The Year of Fun #44: A Day in Brighton
I’ll admit I’ve been a bit stuck on Year of Fun happenings to share with you for the last fortnight, and that’s not entirely because my life hasn’t had fun in it… but nothing is exactly big enough to write home about – or, make a podcast about.
After nearly a year of this weekly fun, I’ve learned a lot about what I need in my life, what I consider to be fun, and what I definitely don’t need. I’ll be sharing my round up properly next week, but for now I’ll share one last hurrah, one last look at this introvert’s idea of fun.
So what I thought I’d do is give you a full day of fun activities – actually it’s mostly eating – but a fun day that one could spend in Brighton, the city I’ve been living in for the last 2.5 years.
Seeing as I’ll be waving goodbye – for a while anyway – to Brighton and Hove in the new year, it seems like an appropriate way to round up my time here and celebrate what this quirky seaside shore offers.
Full disclosure: I haven’t done all of these in one day… but I have done all of them at different times, and am pretty sure you could do this all in one day without feeling overly drained.
How to get to Brighton
Arrive by train at Brighton Station. I say this because driving and parking in Brighton isn’t fun, so I’ve heard. Lots of one way systems and very expensive car parks – and with a direct train from London, you’re probably better off getting here by train. And do check the train updates before you leave – if you’re not familiar with the issues we have on this particular line, then… beware.
Brunch at Cafe Coho
Ok so you’ve arrived, yay! Ideally, you want to get here by 10:30/11 am, which is hopefully doable – and it means you’ll be in time for brunch, my favourite meal of the day.
Cafe Coho is right outside the station on the main road that leads to the sea, and they have some mighty fine brunch options. I recommend the sweet potato hash.
Window shopping in the lanes
Once you’ve had your fill and digested a good brunch, head down Queen’s road for a few minutes – before it gets too grim, which it will – and turn left down any of the side streets. This is where it starts getting ‘proper’ Brighton. The North Laines: lots of windy streets, cobblestones, street art, cafes and kooky, esoteric shops. I love it.
A tip I learned when I went to Glastonbury with two of my chums, is to window shop first, spot what you want, then go and do something else before coming back to buy. This is great if you have strong impulsive tendencies, and are likely to regret purchases later, like me.
So for the time being you’re just window shopping. My favourite shops are all on Sydney Street, more or less. You’ve got vintage clothing, comic books, second hand books, crystals, beads for jewellery making, a new stationery shop called Papersmiths and so much more. Definitely head to Sydney street.
The Royal Pavilion
At some point you’re going to have to whip out your maps app on your phone, because by now you may very well be lost down some odd side street. Type in ‘The Royal Pavilion’ because that’s where we’re heading next.
To be fair, you could just ask someone because everyone should be able to tell you where it is, it’s kind of a big deal in Brighton, but as you’re a fellow introvert, I’m guessing you’ll go with my first option.
So, the Royal Pavilion! If you heard episode 30 of the Year of Fun then you’ll know I love this place, and think it’s well worth an hour or two on your visit. Everything from the gardens around it, the street performers, the outside of the building alone is worth a visit.
Inside, you get the full extent of the decadence that the Prince Regent insisted on, and the weird mix of East and West in the designs. Go there, take some cheeky pictures though I’m not sure you’re allowed, and digest it all in the gift shop, which ain’t half bad either.
Before our next stop, make sure to head back to any shops to pick up anything you spotted earlier when you were window shopping, and make any purchases you still actually want/can even remember wanting.
Coffee + Cake + Games
Now you’re going to head south, roughly, down to the sea front. It doesn’t matter how you get there, but if you can wind in through the South Lanes – do. Though I take no responsibility for you getting lost and distracted there.
Once you’re on the sea front, stop, take a look around at the Pier, admit to yourself it’s garish and probably very loud and annoying with all those seagulls stealing chips – but quite charming in its own way.
Then swiftly head to the east of the pier, finding some steps to take you down to a little strip where you’ll find C:\Side Quest, a games bar/cafe which has made it’s way down from London and has proved quite a hit.
This is one of my more recent discoveries and I just wish I had found it sooner. For one, when I went on a weekday afternoon, it was pretty quiet. Plus it’s bigger than most spaces in Brighton, so even if it was busy you’ll likely find a spot to sit.
Order a coffee, tea – or maybe something stronger. They have cocktails with very ‘punny’ names, which I appreciate.
Then you’ve got the option to play a game, there are board games, and loads of classic video games and big comfy seats to spend hours there, if that’s what you’re into.
OR you can just take a seat by the window, and look out at the view of the sea. A weird fact about Brighton, or at least an opinion I have, is that there are very few spots along the sea front that give you a good view and that are not totally cheesy rip offs. So for the view (and vegan donuts) alone, C:\Side Quest is well worth a visit.
Take a trip up the i360
Now this is a controversial one, but I recently embraced it and I’m really quite glad I did. The i360 is this strange beast that was erected when I first moved here, and it’s basically a tower with a pod that takes you up and down, giving you a decent view of the city.
It’s a tourist attraction sponsored by British Airways, and most Brightoners will tell you it’s an eyesore. But then, that’s what they said about the Eiffel Tower… It’s basically Brighton’s Eiffel Tower.
It does cost a bit to get into, so I’m not saying it’s a MUST do, but if you’re with someone and you have an hour or so to burn, go for it. By this time, assuming you’re doing all of this in the winter when I’m recording, you’ll catch a nice sunset or night sky, which is ideal because the city will look much more twinkly and magical then.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the insane amount of pubs and bars in Brighton, and whilst I’m not the biggest boozer these days, I will give a couple of recommendations if you’re looking for a pre-dinner drink somewhere.
So if you want a pub, check out the Black Lion or the Walrus, both nice and pubby, the Black Lion also has a decent beer garden for warmer weather. If you’re in the mood for something harder, maybe check out the Plotting Parlour or Bohemia for cocktails. And finally if you want a wine bar, it’s got to be Plateau.
And she says she’s not a big boozer…
If you make it out of your pub in time for dinner, I’d strongly recommend Terre a Terre, a mostly vegan and vegetarian restaurant that has blown my mind every time I’ve been. It’s a little on the pricey side, so if you’re not feeling that, then I’d say Franco Manca, serving the best sourdough pizza in town, is worthy of your custom too, and super affordable.
Comedy at Komedia
Finally, if you’re in the mood to end the evening with some entertainment, head to Komedia on Gardner Street. You might have to pre-book depending on when you go, but there’s usually something on, usually comedy, that you can turn up for. I love a good giggle (as demonstrated in episode 17), and I’ve always been impressed by the comic standards at Komedia, though I do have friends who will tell you it’s hit or miss.
Few! I think after that you’ll be running to get home and into bed, because I’ll admit – Brighton can feel a bit full on, especially if you’re an introvert and/or an HSP.
But I love this city, and all it’s quirk and the people here are second to none on the friendliness level (especially for the South of England, not the warmest part of the world.)
Ooh and don’t dilly dally – the last train home to London is around 11:30 and I have had the joyous experience of being stranded here in my youth, so – check your train times! And I wish you a lovely day in Brighton.
Fun rating: 9/10
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