Last night, my partner Grant and I got back from two weeks hopping around the UK. Living and traveling abroad is a huge way we connected when we first met back in early 2020. All through COVID, I mentally planned a dream trip and in summer when things were starting to turn around, we started making solid plans to visit, centering our trip around my favorite holiday, Bonfire Night in Lewes. My work wouldn’t let me take (even unpaid) time off in our low season, but Grant’s work was flexible enough to give him two weeks off.
Wednesday, 3 November: We left Seattle on a red-eye flight on Tuesday and landed in the afternoon on the third. We took the train from Heathrow to Brighton and arrived about half an hour before we were meant to check in to our AirBNB… the perfect amount of time to grab a cheeky pint at the cozy pub I used to work at by the station: The Queen’s Head.
Our AirBNB in Brighton was my favorite accommodation of the whole trip by far. We had a whole flat to ourselves in Regency Square and it was awesome to have the extra space to relax.
In an attempt to beat jet lag, we hit the pavement to walk around and were greeted with the most beautiful sunset. We ate at VIP having authentic Italian pizza and strong-ass coffee.
Thursday, 4 November: We spent the day exploring Brighton, first taking the bus to University of Sussex. I led Grant through campus, showing him my old accommodation and lecture halls. It truly is a beautiful campus, I mean, it’s in a national park for God’s sake. It’s changed quite a bit, most notably the new huge East Slope accommodations.
We then walked around North Laine, popping into some of my favorite shops like Snooper’s Paradise along the way.
That night, we met up with my old roommate and good friend Alex and his partner Pip for dinner at Honest Burger and drinks at World’s End.
Friday, 5 November: During the day, we walked the pier and played on the 2p machines and Guitar Hero (I let Grant win). It’s always great to see “kids” of all ages enjoying those games.
We visited the Sea Life Centre and it was incredible. As the world’s oldest operating aquarium, the architecture was definitely the highlight. After that, we ate fish and chips in a restaurant with sea views, doesn’t get any better than that.
And, of course, what we came here to do: Bonfire Night! Alex joined us once again for Bonfire Night in Lewes. We filled my backpack with a dozen drinks and took the bus to Lewes. We met up with a few more of his mates and watched the procession.
After the procession, we went to the Waterloo Society Bonfire where we enjoyed their massive fire and reputable fireworks show, including a Joe Biden effigy. It was really special and I’m so happy I got to share it with Grant and Alex (again).
Saturday, 6 November: On Saturday afternoon, we went to a drag brunch at a pub a stone throw’s away from our AirBNB (Regency Tavern). Despite my huge love for drag, I’ve never been to a brunch and I got a little carried away… The hosts mistakenly thought I got a Prosecco package when I didn’t so in my infinite wisdom, I drank as much as I could before they could realize I didn’t properly pay for it. In the end, I drank about two bottles in two hours. I was having so much fun until I chundered and passed out in the pub toilet. I’ll definitely look at more live drag events in Seattle and in the future go easy on the Prosecco…
Sunday, 7 November: After drag brunch, I was totally defeated by Brighton and we made our way to our next stop by train: Liverpool. Once we got settled, we hit Bold Street for some chow, ending up at a Korean place called Ban Di Bul. It was our first Korean BBQ experience and it was pretty good!
Monday, 8 November: First thing, we took a Beatles bus tour and it was so awesome! Yes, there were cheesy sing-a-longs but that’s why we did it. I’d highly recommend it to any Beatles fan as it’s a great way to see a lot of Liverpool and the suburbs: it’s not ideal to navigate to places like Lennon’s house and Strawberry Field without a guide.
After that we went to the massive Liverpool Cathedral. Like, however massive you might picture it, it’s so much bigger (the largest church in Britain and eighth largest in the world to be exact).
Finally, we walked around the Cavern Quarter where the Beatles got their start and a thriving music scene still lives today. We heard some local artists playing at Cavern Club over some pints and gawked at the influential history of the place.
Tuesday, 9 November: Returning to the docks, we visited the Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool and Beatles statue in the shadow of the Three Graces. We also met up with my mate Joe for lunch, it was so good to see him and bask in his Scouse accent!
After an extremely busy time in Liverpool, we were glad to rest on the train to our next destination… coming in part two!