Brighton: Day 38 // On the Boardwalk, Down by the Sea

Today was, yet again, a very exhausting day that was jam packed. A friend and I adventured on our own to Brighton, an adorable beachside city filled with carnivals, rocky beaches, shops, and endless ice cream parlors. After just a short 1-hour train ride we arrived in Brighton at 11 am and began the day.

We started off by grabbing a quick breakfast at the nearest café and then made our way down the streets of Brighton. The streets are narrow but they’re filled with an endless amount of shops, many of which sold antiques, vintage clothes and rare memorabilia that had my friend and me nostalgic. We sifted through the shops, doing our best to navigate through the crowds. It came as no surprise to me that the streets were so populated, it was Saturday and Brighton was known for being a popular place on the weekends. The number of shops was a bit overwhelming; there were a lot of interesting and quirky things but nothing I found myself needing to have. We spent maybe an hour walking in and out of countless thrift stores.

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Satisfied with the window shopping we did, we decided to make our way towards the water. Where the coast began was only a short 10-minute walk from where we were; as we approached the water the cooler the air got and the stronger the wind became. Thankfully I had anticipated the colder weather on the coast and brought along my sweater. (Travel tip: always check the weather so that you can plan accordingly. Nothing is worse than a ruined trip because of discomfort ).

There’s just something about the ocean that makes me feel at peace; finally reaching the water was one of the highlights of my day. The smell of the sea salt water and the feel of the ocean breeze was heaven to me. My friend and I decided this was a good time to have a seat and take it all in so that’s what we did.

British beaches, just as anyone would guess, don’t quite compare to the beaches in the U.S. The shore is incredibly rocky (Is it still considered a beach if there’s no sand?) and the water was frigid from what I could guess from watching countless people dip their toes in and jump. Arguably, New York City beaches aren’t that great; they’re always overcrowded during the summer and the sand is filled with an abundance of trash that makes you wonder how people could even think about laying down on that beach to relax. So, for me, this was an upgrade despite the lack of sand and unendurable water. We took a seat amongst the rocks (they weren’t as uncomfortable as you’re probably guessing) and enjoyed the sounds and smell of the sea. I feel more at peace in front of the ocean than I do anywhere else;  after the long week of assignments I’ve had, this was a period of much-needed peace.

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I enjoyed sitting there so much that I didn’t want to leave before I knew it I realized we had spent an hour just sitting and relishing in the beauty of the ocean. It was then that we decided to move on and see what else this ocean side town had to offer us.

We continued along the boardwalk and back into town where we eventually came face to face with the Royal Pavilion. Admittedly, I had no clue what the Royal Pavilion was or its history – the beauty of it is what sparked my interest. I had googled things to do in Brighton prior to booking a train ticket and visiting the Royal Pavilion was on the list of results. After having found the Royal Pavilion location on the city map (No, I don’t mean the CityMapper app. I mean an actual map of the city. Yes, they exist) we realized that it was only a quick 5-minute walk; we decided that’d be our next stop in Brighton.

The Pavilion itself is somewhat isolated from the rest of the town – located within the confines of a park open to the public. With its Indo -Sacratic style, it’s hard for one not to stare in awe. It was a former royal residence of George Prince of Wales in the late 1700s. The huge domes that sit atop are the most captivating of all and made me oddly reminiscent of the animated film Aladdin.

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Within the park to which the pavilion is located, there is the Brighton museum and art gallery. My friend and I stumbled upon it and found that, coincidentally, it was free. Loving the idea of the opportunity to see a free exhibit, we entered the museum which featured various forms of ancient art that were interesting. Although it housed some exhibits that were thought-provoking (including one on extravagant street performers)  the museum/gallery itself lacked a certain flair and we were glad to have not paid to enter. After having visited every exhibit in the museum we made our way out and on to other things.

And thus, this brings us to our main event – the place I wanted to visit with the most desire since I heard about Brighton: the Brighton Pier. Along the pier were a vast amount of carnival rides and arcades, probably targeted towards the younger population but I was a kid at heart so it had the same effects on me as it did the youth. Roller coasters, spinning tea cups, a (not so) haunted house and a ride that looked dangerously high and life threatening, all inhabited the pier.

There was absolutely no hesitation in my mind to purchase ride tickets. For a mere 20£ you could gain entrance to all the rides all day; the thought of riding all the attractions brought me nothing short of joy. So, that’s what the rest of my day at Brighton consisted of: waiting on line, riding roller coasters and screaming at the top of my lungs as I was thrown, spun and lifted into the air (can you say adrenaline junky?). There was one ride in particular that rested very close to the edge of the board walk, lifting its passengers straight up into the sky and spins and turns them as it revolves; I honestly feared for my life at that point but at the same time I felt grateful to be alive to have the experience. The ride gave me a high I had never experienced before; I felt invincible afterward and eager for more.

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The day in its entirety consisted of nothing but big fun, the kind of beachy boardwalk fun I wish I had the opportunity to experience in New York City. I’ve always wanted to visit Coney Island with my friends and spend the entire day on the rides and eating boardwalk food. This trip to Brighton was a small dream came true! Although the sun wasn’t shining, the water was frigid and the pier food I ate was absolutely disgusting (seriously, it was so bad I just threw it out #WasteMyMoney) today turned out to be an amazing day.

The commute home was extremely long, draining and torturous. Our hour commute via rail felt more like 5 hours because we were so exhausted, and transferring to a bus that reached campus was another hour + commute in itself. Tomorrow I plan to stay in bed and properly recover from this excursion (I.e. I am sleeping in and not leaving my room tomorrow). To say I am beat would be an understatement, but ask me if I enjoyed myself today – I think that’s something more important.

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