We had Yo Sushi for lunch and wandered around clothing and record shops. The charity (thrift) shops are excellent here. They're selective about their merchandise, more careful about displays, and are less crowded with stuff. Josh Homme's album The Desert Sessions 9 and 10 for £1.99? A Bill Bryson book for a pound? Yes, please. Ellie suggested that we go to Brighton Pier, which reminded me a lot of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, except less clam chowder, more merry-go-rounds. As well as tarot card readers and absurdly aggressive seagulls who tried to grab Ellie's ice cream.
Brighton's Pier has a pebbly beach that becomes comfortable once you settle down into the stones. I interrupted a lady on the beach (who was about to drink out of a flask, oops) so we could get a picture together.
What I loved and appreciated most about Ellie is that she was willing to discuss my seemingly endless questions and comments about British culture. It was fantastic to have lots of casual conversation with someone from here! Here is a small sampling of what we discussed:
- The British branches of government (conservative, liberal Democrat, and Labour)
- Where's Waldo? books are actually called Where's Wally? here
- Our oddly-named hometowns of Leighton Buzzard and Kaukauna. Never before has the word "Kaukauna" been pronounced so eloquently...I love British accents.
- The small white soft serve ice cream cones my classmates enjoyed near the London Eye are called Mr. Whippies or 99p cones. They come with a delicious chocolate flake.
- The differences between the US and the UK health care systems, drinking and smoking ages, and driving systems.
- Our shared love of documentaries and my surprise that England lacks Hulu, Pandora, or Netflix. The horror. ;) At least Grooveshark still works. Ellie did recommend BBC iPlayer, which I'll have to investigate further.
As if all of that wasn't enough, Ellie even bought Rosie Rex and me our very first English cup of tea. Did I mention how much I love this woman? Because I do. Although every day of my trip has been unforgettable, this day trip to Brighton was probably my favorite day in England. Thanks, Ellie. (P.S. Bubble and squeak is the fried vegetables left over from roast dinners, like potato, cabbage, carrots, etc. Remember that sign in the cafe?)
Even if you don't have your own tour guide, Brighton is worth a visit. Make sure you get ice cream on the pier and browse the shops in the Lanes.