Thursday, September 11, 2014

day trips out of London: a Saturday in Brighton (and a lesson in overspending)

And now, in my usual fashion, I present a series of photos taken almost one week ago now...

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Last Saturday, I took a train to Brighton with some Fordham friends. It's kind of the Ocean City, NJ of England. The day got off to a rocky start--and I'm not just talking about the beach! hahahaha *ba-dum-TSHH*

Seriously, though, I was upset to discover that the £18 train tickets my friend told me about were only available through online booking, three days in advance. And unbeknownst to me, everyone else purchased their train tickets early.

It was no one's fault, really. No one knew that the train tickets would cost THAT much more at the station. But on top of getting only four hours of sleep, I felt stressed out almost all morning. I couldn't stop thinking about how I'd spent almost £30 (roughly $50) more than everyone else for a relatively short trip. The ride was only 50 minutes each way! Plus I didn't research Brighton enough to take full advantage of it once we got there. I meant to, I really did, but I ended up at a club in Camden until 1:30 AM the night before and got home closer to 2:15 AM. (In my defense, I hadn't expected to be out so late; we got lost en route.)

Moral of the story for those planning to study abroad: 1.) Sketch out a rough draft of what you want to do at your destination, 2.) Do not buy your tickets the day of, and 3.) Double-check with a train station employee to make sure you're buying the cheapest ticket possible. (I'm pretty sure I clicked the wrong ticket type and over paid.) All of this may seem like common sense--and I'm usually a huge planner when it comes to trips--but it's easy to slip up when you've just arrived in a new city.

You know what, though? I felt much better as the day went on. In uncontrollable situations, you have to remind yourself that worrying is a complete waste of energy. CLICHE BUT TRUE. Especially true when you're living long-term in another country for maybe the only time in your life. I kept telling myself that there was nothing I could do about it, and that $50 dollars isn't much in the grand scheme of things, so just focus on taking everything in, dammit! You're in England, Vaness, how often will you be in England?? Etc etc and so on and so forth.

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First we sat on the beach, visited Brighton Pier, and then ate at a vegetarian restaurant called Food for Friends. It was super expensive, so I just split a deeeelicious dark chocolate torte with berry sauce (see above) with Sarah. She also let me finish the rest of her salad, which, I kid you not, made my morning. Sarah's a true friend. I suppose I'd call anyone a true friend so long as they fed me--the best way to Vanessa's heart is through her tum--but Sarah was also crucial in cheering me up that morning. So if you're reading this, S, hello and thanks again! muah!

After lunch we all went to grab a pint. (Well, a half pint for me, being the World's Champion Lightweight and all. I've got a title to uphold.) Then we walked over to the Royal Pavillion and browsed the Brighton Museum. At that point I decided to split off from the group in order to check out a few charity chops that I'd looked up on a friend's iPhone, as I still didn't have my UK sim card. But even though I lacked internet and text messaging, I did have a map of Brighton from the museum gift shop, so I felt fairly confident getting around on my own.

I ended up dropping a good chunk of money into an Oxfam shop right off Queen's Road. Oxfam is an international organization that raises money to fight poverty. You can see me cheesin' it up in their dressing room in the two photos above. (I bought the dress on the right!) Funnily enough, the picture right above those two isn't actually of Oxfam, but rather another little charity shop that I spotted on the way there.

Random anecdote: While walking down Queen's Road, I smiled and nodded at a homeless man on the pavement. "You're beautiful when you smile!" he said.  Not in a creepy or unsettling way--just rather sweet. And as I continued to walk past, he suddenly added, "Well, you're already beautiful enough without the smile." It was a tiny gesture, but something about his sincerity struck me. Just an unexpected blip of kindness.

Last of all, I wandered back to the beach to take more pictures since the morning's fog had finally cleared out. A peaceful end to a slightly stressful (but ultimately enjoyable!) trip.

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PS. A big shoutout and thank you to Erin for letting me borrow her memory card all day! Without you, I wouldn't have these pictures to share. I'd only memories. Gross.

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