I decided to take advantage of the warm summer weather and disappear for a few days to gather my thoughts and give myself some headspace. Ever since childhood we – my brother, Mum and Dad – always hotfooted it down to Brighton for our seaside fix. So that’s where I went. Next time though, I hope to broaden my horizons and visit another coastal resort, Devon, Cornwall or Poole, say.
Anyway, Brighton it was for now.
For a relaxed leisurely ride, it would have to be National Express coach. Gazing out the window as shops, people and fields rolled by, intermittently tuning into my head-phoned music (Bebel Gilberto anyone?), sea salt dark chocolate easing the journey along. Not bad for £20 return. The coach on the return leg would be around half hour late, cementing my view that the coach service is fine for a leisurely break, but I wouldn’t necessarily rely on it to get me to work or a business meeting.
Monday in Brighton is busy. It’s a bank holiday so no wonder. It’s a bit too busy for me, as I wind my way around residents and visitors alike. Quickly, to get it out of my system, I seize on fish and chips for £6 and eat it at a table on the beach. It was nice, but can’t compare to the delicious sea bass and chips I had a while back in Beirut.
Being the urbanite I am, my sweet spot that day is finding a bubbly form of one of my favourite white wines – a vouvray (chenin blanc) – and drinking it at a table on the pavement, watching the Brighton world go by. It tastes more like champagne than prosecco to me, so I’m happy. Then my next best highlight – finding a sesame chicken and rice meal (£5.70) at a small Japanese restaurant tucked away in the centre.
My YHA room is simple and perfectly adequate, with a nice contemporary like bathroom. The downside is the late night noise outside, so I don’t get much sleep. I can put up with it for a night, but I’m glad it won’t be for longer than that. It’s a shame because otherwise this refurbished hostel is a bit of a gem (cost of room £49 booked online).
On Tuesday morning I get to do what I came for: an early-ish morning coffee sat on the pebbly beach. No crowds, just a few people and children dotted around.
The sun is hitting the side of my face and I can feel its warmth on the bare part of my feet. The air smells fresh of fish. And I watch as the waves wash and lap against the pebbles, crashing into them with soft roars. I don’t mind that I’m not enjoying this late summer scene completely on my own. I like it that others around me are enjoying this too, children laughing and shouting at the waves warning them to roll back, hurling pebbles into the sea.
I don’t want to return the hectic city bustle just yet. But return I must, as I later head off to my delayed coach.
I had experienced some small nice touches while booking my Arbor City hotel room online. I liked that I could click my estimated arrival time. But even better, I got a complementary room upgrade just for tweeting about my stay. Nice. I paid £85 per night (two nights). It’s right at the start of Brick Lane and practically round the corner from Aldgate East tube station. It’s also served by a number of buses, at least one that goes to Oxford Circus. And thankfully it’s much quieter than my Brighton room.
On the downside the room/housekeeping service was a little bit disorganised. I only ate their pizza which was okay, but for their prices (£12 for the pizza) I hope they make a little more effort with their food quality. But, having said that, I would stay here again for sure. The location surrounding the hotel is choc a bloc full of eateries, especially curry houses. And the hotel is modern, boutique and airy.