East London

Since I used my media trip to London as an opportunity to also explore the city, I’ve broken it up into two separate posts. the first about the media tour, and this one depicting my time seeing as much of the city as possible in 2.5 days.

Camden market was recomended to me by friends who have spent a significant amount of time in the city. It reminded me a lot of the markets that I’m used to in the States filled with lots of offensive, sexist, touristy shirts, souvenirs, and artsy things to fill empty shelves at home. We arrived at the end of the day so we did not get a chance to explore all of the nooks and crannies, but I would have loved to try some of the great looking food carts. IMG_8122 IMG_8125

Next we decided to check out Harold’s department store. At first it felt silly to spend my time shopping which I thought I could do anywhere in the world, and I didn’t really want to go. But once we arrived….I understood what all of the hype is about.

So large.

So much wealth.

Champagne Caviar bar.

Red carpet worthy dresses.

Art gallery with works from Dali and Andy Warhol.

A notebook so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye. Never before have I felt a desire to be an elite socialite, but at that moment I definitely wanted an excuse to buy and use a 189 euro planner.

Luxury.

Possessions.

Happiness.

Consumerism.

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The only tour I booked for my entire trip was an Alternative Walking Tour which is London’s first pay as much as you can tour, and gives you an introduction to some of the historic context of the amazing street art that decorates the many streets. The tour guide explained the many waves of immigration to East London Protestants from France, Jews, and most recently Bangladesh.

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How the loss of industry in the area and bad economic conditions allowed street art to develop. Growth of the creative industry. And current tension of “the man” from the nearby business district encroaching into the area. The tour guide was really great, and offered interesting insight into how artists go about avoiding being caught by law enforcement and proving information that he’s only come over from having a few drinks with the artists.

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Standing in that art gallery, with a huge grin on my face, feeling completely at peace, I realized that in this moment I am completely content. This is what I imagined being a “cool grown up” would be like. Yes I have career aspirations, and a desire for success (I have been bred into the American Dream after all), but this is what I’ve always thirsted for. It is such a comforting feeling to be exactly where you want to be.

Studying abroad. Traveling alone. Eating delicious Moroccan food from a street vender. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger as we both enjoyed our independent meals. Searching through a vintage shop for that perfect gift for a close friend back home. Sharing a kind moment of mutual music admiration with the guy standing next to me as we swapped headphones in the music store. Getting a free latte in exchange for a personal poem I wrote on the spot. Discussing coffee culture with the director of a humanitarian project.

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This entry was published on April 2, 2014 at 2:57 pm. It’s filed under Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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