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Exploring East London (Old Street, mostly)

Brick Lane, East London, Hoxton, Itä-Lontoo, London, Lontoo, Shoreditch
Q: Two full days in London, what to plan?
A: Nothing. Just go with the flow.

Well, me and my hubby Alanmies did that, and it was well worth it. My only ambition was to explore the Hoxton – Shoreditch streets on Friday, and capture some Christmas feeling on Saturday, as it was November. (I would love to visit NYC during Christmas season, but the UK capital had to do it this year.)

Here are some East London vibes from a Friday in November.


Packing. 
J. Crew knitwear for the cool capital, a skirt and a Kate Spade bag for the dinner and the Sonia Rykiel  scarf to avoid catching cold.


Our hotel – this time just a plain Holiday Inn Express – was located close to the Old Street station. Very convenient for exploring the area. 
The price/quality ratio was superb: clean, relatively new room, free wi-fi and breakfast. 
(I even got my suit dry-cleaned at a bargain price!) 

So, we arrived at 1 pm, hungry. Luckily Hoxton area is famous for its Vietnamese restaurants. Cay Tre, one of the most recommended in my guides, was just two blocks down the Old Street.

Imagine: the smell of lemon grass and classic rock songs on the background.
Full, steaming bowls of pho soup.
Some Vietnamese beer.
Doesn’t that make a perfect lunch?
Yes it does.

(Yellow drops on the table: I couldn’t keep my spoon out of Alanmies’s bowl. 🙂


With our stomaches full, we were off to the streets. We found books and vinyls at the Old Spitalfields Market.



Shoe-shopping at Author.
“C’mon, are you having them or not?!” says Alanmies (wearing those cool grey leather shoes he bought at In God We Trust in Williamsburg)
Yes, I bought them. My previous pistol boots are totally worn-out.


Off to Brick Lane. 
As we were heading there, I got stopped by two girls in their 20s. They wanted to photograph me for some street fashion project. I must admit that I was flattered. 🙂 We were in London East, where the streets were full of trendsetters, and all I had done was that I changed my work boots to turquoise shoes!



So, we finally made it to Brick Lane and – inspired by the photo shoot – I visited some vintage markets. Didn’t buy anything. I think I still have some of my 90’s gear left in my parents’ basement. I don’t need to buy it. 😉 

Street art in the making.


Time for refreshments!
Local ales, cider and one of the most hipster things I have ever seen in a bar:
not knitting, but winding a hank into a ball of yarn!
Siis suomeksi: tyyppi keri lankaa. 🙂


When we got out of the bar (I just can’t remember its name), it had already started to darken. The weather was cold. 

I watched the brightly-lit shop windows next to the old brewery and factory buildings. I couldn’t resist visiting a bookshop. Alanmies stayed out smoking, although I bet his hands were freezing, too.


We had returned to our own hoods. 
Catching the big fish by David Lynch was accompanied by a pint of Guinness at The Bricklayer’s Arms on Rivington Street. 


Then we realized it was almost dinner-time. 
Dinner was the only thing we had planned in advance.
I hate to search for a good restaurant, if I am hungry.

***

The Clove Club  – a place on Old Street, again – was the first restaurant ever, where we had paid a month in advance, so I’m curious to see, what the food will be like.

The restaurant building and interior reminds me of Cliff Barnes in Stockholm: it looks like an old school, where the front of the classroom is replaced with an open kitchen and azure tiles. In fact, we will later find out that the building is Shoreditch Town Hall. It smells bacon. I hate the smell of bacon, but what can you do. In we go.


The waiter recommends us English sparkling wine (!), and says that it tastes more like champagne than the usual cava. He is right. There is a clear toasty flavour.
Very good start! The bacon smell is slowly vanishing, and the waiter brings us a basket, where chicken nuggets are laying on spruce (!) bed. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas… I don’t usually eat chicken, and I never eat chicken nuggets, but Alanmies admits that they taste better than McDonald’s. 


Then we get Oak Smoked Cod’s Roe on Rye and 
Radishes, Gochuchang & Black Sesame. Alanmies gets some meat. I eat more fish, cannot remember what it was. Everything tastes wonderful. The waiter is friendly (not to mention handsome ;), and I enjoy watching the cooks as they stir the pots and paint chocolate on the plates, and although one of them looks a bit like Ricky Gervais, there are no pranks in store. This meal is delicious.


After espresso macchiatos we look around for some bars, and end up in Old Shoreditch Station, which seems to be not only an old ticket hall but also a perfect spot for following the party-goers of Old Street.



Old Street, indeed. 
Most of the things we have experienced during the day has happened on Old Street.

What a great street.

(See the map below to find out where we walked. 
A is our hotel Holiday Inn Express on – yes – Old Street.)


About the author

Viihdyn kohteissa, jotka eivät ole ihan vielä turistien suosiossa, ja teen löytöjä tuttujen kaupunkien sivukujilta. Airbnb. Ystävät. Ruoka. Viini. Fiilistely. Tervetuloa mukaan!

2 Comments

  1. viiru
    December 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    Reply

    Hauska lukea teidän matkasta meidän vanhoilla huudeilla. Oltiin molemmat mun miehen kanssa töissä tuossa Old Street aseman ja Holiday Innin välissä 5 vuotta joten paikat ja Cay Tre on koluttu hyvin läpi 🙂

  2. Laura
    January 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm
    Reply

    Kiitos Viiru! Todellakin, alue vaikutti huippumukavalta.

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