Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the road (Europe 2010): Brighton to Cornwall

Because of difficulties getting a reliable internet connection, I've been slow to post trip updates. I would have thought public wireless connections as easily available in the UK as they are in the US, but it seems that's not the case.

Following two days in Eastbourne and Brighton with my friend Jonathan, we've moved on to Cornwall, via Salisbury and Taunton. We took a quick look at Salisbury Cathedral from the outside, as it was closed. Later we got stuck at a horrible hotel and even worse restaurant there, which is a shame, as I have fond memories of Taunton, the town I stayed in as a child over two summers in 1966 and 1967.  I had to work late into the night, despite fatigue and jet lag, which was no help at all. After eating a decent lunch today, I'm finally beginning to feel somewhat refreshed. We drove late in the day on the 10th from Taunton to Marazion, in Cornwall.

I enjoyed seeing Brighton Pavillion, in Brighton. It's an oddly artificial-looking building that seems like a movie set from the outside, but it's fairly spectacular inside. It's so over the top that its fascinating. It's remarkable that so many Chinese elements were integrated into a design developed by people that had never seen China--although it sounds like the royal family had access to many artifacts from China.

We walked around the town of Brighton a bit, too. I think Eastbourne is actually more attractive than its more famous neighbor. Still, there were some interesting shops.

We spent a night at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, where we enjoyed a good meal at the Mirabelle restaurant and a bottle of the 2003 Yon-Figeac, which was marked by very attractive scents of plums, roses, caramel, and sandalwood. Churchill stayed here. Claude Debussy composed La Mer here.

On the way out of Eastbourne we passed through the town of Peacehaven. It is here that the prime meridian leaves the English coast and enters the sea. There is a marker that is poorly marked, but we finally tracked it down. It has a wonderful bronze plaque on it from the 1930s that shows distances from the prime meridian in terms of miles and degrees azimuth that is remarkable for the way it completely ignores any of the world's great cities that are not part of the British Empire of the time. It shows Melbourne, Ottowa, Aden, Calcutta, Rangoon, Singapore, and Hong Kong, but not Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, New York, or San Francisco.

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