A Sunday Stroll
Posted by Andy Steves in on February 14, 2011.
On Sunday afternoon, I met up with Matt and he showed me through a number of neighborhoods on the East side of London. On the docket was Spittalfields, Brick Lane and Columbia Road flower market. While fighting lack of sleep the night prior due to a solid night out, we both thoroughly enjoyed taking a walk through this part of town. I’m constantly blown away by the diversity that London as a city is built upon and I also think it’s this diversity that holds it together. I hopped off the tube at the Liverpool Street station in the shadow of the famous Gurken skyscraper. Within a couple blocks we had left the financial heart of the city, and entered into a chich Bohemian dream: an outdoor market selling one-off fashion designer goods, trinkets and souvenirs. Spittalfields is a throwback to outdoor markets but is conveniently sheltered by a modern industrial shell ceiling and is bustling with all sorts of posh clientele.
A block later, we found ourselves on Brick Lane where Matt explained urban exploration. In the US, it is illegal to trespass and it’s unsafe to do so in states like Texas and Eastern Washington. Well, in the UK, it’s simply “unlawful”—an important distinction. Matt explained to me that if you have no criminal intent, you can go across or into anything you desire. He then went on to tell me about his squatting days, and the sorts of people he met while doing so. There’s a whole sub-culture populated by junkies, Spanish ravers (the type with dreadlocks up top and shaved sides of their heads) and also the struggling middle-class artsy type. Matt fell into the last category.
We wrapped up the afternoon at the Columbia flower market. So within a single stroll, we passed through posh, explored the neighborhood where curry as we know it was invented, passed through a nondescript street market, and the finished among the scent of flowers. In the US, something like this simply doesn’t exist. They try in New York, the wish in LA and it’s simply an impossibility everywhere else.
I've been in Europe since the beginning of January and have traveled every weekend. This Easter Weekend was by far the best one. The hostel was perfect and super convenient, I made a ton of new friends, and our guides (Andy, Rhianne, and Elena) made sure we saw absolutely everything in the city. The meals included were all absolutely delicious, and Andy even brought snacks every once in a while to hold us over in between meals. We were given our Easter Mass tickets the night before and strategically planned to be in the front for mass. We followed Andy's suggestions and got to sit in the very front for Mass. The wait was worth it and so was every cent of the trip's cost. I barely spent any of my own money, just on transportation to and from the airport, gelato, and food on my last day there. I would 100% recommend this company to all of my friends!Crystal Cascante, University of Florida ~ AIFS London, Spring 2016
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