Visiting Brighton Beach

Shops and Pop Socks: A Geek’s Guide to Visiting Brighton

As I spent last weekend visiting Brighton, I decided to do a quick review of what I’ve learnt about it over my many trips there! Brighton is like my home from home – I feel like I really belong there and if I could, I’d happily live there. I have visited at all times of the year, doing “the tourist thing” and also exploring with friends that live nearby, which helps when you’re trying to find out the places where the locals go!

So here is a very brief guide to visiting Brighton – where to go, what to see and sometimes where to give a miss (despite the hype). Every time I visit I am exploring more and more, so I am sure there will be updates as I go! As always, my completely biased and unsponsored opinion -please feel free to completely disagree!

Sights to See

Street art

Street artists in Brighton are extremely talented. You won’t find just scribbled tags here – every alleyway (and sometimes the frontages) are covered with artwork. Every time I visit the walls have changed and new artwork has appeared. It just makes everything just that little more interesting and vibrant.

Visiting Brighton Street Art

Colour overload!

The South Lanes (at night and in the day)

The reason I’ve put the lanes in the sights category is that they can be very busy – too busy to even get a look-in at the shops! If you’re going there in the day I’d recommend a weekday, and I’d also say, bring lots of money… It’s home to the famous ChoccyWoccyDooDah and other awesome establishments.
In the evening, it’s really atmospheric – walking through on a warm Saturday night I came across glowing little restaurants, iconic pubs and bars and really talented buskers setting the scene for us.

Snooper’s Paradise

Another place I’ve put in the sights category rather than the “buy” – it’s great if you are out to buy some awesome curiosities but, I never have enough money to spend! I think one reason for the pricing is its commercialism, but it is the ultimate bric-a-brac store. It’s a treasure trove of quirky stuff! If you’re there for the unusual then definitely worth a purchase, but if not then do shop around first!

The Seafront

I will forego the cliché pictures of the burned down pier… But seriously there are some cool things to see on the sea-front. The pier, the permanent carousel, the pub that looks like a ship, the kissing picture, the big… doughnut thing? Awesome.

Visiting Brighton SeaFront Brighton Doughnut

Places to Buy All the Things

Churchill Square (and the surrounding area) 

The main shopping centre for Brighton, which has all of the core shops you’d expect on the high street – plus some extras! The Lego Store, Pylones and Scribbler (to name but a few they don’t have in my city)… I even enjoy high-street shopping more when visiting Brighton than at home!

North Laine

Coming from a city deprived of any real ‘alternative’ shops, when I visit the North Laine I tend to spend ALL of my money! Everything is so colourful and different to anywhere else I’ve seen! Camden eat your heart out! There are no cheap crappy remakes and big chains here – each shop is unique and wonderful. Another place to visit on a weekday.

This is Not a Butchers (etc.)

The name, the weird and funny stuff to buy – just a great little shop filled with quirky gifts. I told myself I wouldn’t name any specific shop to go and buy things in but, this one is just really cool. To make it a bit fairer, I will also mention I love to shop in Tuff Tarts, LUST! and Pussy too. (Yes, they’re the actual names.)

Eateries and Drinking Establishments

Burgers and Cocktails

I find it difficult to put the label “the best burger I’ve ever had” onto any burger, but Burgers and Cocktails has to be one of the most memorably awesome burger joint experiences EVER. Their nachos are to die for, their fries – sublime, and don’t get me started on the cocktails. They were half price for happy hour so my friend and I tried four as a matter of course. No regrets!

Visiting Brighton Burgers and Cocktails

The Mesmerist

This place is just the best! It’s got an amazing atmosphere, and even more amazing mixologists. They play old school jazz, rock and roll and blues music. I am yet to go when they’re hosting an event / live band but it’s on the list! I didn’t take any pictures here because I was too busy dancing my pop socks off!

La Choza

As soon as you hit the Lanes coming from the train station, you come across La Choza. The amazing smell of burritos hit you as soon as you pass it and on more than one occasion it’s drawn me in! I’ve heard there’s also a La Choza kitchen at the Hare and Hound pub should the restaurant itself be too busy.

