We have arrived at Brighton! It’s about 3:00am local time. To commemorate our arrival, let’s recount how we got here. Our departure from JFK, NYC was smooth enough, minus that one hour delay, but which American airline, especially the one called American Airline, doesn’t suffer from some occasional, check that, chronic delay. Conrad checked in slightly before me, and I checked in again for the both of us, so he ended up holding 2 boarding passes… Another minor security glitch, but no harm done. Conrad probably won’t be mistaken as a terrorist anytime soon. We got the seating situation worked out at the gate, and I got us a nice window, aisle couples pairing of seats. Sorry, no, Conrad did not lean on my shoulders.
When we landed, we actually got through immigration, bags, and customs in a flash, with a smile. Welcome to London! That was nice. Ok, now the fun started. We bought tickets at a train ticket machine. Since we carried nothing in the appropriate currency, we used our credit cards of course. The credit card thing loved to be massaged, and I feel dirty for saying this, but anymore massaging of that damn credit card machine Conrad and I would change careers. Finally, we got our credit cards to read, and on the screen it displayed 18 British pounds. No big deal. Wait a minute, 18 pounds!? Holy crap. We later learned that we could have taken the Tube (the London subway), probably for a few pounds or dollars cheaper.
Arrived at London Paddington Station woohoo! Train to Brighton? No luck. As we tried to buy tickets through the machines, Brighton was nowhere to be found in the destination list. So we poked around the station, and found the lone ticket counter open with a middle gentleman that uttered 2 words, “Victoria Station.” Great. We had hopes of making an 11:30pm train to Brighton, and that hope is now completely dashed.
To get to the Victoria Station, we had to take the Tube, and that of course meant giving the ticket vending machines more massages with our credit cards. We of course had no idea what the heck we were doing. It wasn’t entirely our fault. Who knew the red colored train was a green line, and another red colored train was the yellow line? Luckily, a nice lady on the train told us to get off and change trains right a few seconds before we went the opposite direction.
While waiting for the yellow line to Victoria, the names of places on the subway and bus maps leapt off the page – Westminster, Trafalgar, British Museum, Wimbledon… We will see none of those places on this trip. That familiar feeling of dangling a big fat chocolate cake right in front of me, and I won’t get the chance to taste any of it. At Victoria, we dragged our bags up and down the stairs to the National Rail ticket counter and got tickets to Brighton. 22 pounds each way. And we couldn’t get the round trip for only 7 pounds extra. Why? Because we had to take the return train before 9am, which was when the price discount kicks in. Crap. So our transportation cost per person was: 18+4+22 pounds. I forgot what the currency conversion rate was, and it was probably a good thing.
We were starving at the train station, so between Burger King, McDonalds, and a sandwich shop, we went Burger King. I voted down McDonalds, as the recent memory from my McDonalds food poisoning was still raw. Credit card swiped. Receipt came. 11 pounds, making officially the most expensive fast food meal either of us had ever eaten by far.
Ok, we got on the 12:05am train to Brighton. Finally. We are on our way! Wait, we heard a message over the PA system that the train will divide? Wait, what? The announcement said that trains 1-4 will go to some place. 5-8 will go somewhere else. Brighton? No news. And what about where we are sitting, in car 11? No idea. Uh… Better ask somebody. The two kids behind us were equally confused. But another person just came on board told us to go to the front, to cars 1-4. Great… All the way at the other end. That wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, except we were carrying that big ass monitor that we are supposed to bring. Look on the bright side, we could use a little bit of a work out.
We did make it to car 4, and that was as far as we were willing to go. No farther. And we did make it to Brighton. Conrad vowed that no matter where we were in Brighton, we were walking.
And so we did. The interesting thing is that, I had only a general and liberal sense of where our hotel was. But whatever, it was interesting just to walk around. Aside from the drunken people on the streets, there were a few places with pretty amazing architecture.
When we finally reached our hotel, we paused at the door for a bit. Can’t be right? This is the hotel from the pictures online? Uh… Whoever put up those photos online did an excellent job photoshopping the crap out of the place the same way wrinkles are airbrushed out of middle-aged actresses. When we checked in, there was a snafu with our Expedia booking. We were charged for two rooms, and we were supposed to share one. We gotta sort this out tomorrow. In the meantime, they gave us an upgrade supposedly. Conrad got to his room no problem. I got to my room, heard the TV on. Odd. I unlocked the door, about to turn on the light, a man jumped up, and there appeared to be a woman as well. “What’s going on, who’s there!?,” the man yelled. Uh, I thought this was my room? I went downstairs, the person at the front desk gave me another room. Let me say this, I was extra careful opening the door this time around.
This hotel, called Umi, claims to bridge the gap between 3 star pricing and 5 star service. I put the question to Conrad, and the answer made a lot of sense. 5 stars, minus 3 stars, equals 2. Perfect. Well, time to sign off for the night.
More exciting news to come out of Brighton tomorrow!