i travel a lot. so far this year, i have taken twelve "trips" - eight of which have been in the uk, and have another two abroad to take before the year is out. yep; my 12 in 12 plan somehow exploded and now currently sits at 14 in 12, with endless opportunities to add to the list whenever another cheap fares email hits my inbox. i can't complain; it gives me a purpose, travel, and i am a natural wanderer. it's fun, i love it, it makes me happy.
but, what about london? sure it has it's own place here on my blog - it is "home", after all, but where are all the travel posts about this amazing city? well, for a start, it's a massive place, and one post would never be enough to cover all the awesome. instead, i'm going to break it down by parts of town, starting with my favourite one to get lost in: shoreditch.
all of the food
not only are some of my favourite and most visited restaurants in shoreditch, but there are so, so, sososos many great pop-up stalls and food markets in the area, that you could never actually be far from some amazing food. and it doesn't even matter what sorts of food you like - this is the home of the original cereal killer cafe after all, there's literally something for everyone. from red's true barbecue to dishoom and the diner, plus pump shoreditch (a converted gas station!) and every one of the street feast variations inevitably taking up residence in the area, there's aaaaalways something new and tasty to try.
ok, so it's no secret that i love me some bright colours, but shoreditch sort of takes that to a whole 'nother level. down almost every alleyway and cobbled road, there's a bright mural, piece of artwork, or political statement just waiting to be examined and photographed. time and time again i say "i just don't get art", but there's something about urban art that's so easy to connect with, and understand, and make sense of; put me in the centre of shoreditch, and i could take photos for days.
all of the markets
well, that's if i'm not wandering from market to market, trying to find me my next bargain dress or vintage pair of sunglasses, or freshly cut flowers. from columbia road market where, from 8am every weekend, you can pick up almost any type and variation of plant you'd like, to brick lane market where every ethnicity's cuisine is proudly offered fresh from the traders' vans, to spitalfield's market where once a month you can make your classic vinyl dreams a reality (and every other weekend just go spending mad on just about everything else); shoreditch is a hub of market traders trying to hock their wares to the east london locals, and tourists alike.
parks and rec
if a casual stroll away from the city is more your thing, then victoria park or the regent's canal is where you want to be. the canal runs from north london all the way down into thames down by limehouse, and to walk along it on a sunny day is the perfect way to spend a few hours, as you watch the city rise and fall besides it. victoria park on the other hand, with its man-made lakes, incredible wildlife and multiple riverside cafes, is the kinda of place you want to hire a bike in, and ride around for a couple of hours until it's time for the pub. or, the mini golf course hiding in the bushes on the hackney side... extra points if you can find it.
you want a strange night out, you're in the right place. from quirky tiki bars to ironic cocktails in tea cups, to high-end champagne bars and the ellusive shoreditch house, there's a watering hole to suit everyone's needs. there are even regular pubs, if that's more your thing. my personal faves are the queen of hoxton (home of musical bingo), the shoreditch (home of the disco ball facade and the greatest cocktail happy hour), and little nan's rio bar (home of the pick-and-mix buffet and prop room). check them out, and thank me later.
inner city farms
oh. em. gee. city farms are the absolute besssst. i took mum along to the spitalfields one when she was here just after the summer, and i've also been to the surrey docks one, which is a little more south than shoreditch, but not too far if you want to make a day of visiting the city's farms. i've not been to the hackney farm as yet, but it's firmly on the list - maybe once the winter is done and there are new baby animals to play with. the good thing is they're all totally free to enter and hang out all day in. a really cheap and fun day out for the whole family! even if you're 32 and single. and childless. even then, still fun.
any stay in shoreditch wouldn't be complete without a stay in one of the areas quirky hotels. the citizen m shoreditch is one of the coolest i've had the pleasure of staying in, and oh so very "me". the smart rooms are controlled purely by ipads, and everything from the neon lights around the bathroom pods, to the block-out blinds and sheer curtains, are controlled completely electronically. mood lighting, sound-proof wall-to-wall windows and the biggest (and genuinely comfiest) beds i've ever slept in, my stay at the citizen m was one i won't forget soon.
plus: check out that breakfast spread. and, because shoreditch, every single item on the buffet menu was organic, locally sourced, and hipster as fuck. the barista-made cuppacinos as part of the breakfast was what really sealed the deal for me though. and the free movies. and the quirky decor. and the - well, you could just head to shoreditch and see for yourself... surely you want to, after all that?
*i was a guest of citizen m, but all words are my own*