 Visiting Brighton La Choza Mexican Restaurant Brighton
 La Choza Brighton Mexican Restaurant Visiting Brighton

The North/South Lanes

I cannot name these few places above without giving a bit of a catch-all header for all the other amazing independent restaurants and cafes. There is such a vast choice available that I couldn’t write down all the places I’ve been to/have yet to go to! My advice to you is; get off the high-street, go to the lanes and just follow your nose!

Places to do Nothing at all

Das ist OK fur mich Brighton Pier

Brighton Pavillion

The gardens surrounding the Pavillion are great to visit in the summer – just to chill and not do a lot. I’ve not been inside yet, but the outside is just stunning! There are always (super talented) buskers playing soft/jazzy music as you relax in the sun – Bliss!

The Beach

Rent a deck-chair, have some fish and chips and do absolutely nothing at all! Visiting Brighton’s stony beach means no sand between your toes (yuck); you can just enjoy the sea. Coming from a landlocked city I definitely appreciate it!

Visiting Brighton…

…is a new experience every time. Over the last 4 years, I’ve been countless times and loved every moment. I never felt like I was doing the same old thing or felt out of place!

I could continue but I feel like you need to explore for yourselves if you haven’t been already!
If you have been I’d love to know your thoughts and recommendations on some good places to visit!

Until next time,

Amy

 

Eland West Midland Safari Park

Major Adulting: A weekday trip to West Midlands Safari Park

My best friend and I really needed a break from being adults with full-time jobs so we decided to chill out amongst the animals for a day.  So this week’s post is just a little summary of my trip to West Midland Safari Park!

It was the best idea ever – a chilly Thursday in February meant no people, no swarms of children, no sweltering in cars in a queue… We could just leisurely drive at our own pace around the park and there were no battles for space to view the animals. All the animals were energetic and curious (likely due to waking up a bit after the quiet winter) and so we had some really amazing interactions with quite a lot of them!

I will let the pictures speak for themselves but here are just a few Safari Park highlights!

  • Feeding the deer and giving them all silly names and personas
  • Getting bitten by an overzealous zebra
  • Being surrounded by little red fox-like animals
  • Being closer than I’ve ever been to a lion (about 1 metre or so!)
  • Having birds land on our heads and nibble us!

We also vlogged for most of the day and recorded some of our closer encounters so I will edit and upload a video soon!

Without further ado… The photos!

West Midlands Safari Park

These little guys circled around the car – I think they were scavengers of some kind! I can’t remember their name.

 Penguin 1 Safari Park
 Penguin 2 Safari Park

Greater One Horned Rhino Safari Park

Nice Zebra Safari Park

Nice Zebra

Bad Zebra Safari Park Zebra Bite

Bad Zebra!

Majestic Tiger West Midland Safari Park

 Deer Safari Park
 Unamused deer safari park
 Deer at Safari Park
Snek Boa Constrictor Safari Park

Snek.

Beautiful (but noisy!) lorikeets

Lorikeet Safari park

These little birds love to eat your hair products!

Proud Sealion

So there you have it- The Safari Park!

Our day at the Safari Park was a success. It was a much-needed rest and so much fun. We missed the meerkats and lemurs because we arrived too late but we got free return tickets. (Bonus!)

I want to make sure to do things like this a lot more! Hope you like the photos!

Which are your favourites?

Amy

Cheeky Deer Safari Park

I bring you love.

 

 

Visiting Romania Transylvania Dracula's House

Major Adulting: Visiting Romania Part 2 – House of Dracula, Haute Cuisine and Home

So where we left off in Visiting Romania Part 1, I was extremely tired. I didn’t write an entry before bed because I had been awake with very little sleep for around 36 hours. This is the part where things start to pick up… but I’ll let the diary entries and the images speak for themselves. Needless to say, it was an experience – and one which I will never forget!

Day 3

8 am (Feels like 5 am)

Last night I didn’t report before bed as I just needed a solid 8 hours! This morning I still feel disoriented but it’s not so bad… Breakfast was great because there was Nesquik. Whenever I’m in mainland Europe, I find I seek out the comforts of home. (Even though I am aware Nesquik is not English!) Off to the factory today to do some more training.

