Picture the scene: It was a cold mid February morning in London and I had just walked out of my hotel to find that it was snowing..
Ok so the use of the word ‘snow’ might be a bit liberal. It was more like snow flurries (or sleet) and they were making no impact at all on the wet London ground. But it didn’t matter, because:
I was in London AND it was snowing!
‘Snowing’ at Waterloo Station
I walked to the Waterloo Station that morning with a huge grin on my face. I’m sure people thought I was bonkers – perhaps I am!
I had been debating with myself since I had arrived in London, whether or not I was actually going to make it to Shoreditch. I really wanted to go for two main reasons: 1) I had never been there before & 2) my love of street art.
However, my arthritic knees were giving me grief each time I walked and I felt like I had been walking ever since I arrived in London two days earlier. But I also knew that if I didn’t at least make an effort to go to this area then I would just be disappointing myself. And I was kind of sick of disappointing myself. So I pumped myself full of pain killers, braced the cold and headed to Waterloo Station to make my way to Shoreditch – an area which I was sure was way too cool for me!
First decision was how to get there.
I didn’t really know the buses well enough to work out which number to catch so Tube it was. So I got the Jubilee Line to Bond Street Station & then changed to the Central Line to Liverpool Street Station to begin my self walking tour of Shoreditch.
Liverpool Street Station
Once I had arrived at Liverpool Street Station, it took me a good few minutes to orientate myself as to which direction I was facing. I did have to ask for directions at one point because I wasn’t entirely sure I was going in the right direction, despite having a GPS app on my phone.
Since it was lunch time, I stopped at the one of the station’s eateries for a rather average burger and then headed on my way. The map below is the route I took. It might look like it doesn’t cover much ground and despite it saying 30 minutes, it really took around two hours because I kept stopping to take photos.
The route I took for my Shoreditch Walk
I left Liverpool Station and headed across the road and down New Street. I managed to get myself lost at this point in among the maze of buildings, nooks & crannies that fill this area. At one point I was turning around to see if I could work out where I was and I saw the Gherkin. This was the closest I had ever been to this iconic London building and she is quite the sight to behold.
The Famous Gherkin – for my friend Belinda, who I think is a bit in love with this building 😀
Once I finally worked out how to get out of the maze of buildings I had found myself in (which may or may not have included following some random dude coz he looked like he knew where he was going), I found myself on Harrow Place – I had found civilisation again.
Oh I should mention that the day I went to Shoreditch was a Saturday and that conclave of buildings were office buildings etc so of course there was none of the usual weekday activity going on. It was pretty much empty.
Empty London Streets
So I was on Harrow Place and by following my GPS I managed to finally find what I was looking for – Crispin Street and Donovan Bros..
So happy when I got a photo of Donovan Bro’s – not that it actually is a shop
I have been seeing photos of this place on my Instagram for months and I knew that when I went back to London I would have to try to find it. To be honest, the way I went about it was probably the least logical. Crispin Lane is directly opposite the Old Spitalfields Market, which is quite easy to get to!
I went into the markets next, because I needed to use the loo.. if there is one thing I am learning in life is that when the opportunity of the use of a toilet presents itself, then you should take it – even if you don’t need to go! I hung around the markets long enough to pretend to take some arty photos but in reality I was just trying to get a photo of the cute guys in the pizza van – I was not successful.
Behold my success of trying to photograph the cute pizza van guys!
Then I headed to the next port of call on my Shoreditch Self Walking Tour – another Instagram inspiration, Fournier Street, which is known for having beautifully coloured doors & shutters. It is such a cute street and is apparently where actress, Keira Knightley lives, not that I saw her. But it was a lovely street non the less.
The very cool, but very hard to photograph Fournier Street
At one end of Fournier Street is Christ Church of Spitalfields, at the other is the famous Brick Lane – my next destination.
As I walked down Brick Lane I noticed a few things: 1) there are a lot of people; 2) there are a lot of restaurants; and 3) Brick Lane is a very narrow street. The experience was equal parts fascinating and overwhelming.
