Trains were late, the weather was drizzling – something I had imagined was only isolated to London – but as the salt air came in off the ocean and filled my lungs everything seemed better, it began to feel like home. This ‘home’ I speak of is Brighton, the seaside town famous for its Pier and pebble beach, and was home for three days.
As we put our umbrellas up I had a feeling that we wouldn’t be visiting the beach today.
When coming to any new city the first thing I do is try to orientate myself and work out where I am in relation to what I want to see. Instead of sitting in Umi Hotel pouring over a map we were treated with a new way at orientating ourselves with the city – through a tour with a Brighton Greeter.
Despite the pitter patter of rain falling outside the Brighton Visitors Centre the atmosphere inside was warm as our Brighton Greeter shook each of our hands introducing himself as Chris, a local Brighton resident for over 30-years. Chris’ passion was in the history of Brighton right from the cities early origins to the current day.
Pulling out a visitors map, free to anyone who visits the Visitors Centre, Chris explained the simple orientation of the city to us – North Street, East Street, West Street, the North Laines, and North Road – it all sounded as clear as mud to me but we were ensured it’d make sense as soon as we begun walking.
“What do you want to see?”
That was the question that was posed to the group by our guide as he tried to ascertain where he should take us in the city. Whilst each of the Greeters has a particular passion for the city they tried to find something special for every group. We were Brighton newbies and opted for the run-down on the city from the Laine ways to the history, and of course the famous street art.
Stopping at The Royal Pavilion, the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and wandering the back streets of the city to places like St Bartholomew’s Church we were able to explore the city in its entirety instead of stopping at the areas people pointed at a map and told us “That’s what you seen when you’re in Brighton.”
As we walked through the city Chris happily filled us in on interesting facts about the city, re-explained information we’d missed when we stopped for photos, where to find some of the tastier restaurants that Brighton has to offer, and where we should visit that the tourists don’t usually see.
A View from a Locals Perspective
Brighton was the first UK city which offered the Greeter scheme, and Chris goes on to explain that he feels that it could be quite a popular activity for tourists not only visiting Brighton but bigger cities.
The Brighton Greeting scheme is a free scheme in which local residents give up their time to show visitors their city. From the Laine ways of narrow shops, the history of Brighton until today; the famous Banksy graffiti of two policemen kissing, and even suggestions of where to eat, your Greeter will be able to show you how Brighton can cater to your interests.
And it’s always nice to be Greeted with a smile.
Brighton’s Greeter Tours are a free service provided by Visit Brighton and operate from the Brighton Visitors Centre.
Start location: Brighton’s Visitors Centre
Website: Visit Brighton’s website.