Exploring East London – Tales of a Solo Female Traveller
London is deservedly one of the best city break destinations in Europe. After being there a few times, for this trip, I wanted to get to know another part of the city. Exploring East London and getting up close with its people, the best coffee shops and industrial-chic buildings was an experience full of emotions and sleepless nights.
I wake up from the grinding sound coming from the lifting of the roller blinds of the cafe under my little apartment. Every night, the same sound tells me it’s time to go to bed – Hatch Cafe closes, so it’s time to go to my “chambers “. They are a mansard bedroom, a space added above the room that I booked through the website AirBnb. I am in Homerton, one of the northeastern suburbs of London.
I know that there will be no more sleep and go to have breakfast in the centrally located living room and kitchen, which also serves as an entrance hall. The space is huge and there is a piano in one corner. Around this area, there are three room arranged in a semicircle. When you look at the space for the first time, it is difficult to understand what kind of a place it is. The ceiling is high, the windows make it look like a factory and leave the piercing London wind to come in.
Next to the door of my room is the old lift shaft, whose door today is painted in Crimson. The carpet in the middle, which reminds me of the Bulgarian rugs from Chiprovtsi, softens the atmosphere. Cables and electrical boxes crawl the walls and between them, one can see, several pop-art posters. I hear the noise again.
They say that New York never sleeps. Do you think London even naps?! There is no night, there is no day. At all times there is someone walking the streets, car brakes squeal or sirens cry. My bed is a hundred metres from the London Overground station. Easy for commuting but also terribly disturbing. Since I’ve arrived, I haven’t slept. I can’t look myself in the mirror, my head hurts, my eyes burn. I hate this place!
In Search Of The Perfect Espresso
After breakfast, I’m going to catch a bus to Broadway Market. The wind makes me close my eyes. My coat, a Dickens-novel-style, waves after me. I wander around to find the bus stop. Thanks to the African ladies standing on the sidewalk I finally find what I need. I am meeting a friend, and she’s a coffee snob like me. That is, she knows the local places where one can enjoy the best coffee in the city.
Insight Into Multicultural London
I’m off the bus, and early for the meeting. Walking down the street to kill time. I smell the fragrant coffee from afar. That’s Climpson and Sons. I pass the café and look at the little shops’ and restaurants’ windows along the street. It’s so calm, it’s a weekday. It feels like you’re in a small town in the Netherlands, not in the never-sleeping London. On the left, behind the glass, a middle-aged woman makes the bread for the day in a Turkish restaurant. She rolls the pieces of dough on a low wooden table. Just like my grandmother Sophia did once. A moustache man next to her wonders why I smile.
Book Lovers’ Paradise
The coffee aroma does not leave me even when I walk further up the street. Among the many shops, some of them still not closed, I see a small, white-painted bookstore. For books-loving people, London is mine with infinite shafts and corridors. There is always more to explore. Just yesterday I visited a bookstore only selling travel books. The other day, I found a small boutique publisher bookshop that specializes in female authors who wrote between the two world wars. The one I’m going to enter sales books on art.
Single Blend Coffee and Flavia
I go back to the cafe for my meeting with Flavia and enjoy the perfectly brewed Cappuccino. The coffee beans are a single blend. We immediately embark on a lively conversation, eager to say everything we have to say. It is another reason why I love this city. In London, you will find people of all kinds. Those like Flavia are the gold of the Earth. They accept every person equally, without prejudices and judgements.
We are talking about our mutual friends who came from faraway Australia to enjoy expat life in London; about yoga retreats and the exhibition of Australian Impressionists’ works showcased for the first time in Europe. This is why I adore this city – it gives you a chance to experience art that you can’t otherwise see. If you travel to London, check what events are being organized at that moment. You may come across something that really interests you or is your passion. Often, you will see these events advertised on the walls in the London metro.
Back Home, In The AirBnb Loft
Going back “home,” I get lost. After a fair time of wandering, I finally find the Polish supermarket. From here I know my way. I decide to take a picture of the building where I’m staying because it is quirky and the entrance is somewhat stylish. A staff member of Hatch comes and asks me if I’m one of the interior designers from the office on the first floor. Sorry, I’m not. I am unfortunately only a visitor. Then, I open the heavy metal door, climb the stairs to the third floor and enter what was once an industrial warehouse.
The Trendy East London
This part of London until recently was only of industrial buildings; not suitable for living and not particularly safe. But now, even local Londoners say this is the real London. Although the area has no particular charm, there are other benefits to settle here. You can see some Victorian houses here and there; the Homerton’s residents are an amalgam of ethnicities and occupations; property prices are affordable, even though they head straight up. Transportation links, like in most parts of London, are fast and reliable; and gardens and parks are abundant.
All Kinds Of People And From All Over The World
A smell of cooked food invades my nostrils. It comes from Hatch. I’m preparing my lunch at the long wooden table that fills the space in the centre. The red colour of the vintage-style armchairs, the rug and the lift shaft door soothe me. It’s warm and cosy. My neighbours from the room next door join me. A young couple of students from Argentina. They spend their summer vacation in London. “Now in our hemisphere is summer.”, they explain because of my confused look. They are a little silent, but enjoyable to be around, and interesting. “In London, you meet people from all over the world; even from countries you didn’t know they existed.”, says a friend of mine who lives here. I love London!
Goodbye, London, and Shabby-Chic Style!
I look around. Tomorrow I’m leaving. I will miss you, my warehouse-design home. With your bizarre corner lamps, the silent piano and the never-ending noise from the passing overground trains. I adore this place with its shabby-chic-style interior where every item had once another owner. There is a history here; there is a personality too. And there is a feeling of “home”. If only the noise could stop!
East London, as all parts of London, can be an overwhelming, exhausting experience if you do not research well your accommodation. Even if I liked very much the style of the apartment where I stayed, I wouldn’t recommend it to you. I would be your worst enemy if I did. The noise is excruciating. However, I do believe you will find some other, better, accommodation options in some of the warehouses around East London. My advice is – ask your hosts about the noise and other things that might be problematic for you. And enjoy the quirkiness of this part of the city!
If you don’t have yet a registration with AirBnb, you can use this link to do so. You will benefit from a discount on your first booking and I will also receive a small commission to help me continue to travel and gather useful information and stories to tell.
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