Shoreditch and a few familiar places.

Here’s where we left off from yesterdays post, we were exploring east London and ended up in Shoreditch. My professor is pretty keen on this area–probably fascinated by its turn over from sordid East London to a place where people sit on the stoops in their thrift wears, coddling anything from a beer to a bagel. It’s a busy area, but rightfully so–there is shopping and dining for any price range here, and it’s incredibly trendy.

Our main reason for visiting Shoreditch was to visit a exhibition called 218 Gherkins. The Gherkin is an incredibly interesting building that is hard to miss while staying in London. It is not open to the public, but its quite the unique view of the skyline. In order to raise money for the NSPCC, a UK child protection charity, 218 students from a local primary school near the Gherkin were asked to draw their interpretation of the building. These pictures were then collected and compiled into a cookbook to raise funds for the NSPCC.

But the project went even further, and all of the images were also exhibited at Londonnewcastle, a temporary space. The space is eventually going to become luxury apartments, but for now it is a completely free gallery. There were children running about creating their own Gerkins as well, but the best was how the artworks on the walls came from children as young as three!

Then we walked around the area a bit. There are a bunch of coffee type places and tons of Indian and South Asian restaurants offering different deals, like free mango lassi or dessert.

My favorite stop was into Blitz, a large thrift store. Most thrift stores can be a bit like trying to shop in the sale section–incredibly hit or miss, and disorganized. This thrift store was completely different, anything you need they would have. Need a new black vest? You’ll find a couple dozen with different types of pockets and buttons. Colorful shorts your thing? They have rows of shorts in the colors of the rainbow. I did not buy anything, but I want to explore their jewelry selection again sometime soon.

And that was the end to an absolutely tiring day. We could barely walk back to the tube stop–our feet were shot! But the next day we woke up early for a tourist day.

The changing of the guards is something I definitely wanted to go to at least once here. Luckily we got the day right, but were a tad bit late. The crowds were fairly thick, but we were able to hear the music and be a part of the pomp and circumstance.

It is also a tad bit humorous watching everyone clamoring for the perfect picture, which was definitely not going to happen. We walked from the palace to Westminster Abbey, a popular tourist attraction, but it is a working church, as well as burial site. The royal weddings take place here as well, ever since 1100! It is gorgeous, and I have been inside before, but since we visited on a Sunday the church was closed to visitors.

And right nearby was Parliament, Elizabeth Tower, and Big Ben. And the London Eye as well as the Thames were just around the corner. Such a great area of history and architecture–we wish we had a guide nearby to tell us all about it.

We wanted to see the Tower of London, but the walk from Westminster to London Bridge is a bit of a trip on foot. So naturally, a quick boat ride on the Thames was in order. The boats are not necessarily cheap, but the view sure beats the tube and certain companies have student discounts. The best part is the commentary, we had a witty guide who made jokes about the bridges and architecture along the water.

And we had the best view of the Tower Bridge, another London icon! The Tower of London was quite amazing–the grass was so green and the structure harkens to the past. But I still thought the coolest was the old school double decker bus we rode half way to Covent Garden.

And after a day of a lot of walking, we finally settled into a small pub for pie and a pint. I had a lamb pie with autumnal veggies which was exactly what I was craving. And after we found this sweet gelato shop and had the perfect bite of chocolate and chile gelato for only a pound.

All around a great day–and we were completely exhausted at the end of it all, but we saw the touristy highlights and more so.

 

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