Art, Travel, UK

Shoreditch London Street Art Tour

November 19, 2018

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Since I started traveling, I have noticed street art around the world. Last year, I wandered around East London admiring the street art of Shoreditch. However, I really wanted to know more about it, so this year I went on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour through Airbnb Experiences. I also invited Suzie from Suzie Speaks along as we always enjoy a good catch-up when I am in London.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

A Brief Background on Street Art

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Many modern street artists are former graffiti artists. Graffiti is defined as drawing or writing on a flat surface. Graffiti is not a recent invention, though. Ancient graffiti has been found in Pompeii and Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Even ancient graffiti was illicit, so the artist had to be fast in order not to be caught. For the modern artist, this led to learning to develop excellent freehand skills. This is why so many graffiti artists have become outstanding street artists.

So what is the difference between street art and graffiti? Graffiti wasn’t always for public consumption in the beginning. Graffiti artists were sometimes in it to outdo other graffiti artists. The graffiti would be put in obscure spots and many times out of the public eye. You see examples of these on bridge overpasses. Street art is usually in very public spaces. Also, street art isn’t always just made up of spray paint, and many mediums may be used in one piece.

In my opinion, the rise and acceptance of street art has led to the acceptance of graffiti as art. Although, most graffiti is still done without permission as is some street art. In recent years, street art has gained even more credibility due to the popularity of artists like Banksy. Many artists have had their works shown in galleries and street art galleries have sprung up as well.

The Tour

Dean was our tour guide for this art walk around Shoreditch. He has been around the London street art scene since he was 11! Needless to say, he knew so much about every piece we saw. I don’t think I have run across a tour guide with so much enthusiasm as Dean. It was like he was giving the tour for the first time.

It became apparent that this tour would be different when he brought us to the first piece on the tour. Dean began to explain the history of the piece by AKAJimmyC. The piece had been created with large dots that when layered upon themselves became the art we now see. Much to my surprise, the first art was a portrait. The artist had asked permission from the shop if he could paint the wall, for free no less. So that the piece would have meaning for the shop, he painted a portrait of the owner and his daughter. The store has since been sold, but the new owners were happy for the piece to remain as is and even commissioned the artist to paint a wall inside.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

While this piece was not the largest of the street art we saw on the tour, it represented the passion shown by street artists and the dedication they have to their craft. It also spoke to the craftsmanship of a street artist. The portrait made by dots reminded me of Impressionism with a modern take. But the focus of the piece told me the artist is thoughtful of the neighborhood they seek to embellish with their art.

Dean continued to impress me with his knowledge of the street art we were seeing. He knows the history of most of the pieces and the artist. Because street art tends to be transient in nature the piece can disappear. Although some smaller pieces tend to remain. Another thing that Dean did that added to the tour was showing us the artist’s Instagram accounts. Many of these artists have art all over the world, and we could see them this way, but it also showed how some have improved their skills and evolved as an artist.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Last year, I saw a stunning piece that I loved, and I was looking forward to learning more about it. Sadly, it has been painted over since I was in London last. In fact, the wall has been painted over three times since. One time it was done without permission, and that is when the piece was lost. However, the new piece is also a fantastic portrait by the street artist Mr. Cenz. We saw several pieces of street art by this particular artist along the tour.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Some of the best pieces would be hard to find without a guide. Down a quiet street, which is hard to find in Shoreditch, Dean took us down an alleyway to show us a large piece that was done entirely by freehand done by artist Fanakapan. I had no idea that many street artists will draw the piece small and then project it onto the wall and then painted it. It definitely makes me appreciate the free hand done ones even more.

Shoreditch Street Art Tour

Of course, many places still think of street art as just harmful graffiti and not as art. Many of these street artists started as taggers and graffiti artists and have grown into the amazing artists we see today. As with beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder and street art is just the same. Society is slowly changing its attitude towards street art and even graffiti. Many cities around the world have become organic museums.

What do you think of street art? Do you have any favorite pieces?

Here are links to the other street artists Instagram that are featured.

BKFoxx

Phlegm

Envol Studio

Hotel/Accommodation, Travel, UK

The East London Hotel Review

November 12, 2018

The East London Hotel

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Recently, I was invited by The East London Hotel to stay a night. While I was their guest, all opinions are my own. The East London Hotel opened in September of this year in a former wine warehouse. The hotel prices are affordable, especially for London, but also because it feels like a boutique hotel.

