I tried to use my spare time during winter darkness wisely, because let’s face it: even if the lit candles are nice and the red wines warming, there’s nothing more awesome than planning a bit ahead for the upcoming sunny season. I have to admit, I’m quite clueless about the UK, despite a gazillion times in London and a short visit to Manchester, I’ve rarely been there. Because brrr… cold and rainy mostly.
When I decided to give it a go, it happened quite spontaneously. I was randomly watching TV, which happens five times a year, and I stumbled upon a news channel reporting and comparing different things between the UK and Germany. One of the fun facts that made me wonder a bit was that the UK has actually more hours of sunlight than Germany. That laughter quickly turned into flight searching, because, you never know, you might could get lucky in terms of sun rays.
Even if I knew that the chances of me sunbathing in the beginning of March in a northern European country were equal to zero, I wanted to hit a place that fullfilled the following criteria:
- Seaside, seabreeze, beachwalks
- Easy to reach from the airport and not a pain in the ass to get around by spending most of my day
- Culinary joys to discover, especially in the whole vegan/vegetarian section
- Events happening, not too hard on parties, maybe some good wine here and there
- Vintage heaven, a little crazy, a cute bohemian town
So there I was, booking us to Brighton, the most popular beachside town of the whole UK. Before I got my flight confirmation, I knew little to nothing about it, and that was the fun part. Same as i did with some other trips, the coolest thing is to open the internet after and see what you put yourself into. It turned out great, amazing and exactly how I wanted it to be. So,what do you should expect from Brighton?
The Beach and The Pier
Brighton is close to perfect when it comes to watch how fast the ocean can change its mood. We were blessed with the weather most of the time, but the water could change from boardflat to roaring pissed off within hours. People living here take being outside quite seriously, and it was the nicest thing to see how many just had a stroll down on the pebbled beach in their jumpers, to sit down, alone, in company of friends or dogs and just be there. Breathing in seabreeze is healthy at every time of year, and the beach here offers various cafés, pubs, shops and summer clubs right on pole position facing the water. Marina perfection, indeed! Treat yourself and sleep facing the water! Our room at the Old Ship Hotel was a dream, just be prepared to very thin windows in this town. Even if you’re on the top floor, you can hear the most amazing drunken conversations happening downstairs.
The pier, in all its oldschool beauty, reminded me a lot of a mixture between candy shop and the classic all American weekend dating spot. The place is an entertainment heaven for everyone, from old to young – the indoor part is loud as hell, you basically enter and get thrown all the possible casino-like sounds and lights at you. Its fun to see actually, and a must when in Brighton, only alone for its architecture that wakes up melancholia, but the most mystic part was overlooking to the city when arrived at the very end, and spotting the West Pier across the water, which burnt down twice and will never be reconstructed. Poor thing, not a lucky guy.
The Lanes vs the North Laine
The Lanes is a mixture of tiny alleys full of shops (especially antiques) and easy to get lost in on your first strolls. If google maps is your friend, good for you. I accidentally left my phone on my kitchen counter so I discovered how fun it can be to have absolutely no idea where the heck you’re standing, and let’s admit it: it was nice to have a complete digital detox for four days. Despite the countless shops and the mall nearby, this tiny cute area has a lot to offer as well in terms of slow nightlife and dinner opportunities: there are tons of pubs and restaurant to choose from, all unique in their own way and for every need and taste. But more about that later folks…
By taking a little walk more up north, you’ll encounter the alternative side of town: the North Laine. Streetart, weird shops and cafés just made for people watching are everywhere. I love when it gets fancy, when my hair color gets boring compared to the pinks and greens around me and getting lost into vintage heaven. Beyond Retro would be easily my best friend if I would belong to the locals. This massive warehouse offers everything your heart desires, including readapted classics like cut out sweatshirts or kimonos made of the good old seventies fabrics. Probably former pants. I bought it anyway.
I rarely visit royal palaces because I’m not so into this kind of stuff. But this time, I wanted to see the Royal Pavilion after reading about it. Indian building on the outside, all chinese everything on the inside, probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in Europe. Built in only seven years, they say it’s the most exotic construction of our continent. Prince George the fourth certainly had a hella love for details, I just need to mention a huge dragon chandelier and the huge ballroom. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed in there, but I’d reccommend to step in there anyway. You’ll be blown away about how majestic things will see. The andiecent park, home of tons of cute squirrels almost loses its glory just next to it, but it’s worthy for a little rest in between, sunshine permitting.
Love Food and Be Mindful
Let’s talk about the real deal now: Food! Brighton makes it easy to stay healthy, that’s for sure. You’d encounter more vegetarian and vegan restaurants than fast food chains. Eating delicious and well is fun just because of the variety of restaurants avalaible just in front of your nose. I selected a few for dinner and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Also, being curious about plant based eating myself, it was a great culinary journey to do. Here my top 3 for dinner time.
Purezza: I am Italian and you won’t impress the crap out of me often with pizza. I’m picky. I know how a dough should properly be, I am an expert when it comes to the perfectly tasting tomato sauce. Purezza is magic – all the pizzas are vegan, the mozzarella can be chosen out of 3 different variations, I had a cheese made out of chickpeas and rice starch, tasted amazing and noting the difference is hard. The staff is lovely and answers all the questions you might could have. Please make sure you reserve a table.
Rootcandi: This was fun. Pan-Asian streetfood, all served in tapas sizes to share the only problem is deciding the combination. From thai appetizers to Bali’s rice dishes, sharing your food leads mostly to talk about the tastes half of the night, but hey, when your tastebuds sing, there is a point of no return. The way the food is served is a delight itself, so save some memory for your instafood stories. Reservation is highly reccommended here as well, don’t walk in like that on a Saturday night, no chance.
Food for Friends: One of the two oldest vegetarian restaurants in town, serving goodness since the 80s. The ambient is posh, the lights are dimmed and if you’re not on a date, just grab a friend and pretend to do so. Our starters were forgotten, but we were happy about it after: the main courses, in our case a soufflé with goat cheese and pumpkin purée, was filling enough. The wine list is great and if you happen to have a table by the window on the weekend, just do some people watching if you’re date is boring. You’ll see a bunch of things the later it gets. And yes, you should book a table.
If you want to keep up your health even on vacation, then go jogging along the beach. Everybody seems to do it and I’m sure you’ll feel great afterwards. If you’re like me and prefer a combination between moving and shutting down the few monkeys in your head, Brighton has a load of Yoga Studios all ready for you. I took my Hatha class at About Balance, it was amazing and Maku is the sweetest teacher on a Saturday morning. Plus point: after your Yoga Class, the brunch café is not far, V-Bites is just downstairs. I know, food again. But also juices! If you’re the juicing or smoothie type, step in at 42 JUICE or try at least their ginger or turmeric shots.
Ranting between which one between Brighon or London is better wasn’t never my goal. I saw a lot of similarities, Brighton could be the cuter and smaller version. Located just 30 minutes away by train from London Gatwick, it’s the easiest thing to reach. Clearly, the bigger events will always happen in London, but Brighton has the magic combination: sea, architecture, slow flow vibes, people being as they please, great gastronomy. In addition to that, keep on eye on the Brighton Festival happening in May or VegFest – I’ve heard great stuff about it, culture and music is not missing here. So if you want to take it a bit slower, but do the same things you’d do in the big capital, just go south.