My Friday morning began at 7.20 am. Jumping out of bed and realizing that I had hit my snooze button one too many times, I quickly ran to the bathroom waking up the other girls on the way. We were running late and I had no clue what I was going to wear. We were going to visit a city, Brighton, on the coast and the weather was supposed to be rainy and cold (no surprise there), so naturally that means layers and lots of them. Layer one, layer two, layer three, grabbed a jacket and a scarf on the way out to dash up to the kitchen and have just enough time to eat a muffin and drink a cup of green tea while Curtis made our sandwiches for later.
Our little group was out the door at 8.15 and headed to Holborn Tube station. We pushed and shoved with the locals as we fought through morning rush hour to board the tube to Green Park. Three stops later and we exited to transfer lines to Victoria. It occurred to me, as I was walking, that I no longer felt like a dumb American ( well except for the jeans and tennis shoes) trying to make sense of this complicated underground transportation system. I walked with purpose and determination to board the tube I needed to catch to take me to where I was meant to go. The Way Out (the exit) led us to a train station, where we knew we needed to be, but just not exactly sure. After taking one wrong turn, someone in the group spotted Dr. Kemp (I am so grateful that he is over 6′ and has white hair- always easy to find him). There we met the rest of the group and received two train tickets each. I am sure we were quite a sight today; many of us carrying large backpacks and wearing jeans and tennis shoes, we stuck out like sore thumbs in the station among all the professionally dressed business men and women. It also did not help that we did not know how the system worked and often stopped right in the middle of the walkway to look around at the signs. Our train was scheduled to leave at 9.36am. We made it in time and with everybody aboard.
The train ride there took a little less than an hour and was very uneventful. While passing through, I watched small cities come and go, mountains appear and disappear, and the sun peak in and out of the clouds. At last we reached our destination- Brighton. First impression- Cold and windy, very cold. Following Dr. Kemp out of the train station, we subconsciously fell into a single file line and began our trek to find the Royal Pavilion. Thankfully it’s what the city is known for, so there were plenty of signs leading the way. The small coastal city reminded me of San Fransisco (although I’ve never been there) it was very hilly and busy- we later learned that like San Fran it also, back in the day of King George IV, was home to many gays. As a group, we found our destination and were told that we had an hour to “explore” or eat before our tour of the palace began at noon. Since it was very cold and the shops were not open yet, Curtis, Anna, Kyla and I headed off to Starbucks. I now consider the green symbol of the mermaid with two tails a beacon of hope. I know that this sanctuary will offer me warmth, a free toilet and something to warm my insides. Once again, she came through for me and revived my spirits.
At 11.50am we met up with the group and our tour soon began. With Margarite leading us through years and years of history, I was awestruck at the lavishness and design of the inside. King George IV was obviously not on a budget when he built this palace in the 17th century. The architecture is that of Indian and Chinese, interesting enough none of the builders had ever been there, so it was more of a figment of imagination. There were dragons covered in gold leafing, bamboo hand rails carved out of cast iron (bamboo wasn’t native to the region), chandeliers 30 feet in height, gold leafing on the walls, gold in the dinning room, and a kitchen the size of a basketball court (the King loved to eat- at one point he weighed 300lbs and was 5′ 11”). It was very impressive and I enjoyed hearing the tales of the past. It really was amazing to think as I walked through a bedroom that Queen Victoria once slept in. Mind boggling…After our tour ended we were free to go.
My group decided to visit the shopping center we, I, noticed on the way. I purchased a purple 3/4 in sleeved dress to wear with leggings at H&M for 3pounds- Curtis bought a pair of jeans there for 10 pounds! The mall was very different from any in the States- The very top floor was restaurants, the2nd and 1st were shops- that part is fairly normal, but because of three floors I was expecting it to be huge, it wasn’t. Didn’t take very long to walk past all the expensive teeny-bopper clothing stores, so we decided to just head home. We found the train station and met up with “the guys”. On the ride home, I slept on Curtis shoulder. We arrived safely, found the Tube station, and rode home to Pickwick. Just as simple as that. It has been a week and that feels normal now. Well that was my day, I came home and took a 3 hour nap, so I will probably be up for awhile!