Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saturday

I can see the draw. Brighton has a bit of London in it. That part where tattoo parlors mix with boutiques and bars, coffee shops and doodads and flea markets. It's perhaps not as edgy, and surely not as pricey. It's gay friendly and pink hair friendly and if you've had enough of the little shops in little streets, you can go to the pebble beach and throw rocks into the water.

I think I was right in viewing it as a coastal town where perhaps the coast doesn't set the tone for most days for most residents, except for the weather it brings with it. The sea is to Brighton as Lake Michigan is to Chicago. Yes, in the summer, the beaches may be crowded with big city people looking for a day's (or several days') outing, but there are a heck of a lot of people who live here claiming they love to live by the sea but who never pay it much heed except to look out occasionally and note that it's still there.

At least that's my guess, because Brighton was busy today, it being a weekend day, but there weren't many strollers on the beach (which, by the way, does not lend itself to strolling because of all those big pebbles and because the "boardwalk" along the edge is asphalt, right by the road no less and therefore not especially inviting).


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I did not give Brighton much time because even though I was up at 6, writing a post took a while and I lingered, too, over breakfast, which was lovely and prepared exactly to my liking. Again I passed on the croissants and other delicious extras. The time for carb heavy breakfasts is just around the corner. For now, I'm enjoying the English take on the morning meal.


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My map of Brighton got lost in the shuffle and so I haven't the detail I'd like for this post, but I'll walk you through my half day, or half of half day and you should know that my walk is the one recommended by my hosts and so I think it captures the heart of this place reasonably well.


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(I start at the guest house -- the building with the yellow sign)




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(plenty of narrow lanes with sweet shops)




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(pedestrian zones offering more shopping opportunities)


A major attraction in Brighton is the Royal Pavilion. In fact, it put Brighton on the map even before the rail came here. It is the place that was built for the pleasures of Prince Regent George IV and if you think it looks a little Indian in design, that's because there is that influence, at least on the outside.


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I did not visit it on the inside because I did not want to spend the hour on it and besides, I was too distracted by the flowers in the garden and the appearance of a young fox. No one seems to know why he is here and how he came here. Maybe he considers this his summer home now, not unlike many who operate out of here especially in the summer months, finding that to be a more lucrative time for business.


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More walking along pedestrian funky streets, reminding me also a little of our own State Street in Madison, though without the students that tend to populate our own place of eclectic shops and eateries.


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I did go into two stores -- one called Bebe something -- with kid clothes of course and one that is very London, also displaying at least a small section of children's attire.


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(that's me, handing over the credit card)


I think my granddaughter will be ready for a summer play-suit and a summer dress and matching pants and hoodie. I sort of cannot imagine her entering the three month range, but indeed, when I get back, she'll be just a few days short of three which is in my mind quite amazing.

More strolling, more taking it in...


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(this is probably my favorite block)



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(lots of original store names)



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And by noon I'm done. I pick up my suitcase from the lovely and perfectly tended guest house ("we thought we'd relax after doing the major renovation eight years ago, but there is always something that needs updating, fixing, refreshing") and I walk the long way to the station, allowing myself even more views of street scenes that seem to be the essence of this interesting city. I think I gave you the best parts of it. (There are large sections of Brighton that are less interesting.)


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(my last England photo has to have a Fish and Chips sign!)


Now comes the time to take the 13:03 to Gatwick Airport, where I catch the 5:05pm Easy Jet (discount airline) to Nice,  arriving there a little tardy at 8:30pm (this also reflects France's continental time zone which runs an hour ahead of the U.K.).

I'm not staying in Nice. I'm staying in La Napoule, just west of Cannes (a half hour drive or train trip from Nice).

Do you remember the movie (or book) "A Room with a View?" In it, Charlotte the chaperone to Lucy goes on incessantly about the absence of a view in their set of rooms at a Florence Pensione, despite the promise of one in the correspondence leading up to the reservation. I love that scene! Charlotte, of course, appears a bit batty, but I understand her point. Each one of us has something that they want from their rooms away from home (except for Ed who just wants to be left alone to create his little mess around him and not be told to clean up because the maid needs space to walk around the bed). When this something is missing, you feel lost.

