Bite-sized Travelling

Travelling is expensive. Travelling is tiring. Travelling is challenging, both physically and mentally. However, of the brief experience I’ve had, I can say with conviction that despite the hardships, travelling is unequivocally worth it.

I have a respectful admiration for those who can drop everything and let the wind take them. Esther, my younger sister, is one such traveler. I’d never really considered travelling until reading her blog whilst she toured around South America. The incredible experiences she had seemed a world away from my quiet life in Britain.

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That being said, I did a fair bit of travelling during University anyway, because the definition of travelling doesn’t exactly require you to fly thousands of miles from home! We did dozens of day trips and weekend jaunts around the UK and even into France and Belgium. I hadn’t really classed it as travelling, what with Lucy jetting out to Africa to teach maths, and Esther sipping tea in Hobbiton (New Zealand), but in the last few days I’ve come to appreciate how Britain is actually quite an interesting place after all.

So for the last half week I’ve been giving Rica (my Aussie mayte) a ‘day in the life’ of an English 23 year old. Well… one without work or a respectable sleeping pattern. We picked up Tom and went on a day trip to Brighton, explored the Northern Laines and bought vegi food. I couldn’t quite believe I’d never seen the Northern Laines after 14 years of living a short train journey away! I also received the award for the world’s worst tour guide when I couldn’t recall a single fact about the impressive Brighton Pavilion.

An integral part of the tour was to continually talk about the weather. Being only 1 degree C we had plenty to complain about, although that had nothing on the downpour Rica was lucky enough to witness in London on Sunday. As much as it was a shame she couldn’t see how beautiful Brighton could be on a hot summer’s day, the edgy streets and invitingly warm shops kept us entertained. Ironically instead of finding a cute independent coffee shop (apparently Melbourne does great coffee), we went to Choccywoccydoodah and bought the most disgustingly sweet hot chocolates money can buy.

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The chilly walk to the pier was funny though, mainly due to the beach themed cut-outs which almost outnumbered the real people there. The fairground had a sort of sad, haunted feeling to it, with cheerful music blaring out of the loud speaker across the empty rides. It felt a bit like Hastings, a shiver ran down my spine… OK, this has turned into a teen fiction novel, let’s move on.

Instead of showing Rica the jaw dropping view over the Cuckmere at the Seven Sisters, we played minigolf at the Brighton Marina. Why you ask? Two-ish words. Ultra-violet dinosaurs. I rest my case.

Sadly we never did see the sunset over the cliffs. Staying in an actual home, I thought Rica would probably want to rest up — I was really tired — so we spent the following day watching comedy shows and comparing our home nations. There were a surprising amount of parallels between Melbourne and Brighton it turned out, and since Rica hasn’t been home in 6 months she admitted to being a little home sick.

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The actual reason we were tired was because the previous night we started playing Lips (like Singstar). A sincere apology to my family on this one. We were still destroying Beyonce’s musical works with our hoarse singing at 2am…

That night Rica met the group. Together we showed her just how dreadful Eastbourne’s night life is on a Friday night. The lack of music and general atmosphere didn’t matter though, since it meant we could share a conversation without upsetting our sore throats. It also proves how true the whole people over place thing is — a philosophy I’m uncertain is a philosophy…   The girls mysteriously disappeared after midnight and Rica was subjected to what can only be described as a lads night out. Something which was almost replicated the following night in Clapham!

We drove up to Southfields (London) in the evening to greet a severely hung over Spencer. It was lovely to see everyone again, but after the heavy drinking in Eastbourne I wasn’t feeling much like another beer. 3 train rides and a bus later and we were fighting our way through the crowds of a London bar. Once we’d escaped with our drinks to a less populated section of floor I started to relax into it, and when the bar closed and we moved on to a cosey pub down the road, the night became rather pleasant. I’d like to bring my home friends to London one day, there are some seriously cool bars around! (*ehem* Four Thieves).

Despite the ‘day in the life’ theme, I wouldn’t consider the last few days to represent normal life. I yearn to exercise after the monumental amount of MaccyDs I’ve consumed, and I’m almost certain my expenditure has eclipsed my previous week’s earnings. So not strictly a sustainable travelling experience!

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On Sunday we took the tube into central London and walked from London Bridge to Southbank. It seems like an age since being there, but almost every street was littered with memories: from the London bridge experience, to the Christmas markets under the London Eye. Running out of time we decided to get out of the rain and explore the Imperial War Museum. Having played far too much Battlefield 1, I was more than keen to visit the WW1 section which Rica also seemed to find interesting: result! After an hour we were ushered out of the museum having failed to even get to the end the WW1 section. I found the whole experience both fascinating and emotional in equal measure; it made me feel incredibly fortunate to be alive today.

After all this, as you must be from reading, I’m knackered. I drove home to my comfortable double bed and made plans to play Xbox, and gym — 2 mundane sounding things I love. In the meantime Rica is off to Morocco to carry on her adventure, but she’s left me with a little travel bug. I think it’s high time to get a job and start saving for my next big trip.

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