Sunday, May 4, 2008

round the bend

so luke and i parted yesterday as i left for Brighton by train, with Luke making comments about how he can finally check out all the hobby shops now that i'm gone. i'm going to miss him; i had a good time with him in London.

Matt (who i knew as Tay in university but now goes by his proper name) is an old friend from undergrad in Ottawa who has been an excellent host for me here in Brighton, everything from constantly offering tea to borrowing a mattress for me to showing me around Brighton to putting up with my snoring. he is doing his masters in international relations at the university of sussex, and lives in a residence on campus. he's big into academic marxism, so we get along much better than a lot of my corporate-minded law colleagues. it's totally sweet that he's been letting me stay for the day.

Brighton is really beautiful, overlooking the English Channel. it's pretty close to London too, only about an hour's train ride away. Matt says that Brighton is the UK answer to San Francisco, full of a lot of interesting people who want to be different. this translates to an unusual proportion of hipsters, some of a gothy-emo nature. and gays (that might explain the "lady boys of bangkok" sign i saw outside). i see some resemblances. Brighton is very hilly - it makes me realize just how flat Ottawa is. the beaches are also very pretty.

the brighton festival seems to going on this weekend, so the streets are packed full of people looking to have a lot of fun. Matt and i checked out the pier, where i didn't engage in any of the tourist trap activities but DID buy some cotton candy, which made me as happy as a twelve year old girl. we also walked by the cool shops in the North Lanes and stopped at one of the pubs for a few pints. we sat out on the patio across the park and just hung out lazily all afternoon, watching the people stroll by. matt seems a bit stressed about his paper but i have to confess that i felt pretty relaxed and that is such an awesome feeling after locking myself up in an asbestos-ridden concrete bunker of a library to study for the last few months. justin and drea, i miss you guys but not badly enough to want to go back to the library any time soon.

the seagulls here freak the living daylights out of me. they are as big as vultures and they just hover over the crowds like the way i've seen some hawks do. cue alfred hitchcock. creepy.

later on, we met up with his girlfriend Henrika who is this gorgeous, tall blonde german woman, and her cool swedish friend Eva at this bar called the White Rabbit (ooh, alice in wonderland), and hung out with a bunch of their euro friends for the evening. it was a pretty rad evening. i'm trying to wrap my head around the pub customs here - i don't see a lot of people drinking pitchers, and bartenders seem really surprised when you tip them. we never seem to have hostesses or waitresses that serve you at your table (even at restaurants), so you are expected to order at the bar. also, there are so many awesome beers on tap. i am a fan, in general.

we missed the last train last night, so i rode in a british taxi cab for the first time here. having drivers on the right side of the car still totally freaks me out. it feels so wrong. apparently the custom of sticking to the left of the road has something to do with the way people jousted in earlier times. which i'm sure is SO relevant now. i feel confused whenever i cross the streets, and it looks like nobody is driving the cars.

also, there are an awful lot of mercedes benz and BMWs here in britain.

okay, i'll write more about it later, but i gotta get ready to go to Spain now - hopefully that'll go smoothly!