Brighton, the Brighton Beach Doppelgänger

Oh don’t worry, we’ll be coming back to London. After today.

One of my three future roommates is studying abroad in Brighton; given my trip to London, it was clear that I needed to visit her too. Especially because I heard that Brighton is a cool hip little city twenty minutes south of London. If it weren’t for Arzoo, my friend, I definitely would not have made the trip down with Michelle. I let Arzoo know what time we’d be coming and she met us in the station. She hadn’t had anything planned for us, but we didn’t care. As long as we had someone leading the way the entire time and who knew the way back to the train station, we were satisfied. 😉

Brighton is such a hip young town full of bright-eyed forward-thinkers and those ready to change the world with their enthusiasm (by which sometimes I mean vegetarianism). Or at least that’s the impression I got of Brighton from the visit. Most important of all to me, was to see the pier–as Brighton is right by the ocean [reminds me of Brighton Beach, NY]–and try fish and chips. Mission accomplished within the first hour! Arzoo walked us straight to the seaside, thinking that we might be able to go on some rides. Just like Coney Island, one can go on a number of rides, though the selection is rather scarce. It was sad, considering that we never got the chance to go on any, since all of the good ones were closed! It had something to do with the weather, apparently…though it was sunny.

I knew it was so cliche, but I had to–have fish and chips by the pier. I waited about ten minutes for the preparation of my fish, when I was given a long breaded codfish, with fries and a short wooden stick with which I was supposed to be able to cut the fish open and poke at it. I really don’t know how they expect people to be able to eat a large fish without proper utensils. Rude. Arzoo proposed we sit on the beach while I ate the meal (as no one else was eating because Arzoo had just eaten breakfast and Michelle is a vegetarian), but the pebbles were too uncomfortable. Did I mention the beach is a pebble beach?? First one I’ve ever been to, SO COOL. Instead, we went to sit by a fountain to people watch and learn about the special hipsters of Brighton. Now as for the taste of the fish and chips…everyone says they taste bad. I will agree, the second I tried the fish, I began regretting getting one. But with every peck of the fish, I began liking it more and more. Eventually, it seemed as if I was eating any normal fish. A pretty gigantic feat, I hear, for those who could never finish their fish and chips! Felt like a champion. 😉

Before we left for Brighton, my cousin Lena informed me that of all of the things to do in Brighton, the Brighton Pavilion was a definite must. I asked her what it was and she said I needed to see for myself to understand. Huh, she was right. Arzoo had never been inside of it (though she had spent an entire semester there), so she relished the opportunity to see it with us. Commissioned for renovation by George IV in 1815, the Royal Pavilion established its undeniable image as it was transformed from a modest villa into a lavishly extravagant palace. Here’s a description of the influences evident in the palace from the official Royal Pavilion website:

George was a cultured and well-educated man, enthusiastic about the visual arts, music and architecture.  He loved chinoiserie – the decorative style inspired by China. George enjoyed entertaining and surrounded himself with courtiers and fashionable society guests.  At the Royal Pavilion he hosted gastronomic feasts in the Banqueting Room, and balls and concerts in the Music Room.

It is these flamboyant, artistic tastes, combined with George IV’s desire to impress, that are evident throughout the Royal Pavilion.  The palace became in itself a complete work of art, furnished with exquisite French, English and Chinese export furniture and objects, and adorned with gilded dragons, carved palm trees and imitation bamboo staircases. (http://www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk)

The palace is absolutely exquisite! Of all of the castles and palaces I’ve seen so far, it takes the gold (and I’m writing this after I’ve already returned!). I really wish I could show you what was inside of the palace…but no photography was allowed! And they had security guards EVERYWHERE. I’m having a hard time even describing what I saw there…extravagance beyond measure. Influences from every which where (I think there were Indian and Japanese influences in addition to those aforementioned, but who am I to know). What is most curious about the palace, is the extent of the differences between the rooms. Some rooms actually took my breath away when I walked into them; others were so drab and tawdry that I wondered why no one cared to at least try to create the impression of grandeur that was evident everywhere else. I have found a video tour of some of the palace. It cannot possibly stack up to the real thing, but at least you could get a glimpse of what I saw. Yet somehow, the most impressive rooms–the Music Room, the Banqueting Room, the Great Kitchen–are not featured in this video tour. Perhaps a ploy to get people to visit? Click here for the video. And here’s a link to a small description of those rooms that are actually worth seeing ha.

It started getting dark soon after the three of us left the Pavilion. Left us just enough time to do some shopping (I bought a hippie shirt and a hippie dress yay), try some legitimate cider and then eat! Because of my fish and chips feast from earlier, all I wanted was tiramisu at the restaurant so of course that’s what I got. Jealous?

The most adorable part of it all? Seeing James Bond, in Skyfall, in the UK, in a movie theater. Can it get any more British than that?? Perhaps I didn’t advertise it well enough, but let me put it to you this way: the last time I was in a movie theater was in the middle of August (perhaps even late July), so every movie viewing afterwards was bound to be monumental. And this is me, who would go to the movies practically every weekend back in DC! Better use of my time than to spend my weekend getting drunk, so sue me.

Arzoo really made the experience so special and incredibly memorable for Michelle and me. My conclusion is thus: Brighton, UK bears some similarity to Brighton Beach, NY, with the exclusion of more hippies and less Russians from Odessa.