On this trip I am achieving that rare miracle of 100% satisfaction. I could not improve on the places where I stayed and I am just entering another gem -- this one predictably so, because it's the newest apartment renovation and rental effort on the part of the renovators extraordinaire -- Jean Paul and Martine Krebs.

Maybe you'll recall how happy I was in my little apartment in Alsace in October? I met Jean-Paul the owner then and we got chatting and I found out about his exciting venture into the south and I told him I'd be his first guest there and, well, they got it ready in time for my visit and here I am -- their first and very excited guest.

They, too, are excited, or very kind, or both because Jean-Paul picks me up at Nice airport, saving me the train trip to La Napoule and he not only shows off the new place for me, but he and Martine take me out to dinner at the Neapolis -- one of the many restaurants open year-round here.

A quick pic of the apartment, also called La Napoule...


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And of the wonderful dinner...


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...where I choose pizza because I miss a good pizza so much and this one is absolutely perfect and with so much sea food that it really puts me in the mood for being on the coast.


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The dessert choice? There's not even a question.


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I'll write more on all the wonderfulness that I find here in my next post. As it is, considering the terrifically fun dinner, the food eaten, the wine consumed, the stories told, it isn't until midnight when I finally turn off the lights and lose myself in the comfort of a heavenly bed.


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8 comments:

  1. Love the little fox! And appropriately enough, Snowdrop was in her 3-6mo fox print onesie and playing with her little fox toy the same day you were enjoying the real fox.
    La Napoule apartment is gorgeous! And what wonderful hosts!

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    1. Ah, coincidence! It think this was only the second time in my life that I saw a fox in the wild.
      Yes, the apartment and hosts are both superb. They were a lucky and rare find.

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  2. You're right, you have a "Brighton", we have a Brighton, every college town has a Brighton. Funky chic is becoming standard. The storefront facades are similar, the colors, the little eccentricities.
    Those legs in the air were unique in my experience! First I laughed, then cringed. Now the owner, I suspect, would be satisfied with that cringe. That means she's got an edge.
    My favorite part of your day there was shopping for those summery bebe clothes. Imagine that :)

    Your apartment at La Napoule is so inviting. The lovely private balcony, I'd be tempted to just hang out there and people-watch from my perch. Do you have "a view" ? yes, that one of my favorite films, long ago.

    My husband makes a terrific seafood pizza. One of his secrets is herbed feta, such a good combination.
    Surely those macarons were for the table? Just one will just about do me in! SO sweet, but ah, the textures!

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    1. The apartment is right across the street from the marina and the tiny beach, but there are large pines growing up and down the street which adds a nice green touch, though they do block the full view to the sea.
      As for the macarons -- Martine and I shared them and Jean-Paul used the whipped cream for his ice cream. They are people who enjoy food and wine. It was such a good break for me from a string of solo meals!

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  3. All gorgeous. I've seen those red/white striped upside down legs before, in Anna's blog! I don't suppose you ran into Anna in Brighton while you were briefly there? Have you seen the movie "Brighton Rock" Nina? I have two different versions of it. It's quite an eye-opener concerning the town. We've never been there, the farthest south we got (when we flew into Gatwick) was Hayward's Heath. A nice little town just north of Brighton on the road to Gatwick. Have fun in France!

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  4. I've been keeping up with all your posts - every syllable and mark of punctuation. So much chocolate cake to take in! Sorry, I've been quiet - you've left me dazed with delight and wanted to let you know. Love.

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  5. The Royal Pavillion is amazing, quite a surprise, as is the lovely fox! And I just have to comment on the young man with the incredible red mohawk.

    So many of those rowhouses/buildings are painted brick or stucco. I think that's the biggest difference from the older buildings in our area. We have them, they're brick still un-defaced. I think maybe I like the stucco the best.

    Glad to see you've met up with some old friends. And what a lovely meal! You have me wishing for macarons.

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