Brilliant Brighton

This weekend we went to Brighton as part of my birthday present from Ellie to me. We had heard so much about Brighton and how hip and open-minded it was and how similar it was to Key West or some other liberal seaside town. It is only one hour away from London.

We rushed straight after work as our train was leaving at 5:52 exactly and we both get out of work between 5 and 5:30. We met at London Bridge station with enough time to attempt to make an earlier train. That train was so packed with commuters, heading home for the weekends with their faces smashed against the glass and their briefcases resting on their heads that we decided to wait the extra 15 minutes and take our original train. When it pulled up it was still packed so we stood for the first 15 minutes but eventually it cleared out as stopped at places like Clapham Junction and East Croydon. Once we finally made it to Brighton, we hailed a taxi to take us to our bed and breakfast where we met Marcus and John, the couple who owned

and they showed us to our room where we had a beautiful window that you can see the ocean from. We drank a cup of tea and relaxed in our room for a few minutes before we set off on foot to find the Concorde which is the venue that Tegan and Sara were playing at. Ellie got us tickets for my birthday since they are one of our favorite bands. We got there just in time to catch the tail end of the set of Northern State which were amazing. Then Tegan and Sara took the stage and we got a beer and listened to their set, thrilled we were in Brighton with our favorite twins.

The show was perfect as they played their old songs and their new songs off of The Con. They were hilarious as all of the English people kept yelling out, “Tegan, you’re so fit!” and they just scratched their heads puzzled.

After the show, we were starving and attempted to find some late night food in Brighton. Brighton is beautiful at night with the pier glowing in the distance.

(This is right next to the Concorde where the show was)

Next to kebabs, it was looking a little dismal but we managed to find a sit-down restaurant still serving full menu Italian food. Ellie got some mushrooms and eggplant parm and I got some subpar spaghetti and garlic bread. Our plan was to go out on the town, but after you eat your weight in pasta, nobody wants to dance or drink. We headed back to the B and B, drank some more tea and crashed.

The next morning the first order of business was to see the ocean up close and walk around the pier and do some tourist activities. We had an excellent and very posh three course breakfast that Marcus cooked for us consisting of muesli, croissants, eggs, spinach and muffins.

Afterwards, we walked along the beach. Brighton does not have sand and instead has huge stones which look like they would be hugely inconvenient and uncomfortable but are instead not bad because you can sit and not get sand all over your clothing and feet.

It was so nice to be near the Atlantic ocean again and so crazy to think that this is
the same ocean that touches our shores at home.

I kept thinking that I could look across the English Channel and see France, but of course, you can’t look across the Atlantic and see Cuba from Key West so it was a silly idea. After spending an hour at the beach, we walked around the Brighton Pier which has rides and greasy carnival food and extends very far on to the water. It was overpriced and touristy but a lot of fun to walk around.

We also noticed that there were some people swimming in the ocean without wetsuits. It was very cold and was not even a spring day, much less a summer day. When the people came out of the water their entire bodies were so red and miserable looking, it was crazy.

Afterwards we walked around the North Laines shopping area which has the cutest shops, brightly colored and people just milling around the boutiques and record stores and eating outside at vegetarian cafes. Every other restaurant is vegetarian in Brighton. The North Laines made me want to move to Brighton and walk around on the weekends and sit outside on picnic tables drinking pints while people-watching.

We were getting quite hungry so we decided to check out Hop Poles which is a pub that a friend had suggested. However, we had to go down tiny, one person only lanes and alleys to find it.

It was nice though with about a 6 page menu and many vegetarian options and Leffe on top and Sufjan on the stereo. I got veggie chilli with rice and Ellie got a jacket sweet potatoe with goats cheese and veggies on top and a Guiness. We sat outside under the heat lamp enjoying the winter weather. After we decided to head back to our room and have a nap, but stopped on the way back at the Pier to get some donuts like the kind they make with the sugar and put in a bag. They were greasy and
delicious and we sat on the beach and ate them.

After a nice long nap and some more tea…

(I am beginning to love hot tea which probably means I am a true Brit now and just need to stay)

we headed to the only place we could find online that was a brewery in Brighton. I got some boring beer that seemed to be light instead of white like I asked but
Ellie got a nice room temperature one and we sipped and watched other enjoying the rugby match. Afterwards, we headed to the South Laines for our dinner reservation at Food For Friends which is this very upscale vegetarian restaurant that is basically a Brighton institution. The food was to die for and we got some mulled wine which
was amazing as well. As we were sitting there, we saw many groups of people walk by in costume. There was a group of golfers, French maids, some lingerie wearers, and some people in camouflage. Upon asking our waitress she just shrugged and said “That’s Brighton for you.” After dinner we headed out for some more drinks and to see some Brighton nightlife. We didn’t stay out too late though because Gaelle and Masih were meeting us early the next morning.

The next morning we slept in and woke to the seagulls crowing outside of our window on our porch. It was really comfortable and nice. We scurried downstairs to have our sunday brunch with Marcus and John. It was even better the second day. Masih and Gaellie called while we were having breakfast and they said they were at the beach waiting for us. We spotted them and sprinted towards them, hugging and being so excited to be with friends in another city outside of London and near the ocean with a whole day ahead of us.

We sat around for a little bit observing the ocean and taking photos and then showed them the pier where they got noodles at some little Asian takeaway.

The weather was beautiful and much warmer this day. Masih was acting crazy and so happy because in Iran she doesn’t have the freedom to be relaxed near the ocean and shout and run and scream and go swimming. She couldn’t understand how we took it for granted and it was really refreshing to have a reminder how lucky we are. She was so excited she stripped off her jeans and her sweater and went swimming in her thermals.

After, we walked around the North Laines and bought some clotted cream fudge. We headed to the Royal Pavilion afterwards and upon John and Marcus suggestions, we paid the 5.60 to take the tour of the pavillion.

The pavillion is absolutely breathtaking. The interiors are magnificent and mostly still intact from the 1700 and 1800s when King George IV entertained his guests there and his conquests and women. The whole pavilion has Asian influences and looks like the Taj Mahal or something on the outside. The Asian theme is used throughout as it is decorated with birds and snakes and dragons. The chandelier above the dining room weighs more than one ton and guests were scared to sit under in case it came crashing down and it is hung from a giant dragon on the huge domed ceiling. Everything is so ornate and so well preserved. They didn’t let you take any photos inside though.

(but here are a few from Google, but they don’t even do it justice)

Afterwards we got some tea at the cutest ice cream parlor. We stumbled across this cake shop which was just amazing, literally the most amazing realistic cakes we have ever seen. We couldn’t tell what was cake in the store and what was decoration.

After the cakes we got some dinner from this little veggie place called Iydea and then we rushed back so they could catch their bus and we could catch our trains, both coming back to NW1 London.

Overall, we were both really taken with Brighton and have now begun thinking about pursuing graduate degrees there because in the UK you get a two year work visa for one year masters program so we could stay here for two years then. It’s just a thought though since we both really love New York and Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. It was a really nice early birthday present from Ellie and something we will never forget.


3 Responses to “Brilliant Brighton”

  1. 1 Cory March 1, 2008 at 12:42 am


  2. 2 Sara Elizabeth March 1, 2008 at 6:32 am

    DON’T YOU DARE STAY THERE FOR TWO MORE YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    we need to live together. stop being silly.

  3. 3 suez March 2, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Kelly and Ellie,
    I love your blog site! I feel like I am there with you. The beautiful photos and detailed prose let me enjoy your experiences vicarously!
    Can’t wait to be there in “real time”! I love the postcards too! Please keep them coming! Luv Mum Z.

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