So after a bit of hassle with the trains and the weather in London, read about that in my London & Kingston blog, I managed to arrive in beautiful Brighton. Luckily, the weather there wasn’t as bad as it was in London and I managed to find my way to the hostel easily. Yes, you read that right; the hostel. Besides Edinburgh, I have managed to not spend any money on accommodation this trip, but I decided to make an exception for Brighton. I found out in Edinburgh how easy it is to make friends in a hostel, so I thought it would be a nice way to meet new people. Here is how that worked out for me.
Upon entering The Grapevine, I was greeted by a lovely man, who happened to be on the phone. I put down my bag to show him I wasn’t in a hurry and calmly started searching for my identification (as there were multiple signs saying you need to show some form of ID in order to check in). I heard the man tell the person on the other side of the line this: “Alright, I got to go now, because Dagmar is here.” Silence. “Yeah Dagmar, a lovely Dutch girl.” Silence. “Okay, see you later. Bye.” I was a bit amazed by that, so I started giggling. He then announced that I was his only check-in of that day, so he therefore knew all about me. Funny. He also informed me that I would have the entire room (a four-bed female dorm) to myself for the night. Nice.
I put my bag in the room, benefited from the WiFi for a bit and opened up the brochure he had given me. I saw that there was absolutely nothing going on for the two days I would be there, but it also had a map, showing me I was super close to the beach. This hostel has such a perfect location, only a five minute walk from the train station and about ten minutes from the beach and the pier. Anyways, due to my lack of roommates, I decided to wander off by myself. I headed for the pier (of course), took some photos and walked along the beach. After heading east for a while, I decided to make my way north and walk my way back to the hostel, via some back alleys and the narrow streets of Brighton.
As I tried entering the hostel, I noticed the main entrance was locked. This was fine, because I had a key for the door on the side, but since I saw the reception guy was present, I tried it regardless. He got up and opened the door. I smiled at him and said “How kind of you!”. He nodded and said “it’s for Kevin”. I thought I didn’t hear him right, so I asked him to repeat that. He pointed at something behind me and said “Kevin!”. My face must have had written confusion all over it at that point, so I decided to just walk inside. He then said “Hi Kevin, how are you mate?! You look a bit wet today, are you alright?”. Turns out Kevin is a seagull. The wise man told me Kevin had come there every single night for his dinner (or well, he called it ‘tea’) for the past seven years. I was pretty amazed by this, so I greeted Kevin and went upstairs.
The guy from the reception had also informed me about a great take-away restaurant where I should go and get dinner, so I obeyed. Pompoko, as this place is called, was easy to find; about a five minute walk (probably less) from the hostel and super popular amongst locals. Most tables were taken and I could hardly make my way through to the counter, because of the big line of people waiting to order/for their food. I decided to go for a prawn curry, with some spring rolls on the side. I didn’t have to wait long for my food, thankfully because it was crowded and I was starving, so I quickly took my order back with me to the hostel. Since I didn’t actually know anyone in the hostel yet and I didn’t have any roommates, I decided to take my food up to my room and eat by myself. I know, pretty weird, but it was nice being alone for a little bit after being constantly surrounded by people for the past few weeks.
There was a Couchsurfing event that night that I wanted to attend, but the app wasn’t working properly on my phone so I couldn’t figure out where it was being held. I was feeling a bit bored, being there all by myself, but I decided that would be a great time for me to call my parents and of course my sister to give them a little update. That night wasn’t the most interesting of nights, I just watched some videos on my phone in bed and went to sleep early.
The next morning, I ate an incredible amount of breakfast and then headed back outside to go and explore the Marina Cliffs. I decided to first make my way to the Brighton Palace Pier and then go to the left and simply follow the beach until I’m there. That was easier said then done. I found out that it is incredibly difficult to walk on the pebbles and at some places you cannot walk over the beach, forcing you to move around obstacles and getting lost. Okay, no it is quite difficult to get lost, seeing as the beach is basically a means of navigation, but I found it quite difficult to make my way through some places. For instance, I ended up stumbling upon a shopping center and I literally could not find my way through its parking lot to get back on the beach.
I saw some pretty cool places that morning, but I didn’t actually make it to the Marina Cliffs. I got stuck at a parking lot and I couldn’t figure out how to get around it. I was also starting to get a bit hungry, so I decided to walk all the way to the top of the parking and check out the view, see the photo below, before heading over to the supermarket to buy lunch. I ate my lunch while reading my book and sitting on a bench overlooking the sea. What a wonderful day.
It was a bit rainy and all, so I decided to take my groceries home and check out the Couchsurfing app a bit more. There is a function called “Hang outs” or something and that gives you the opportunity to meet up with people. I turned it on and searched for people in the area. Not long later, I found a girl that was wanting to meet up and she was at the pier: not too far away. I decided to walk up to her and meet her at the Sea life entrance (I figured that would be a good meeting point). My walk there took a little longer than anticipated, but she patiently waited for me. I told her about the Marina Cliffs (she had never been to Brighton before either) and we decided to walk there. This time, we did manage to actually make our way to the cliffs and we saw some beautiful sights.
After the Marina Cliffs, we headed back towards the city center and checked out a few more things. I then showed her where to get fish and chips (the reception guy had told me) and after that we went separate ways. One of the sights we went to have a look at during the day though, was the Royal Pavilion. It’s funny, because I was pretty amazed by how astonishing this building is, whereas my new found friend was not impressed. What do you think?
Brighton is as beautiful as I expected it to be, but I did find it a bit overrated. That’s the problem with expectations; you think you know what you are getting yourself into, but if reality isn’t actually like that it may be disappointing. I am not saying that Brighton was disappointing (at all!) but I didn’t think there was a whole lot to do to be quite honest. It’s just a beach with tons of overpriced fish and chips shops and heaps of tourists. It’s very charming though and it has beautiful more rural areas that are less crowded. I left on a Friday and it was getting incredibly busy, so I didn’t mind leaving too much. Unlucky though, because the sun had come out and now I had to trade a sunny beach for a busy city. Which one? Find out on Friday!