I've been living in London for 7 years and only a month or so ago I discovered the Brick Lane Market and East London as a whole.
I was sitting at home, wondering what to do with my weekend when something nudged me to check out the opposite side of the city.
I really didn't know what to expect, but the atmosphere of Brick Lane surprised me and sucked me in. This is where I want to live in the future! Since then I've visited the place 3 times.
First, as a true tourist, I visited Brick Lane on a Sunday. The day was a bit overcast, but it was humid and hot. The journey through the city was very long and by the end I reached my destination I was a bit discouraged by the noise, cars and crowds. A little is needed to make a girl happy and energize her for the next half of the day - I tell you that.
First of all, Brick Lane is a great place for people watching. Different faces, colours, cultures and languages mix together creating a real Babel tower (without the disastrous end, of course!). There are Italian granddads sitting outside cafes, sipping their coffees, Muslim women with their faces covered, and Indian men standing in front of their famous curry restaurants calling every passing person for a meal.
-Miss, here! - they shout - The best curry, drinks free! Miss!
I usually pass them and politely say 'thank you' as I prefer to go and buy something from one of the street stalls, but I heard that if you try any of the restaurants on the way, you won't regret it.
Another thing, which made me forget about my tired feet, was an incredible choice of...well, everything. Here you can buy vintage clothes, furniture, leather goods, jewelry, sunglasses, DVDs, CDs, parts for things like showers, drills etc, etc, etc....The possibilities are endless! You can really spend here a whole day and still not have enough. Amazing!
The second time I visited the area was to attend a quick photography class. It was a 4 hour walk around the Brick Lane with a professional photographer who not only taught us new, exciting things about photography, but also showed us amazing pieces by some of the most talented grafitti artists and told us some interesting facts about East London.
It was a Saturday morning, so there was no market and the area seemed still asleep when we got there. Around 10 am shops started slowly opening, cafes were setting up their outside tables, people were going for a quick coffee. Everything was very different from what I'd experienced during my first time there.
Without the stalls the graffitti are more visible and there is also a space to just stand and admire them without bumping to another person.
-See all these new flats? - asked my tutor, showing tall blocks of flats, surrounding a shabby looking parking lot with amazing graffitti on its walls - There are more and more of them. The prices are so high that only the wealthiest can afford them. In 5-10 years all these amazing old buildings with the greatest graffitti ever will be gone and all that's left will be a new Camden.
I actually like Camden even with its commercialism, but I must agree that Brick Lane has a special atmosphere and I also would prefer for it to be left as it is, but knowing people's greed the market in its original state will be gone soon. The city is creeping in. Just look around a corner and you will see tall glass buildings, casting a shadow on the independent shops, lining the streets of this amazing area. There will be no more illegal, made at night grafitti, no bohemian culture, no artists (except the ones that will afford the high prices). Shame...
In the meantime, girls, I advise you to take the first tube to Brick Lane on a Saturday and go shopping in the independent small boutiques around Brick Lane.
If you are into street art then walk along the main street and turn into any of the small streets, which run alongside it. Don't be afraid to check the backyards and parking lots. Just explore. Every single corner, every hidden gate will have a surprise for you. The best thing is that the grafitti changes from week to week, or even day to day, so every time you go, you will find something new.
For more information visit: www.visitbricklane.org
|Can you see Jodie Foster?|
|My tutor watching a student taking photos.|
|A graffiti, showing the first owner of this shop. After he died the family asked one of the artists to create this amazing portrait.|
|During the Olympics the themed graffiti were everywhere.|
|We found this graffiti in one of the small back streets.|
|A corner full of amazing art.|
|Chilling with a pal...|