I have a few passions in life, some I tend to more than others, but one that I always crave is the ocean. As a child who grew up taking ferries between Finland and Sweden, practicing hula along the beaches in Hawaii, and taking trips up the Gold Coast in Australia, I can say the ocean has been a lifelong passion. While I have never lived by the sea, it has always felt like home to me. Moving to London was a great decision, but I’m not going to lie when I sometimes feel a bit sad to not be near the ocean. Finally, when summer finally arrived in England, Victor and I took our anniversary trip to the South Coast. Originally inspired by photos of Brighton, our weekend trip became a little more complex as things started piling up. We originally were supposed to attend a hot air balloon festival in Eastbourne, which ended up canceled due to the rain and wind (aka English summers). Nonetheless, I was excited to explore both Eastbourne and Brighton.
Early Sunday morning, Victor and I boarded to the train to Eastbourne. The weather was looking spectacular, though I still had my reservations about attending a hot air balloon festival since the UK is notorious for rain and wind at any time of the day or year. As we were early, we decided to grab a morning snack and a local cafe. We ventured into Urban Coffee, and boy were we glad we did. Right off the main street in Eastbourne, Urban Coffee is a haven for coffee lovers. While their focus is coffee, they also provide delicious sandwiches, pastries, and cakes. Everything is locally sourced, so can indeed have your cake and eat it too. Victor and I opted for a cheese scone and I rebelliously put jam on mine—yum yum!
We walked through the charming town of Eastbourne, marvelling at how much it felt like something out of Fawlty Towers. The early morning sun shined down on us as we went from shop to cafe, trying to understand more about this town. After venturing downtown, we arrived to the beach. A sense of relief washed over me as I smelled sea salt and heard the waves crashing on the shore. Eastbourne has a beautiful boardwalk, so it was nice to walk along the whole beach, as well go searching for some little treasures.
The rain started around 1, just as we had approached the pier. We ran to our hotel to check in and get dry. We also waited for updates regarding the hot air balloon festival, but as the weather was looking more terrible by the minute, I made the executive decision of not attending. All in all it was a good decision because the day after, I found out that no balloons took flight. Such a shame, but I’m so glad we got to explore Eastbourne more!
After resting, watching some tv, and having some tea, we were starting to get a bit hungry. The rain was still coming down, but not nearly as heavy as before. We ventured back downtown, found a little soup shack, and enjoyed the indoors. The weather worsened again, so we resorted to our back up: movie time. We found this really old movie theatre nearby and took shelter from the rain by watching Dunkirk. Not exactly my type of movie, but really interesting nonetheless. And so concluded our rainy afternoon. Tired and cold, we made it back to the hotel and called it a day.
Though the evening ended on a bit of a solemn note, the next morning woke us with beautiful sunshine. My body naturally woke up at 6:30 in the morning, and once I’m up I cannot go back to sleep. My oh so loving boyfriend got up with me and we walked by the beach again, with only some dogs and their owners.
I was a bit sad to leave beautiful Eastbourne, but it was time for the main event: Brighton!
The bus from Eastbourne to Brighton may well be one of the most beautiful, scenic drives in all of England. Hills after hills, sheep after sheep, and endless coastline make is spectacular. The coaster is a double-decker bus, so be sure to get a window seat on the left side of the bus so you can catch all the scenery!
We arrived at the Brighton pier in the midst of all the hubbub. Flashing lights, spinning roller coasters, and screaming children, I initially was not too thrilled at the sight. It also didn’t help that we happened to walk to wrong direction along the way more sketchy side of Brighton. Don’t make the mistake of walking eastward from the Brighton Palace pier. Westward is a completely different feel!
After not eating for way too many hours, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious brunch. I researched a lot of cafes, bistros, and restaurants in Brighton so I had high expectations for this. Marmalade is a charming cafe with plenty of food for you eyes to gaze upon. Everything is so aesthetically pleasing. The menu consist of lots of breakfast choices (lots of vegetarian-friendly options!) as well some milkshakes. In addition to the menu, they also have specials each day. When I walked in, there were quiches galore! Their salads are also amazing. I couldn’t really decide which salad to choose from, so they gave me a mix of everything.
Leaving with our tummies full and round, we walked back through the residential streets of Brighton and landed at the Royal Pavilion. As I approached the pavilion, I heard a girl loudly say “Oh my god!” and that’s exactly the feeling you get when you see the place. It looks so out of place, yet is so beautiful and fascinating.
We headed back to the shore to see the pier as well as venture westward. The famous Brighton Palace pier pales in comparison to Eastbourne’s pier, but the seaside business is definitely a nuance! There are so many little souvenir and artist shops, as well as plenty of seagulls. I will tell you now, do NOT order any chips/fries here.
After a walk along the beach, we headed back into to town into an area called The Lanes. Being Brighton’s historic quarter, there is so much charm. I love the twisting, turning alleys of The Lanes, as well as all the ice cream parlours. The ice cream competition is fierce, so be sure to pick the right one! I personally chose Boho Gelato because of their unique flavours and simple delivery. I had a blueberry muffin cone and OMG was it delicious. The cool thing about Boho Gelato is they change up their flavours often so you will never be tired of their options.
Heading north, we hit North Laine. Another shopping area, North Lain is like The Lanes’ bohemian, younger sister. It reminds me of Camden in terms of its rawness and lack of cleanliness, but also of its unique flavour (boho chic, if you will). North Laine is considered the cultural quarter of the city. My number one stop was Roly’s Fudge Pantry. They make handmade fudge and sell all sorts of flavours. I bought a gift for a friend, but also a couple pieces for myself: sea salt, and butterscotch. Pure decadence!
Despite the rainy weather on Saturday, and the crazy seagulls on Sunday, Victor and I spent a wonderful exploring these southern coast towns and I really enjoyed seeing a whole other side of England. Someday I hope to go back to Brighton to explore more of the town and less of the seaside! As for the sea, I left my heart in Eastbourne.