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April 24th 2016
Published: May 10th 2016
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Following a seven hour layover in Istanbul, I was now in what is now considered one of the most developed countries in the world, Great Britain. I had been here a few years back, but had only had some long layovers in London. I would be giving London a miss this time for that reason, and I'm sure my wallet would thank me. In fact now that I was in Western Europe, I would need to buckle down hard to stay within a reasonable budget. The Canadian dollar does not do too well against the British pound. As fate would have it I would be staying with a friend for my first night, a friend I recently made. I had met Reese in Qatar when we were both on a layover, and he had offered me up his couch to crash when I reached the UK. My flight had arrived in Gatwick, about thirty minutes south of London. Reese lived in Brighton, about thirty minutes south of Gatwick, so it seemed to work out perfectly. After getting through customs and explaining a very curious agent about my travels through the Middle East, I boarded a train south. I was now in a land where I could understand everyone's conversations and no one stared at me for looking foreign. Within a half hour I arrived at Brighton station, which had a beautiful Victorian era station roof. Reese spotted me soon after as I came out and it was like meeting an old friend. Travel friendships seem to have more intensity it seems, maybe because you can open up so much quicker to people when you're on the road. Or maybe it just feels that way. We caught up and I told him about my journey since we last parted. It only took a few minutes before we were in front of Reese's flat, a basement apartment that was part of an old Victorian building. His place, shared with his girlfriend who would only be returning the following day, was awesome. He had mementos from all over the world of places he had traveled to. He had guitars and an amazing record collection filled with all the essential classics. The place was cozy in a way that felt like it could be home.

He let me settle in for a bit and made some tea. Then we went back out to catch the few hours of sunlight left. He gave me a tour of his own city and explained that Brighton was often a holiday destination during Victorian London. The buildings certainly agreed with that. There was a certain vibe here, and a lot of cool looking people could be seen going about. Some areas had really stylish graffiti. He showed me cool shops and I realized how expensive everything was here. At this point I was having a little bit of reverse culture shock. We then walked to the Brighton pier and explored the area and then more of the beachfront. I was really digging this town and told Reese that this was an awesome place to have as a base. Darkness fell and we returned back to the flat. We had plans to chill out there for a bit and then maybe hit a pub, and there were many to choose from here. The temperature was in the low single digits and I had my jumper on. I hadn't felt this kind of cold since I first arrived in Northern India, when winter was in full swing. Back at the flat I took a much needed shower and then jammed on Reese's acoustic while he cooked a Korean dish for our dinner. He was really trying to avoid having me spend money necessarily and I appreciated that. As a fellow backpacker, it was something he understood all too well. We ate dinner and put on some records like David Bowie and The Doors. It was great. Then he pulled out some liquor and we drank while I showed him some of my latest pictures. I had wanted to go to the pub and buy him a pint but the night was getting late and jet lag was beginning to set in for me. Reese bid me goodnight and hoped to see me in the evening, as it was one of those rare occasions that he would have to work the next day which was a Sunday.

I woke up late and had the flat to myself. I caught up on all sorts of stuff since I now had proper access to the Internet, and I put on all sorts of records while I had breakfast and tea. Albums included Simon and Garfunkel, Black Sabbath, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Police, Santana, and more that I can't remember. It felt good to just chill out in such a comfortable place after being on the move for such a long time. Many people will laugh thinking that traveling the world can be tiring but after a while it's really important to sit back and relax instead of constantly be on the go. It is very possible to get something called travel burnout if not careful. Luckily, I wasn't at that stage, but having some comforts from home is always welcome. Late afternoon was creeping in and I decided that I should really explore more of Brighton, especially with my limited time here. Reese girlfriend arrived at this point and I was glad she had been forewarned that I was in the flat. She was super nice and talkative. I then went out to see more of Brighton and just walked around passing hipsters, locals going on bike rides and runs, street musicians, tourists. A gentle wind blew in from the shore. After a little while I returned to the flat, and Reese's girlfriend graciously offered to include me in her dinner cooking plans. We had more records playing in the background. Reese was only able to arrive at about 2000h in the evening and by then I already had to head to the train station. He walked me there and then as we were standing in front of one of the automated ticket terminals to buy my ticket, a maintenance quietly handed me a fully paid ticket to go back to London, effectively saving me about 25 bucks. The kindness of strangers! I hoped to see Reese again at some point, and boarded the train to London Victoria station. Once there I transferred to a Megabus, with the intention of seeing the far North of the UK. I had on overnight bus to Edinburgh in Scotland.


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