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Wow. I accidentally arrived in Brighton. Perhaps you could just imagined me giggling and purring for the next fifteen minutes as a substitute for this blog post. Here’s the fun story anyway.
I suppose I should give a word of warning about Brighton for travelers. Once you arrive, you won’t want to leave. Maybe this is what all European cities are like. I found it simply magical. I was only there for a day, but I definitely plan to go back for at least a week so I can properly enjoy it. I will probably also go in the summer when the pier is in full swing, and hopefully they will have the i360 open by then as well. I’m told that it will still be comfortably chilly.
An Accidental Bus to Brighton
How I got to Brighton is quite funny. I was actually trying to find a host in Bristol so I could visit Bath. I got confused by all the city names starting with B, and by the time I caught my mistake, I had already booked a Couchsurfing host in Brighton. I am so glad that I did.
I found a very cheap bus from London down to Brighton with National Express – a paltry $5! I arrived quite late at night, and it turned out my host was actually in the neighboring town of Hove. I was still quite euphoric with my newfound freedom and adventure, and I had no problem walking to her house in the dark, even though the temperature was freezing, there was a strong sea breeze and I picked a road to her house that went up and down a hill rather than another road that remained level.
Despite my late arrival, she was happy to receive me, and moments later had a hot tea in my hands in true British style. She was actually French, but had already taken a strong liking to English tea. We ended up talking late into the night. She had a penthouse flat (what the British call an apartment) with a stunning view of the sea. At one point in the conversation, I glanced out the window and gasped when I saw an absolutely massive halo around the moon. It was so big that I later found out it had made it into magazines around the world!
A Morning Exploring Brighton
I got up on Monday morning for a two-mile walk along the beach. It was nothing like the west-coast USA beaches. I was fascinated by the shoreline. It was a mixture of pebbles, shells and brick chunks, with patches of sand here and there. Very cool! Along the beachfront, there were dozens of shops and food stands, many of which looked quite good, and some even had awards for best food in England. I didn’t end up getting anything, partially because I couldn’t decide what to get, and partially because I was starting my travels on a shoestring budget. Later, I purchased a scrumptious ham and cheese crepe at the entrance to the pier.
Eventually I made it to the pier. Perhaps you saw my Facebook post about it being infinitely better than the Santa Monica pier in southern California, which I had frequented often. There is certainly a reason it was voted the best pier in the world in 1998. It has great snack shops all long the length, interspersed with arcades and casinos, and then an amusement park at the end. The activity was pretty low in the dead of winter, but tickets for a full day on the pier are only £12 ($15) for all the rides and attractions, of which there are dozens.
I didn’t pay for any of the rides, but I did get a cheap ham and cheese crepe at the entrance to the pier. I think that was one of my first crepes in my life. Although it might have been low-quality and nothing compared to what I would later find in France, it was simply divine to me.
I should also describe the i360, which I mentioned earlier. It’s a “vertical pier” to replace the original Brighton pier which burned down for the third time a few years ago. It’s quite impressive, as It will be the tallest observation deck in the UK (it is advertised as the tallest in the world, but I don’t think that’s true).
I then went to see the Brighton Royal Pavilion. It’s definitely not the kind of structure you would expect to see in a British resort town. The landscaping was under renovation, so my photos were not as spectacular as they could have been, but impressive nonetheless. It’s possible to pay £13.50 ($18) for the entrance fee and tour the building, but that wasn’t part of my budget.
Next I went to The Lanes and North Laine. For the official meaning of those, click here. The Lanes, as was described for me, are more for tourists and a bit more expensive. North Laine, on the other hand, is incredible. Hard to describe exactly why, but the smells alone were simply divine. I had some hot ginger lemonade at a vegetarian restaurant called Iydea (which I went back to the next morning for their breakfast muffin). Out of this world. Definitely the perfect drink for a cold winter day.
The highlight of the day was a trip with my host, Karin Fuller, to a Fish and Chips pub. From this, I have tell you to disregard the post I wrote about the fish and chips I had in London. That one simply doesn’t compare. The piece of fish at this place was a foot long, and DELICIOUS!!! Now that was real English fish and chips, and exactly what I’ve been dying to have for years.
The night ended with another great talk with my host, a fantastic lady very well traveled and educated. She knows many languages to various degrees, is a professional freelance translator between English and French, and has the most amazing flat. Much bigger than the ones I stayed at in London (there are less space constrictions in Brighton than London). Her flat is really incredible. Very neat, nicely decorated and amazingly furnished. I loved the duvet I slept on. And as a wonderful ending for the night, there was a massive halo around the moon about 30 times the diameter of the moon itself. Showed it to my host, and she was just as enchanted as I was. Update: A couple months later, my host’s mom brought her a fashion magazine from France, and it mentioned the moon above Brighton the night we saw it!
And that was Brighton. I got my breakfast muffin the next morning, hopped on a bus back to London and then transferred to another bus to Bristol, my original intended destination. Bath, here I come. Farewell Brighton. I shall see you again soon.
Update: As promised, I returned to Brighton as soon as I could. After 5 weeks bouncing all around northern Italy, it was time to slow down and catch up on the blog. I contacted the same host I had stayed with originally, and she agreed to let me stay for a whole week. While I did spend most of my time catching up on all my Italian stories for the blog, I also squeezed in daily walks along the beach and through the Lanes and North Laine. We ate again at Bankers, I purchased several more meals at Iydea, we watched a movie together (my first movie in the cinema in 2015) and I took a long tour of the Brighton Museum. I also made it onto the pier, and while I didn’t do any of the rides, I spent £2 playing in the penny arcade! Since I had just overspent in my visit to Italy, the roller coasters are still on my bucket list. That is the Law of the Traveler after all.