What a great weekend in London! We had a visit from our friends, one of them a London expert. She used to live here for a while and made us a "must do" London list, which will be an inspiration for my future posts. She said she copyrighted it though, so I might be hearing from her lawyers very
One of our first stops was Rough Trade, the huge music store close to Brick Lane. This area of London is sooooooo Williamsburgish. When I googled the store to find the link I also found out they are opening a NYC store very soon and guess where in NYC? Yes, Williamsburg.
And just like in Brooklyn, here too, everyone bikes, there are a lots of graffiti everywhere, everyone is so cool :-) and I guess everyone was in Brick Lane. It was packed. Believe it or not this street is not closed for traffic despite what it looks like.
There are two bagel shops in Brick Lane. WE spell bagel beigel over here, in case you did not notice in the picture below :-). Both bagel shops are always packed. I didn't try any of them so I can't tell you if they are better than NY ones. I do miss my NY bagels though. Crispy toasted pumpernickel bagel with a salmon cream cheese. Yummy, yum!
A couple of meters away there is a furniture thrift shop. With most of the furniture right on the street. I don't know what they do in case of rain, since it's not that it rains that seldom. Also I am not sure if the UK has a problem with bed bugs but in NY everyone is super careful about buying second hand furniture.
As you can see in the pictures below, street art is a signature of Brick Lane and Shoreditch. One must admit George Bush does look better with a little lipstick on.
Graffiti revolution is widespread I guess. The famous yarn graffiti, as seen in Lower East side of Manhattan, are popular here too. I love the feminine touch of street art nowadays. Here is a very interesting article about yarn bombing.
The area around Brick Lane is also the place where Jack the Ripper "operated" in 1888. Here you can see the google map of all the murders. And among other London walks you can arrange your The Jack the Ripper Walk.
Brick Lane and the area are traditionally immigrant neighborhoods. From French Huguenots in the 17th century to Irish and Jewish (thus bagels) immigrants in the 19th century, each new group that settled here slightly gentrified the neighborhood. At the end of the 20th century, Bangladeshis became the predominant group in the area.
You can read about it more here: "What was little France and the Whitechapel ghetto is now Banglatown. The church that became synagogue is the Jamme Masjid mosque."
As you can see in the picture below, street names are written in English and Bengali. Brick Lane is also very famous for its Bangladeshi restaurants and ethnic shops. The new "gentrifiers" today are hipsters. Shoreditch is a very trendy area. In fact East London has been dominating the city's nightlife for the last ten years.
I have to admit that I had some prejudices towards the UK before arriving here. I always thought of an England as a posh, snobbish and xenophobic place. After living in New York for all these years (the melting pot of the world) I thought that there is no place as diverse.
I admit I was wrong, huge respect to the bilingual street name signs!