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December 3, 2021 / Jim Fenton

Sussex Day 9: Brighton to London

Friday, November 12, 2021

Since it is now 2 days before our return to the United States, today was the day for our pre-trip COVID test. We were a little nervous about that because, of course, it determines whether we return as planned. Expecting a similar experience as for our Day 2 test, we were a bit surprised that this time we would have to do a proctored test where the proctor would watch us take the test via video chat. The next surprise was that you seem to need both a smartphone to run their app and some other device for the chat session. So we got out our iPads, and (third surprise) there was apparently a bug in their application causing it not to work on an iPad. So we got out my Mac laptop and (fourth surprise) couldn’t use my usual browser, Firefox, but could fortunately use Safari. Each test took about half an hour, including a 15-minute wait for the test to develop. Following the wait, a second video chat was set up where they read the test with you and issued your certificate. Very fortunately, both of our tests were negative.

We checked out of the apartment/hotel just before checkout time and stored our bags. Then the question was what to do until Celeste finished classes so we could all take the train to London. The answer was the Sea Life Brighton, apparently the oldest aquarium in the world. While not an extensive collection, many of the exhibits were in a classic style with ornate frames supporting the glass windows. There was a very enjoyable tunnel where you can sit while fish (and turtles!) swim overhead. The aquarium covered a number of regions of the world, with more of an emphasis on fresh-water fish than many others we have seen.

After browsing a bookstore for a while, we collected our bags and headed for the train station. Trains run to Victoria Station in London every half hour, and fortunately that connected well with the train Celeste took from Falmer to meet us.

After the train trip and Tube ride to Paddington Station, we walked the short distance to our hotel, a newly renovated boutique hotel called Inhabit. We chose it largely because it had nice triple rooms, including an actual bed (not sofa bed) for Celeste. No London trip would be complete without a hotel where it’s necessary to lug your bags up a flight of stairs, but fortunately this one only required a single flight. Our room was modern and comfortable.

I had booked a table at the Victoria, a pub in the Paddington area, and we were seated in a pleasant and not noisy dining room upstairs. Dinner was excellent. Upon returning to the hotel, Celeste immediately collapsed for the night on her cozy bed.

This article is part of a series about our recent travels to southern England. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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