[NOTE: In case you missed my previous post, I’d recommend giving it a quick read first before continuing with this one!]
I spent the majority of my trip in Brighton, a seaside town located on the south coast of England. As you may or may not know, I’m happiest when I’m by the water (growing up around Lake Erie and many family vacations to the Atlantic coast is happily to blame), so it didn’t take long to fall in love with Brighton. There are tons of restaurants, pubs, cafes, shopping, nightlife, art, markets and more, which means—at least while visiting—there’s always something to do! The area is also home to one of the biggest LGBT communities in the United Kingdom. I was wonderfully surprised by the amount of diversity in age, race, religion, color, gender and culture. I realize that’s probably a little strange to say, but it’s precisely the reason why it’s so important to get out there and travel to places other than your own country. As an American who had never been abroad before, I thought England was just full of white people who spoke in British accents and drank copious amounts of tea! While they do drink a lot of tea, I was embarrassingly off on my population perception.
My friend Becky was the best tour guide and host ever; she and her four housemates Lucy, Rhiannon, Amelia and Abby could not have been kinder or more welcoming, letting two chatty Americans crash on their pull-out couch for a week! They made us cups of tea, made dinner a couple of times, had a movie night with us (“Secret Obsession” on Netflix is downright terrible, don’t waste your time lol), and took a genuine interest in my friend Marisa and me. They even threw a little barbecue the night before I left!
While I wish I could list everything I saw, did, tasted and loved in Brighton, I’m going to share just some of the highlights. The rest you’ll have to discover on your own someday 😉
People—millennials included—don’t spend much time on their phones.
This is one of the first things Marisa and I noticed within a couple days there. We attended a nude figure drawing class with Becky and a couple of her housemates, and before it started, nearly every twentysomething in attendance had their eyes on whoever they were talking to. Most were not scrolling Instagram, refreshing social media notifications, or catching up on the group chat (same held true for when we went out after, watch the video below). It was amazing! It motivated me to stay off my phone too, especially because activating texting, calling and data use through Verizon TravelPass meant paying $10 for a 24-hour period.
Pubs are not the same as bars. If you go to the pub, you’re there to chill for at least one or two pints, and you’re not in any kind of rush to gulp them down. I can’t even describe how relaxing it was. Another perk: you don’t tip bartenders in England. Cha-ching, right?
Speaking of pubs, craft beer is HUGE.
I know craft beer is everywhere in America, but for some reason, the brews I had in Brighton tasted better. I had a Honeycomb Milkshake PA (made with local Brighton & Hove honey) that was divine, a summery Rhubarb Cider and a sour beer called Phuchsia that had notes of cherry and raspberry. I savored every sip of each one.
Being in good company, no matter where I was.
I only personally knew three people before I came to Brighton. I’ll admit, even though I consider myself a relatively social person, I was still pretty nervous about being around so many new faces. Thankfully it didn’t take long to learn that (mostly) everyone I met was friendly and easygoing, which in turn made it easier for me to initiate conversation, instead of being the quiet/awkward American at the table. I’d ask where someone was from, what brought them to Brighton, what spots they’d recommend, etc. A tip for anyone who feels uncomfortable in a room full of strangers: remember, people love talking about themselves (funny, but true)!
Fish and chips and mushy peas.
This is not the time to think about, consider or talk about your diet. Eat the hot, greasy, flaky, salty goodness in front of you, and don’t sleep on the mushy peas. They may slightly resemble baby food, but your tastebuds won’t let you believe that.
Scones with clotted cream and jam. Just keep ’em coming.
England gets a bad rap for its food, but the best defense for that stereotype is a plate of fresh-from-the-oven scones with sides of clotted cream and jam (NOT jelly, please don’t ever call it that in front of a Brit, they’ll think you mean Jell-O)! Clotted cream has a faint sweetness to it and the texture is somewhere between Cool Whip and pudding. I’m devastated you can’t get it here in the states.
The beach, a.k.a. “the sea.”
I know I sort of mentioned it earlier in the post, but look how blue the water is! Only downside—walking barefoot on those stones is painfullll. Still, so much to love about it: waterfront bars, the famous pier, people watching, a cute seafood shack and more.
The pulse of Brighton.
I don’t know how to elaborate on this one. You have busy pubs, quiet clothing boutiques, small markets, cafés, takeaway places (the British way of saying “takeout”), parks, double decker buses, bicycles, yoga studios… it’s neither too slow, nor too fast of a city.
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All that being said, I could definitely see myself visiting Brighton again someday. Hopefully I’ve piqued the interest of at least a few of you to tag along with me!
Coming soon: my next post featuring Salisbury, England!