The day started with me chucking pebbles at one of my friends windows. It was 7:15 and we were supposed to be on a bus bound for Brighton Beach by 8am. Luckily, those old romantic movies taught me well, and all that tapping on the window woke Jaycie up.
A few minutes later we were sprinting down the sidewalk, then sprinting to our bus, then sprinting to a train station and through another train station. By some miracle, we caught our bus. I remember sitting back into my seat, looking up at the clock and reading 7:59.
After a two hour journey, we had made it. We were Brighton and had found the coast.
Brighton is one of those towns filled with life. Located right on the south coast of England, it’s famous for its massive pier and eclectic community. I would have loved to visit on a sunny summer day and really seen what this place is like in its prime, but I guess we have our own slightly rainier version of Brighton.
After a morning like that, we wanted a big, warm breakfast, so the first cafe we came across, we went in – The Munkee Cafe. Two twenty-something guys took our order and served us; we were the only four people in the place. What made this especially memorable was when one of the guys took off out the front door only to return with fresh eggs just for us. I felt special.
Fueled up and ready to go, we made our way to the local shops.
Down tightly packed alleys and crowded streets, we wove in and out of the people and stores. Never had I seen so many thrift and vintage stores in one area. I would leave one rack of old crew neck sweaters only to find more in the next shop over. I even stumbled across a few old t-shirts and jerseys from Iowa.
Similar to my visit to Camden Market, it took a lot of self control to not buy everything I saw. I was mesmerized by the hand-crafted jewelry, vintage prints and new art being sold in the streets.
There is one point in my day that stands out the most…
Looking for an escape from the rain, Jaycie and I wandered into what we later found out was Hare Krishna charity shop. We were the only two in the little store, and all we planned to do was look at some tapestries. Instead, we found ourselves chatting with the guy behind the counter.
I started by asking him about the Brighton Beach area, and from there the conversation blossomed into a discussion about life’s passions and spirituality. It was beautiful to just sit there and have a meaningful discussion with a near stranger. Other than the fact he used to be a musician and that his name is Robert. I knew so little about him, yet I appreciated all he had to say.
He described his way of life, that his japa yoga religion was about service. Not just serving God but serving others, yourself and your environment. He even brought up the importance of serving your stomach with nurturing food, and being equal with everyone that surrounds you. “You may be from America and I am from Britain, but we are all together in this world like brother and sister.”
He told us a short version of his life story, how he let go of all of the unnecessary items in his life and became a simplest. Working at this store meant working in a community of people with the same values and sharing a way of life.He told us we made his day. I’m willing to bet it’s not nearly as much as he made ours.
Talking with this stranger was one of those moments in life I’ll remember forever. It’s interactions like that which give life substance.
Before leaving, we asked him where to get lunch. He was the third person to recommend Iydea, and now I’ll be the fourth to recommend it.
As you can see, it’s this tiny little café tucked between two other tiny little buildings. If I had a place like this back home, I might just be able to become a vegetarian. The food was amazing and creative; the people who served it were equally brilliant and helpful.
I ordered broccoli quiche, fried beet root and tomato and feta salad all topped with a mix of seeds (my dad would call this bird food). Jaycie had herself eggplant and goat cheese with a side of potatoes and salad. Healthy and delicious.
After lunch, we headed to the pier. If you haven’t caught on yet, it was a rainy day and piers on rainy days aren’t the most fun. We walked up and down it and enjoyed being near the ocean. There’s something about the ocean that makes my heart happy. I’ll always take an opportunity to be on the beach, but it’s a challenge being from the middle of the United States.
And basically, that was my visit to Brighton Beach. After some gelato we boarded our bus to head back to the University. We were a little bit wet from the rain and a little bit tired from our early start, but mostly we were satisfied. Brighton was a success.