The Room

My room at The East London Hotel was a standard double room with a window. Some rooms do not have a window, so if that is important to you, make sure you double-check when you book. I arrived at night so I couldn’t see much of the view till the next morning.

While the room is on the small side, it is well thought out and I had enough space. The bed takes up much of the room and is one of the most comfortable hotel beds I have slept in! Plus it had four pillows and I love having tons of pillows.

The East London Hotel

Under the bed is storage for your suitcase, which if you had two people in the room you would need. Inside the headboard are built in reading lights that turn on when you pull them out. Right above the bed is a massive flat screen tv which is great when you come back to your room and want to chill before going to sleep.

The East London Hotel

The bathroom is also compact but never felt too small. It feels luxurious with the rainfall showerhead and modern design. Hot water was almost on instantly and the hotel’s toiletry brand is Rituals, which I love.

The East London Hotel

In the morning, I raised the window shade and was greeted with a beautiful view of the park across the street. I enjoyed looking out over it while I enjoyed a coffee from the Nespresso machine in the room.

 The East London Hotel

The only drawback about the room for me was that they did not install any international plugs, which would have been easy to do in a new hotel. The one USB plug was a good alternative though.

The East London Hotel

Since I only stayed one night, I am unsure of how the good housekeeping was once a room was slept in. What I loved was the switch inside the room that changed the color of the sign outside the door. Red was for do not disturb and green was housekeeping requested. I hate those hangtags and loved this alternative.

The East London Hotel

The Breakfast

Breakfast is served on the ground floor of the hotel. This area is also the reception area but feels more like a coffee shop or bar. Rather than it being a breakfast buffet, which I was expecting, it was a sit-down breakfast. You had the choice of a bagel or sourdough break with two toppings. You also got a coffee and juice. Then you could add a pastry or yogurt.

The East London Hotel

I opted for a bagel with cream cheese and bacon on the side with yogurt. The service was fast and the food was good. I wished there had been a healthy option like oatmeal though. There was also no water offered during breakfast.

Reception

In what is probably an upcoming trend in hotels is that there was self check-in. Despite this, I was guided through the process with the help of a staff member. After entering your last name and confirming your dates, you are instructed to take a key card and place it on the reader. The card is then made. You can make more than one if you need. Check-out was a similar process and you just turn in the key card in a drop box.

What I liked about not having a reception was that it allowed the room to be used for other things throughout the day. In the morning, breakfast is served. Later the room is a coffee shop and a bar. People were working on their laptops or watching the television. It seemed like a way for people to meet others like you would in a hostel setting.

The East London Hotel

Another trend I see happening in hotels is the lack of phones in the rooms and offering contact via Whatsapp. The East London Hotel also operates on this model. I messaged them a question and was immediately answered. The drawbacks to this are the inability to give you a wake-up call, which if you have an early flight to catch it could be an issue, and you have to have Whatsapp downloaded.

The Location

Obviously, The East London Hotel is in East London but the great thing is that is two blocks from the Bethnal Green tube station, which means you can be in Central London in about 20 minutes. The V&A Museum of Childhood is right across the street as well as the museum park and Bethnal Green Garden. Behind the hotel is Paradise Row with several restaurants and bars. The location makes it a great place to base yourself during your London trip.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at The East London Hotel and would definitely stay again. I loved the cozy vibe of the main floor and the English feel of the rooms and while it doesn’t have tons of amenities, the great location makes up for that!

Food, Greece, Travel

Best Restaurants in Naxos

October 15, 2018

Best Restaurants in Naxos

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Eating Greek food is one of the main reasons I travel to Greece, and I have been in Naxos long enough to tell you about the best restaurants to eat at in Naxos! I should add that there are even some excellent non-Greek choices for restaurants in Naxos as well.