10.30am

Training people can be a trial when you have a language barrier. I mean, a big barrier. My colleague can show them as it’s a practical thing but I’ve got to explain procedures and it’s a bit more difficult. Often you can tell if someone understands or not because they look confused but it’s difficult if they look confused regardless because they’re processing your accent!

2pm

Went out to get some food for lunch. It was a gorgeous chicken stew type thing with puree potatoes. Genuinely yummy! We went with the factory supervisor. She said she was surprised that in England they only kept cats and dogs, and not pigs and chickens. I guess it’s more practical to keep that kind of animal!

Visiting Romania Worcestershire Sauce Chicken and Puree Potatoes

I pointed out that her nails looked good. She said that in other countries when they have money they “buy furniture and things”, but in Romania, if they have excess money then they make their nails look good! I didn’t expect this kind of explanation on a passing comment. It seems that they don’t treat themselves often. It made me feel thankful for all I have back home.

They don’t have advertisements anywhere and I know it sounds odd but after thinking about it, it makes sense. They don’t have excess money and everyone knows where everything is so why would anyone need to advertise. Occasionally there is a sign for a local shop or beer. It’s really simple here.
Owls in Romania

3pm

Outside the factory, there are owls nesting in the trees. When I saw them I got really emotional! Probably because it was such a beautiful thing when I was struggling to see the joy here. It made me realise in that moment that it’s what I love the most – seeing nature and especially animals.

6pm

An English speaking man said that we should come back for a holiday when it’s warm. He said there are some really beautiful places. I’m inclined to believe him… But I just don’t think I could unless I had to! It’s been a tiring few days. We are driving back now and almost like a movie… “What a Wonderful World” has come on the radio.
Dracula's House Transylvania

 

Dracula's House Transylvania

11pm

I tried red wine and actually enjoyed it! It was called Vardo Patima Serii or “The Flame of the Night“. They also do drinks based around water, air and earth – I LOVE anything to do with the elements and my inner branding nerd likes this. I am going to have to try them all…

We had a lovely evening with our host. The food was wonderful, the company was great. We visited Dracula’s house and the surrounding area. It was so icy and they don’t really grit the paths so everything was super slippy! We had a great laugh walking down the hill and sliding everywhere. I can imagine this place is really iconic and is a lovely place to visit in the summer.Today has been the highlight of the trip. It was so beautiful and I enjoyed every minute.

Red Wine Romania

I finally found a red wine that I liked! Unfortunately it was the most expensive…

Stuffed Chicken and Rice

The menu said “Chicken and Rice” Needless to say, this was an unexpected surprise!

Josef. T when Visiting Romania

Very Vampiric Decor!

 

Day 4 -The last Day

9 am

It was lovely to say goodbye to the ladies and see how much progress they’d made thanks to my colleague. Everything seems to be in hand and I feel like we have accomplished what we set out to do! The people here are very friendly and they all gave us 2 kisses on the cheek to say goodbye. I am really optimistic that this venture will be a success! Time to pack up and go home – it’s a bittersweet feeling.

5pm

Through passport control, it doesn’t look foggy outside!?! Fingers crossed it will go well. I can’t wait for home and bed. I bought some Dracula themed goodies to take home with me. A bottle of Romanian brandy and a Transylvania teacup! Feeling a little better now I know we are on the way home.

7pm  – Last few hours!

We have officially arrived on English soil! Phew. Such a long and laborious journey… Only a 1 hour wait until the coach and 2 hours in the coach and a cab to my house to go! Woohoo! In retrospect, these few days has gone fast once that eternity of a first night ended. I got gradually more interested in my surroundings and the culture and just like that, I am home.
 Dracula's Potion and Transylvania TeaCup
So my trip to Romania is over and as I come to the end of this adventure I wonder- what will be my next?
Until Next Time,
Amy
Visiting Romania - Railway Tracks

Major Adulting: Visiting Romania Part 1 – Flights, Fog and Frozen Fingers

This week has been… Eventful. So this blog instalment is a 2-parter! Visiting Romania was an experience I’ll never forget, for so many reasons. I’ll let my diary entries explain for themselves… These were all written in real time and I think you can tell from my writing style how much my mood changed!

