The B&B itself was a bit of a dump..
. you know you've found classy lodgings when they're in an alley behind a shop that sells fake butts. The beds were hard, the shower was so small I literally couldn't turn around in it, light bulbs were missing, windows stuck open, and the floor sort of dipped down like it was about to give way. But it was enough to get a comfortable sleep, and the owner, Pete, was a very nice and funny guy... every time we saw him, he made us laugh and spent a few minutes telling us about the area... though more often than not, he got the rides and buildings mixed up. By the time we got settled in, the weather had improved just slightly, and we went out to explore.
Although we got pretty unlucky with the weather, we were there at the right time for the Illuminations- a display of lights above the main road, stretching for a few miles. It wasn't much to look at in the daytime, of course, but at night it was like a really low-budget Las Vegas. Other than the lights, the distinctive feature of Blackpool was its repetitiveness. With very few exceptions, all the food stands sold the same 6 or 7 items, all the arcades had the same games, all the shops sold the same novelty items, and 2 of the 3 piers were virtually identical- the third was just a regular pier with a theater at the end. Of course, the first day, it was hard to tell- virtually everything was closed because of the harsh weather. But we had a good time wandering around looking at the goofy signs and the crazy statues around Pleasure Beach, the main amusement park to the south.
We also found a couple arcades that were open, and quickly discovered something odd about Britain- the arcades were filled with, and almost exclusively composed of, crappy slot machines. Not the kind where you pull a lever and the fruits line up, but the really ugly gaudy boring kind where you push a button and a bunch of lights flash and tell you you've lost
. A lot of these were themed in an effort to appeal to kids, but the theme was incredibly shallow... for example, the Empire Strikes Back machine just had a couple pictures of snowspeeders on it, and the rest just looked like a generic slot machine- they didn't even change the symbols from the standard cherries and lemons and "BAR" signs. Most of them just gave out tickets, which allowed them to totally dominate the kid-oriented areas, but every arcade had a small area set aside for over-18s... which had pretty much the exact same machines, except they gave out cash instead. I was hoping to find some old, classic arcade games, but there wasn't a single one to be found... the only actual video games they had were modern shooters. We did play one of these that was so ridiculous as to be fun, though, called Museum Panic. The plot is basically two cops saying "all these missing persons cases lead here- to the old, abandoned natural history museum!" and then going in and getting attacked by all the exhibits. It didn't take itself seriously at all, which made it a lot more fun- Glennica shot an Egyptian headdress and then her character was wearing it during all the cutscenes from then on, and there was a bonus stage where the object of the game was to destroy everything in the museum's gift shop. Also, according to the game's attract mode, the cops are apparently in SPACE shooting lasers at one point. I need to find a ROM of this when I get back home!
One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Blackpool was because I'd heard there were a lot of ghost trains (aka dark rides
) there. I love dark rides, and I was thrilled to find a really classic-looking one, Carnesky's Ghost Train, as we were exploring. Unfortunately, it was closed except for on the weekends, and we were leaving Friday morning, so I never got to ride it. We later discovered that it was actually new, having opened in April of this year, but I still regret having missed the chance to experience it.
Right now we're in Plymouth, and I've just finished a complimentary full English breakfast (well, minus the tomato and baked beans), and we need to check out soon, so I'll let the pictures and videos tell the rest of the story. I'll update with more about Blackpool as soon as we have a stable wireless connection and some spare time!
The train ride from Edinburgh wasn't much to talk about... just a lot of waiting as endless rolling hills covered in sheep whizzed by. It would have been pretty and relaxing, but the weather was getting rough... as we got nearer and nearer Blackpool, the wind and rain increased, and it ended up a lot like our trip to the Highlands. When we finally reached Blackpool, we had to walk a couple miles in cold rain and wind so powerful it threatened to push us out into the street. We finally found our lodgings, the Traveler's Rest, near a tattoo parlor and fancy dress shop (fancy dress is what the British call costumes, apparently). Normally, Blackpool is a sunny beach with three piers full of sleazy, silly amusements... the reason we'd decided on Blackpool in the first place is because it had been described as the Coney Island of Britain, and since we hadn't had time to visit actual Coney Island, it seemed like a good substitute.