Exploring exuberant East London on foot, in three degree’s, for over five hours with three amazing Kiwi turn London locals was ambitious but impressive. We walked from Finsbury Park, through Higbury, Canonbury and off to the Columbia Road Flower Markets, around a few more of the East End’s famous markets – and back.
The Columbia Road Flower Markets come alive on a Sunday from 8am – 3pm and are quintessential East End London – emphasised by the barrow boy chat. The air is alive with the smell of fresh flowers, the streets are packed with bustling people scanning the stalls for anything from pot plants, to daffodils to roses – but hustling for nothing more and nothing less than a bargain; “a fiver”. Anyone who knows me will know that this place was like heaven; an abundance of beautiful flowers every where I looked.
Next stop, Brick Lane. After walking through the slightly grimy yet very trendy area of Shoreditch we entered Brick Lane, who’s markets are also Sunday exclusive. The vibrant and eclectic residents of London and tourists alike, flock to the area which was once associated with the slums and the Jack the Ripper murders. East London used to be considered the glamourus West Ends poorer cousin, but nowadays, the area is hugely popular, very trendy and full of edgy art galleries, delicious restaurants, markets and festivals all year round. A lot of the West London borough stereotypes who would not be caught dead around the East End previously, would now prefer to be ‘seen’ over this side of the Thames. Brick Lane is almost like a panorama of East Londons’ shifting ethnic patterns, with food stalls from all around the world oozing delicious smells every way your nose points. From Lithuanian to Spanish to Bangladesh, you are spoilt for choice and there is no doubt your mouth will be watering. The colours are lively, the atmosphere is electric and the hustle & bustle is infectious.
A hop, skip and a jump away from Brick Lane, we came across more markets – The Old Spitalsfield Markets. These too, were alive (& indoor – meaning warmer – so of much interest to me) and are open for business 7 days a week with a different theme each day. For example, Thursday is antique day and Sunday is family day, something for everyone! While I’m unemployed and able to explore for the next few weeks I think i’ll head back and see what each day has in store; a good excuse for a nice walk from North to East London.
We walked over 10 miles in temperatures bordering freezing – our fingers and faces were numb, our lips were blue and our legs were sore but we still managed to laugh the entire time.
Exploring a new place with your best friends – nothing beats it