It was a sunny Sunday when I got on the train in East Croydon. Destination: Eastbourne. I have been to Hastings, Worthing and Brighton many, many times but not Eastbourne. I had heard that it’s mostly a city for old people, but that doesn’t bother me because it’s Sunday and I’m not looking for a crazy party experience but a relaxing day on the seafront.
This year, I haven’t made enough of an effort to get out of London. When you live in the city, you forget, that this country has so much more to offer. And that you’re missing out on cultural insights and valuable experiences when you confine your life to the London bubble. Don’t get me wrong, I love London (in a way, more or less) and I have experienced more there in 4 years than my entire lifetime leading up to it. Ok. That was a bit much, a bit exaggeration, but you get my point.
The train to Eastbourne was packed, suitcases and bicycles blocked the aisles. Before heading to the coast the train passed Gatwick, where for most people the journey ended. Not for me. When I finally got to sit down, I attempted to read but gave up on that very quickly. Looking out of the window seemed like a better way to pass time. To see what’s out there. Green, plush fields, cows, sheep – it had been a long time I had seen a scenery like that.
I arrived at Eastbourne. How cute is the train station?! So small, in comparison. I followed other people out on the street, most of them seemed to be heading into the town centre, which, let’s face it, was only a few steps away from the station. I wouldn’t even dare to write “5 minutes away” as it was less than that. At this point, I didn’t care too much about Eastbourne high street. The seafront was where I wanted to be.
When I arrived at the seafront, I couldn’t believe how many people where there. What’s going on? I came here early enough in an attempt to beat the London weekend crowd to it. What I didn’t realise at first was, that the Royal Air Force held it’s annual flight show that weekend. Now it all made sense. I sat down on the beach and joined the locals in admiring old and new aircraft and the talent of the pilots, who drew shapes in the sky.
After a while I began to explore the seafront. I walked away from the pier and passed a fortress. When I realised that there probably wasn’t anything exciting going on walking further, I returned to the fortress. I had no idea Eastbourne had one, I felt stupid. I went in and educated myself. Apparently the Redoubt Fortress had been built in 1805. It was part of the British anti-invasion preparations during the Napoleonic Wars. I have seen a fair share of castles and fortresses in Europe but never a circular coastal defence fort like this one. At least I don’t think I have.
I continued walking back towards the pier. Since my first visit of a seaside town piers have fascinated me. On one hand, probably because I’m from a landlocked country and I like everything related to the sea and beach, on the other hand because of the rich history of many piers. A lot of the well known UK “pleasure” piers were built in the 19th century and include(d) amusements, theatres, cafes and restaurants. I was tempted to get an afternoon tea at the piers Victorian Tea Rooms as it looked quintessentially English. The café interior was as kitschy as it gets – huge, tacky chandeliers, fake flowers, the prices seemed ok, but I couldn’t be bothered waiting for a free table. I took a few photos, enjoyed the view and left the pier as there wasn’t much more to do.
What I didn’t realize when I came to Eastbourne was that Seven Sisters was so close to the city. Before coming to Eastbourne, I checked the map – where are the cliffs? How can I get there? How long will it take me from the city center/the pier? To me, it seemed that walking up there wasn’t doable in the short time I was in Eastbourne, so I didn’t prepare for it. When I actually was in the city, it didn’t seem that far away and I started walking towards the cliffs. I ended up walking up halfway and enjoyed the view. I contemplated if I should walk up even further, but I didn’t have the right shoes and also didn’t want to stress.
After relaxing, enjoying the view, sending a photo to my mum and instagramming I walked back down to the seafront, where the flight show was still going on. Now, they were showcasing the Eurofighter Typhoon – “the worlds most advanced combat aircraft”. It’s incredible how loud those aircrafts are – it sounded like a heavy thunder storm was approaching. I could still hear them when I walked away from the seafront to the high street.
By this time, I was tired and ready to go back home. I sat down in a coffee shop chain where I got my caffeine fix and reflected on the day. All in all, it has been a good Sunday – a nice day trip, which I would recommend to anyone, especially Londoners to get out of the bubble. Would I want to spend more time there than one day? No, probably not, to me it’s more of a weekend, daytrip destination. Eastbourne has not won a spot on my favourite UK cities list, but I enjoyed it anyway.
Have you been to Eastbourne? What are your thoughts? Any recommendations for next time?