The Famous Brick Lane
One of the things I knew about the Shoreditch area is that it is a great place to view street art in London, and if you have followed my blog for a while, you will know I love London and Street Art so to combine them is something I can’t believe I hadn’t done before.
There are a number of Street Art Tours that take you around the streets of Shoreditch to some of the best known places and give you a history of the artist as well. As I was walking down Brick Lane, I came across a group of people doing one of these tours and followed them to the next place on my list, Hanbury Street.
I first knew about Hanbury Street because of one of my favourite TV shows – Tattoo Fixers, which is set in the Shoreditch area of London and frequently shows street scenes of the local area. One street scene they have shown is Hanbury Street and as a result, I added it to my list of places I had to see in Shoreditch.
A street art tour in progress
I have this thing where I keep telling people they need to look up. So often we walk through life not looking around us and certainly not looking up. But you should, because if you don’t, then you might miss something. And I did find something that I wasn’t expecting and it was one of the things I really wanted to find in Shoreditch… a piece of art by one of my new favourite artists – WRDSMTH
When I was first working out where to go in Shoreditch, I had learned through a blog post about WRDSMTH and that there was a piece of his art in Wentworth Street but I thought it was too far out of my way to get too (I have since looked at the map again and realised just how close I was to this street.. d’oh!).
But that’s ok because I had randomly found a piece of art by one of my favourite artists! Do you know how hard that is??
So glad I happened to see WRDSMTH’s work hidden among everything else on Hanbury Street
I kept wandering down Brick Lane – stopping every now and then for photos of the weird, quirky and just every day Shoreditch life.
I honestly don’t even know!
I love the industrial feel to the buildings in Shoreditch
So much happening down Brick Lane
I kind of love this photo!
I found myself outside the Cereal Killer Cafe, where you can get one of more than 120 cereals from around the world at any time of the day, not just at breakfast time! I had wanted to stop here however it was full and there was a bit of a wait so I decided to shelve that idea.
The Cereal Killer Cafe – it doesn’t look busy in this photo but it was already full inside
At this stage, I had been walking about an hour/hour & half I was starting to get a little tired & sore, so I made my way to the Shoreditch High Street Station to get the train back to the hotel and that’s when I came across a piece of art by another of my favourite artists, Nathan Bowen and this one made me so happy!
I love Nathan Bowen’s work!
I mean, you had me at the Union Flag Mr Bowen (fun fact: the UK flag is commonly known as the ‘Union Jack’ however is should actually only called that when it is at sea). So after seeing this piece of art, I really was done. I had achieved about 95% of what I wanted to achieve so I’m calling that a good day.
I was going to get the train back to the hotel but since I would have to get a Overgound train somewhere and then the Tube to Waterloo, I opted for a bus. I walked to a random bus stop, thinking if I could get close to somewhere I knew, I’d be able to find my way back ok, and I happened to come across a bus (the #26) that took me straight to Waterloo Station, which was very handy indeed.
It’s always a good idea to get the bus in London when you can. A) it’s cheaper and B) you get to see more of London so it’s win/win really.
And there you have it. My own walking tour of the Shoreditch area of London. I have already decided that next time I go to London, I need to stay in this area so I can explore it more. It really is a funky place and I wasn’t sure I would like it but I did. It’s gritty, which I love. It has loads of street art, which I also love. And there really seems to be a pretty laid back vibe.
To finish, here are some more photos of my time in Shoreditch:
I was surprised to find daffodils in bloom during my walk
One of the many Spitalfields Markets entrances
Christ Church of Spitalfields
Loved the street signs – I want to say the bottom language is Bangladeshi but I could be completely wrong
The words cracked me up but the image made me sad
Such cool signage
A lot of businesses have roller downs down when they are shut and they have artwork on the doors.. so cool!
This building came out of the blue.. I am assuming it’s abandoned
Very bright & colourful on a dreary old day
Under the train tracks
I want to say it’s a possum