“A picture is worth a thousand words.” I could write 1,000 words for each journey I took while traveling. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing with this series, called #1000Words, featuring one of my favorite pictures from each place.
This picture was taken from Brighton Pier in Brighton, England.
Brighton was the first trip I took outside of London, and it was the second weekend I was abroad. Although it was only a day journey, it will always stick out in my mind. It’s not anything spectacular to the average tourist, but my two friends and I were able to visit a nice seaside city and have a blast.
It was myself, my American friend, Emily and my new Australian friend, Kat on the trip. None of us really knew what to expect – it was a last-minute decision and we weren’t even sure what the city had to offer, other than the sea. So, being silly and ignorant, we took our swimsuits and towels down to this beach, in September. Hey, it was like 75 degrees out, we didn’t know any better.
When we arrived in Brighton, we were pleasantly surprised how the city had small-town vibes. We walked straight from the train station to the beach, only to have another surprise – the beach was made of rocks. There’s that lovely ignorance again. A simple Google search could have told us that, but we heard “beach” and we were in. However, the views were beautiful, and the large, smooth rocks were easier to walk on than sand in the end.
In the distance, we spotted the pier, which, of course, we found intriguing. It wasn’t quite the Santa Monica Pier (which I’ve never been to, anyways), but it allowed me to get this incredible picture, and for that, I’m thankful. We spent some time on the pier, looking at all of the little stands, and enjoying the view of the city and sea.
We wandered off the pier, running into the SeaLife Aquarium Brighton. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a Marine Biologist, until I figured out how much I hated science, so I have always enjoyed aquariums. Although this is something I would normally deem a “tourist-trap,” and wouldn’t dare go to the SeaLife London, it was neat to go right on the sea. I’m a sucker for the tunnel with the sharks swimming above.
By the time we were out of the aquarium, we were hungry. Emily wanted fish and chips. Kat is vegan, so she just wanted chips, and I don’t like seafood, so I got a hamburger. We ate our food along the beach, fought off some seagulls and enjoyed the view. Next to the small restaurants, there were lots of shops to explore.
It was a gorgeous day in Brighton. It was also the South Africa vs. USA World Cup match in Brighton. We encountered super fans that were celebrating on the beach. Next to the Brighton Eye, the large ferris wheel, there was a setup to watch the match. I still don’t know exactly how rugby works to this day, but one of the guards at the train station made fun of us for being American and not being there for a rugby match.
Instead, we journeyed away from the water, trying to see what Brighton had to offer other than the sea. We stumbled across the Royal Pavilion, a large Indian-style palace built for King George IV in in late 1700s. Unfortunately, we didn’t know much about it, and we thought it was enough to see it from the outside. Plus, it cost to get in and there was quite a big line, as it was a Saturday. Instead, we laid out the towels we couldn’t use on the beach and sat in a nearby park to bask in the sun.
It was a great bonding experience, and we learned a lot more about each other. Emily was a student from my school back in Iowa, and actually my next-door neighbor for the previous two years, so I knew her quite a bit. However, our friendship blossomed while we were abroad, and she became one of my best friends and roommate following our trip. Kat was an Australian international student, but doing her full three years at Roehampton. She taught us Australian slang and culture, and I asked her about fairy bread. She said it’s not as exciting as everyone thinks.
After our attempt at tanning (in England, lol), we decided to explore more of the city, since we had time to kill until our train returned to London. There were various shops, but in typical Mallory fashion, I was drawn to the Lush I saw. This would be the first of many I visited while abroad. There’s something about shopping in your favorite store while in a different country – I don’t know what it is. After Lush, we found Churchill Square, a shopping centre in the city. Like I said, we had some time to kill, but it was my first time discovering new stores, like WHSmith, Debenhams and my soon-to-be favorite, Tiger.
I could walk through every step of all of my journeys, but nothing compares to the feeling of traveling to a new place. There are not enough words to describe the feeling of new. New sights seen, new cities visited, new friendships created, new experiences – it was my first time on a pier, first time on a high-speed train, first last-minute trip with friends, first trip out of London. The #1000Words series is an attempt to put my thoughts about my trips into words, even if I don’t believe it is possible – and even if 1,000 words is a lot more than I thought it would be.
Traveling with Kat and Emily to Brighton was the first time I realized while I was abroad that you can plan all of the trips you want, but some of the best trips were the spontaneous ones with friends. I could spend all summer deciding where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see, etc., but I would never know where I would go until I was on the plane there, and this would prove true again as the semester progressed.
So that’s the story of my journey to Brighton, England.