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Katie: Brighton Beach

July 6, 2011

After my program ended in London, I had figure out what to do for 9 days. My original plan was to go to Greece or Italy, but I decided against that option for a number of reasons that included the current riots in Greece, the expense, and the fact that when I go to these two places I want to go for more than just a few days. So instead I decided to head to Brighton Beach, an hour away from London, which is placed right along the English Channel.

I stayed in my very first hostel and wow was it an experience. Baggies was great and very homey and cozy. And literally across the street from the beach, which was great. I could not get away from the crowded bedroom unfortunately. This time there were 4 bunk beds and twice as crowded. But it was definitely part of the experience and I went with the flow (especially since I will be home to my own bedroom in no time).

Oh, man it was great going to the beach. It suddenly started to feel like summer. Brighton is a pebble beach so it is not as comfy to walk or sit on but sand doesn’t get stuck to everything so that’s a plus!

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One of the things that Brighton is known for is the West Pier. It was built in 1866 and was very extravagantly designed. Plans were being made to renovate it before it burned down. twice. in 1975. Now it remains a ghost-like structure.

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The tide at Brighton varies a lot. You can see the difference in water level by the algae on the post in the picture on the left. It would be up to that level in the morning and then by sunset the water would be so low that there was sand that you could walk on.

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This boy was too cute. He was searching for rocks to add to the pile behind him and he refused to leave when his mom was calling him to go.

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When I arrived there was a festival taking place on the beach called “Paddle Round The Pier.” It was a carnival to raise money for charity and you could try out all kinds of water and land sports. I got to do stand up paddle surfing…it was awesome. I wish I had a picture of it. You can see what it is here. But it is pretty much just standing up on a surf board (which is definitely harder than it looks) and you have a boat paddle that you can use to paddle around in the water. It takes a lot of balance but once I got the hang of it, it was a lot of fun, apart from the fact that I made the mistake of watching Soul Surfer a few weeks ago(the movie about when Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark while she was surfing). I am fearful of deep water to begin with, especially when I can’t see the bottom. And then add that half the time I was worrying about whether sharks would think that my board was a turtle on the water and if they would attack at any minute. But once I got over all of that, it was a great time. My mom on the other hand would not have enjoyed this one bit (she is terrified of sharks)

There was not only 1 carousel but three!

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I thought they were really cute on the beach. If you are looking for that typical beach town for a summer holiday, Brighton is the place to go.

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The actual pier was huge. Complete with little shops and food vendors. It even had two arcades. If my brothers were here they would have enjoyed loosing all of their money trying to win tickets. My first day in Brighton someone jumped off the pier. Apparently it is the cool thing to do, called “Tombstoning.” I guess people get a thrill from jumping off the end of the pier during the summer. I happened to be on the beach when this happened. I didn’t see the person jump but I saw the life guards go running into the water and about 15 minutes later the coast guard came and they brought someone out of the water on a board with a neck brace on. The paper the next day said that he survived but shouldn’t have, after jumping 12 meters into water that was only 1 meter deep. Exciting stuff for my first day being in Brighton.

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 I was in Brighton for the 4th of July. Obviously no one was celebrating here, especially since the 4th of July is our celebration of our independence from Britain. I’m not sure if Brits are still a bit bitter, but I left the subject alone. I decided to celebrate by going to JB’s American Diner and my new Norwegian friend, Therese, came along with me. We had fun explaining our different national days and how we celebrate them back home.

When we arrived we asked the waitress if she was American and the waitress replied that no one at JB’s was actually American. Therese then asked if the waitress knew what day it was, and she did not so Therese and I explained that it was the 4th of July. When the waitress came with our food she told us that now she realized why they were told to put mini American flags on all of the food that day.  The food was delicious, and this was the first place that I was able to find that serves Mountain Dew in the UK. When we arrived back at the hostel Therese had me play the Star Spangled banner. I turned it up and we waved our mini American flags as the national anthem played and the other guests from France, Argentina, and Spain looked on. It was a great time and a great 4th of July.

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I’m now headed back to London after my Brighton adventure. I will have 4.5 days there before I venture back across the pond to Iowa!

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