I’ve spent last weekend in London, meeting my friends Lakshmi and Bethan, for our mini Cuba reunion, sharing memories and discovering new places. Most of the people that go to London will limit themselves to see the City of London and Westminster, and maybe, if they have time, explore a little bit of Camden and Kensington.
So today I’m going to tell you about our experience in the East End – Shoreditch!
Shoreditch is a very hip and multicultural area of East London, with a lot of markets, cute cafes, independent shops, and trendy clubs. Many of the walls here are plastered with graffiti and many shops are selling quirky products.
We started out day walking towards Colombia flower market, a street that every Sunday between 11 and 3PM transforms in a colored oasis, with hundreds of different types of plants sold very cheap. We made our way through the crowds and enjoyed the smell of dried lavender, that was sweeping gently into the air. On both sides of the street, small art galleries and antique shops are inviting visitors to come in and take a look: vintage glasses, vinyl records, Victorian postcards, there’s even a rocking horse if you fancy!
Our next stop was the Brick Lane market. But first, we couldn’t miss the famous salt beef beigel for lunch, from the Beigel Shop. The queue was stretching until outside the shop, but it was going pretty fast. In the window we could see a lady carving big chunks of beef from a slab kept warm. The cost of the salt beef beigel is £3.70 and an extra 20p if you want gherkins. Three of those big chunks of beef ended up in my beigel, and it was so big that I couldn’t bite it whole in one go. It was absolutely delicious and very filling.
The Brick Lane market is great if you like shopping. You can find everything you’re thinking of here, including a shop that sells high street brands like Burberry or Valentino at discounted prices. Of course, you can’t miss the street food vendors, who try to allure you towards their stand by offering you a taste of what they are selling. You can find all kinds of different foods here, from Chinese to Italian, from Indian to Brazilian, from South Korean to the old curry wurst.
For out afternoon tea we stopped at Kahaila Cafe, a chilled out coffee shop with a wonderful all glass roof that lets lots of light coming in. This coffee shop runs as a charity, and donates all its profit towards the supporting the local community projects.
In the evening we crossed the line between Shoreditch and the City, and headed over to the Sky Garden. As the name suggest, Sky Garden is a “garden” on top of the “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper, with fantastic views over London. Unfortunately the access is permitted only with a previous online reservation. The tickets are free but you still need to have one before you go because they only allow a limited number of people each hour. In the Sky Garden you can also find two restaurants and a bar, if you’re hungry or thirsty, but they are pretty pricey.
We left a bit disappointed and entered the nearby Folly Bar for a quick cheering up Cuban drink: Cuban Queen, made out of Rom, mint, angostura, lime, agave & prosecco. Yum!
On the way back to Shoreditch we stopped to admire the Victorian Leadenhall Market, where the exterior Diagon Alley scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. If you are interested in the movie you can go on a tour of the Harry Potter studios next to London.
We had dinner at Honest Burgers, a simple classic but delicious burger, accompanied with a lot of homemade rosemary chips, all priced very decently at £9.
And then, the highlight of the evening came. We reached the Heron Tower, passed through security and jumped into the all glass elevator that took us to the 38th floor, the home of Sushisamba. This Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian restaurant/bar left me speechless. The design of the place is amazing and it’s surrounded by ceiling to floor windows, from where you can see the panorama of London and iconic buildings like St Paul’s or Tower Bridge. We ordered a fancy cocktail and got out on the terrace. Even if the wind was blowing very powerful, the terrace is surrounded by shrubs that don’t let it pass through. In the middle of the terrace there is an outside bar, on top of which a big tree with orange leaves completes the design. We sat near the fire pit and enjoyed our drinks. It was such a great feeling being there, on top of the city!
Pictures taken with Samsung Galaxy S4