groovy the decor of our room was.

The bright sun pouring in the windows made it hard to photograph the room, but I had to try anyway. Note the curved wall to the left; that's where the bath area juts into the room. There were few right angles in the place.

Groovy carpet.

Close-up of the mandala on the window shade.

Again you can see the curved wall of the bath area on the left. I think if the hotel could have bought a blob-shaped flat screen TV they would have.

As I've already told him several times, Dan did a great job of picking out hotels for our trip. (I told him that my only requirement was that they have wifi internet.) I enjoyed staying at the MyHotel in all its funky glory and am a little sorry we had just one night there! One note for fellow travelers: the main disadvantage of our room was a lack of privacy. There was a large public library and public square facing our windows, and there were no sheer curtains, so we had to pull the opaque shades down if we wanted to avoid putting ourselves on display. The bath area was not fully enclosed; the toilet stall was separated from the room by a frosted glass door with lots of space under and above it, with a cutout hole instead of a door handle, so sounds, smells, and fuzzy visuals crossed the barrier easily.

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