Oasis

Oasis is a family run restaurant in Naxos. The restaurant is located in Naxos Town near Saint George’s beach. All of the food is homemade. Specials are offered every day and vary depending on the day of the week. My recommendations are the pasticcio, the stuffed peppers, and the pork stew.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Meltemi

Meltemi is located just up the road from Oasis near Saint George’s beach. It has been around for many years, and people continue to return year after year. Meltemi’s moussaka is one of my favorites on the island. The dip they serve with bread is excellent.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Metaxi Mas

Metaxi Mas is located in the Old Town of Naxos. Here you will eat in the streets of the old town if you want or sit inside in one of the cozy interiors. Everything I have eaten here has been amazing. My favorites are the zucchini balls, pasticcio, and the spicy meatballs.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Faros

Not all of the best restaurants in Naxos are located in Naxos Town. Faros is located at Agia Anna beach and features organic dishes. It also offers a great view of the beach. Faros also has some of the best zucchini balls on the island. To get to Faros, take the bus from Naxos Old Town to Agia Anna and walk down past the pier and it will be on your left.

Picasso on the Beach

Picasso is also on the beach as you may have guessed. Picasso is a Mexican restaurant, and as a Texan, I am always critical of Mexican food. However, Picasso does a good job given their limited access to Mexican ingredients. The fajitas were good, and they serve a frozen strawberry after dinner drink. Picasso on the Beach is located at Plaka beach and is reachable by bus. Tell the bus driver you want to get off at Picasso.

Paradiso

Most people stop to eat at Paradiso because of the stunning view its beachside tables offer at Agia Anna. However, you should also stop because the food is outstanding! The beetroot salad and the papoutsakia (eggplant with minced meat) were terrific. So was the semolina cake we were offered on the house. If you really like the location, they also have rooms for rent.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Scirocco

If you need a break from the Greek food, then I recommend Scirocco for Italian food. My favorite there is the carbonara. They also serve Greek food if you and your friends are undecided! It is a nice place to people watch as it is located in the main square of Naxos Town and many Greek families gather there in the evening to socialize.

Apostolis

Apostolis is a modern Greek restaurant serving classic Greek dishes with a twist. The restaurant is located in the Naxos Chora and has a wonderful setting under paper lanterns.

Naxos Old Town

Su e Giu

Sue Giu, also known as Susanna, is another Italian option. It is located right on the promenade of Naxos harbor. It was the only place I found a pizza with pineapple on it! Yes, I am a pineapple on pizza lover. It was good, and the focaccia bread was really great. Sit upstairs for views of the harbor.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

O Giorgis

For the more adventurous type, head to the village of Melanes and eat at O Giorgis. I had some of the best food in Naxos here. The baked eggplant was so well seasoned and melted in my mouth. I was so full but still managed to finish the whole thing. Sit on the enclosed patio so you can have a wonderful view of the valley.

Coffee and Desserts

Greece is known for good coffee, and Naxos is no exception. I have spent lots of time having coffee in Naxos to see which places serve the best coffee and desserts.

Artοποιώ

This coffee shop and bakery was one of the first places I tried when I arrived in Naxos. I was up very early due to my jet lag and they were already open by 6:30 AM. The coffee is probably the best on the island. The baked goods are freshly made in the shop and it smells heavenly.

σιτάρι

Not only does this place have wonderful coffee but they also have some organic products available as well. If I am correct, the bakery is called Wheat in English. It is also open early for those of you who are morning people.

Omerta

Omerta is located on the promenade of Naxos Town and offers great views of the harbor along with great coffee. If you also want to have the classic Greek Yogurt for breakfast this place had an excellent one with plums and peaches on top!

Waffle House

This is not the American Waffle House, this is a wonderful ice cream parlor that also serves ice cream on waffles. You can get the ice cream to go or you can sit and have it brought to you by a waiter.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Aktaion

Aktaion is an upscale pastry shop located on the promenade of Naxos Town. They serve a selection of gelato, amazing macaroons and other mouth-watering desserts.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Flisvos

Flisvos is located on St. George’s Beach so not only do you get a beach front view but they serve a really amazing hot chocolate. It isn’t on the menu, but they will serve you one if you ask.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Kitron

This gem is located on the promenade as well and has a great coffee. They also serve the best Freddo Espresso I have had in Greece. Kitron also serves Kitron cocktails made from the citron plant.

Best Restaurants in Naxos

Are you ready to eat at the best restaurants in Naxos now?

PS. Some of these restaurants in Naxos are only open during the tourist season from April to October, 
so please check beforehand.

Travel

Are You On Vacation?

October 8, 2018

Trying a bit of vlogging this week! Let me know what you think.

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What would you call my extended vacation? Let me know in the comments!