Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sources of inspiration: London // Food, art and shopping // Top 5 things to see and do in this bustling city

The last time I visit London must have been around 9 years ago when I was meeting up with a friend that moved to the UK. I haven’t been back ever since, so many places to see and so many new cities I haven’t been yet. This year i decided it was about time to rediscover this fun metropolis.

As you might know, I live in The Netherlands, from here it is only a 40 minutes flight to London, traveling to my nephew in the south of The Netherlands takes me more time. But of course there are so many places to discover on this earth going back to London was not really on my list, even though I loved it every since my first visit, when I was sixteen London was my first destination to travel to all by myself. I love experiencing the freedom, see all neighborhoods and it’s subcultures, art and live music.

I got to make two trips to London in a row this year, and I finally had some time to rediscover the city last week when I decided to stick around for a little longer. Go check out the Hockney exhibit and soak up the creative energy. And whenever I make a trip a little tip 5 follows. Here is my top 5 of things to see and do in this amazing always buzzing capital of Britain.

1 // Transportation
Ride the Tube, take the bus and travel over water. Ok this might sound a little nutty, but if you visit London make sure to use public transportation. It shows you London’s diversity and gives you a little taste of the buzzing city life. Take the underground going from A to B. I love traveling with the tube, seeing the different stations, architecture, tiles, signage. Traveling on the deck of the buss gives you a lovely view over the busy London streets and taking a boat will give you a sense of freedom. Watching people go on and off and while you visit different neighborhoods the people change too. London is a colorful place with so many subcultures and fashion styles. So use public transportation, I would usually recommend a walk, but London is huge and it is definitely worth the experience if you are not used to living in a city.

2 // Brick Lane
Whether you like shopping or not spend you Sunday in the East of London. Take the tube to Liverpool Street or Aldgate East and visit the brick Lane market full of fun unique fashion and accessories. I am not a big fan of shopping myself but love to see unique creations and I love the atmosphere of this place. Brick Lane is famous for it’s market, vintage stuff, but there is so much more to do and see. I love spotting street art. And this place is heaven for people like me. Amazing pieces of art cover building facades form top to bottom. Huge pieces of art. Stencil art, spay painted animals and portraits, stickering, you name it. This is street art at it’s best and around every corner you can spot beautiful gems, pieces of art. If you walk up North you reach Shoreditch, another up and coming neighborhood filled with graffiti murals. Done sightseeing? Sit your ass down at Spitalfields market and grab some food or have a beer at the Old Truman Brewery. Enjoy your day!

3 // Tate Modern
All right, this may not come as a surprise. Of course my number one place would be the Tate. Even though I got to see the Hockney exhibit in Tate Britain I have to say whatever happens I just love Tate Modern, go when you have the chance. The building itself is magnificent from the outside, and an adventure from the inside. This former Bankside’s power station has been turned into one of the the worlds most amazing art galleries. This very spacious and industrial building is perfect for large scale art pieces. Quite recently the museum expanded with a brand new wing, the tanks and the switch house, go up to the bar and from here you have an amazing view over the Thames and the city of London. Get a proper coffee, grab some lunch and enjoy the breathtaking view. But, enough about the building itself. Tate Modern might be my number one art museum and it is not because of the building itself. The permanent collection of contemporary art is free of admission charge, you can find pieces by Klee, Lichtenstein, Mondriaan and Warhol. Sculptures, paintings, video’s. The permanent collection itself is worth a visit. But don’t forget to check out the temporary exhibits as well. I spend a good two days here. So if you visit London on a rainy day and need some inspiration, fuel up on some art and go visit Tate Modern.

4 // Pot roast & Beer
The food. I always chat a little about food. I remember London having a bad name what it comes to food. But a lot has changed over the years and there is so much to choose from besides the traditional pot roast, eggs and beans, and fish and chips. There are some amazing places to have food, like the peep show my friend took me to that turned out to be a Mexican restaurant. And a good one!
What I also like about London is the beer culture, I love beer, a proper one, and there are a lot of breweries where you can find some local draft beer.

If you are a foodie go visit the Borough Market, you can grab a quick bite for lunch or shop for some whole foods or fresh flowers. Have a quick snack or taste some imported olive oil. I love the raw atmosphere while wandering around the place. The market is located under the railway track and is a dramatic place of brick and metal. The market consists of more than a hundred food stalls with a range of fresh products like fish, cheese, meat, veggies and baked goods. The Borough market used to be a wholesale market for local groceries in the city and has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London.

5 // Camden Town
There is so much to do all around London. But there is one thing I love: see some live music. One place that will be stuck with me is The Monarch in Camden Town. Back in the day I was a little rock chick, do you remember those metal beads necklaces? I think I even bought one back in the day when I visit London for the first time and came to Camden Town. Anyway, if you like to see some live music; this is the place where metal is alive and kicking’. Every Sunday there is a live performance with some proper metal and rock music. Guns ’s Roses, Iron Maiden. It is all part of the weekly playlist. Camden Town is a great place to wander around and spot some street art, do some shopping. I still like this neighborhood, it is like time stood still here.