Hello readers,

I’m sure my adoring fans would love to keep getting updates on my travels, and I learned in Greece that I very much enjoy blogging. As such, I am going to keep using this page to blog about everywhere fun I travel to! If you’re subscribed out of interest in Greece, this is an invitation to unfollow because there will be no further Greece Dialogue updates.

If you don’t use this chance to unfollow the email updates, then don’t complain to me about the email spam in the future!! And buckle in because I have caught the travel bug.

Alexa Goes to the UK

 

Day 1: Tuesday

After leaving Athens, I flew in to London, where Shannon, my lovely friend (and roommate over the past year excitedly received me along with her father.

After dragging my massively overweight bag to their bag, we drove to their town of Hove, next to Brighton.

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Statue that divides Hove and Brighton

When we arrived at their house, I met Harvey (younger brother), Keisha (best friend) and her daughter, whom everyone refers to as “Baby”, and Max (mum, who I’ve met before). Once there, I unpacked enough to do some wash and we made homemade pizza for dinner.

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Day 2: Wednesday

Brighton/Hove is a very, very cool place. On Wednesday, Shannon took me for a walk along the sea. We walked along the pebbled beach – a new sight for me – down to the famous pier.

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Pebbled beach!

The whole seafront reminded me of being in California, walking along the Santa Monica pier mixed with restaurants and shops from Venice Beach running along the beachfront.

 

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After touring that area, we walked into one part of the Laines, where we wandered around and passed the Pavilion Palace and gardens, and then had lunch at a nearby sushi place where the sushi goes around on a little conveyer belt.

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Laine in the Laines

For dinner, we met Shannon’s friend Hattie at a pub called The Hope and Ruin. The inside was decorated erratically, with sharpie writing all over the wall near the corner table we chose. This pub caters to the needs of vegans and vegetarians, making everything from meat-substitutes and vegetables and fruits. I believe Brighton might be the most veg-friendly place I’ve ever been.

For dinner, I had a chili hot dog and pulled pork fries. The hot dog was a Quorn dog, made from mushrooms – and all their products taste exactly like meat – and the chili was made from seitan and tomato sauce. On the French fries (or “chips”) there was shredded jackfruit (a fruit I’d never heard of) covered in BBQ sauce.

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First “meat” meal I’ve eaten in years!

 

Day 3: Thursday

On Thursday morning, Shannon and I met up with her cousin Rachel in a different part of the Laines for brunch. During brunch, Rachel regaled us with stories from her recent four months in Southeast Asia, where she’d been since January during her gap-year.

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Hattie’s Garden

Nearby Brighton, only a six-minute train ride away, is Shoreham. That’s where Hattie’s parents have recently moved to, and also where we had a lovely garden party in the back yard of their house.

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Garden party lunch

It’s also where I met more of Shannon’s friends, Elle and Dara, and Dara’s friend visiting. Everyone brought some stuff, and I personally felt like I was living in a movie.

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Shannon and Me by the Sea

Largely, this whole trip has been much like a movie. In Greece, I was wandering the city of Thessaloniki and sitting by the waterfront. In Athens, I was eating cherries and drinking white wine as I wrote, and living in a hotel. Now, in England, I’m having tea all the time and going to impromptu garden parties.

 

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The beach alongside Hattie’s neighborhood

After our day by the sea with Hattie and the other girls, Shan and I headed back to Brighton to her Ben’s house where he lives nearby with his wife Milla. We went over to the area of the Laines that’s full of restaurants and jewelry for dinner with Max, Ben and Milla at a tapas restaurant that has live singing and flamingo dancing. There, we had delicious tapas and paella that almost rivaled the paella I tried in Barcelona last August.

After dinner, we popped around the corner to a cool pub / bar where we had fun drinks and hung out.

 

Day 4: Friday

In the morning on Friday, Shan and I returned to the Laines. She brought me to the part that’s full of thrift shops and secondhand stores. The biggest and most interesting was called Snooper’s Paradise, which was multiple storefronts all connected and positively filled with the most random things, from vintage and antiques to collectables, or just found or sold objects that ended up there.

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Cool Shopping Area

This area of the city reminded me of shopping on Melrose Ave in California, especially because the area was decorated with murals and street art. But it was also distinctly different, with a cobbled sidewalk, displays extending from the shop into the street, and small colorful stores that mirror the colorful houses that line the neighboring streets.

After we finished shopping and exploring the main street, Shannon and I got some real fish and chips, which we took over to Hove Garden, the lawns of the Pavilion Palace, to eat.

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Fish and Chips

After lunch, we took a tour of the Pavilion Palace, which is beyond a doubt the weirdest building ever built.