Day 1 – Outbound

Midday

I don’t fly until around 20:00 tonight from Luton so I have quite a while to wait, and a long way to go. I realise now that I know almost nothing about visiting Romania… and I feel a little bad about that! I’m brushing up on some basic phrases so I am not a completely ignorant fool and just playing the waiting game. I hope I’m ready for this – I am super nervous about the flight. It’ll be the first time I’ll have been abroad for work so I am hoping it’ll be an adventure! Coach is at 3 pm then on from Luton.

9 pm

The flight is delayed by an hour so I should arrive in Romania around 2 am. It hasn’t been the best experience. I can only say don’t fly WizzAir if you can help it! If you do, be really aware that they’re strict with their baggage restrictions. I have had no problems except snooty looks from the staff as they can’t decide whether to fine me £40 for my case being too big. Just don’t go there if you can avoid it. They wouldn’t know service with a smile if it hit them in the face with a spade.

Visiting Romania Stranded in the wrong airport

Still smiling… at this point!

2 am (local time)

We have arrived at an airport in Romania… 150 miles from the airport we should be at! The other airports are closed due to fog and low visibility and so we had to stop early. All I can say is at least I’m on the ground. It seems there will be a 3-hour drive plus transfer time from this plane. It’s not a grand start but I’m so exhausted from travel that I can’t muster up the energy to worry.

3am.

Waiting for the replacement bus service to Sibiu. Turns out that 3 hours is more likely to be 4. And that’s once we get on this bus. Still no sign of it. We are trying to make light of it but it’s a crappy situation. All flights after ours were cancelled. Wish we had been on a later one and not been one of the last in. I’d be back home after a return coach trip from Luton…

4 am… Zzz

This will be my last update today. Because nothing has changed. I’ve been waiting for a bus for 2 hours. And I have no idea when it will get here and the journey to the airport I should be at will be 4 hours following. Joy.

Visiting Romania View From The Factory

Day 2 (but it’s like Day 1 never ended…)

7.45am

I wake up on the coach to see literally nothing. White and bleak fog all around. I don’t envy the driver. Been restlessly sleeping for a few hours but it’s been really uncomfortable. Now I can see outside it’s hard to go back to sleep. People keep having their normal phone alarms go off from their normal routines. I just got a call from the factory manager asking where we were and I told him I didn’t have a clue! I don’t know what to expect when we finally get there…. just desperately need a shower. We have been travelling now for 18 hours.

10.30am

So we have arrived at our hotel which we now won’t be staying in. It’s peaceful. Breakfast left much to be desired but the shower was amazing. Going to the factory straight away so no time to sleep. I feel like my brain is functioning about 20 seconds behind me. Really odd. One thing I’ve learned is that honey tastes really good in tea… For the record, it’s -13 degrees outside.

Visiting Romania -Snowy Landscape

1pm.

Feels like I’ve been here for ages but at the same time not at all. We have been driving for 2 hours through snow-covered landscapes and I am feeling rather irritable. Our driver is pointing things out in the landscape and he introduces everything with such enthusiasm that I wish I could keep my eyes open. They do a lot of speeding and last minute swerving here and there’s snow everywhere and it just seems wrong to be going at 90km (50 miles) per hour!

5.30pm

The training went well. The women who came are really enthusiastic and seem to have previous experience. It was a little out of the norm for me – the ladies came in like a tornado of positivity, really friendly and just got stuck in! It was really bizarre but it doesn’t pay to be shy I guess. We are now off for dinner and hopefully an early night. I felt like I’ve had a 48 hour day… Zzzz.

Hotel Korona Romania

We finally arrived at our home for the next 2 days – Not a single bad word for Hotel Korona. It was wonderful!

Bar Hotel Korona Romania

We found the bar so we were happy enough!

At this point, it’s a bit like A Series of Unfortunate Events!

But believe me, it changes for the better tomorrow in…

Visiting Romania Part 2- House of Dracula, Haute Cuisine and Home!

Until Next Time

Amy