Brighton, England

This past weekend I celebrated my 24th birthday.  I know that 24 is still young, and I’ve got a lot of good years ahead of me, but I can’t help feeling so old!  I mean, ten years ago, I thought I’d be in a completely different place than I am now.  I probably imagined myself planning a wedding, having a great job, maybe living in some big city in the Midwest.  So far, I’m 0 for 3.  Not that I would change a thing; I’m so happy I’ve chosen the path that has lead me to living in London, obtaining my MSc, and $30,00+ in debt!  One of the things I definitely want to do while I’m living in London is travel.  I want to go to Germany, Greece, Italy, and every other place that is across the Atlantic from home.  So far, I haven’t been super great at doing so, but getting settled in and making sure that I’m keeping up with my classes has taken up most of my time.  However, I did manage to take a little day trip to Brighton over the weekend in celebration of my old age.  I even managed to get Olly to take a photo (or 48) with me at my birthday dinner, aren’t we cute?

Brighton is just an hour train ride away from London, which makes it a perfect destination for a quick getaway.  While it’s not exactly a small seaside town, the feel of it is so different from London.  Plus the sea air makes for a refreshing change from the smells of a big city.  Along the seaside is where a lot of the nightlife happens.  Olly used to live in Brighton, so as we were walking he was telling me about some of the clubs and the crazy nights he used to have.  Apparently in the summer they’ll be loads of people on the beach and along the walking road just before.  I will definitely have to revisit to see it first hand!

The pier (pictured below) is also a fun place to go in Brighton.  They’ve got arcade games, food stands, and rides!  While we were there, we went on a rollercoaster called Turbo.  I’ve never really been a fan of rollercoasters.  This one, like every other, caused an uncontrollable panic as soon as it started to move.  Immediately, the coaster started climbing up this big hill, and I regretted the moment of bravery that drove me to pull the safety bar down over my head.  When the ride finally stopped I could barely stand up to get off, my hands were shaking so badly, and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.  Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be getting on that rollercoaster again.

One of the other things Brighton is known for is the culture.  In Olly’s words: “It’s the San Fransisco of England.”  A wonderful mixture of bohemian style shops, vintage clothing stores, and unique cafe’s line what is called the North Laines.  Along with the shops, there is an impressive collection of street art that makes the atmosphere almost whimsical.  You can find everything from rave worthy clothing, to incense and essential oils, and everything in between.  We explored the shops for a couple hours before lunch, and in one of the clothing stores I found TWO gently used Burberry trench coats.  Sadly, both were far too big for me, but that just shows what kind of amazing items you can discover!

 

When it came to choosing a place to eat, I wanted something a bit healthy, but also something with a little uniqueness.  With the almost hippie culture, cafe’s featuring vegetarian and vegan foods are quite popular and abundant.  We chose to try out Wai Kika Moo Kau (Why Kick A Moo Cow).  It was obviously one of the more popular spots, as we tried to get in three times before there was finally an open table.  The menu featured a number of wraps and pitas, as well as a selection of breakfast items.  Olly ordered a Full English Breakfast (a vegetarian version), and I had a Vegan Falafel Wrap with Tomato Lentil Soup.  It was so yummy!  The falafel was so flavorful and had this great mint sauce with it.  Plus the food was so filling!  Definitely worth stopping by if you find yourself in Brighton!

There are several events throughout the year that make Brighton a holiday destination.  Home to the biggest Pride celebration in England, for a weekend in August music, parades, and family events take over the city.  Thousands of people of all ages flock to the city for the celebration.  There’s even a dog show!  I plan on being there next summer, and can’t wait to attend a celebration based on loving and accepting everyone!

On December 21st (the shortest day of the year), the event “Burning the Clocks” takes place.  This is an event where people make paper lanterns, carry them through the city, then place them in the huge bonfire on Brighton beach.  The celebration marks the turning of the year, and is a time for reflection on the past and thinking about what will come in the future.

Brighton is also home to England’s largest arts festival, Brighton Fringe.  This takes place for an entire month between May and June.  Featuring both local and well known talent, events from live music, acrobatics, and art installations occur throughout the duration of the festival.  You can choose from a huge selection of free or paid events.  There is something for everyone to enjoy!

Brighton is a fantastic city with so many things to see and do throughout the year!  If you have the opportunity to visit, don’t miss it!

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