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A queen in front of a (culturally-appropriated) palace

It’s a converted farm house, which was remodeled to look like a little Taj Mahal and decorated inside with “oriental” things, such as dragons, phoenixes, and pagoda doorways. There was bamboo railing on staircases, patterned wallpapers, and large paintings of Asian families. Not content to only have one representation, there is inspired bits from India, China, Japan and other Asian countries. The entire thing was decorated by English men, so if that doesn’t give an idea of the stereotyping that was occurring, I don’t know what does.

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Fun fact: the building escaped being bombed in World War 2 because Hitler wanted it as his summer home. During WW2, it was also used as a hospital for Indian soldiers the British used to fight in the war.

Shannon and I went to the roof of the Pavillon and had tea looking over the garden. It was lovely.

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Tea time at the Palace, like the queens we are

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After tea, we began preparing for a BBQ that Shannon planned so I could meet more of her friends before we went out that night. It was the whole family, where I also met Poppy, Shannon’s older sister, and I also met Tom, Niquira and Izzie, as well as seeing Keisha, Rachel and Hattie.

While Ben grilled for the meat-eaters on the back porch, we picnicked in the back yard having drinks and vegan pasta salad and veggie burgers and talking until it was dark.

After the BBQ, our group quickly changed and we took a cab over to Club Revenge, where we danced into the early morning hours. As I got into bed at 4am – which was so early for English people, but I was still on Greek time so it was around 6am for my body – the sun was rising and starting to lighten the corners of the window blinds as I fell asleep.

 

Day 5: Saturday

We spent Saturday seeing the historical up to current sides of Brighton. Shan and I walked to Preston park, a huge beautiful park that she used to walk through to get to school. On our walk, we could see her school up on a hill beyond the park.

After spending some time in the park listening to Hamilton, one of our favorite pastimes, Max and Poppy met us and we went on a tour of the Preston Manor. The Manor house had been standing in that spot from before the town around it was renamed from Preston, and the surrounding park area used to be the house’s expansive gardens.

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Living room inside Preston Manor

The house itself was like stepping into Downton Abbey (PBS TV show), and we explored all over the supposed haunted house, even into the kitchen and servant’s quarters.

After the Manor, we went over to the Rockery across the street, a storybook garden complete with an enchanted cottage and a little pond full of fish and a magic turtle that only appears once every hundred years. We watched some people feed him and the fish.

We returned to the house for a few hours to watch Friends – another thing Shannon and I spent many hours doing in our shared dorm room – before we headed out to the new British Airways i360, a tower with a moving observation deck, similar to the London Eye but slightly more phallic in design.

As we walked along the beach again, this time crowded with people on a super warm Saturday late afternoon, I was again reminded of Newport Beach or other beach areas along the California coast. Everyone was happy, dressed in their favorite eccentric clothes, drinking and grilling on the beach, and heavily sunburned.

We sat down at a well-known pub, with a girl singing to the eating and drinking crowd. There, Max and Shannon and I had a pitcher of Pimm’s, which there is no way to explain.

 

I felt like I was sitting at the Salty Dog Café on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, one of my favorite places from my childhood. It was almost unnerving how this one beach reminded me of so many of my favorite places, which were all across the ocean and spread across the USA.

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At the top of Brighton!

We went up in the i360, able to observe as much of Brighton as we could see in every direction. It was lovely with the setting sun making everything glow.

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After the i360, the three of us walked along the shore to an ice-cream place called Morocco’s. There, we got pizza and delicious ice cream.

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Day 6: Sunday

Sunday was my last day in Brighton. We relaxed for the morning, ran a quick errand to get me a kimono – which are everywhere in Brighton and nowhere in America – and then Max, Shannon and I went out for a Roast.

It is, essentially, a plate of Thanksgiving food, but you can have it any day of the year. I got a vegetarian pie, potatoes, vegetables, and it had a piece of Yorkshire Pudding, which I learned is not a pudding at all.

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Vegetable Roast

Jack, Shannon’s dad, drove Shannon and me to the airport, where they walked me all the way to security. Shannon and I kept it mostly together for the goodbyes.

I’m really going to miss Shannon this next year. I don’t know when exactly we’ll see each other again, but I know we most definitely will. She’s going back to Norwich to finish her last year of school, and I still have another couple of years to go. Having Shannon as my roommate this year made easing in to life at Northeastern so incredibly easy. We were the perfect roommates, and also great friends. I hope she knows how much she means to me. ❤

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Me and Shannon on my moving-out day in front of East Village

I also think that I want to live in Brighton, because it’s a mix of all my favorite places and it’s so chill and so beautiful. It’s a small town, but it had never-ending things to do, places to eat, and everyone was so nice. I can’t imagine living there any time soon, but maybe when I want to start a family or to actually settle down, that would be a nice place to go. Plus, free healthcare.

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