London!
Day 5 – East End, Street Art & Harrod’s

I got up my last full day in London and headed over to the East End’s Old Spitalfield Market to check out the food, and catch a street art tour. I’ve lately really loved learning about the different histories tied to street art and graffiti in cities, which are varied and many, and a great way to bring recent history/modern events alive. Plus, I think art on the street engages the residents of a city on a more human-scale level than giant glass skyscrapers.

Spitalfield Market: chicken tikka wrap with fresh-baked naan.
Spitalfield Market: chicken tikka wrap with fresh-baked naan: not as good as one might hope.

I didn’t feel a lot of patience for market stall browsing, so I popped in to Rapha Cycle Club in the corner of the market for some darn decent coffee.

Found a hipster bike and coffee place to chill.
Hipster bike and coffee place in the corner of Old Spitalfield Market to chill.
A Huguenot house in East End.
A Huguenot house in East End. Guess what’s up on that top floor there? A top shop! Topshop, get it? Get it?

An East End mosque, which used to be a synagogue, which used to be a Huguenot church. History.
An East End mosque, which used to be a synagogue, which used to be a Huguenot church. History.

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Look! A tiny little sculpture placed atop the street sign post!
Can you spot the street arts here?
Our street art tour guide described this piece by Stick Man as an English boy and a Muslim girl, hand-in-hand on the backdrop of bloodshed, walking into a hopeful future. All together now: Awwwww!
Our street art tour guide described this piece by Stick Man as an English boy and a Muslim girl, hand-in-hand on the backdrop of bloodshed, walking into a hopeful future. All together now: Awwwww! In his early days, Stick Man was drawing on the streets while homeless.
This piece of art is several stories tall! Look familiar from an earlier post on Buckingham Palace?
This piece of art is several stories tall! Look familiar from an earlier post on Buckingham Palace?
Space Invader has been everywhere, including London.
Space Invader has been everywhere, including London.
Street art can take all shapes and sizes. I like how it keeps my eyes alert for the changing human-scale parts of my urban landscape.
Street art can take all shapes and sizes. I like how it keeps my eyes alert for the changing human-scale parts of my urban landscape.
Really detailed look.
Really detailed look.

 

So pretty!
So pretty!
This is apparently the same artist whose lettering was done on a sign as a gift to Barack Obama as a present from the British Prime Minister.
This is apparently the same artist whose lettering was done on a sign as a gift to Barack Obama as a present from the British Prime Minister.
Same pattern, two different photos.
Same pattern, two different photos.

 

Elaborate work + sobering dedication note from the artist.
Elaborate work + sobering dedication note from the artist.
One last photo of art.
One last photo of art.

Street art tour was over! Thanks to Alternative London for an interesting tour.

A look from East End toward a more affluent district (gradually encroaching/gentrifying).
A look from East End toward a more affluent district (gradually encroaching/gentrifying).

We broke rule#1 of shopping: do not shop while hungry. Must’ve stocked up on so many cookies and tea. We even considered buying new luggage to carry it all. There is something about shopping hungry that is a little crazy-inducing, n’est-ce pas?

Inside Harrod's department store!
Inside Harrod’s department store!
Went to Duck & Rice for dinner, on Eater's recommendation.
Went to Duck & Rice for dinner, on Eater’s recommendation. There’s a nice bar with a bar menu on the ground floor too.
@Duck & rice: food collage!
@Duck & rice: food collage!
@Duck & rice: dessert was huge! Oops. Should not have had this tea, we were awake half the night!
@Duck & rice: dessert was huge! Oops. Should not have had this tea, we were awake half the night!
Westminster Abbey doodle by me.
Westminster Abbey doodle by me.
Eh? eh?
Eh? eh?

Farewell, London!

Airport food from Costa: apple vinegar chips are DELICIOUS. Costa employees like to ignore me when I get to the front of the line. Super weird and disappointing.
Airport food from Costa: apple vinegar chips are DELICIOUS. Costa employees like to ignore me when I get to the front of the line. Super weird and disappointing..
Goodbyeeeeee!
Goodbyeeeeee! Can you see the blurry castle?
A snapshot of the day's headlines.
A snapshot of the day’s headlines.
Delta's chicken dinner on the way back. Surprisingly a winner! ..well, the bar was pretty low..but still, thanks for the food, Delta!
Delta’s chicken dinner on the way back. Surprisingly a winner! ..well, the bar was pretty low..but still, thanks for the food, Delta!

 

Sigh. It’s over! That’s it.

 

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5
Omg, so neat.
Likelihood of Repeat: 35%
I would certainly love to go back. I’d try to catch..

King’s Cross for the cheesy 9 3/4 photo op
Saint Paul’s Cathedral
a Museum of Immigration in East End
some good Indian food
MORE pot pie and more people-watching in the pub scene
Shopping at High Street Kensington, Fortnum & Mason’s, and a good Sunday Market
British Museum
more pausing inside no-picture sites to doodle a quick drawing
good curry in Banglatown
more street food
The Churchill War Rooms (which we attempted to go to about 3 times but kept missing the last-entry time)
A soccer -er football- match live, and/or in a pub
Maybe: Bermondsey beer mile pub crawl

Lesson learned: don’t go for afternoon tea on a full stomach. Careful drinking that tea late at night! So buzzzzed. It was rainy, but only just like Seattle, so whatever. Tourism in the off season involves a lot fewer lines, and can involve a Christmas Market. Win!  Take your tours on the front end, do your shopping the last day. Try to remember to get your tax-free forms with anything more than $50. Also: water is so difficult to get a restaurants! Aaarg, just give up and order a giant bottle of sparkling. Then stop by the grocer on the way home for some celery so you can get some vegetables.

 

Thoughts? Questions? Post comments below!

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