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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, Travel, UK

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

September 11, 2017

Rarely do I write about my dining experiences while I travel because I am not a food blogger. Nor I am I planning on becoming one. However, I do enjoy food and seldom hesitate to treat myself to a nice meal out. When visiting a place, I do try to find one place that comes recommended either from other bloggers or on restaurant review sites. A blogger’s review is how I found, The Set Restaurant in Brighton, UK.

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.

The Location

The Set Restaurant is hard to spot from the street and that is because it is located inside The Artist Residence hotel, which looks like a house. If you are looking for directions in Brighton, just head to the British Airways i360 observation tower and head into the square from there.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

Once you arrive at the hotel, The Set Restaurant is on the ground floor of the hotel. The check-in for the hotel and restaurant are the same desk!

The Menu

As the name indicates, the menu is a set menu. There are three set menus to choose from, one of which is a vegetarian option. The menu doesn’t have a large description but I am sure if you asked they would give you more details before you order. The menu does change with the season, though so you might not get the same thing twice! I actually quite like this.

I ordered set three. Before you courses come, they bring you some amuse-bouche or as they call them snacks. At the moment of eating these, I had not decided to write a blog post on the place and did not start taking photos till later! Fortunately, they have an amazing Instagram account with some photos of the food I ate and the cozy interior. The first snack was this cod roe served on a linseed cracker, which was an unexpectedly good!

 

A post shared by The Set (@theset_restaurant) on

Served along with the cod roe was a pastry flute filled with cheese and what they called guacamole. It was good, but it wasn’t guacamole for a Texan! The next snack was a chicken nugget serve on cabbage ketchup. Doesn’t sound that appealing, but I really wanted an entire plate of them instead of the rest of the meal! No picture but there is one on their home page.

Next up was the actual courses of the set menu. The first course was a ravioli with goats cheese, tomato consomme, a sun-dried tomato and basil cracker. Another item, I wanted more of!

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

I had chosen to sit at the bar in front of the kitchen since I was alone. I figured it would give me an opportunity to chat with the chef. The great thing was I was able to watch my food being prepared and cooked right in front of me! I watched as they seared a piece of trout for my next course.

Again, it was described as something a bit out of the ordinary. The trout was paired with a slice of watermelon. Next to it was a slaw with crab. The watermelon was a nice compliment to the trout and the tangy crab slaw.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

Next up was the pork belly served with octopus, a pork croquet and fermented peach ketchup. While I was not a fan of the octopus, the pork belly almost melted in my mouth and who knew peach ketchup would be so amazing.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

The next course was desert, but of course, they were not going to let me just slide into dessert with all that pork and peach flavor in my mouth! So before that, I was served the palate cleanser of a chocolate lime ice cream stick and, get this, a miso marshmallow! It was so good, they could have forgotten the dessert and I wouldn’t have complained.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

But of course, dessert did come and it was just as wonderful as the rest. It was a described as a blueberry and chocolate pie. There was pastry shell and inside was a blueberry chocolate mousse with a side of blueberry ice cream. The best part was the crispy cocoa nib brittle that was placed throughout. And yes, that is some salad on top, actually sorrel.

The Set Restaurant, Brighton, UK

In addition to all this, I had a great glass of wine. You did have the option of wine pairings for an additional cost, but I am not a big drinker and think I might have been too drunk to enjoy the food and that would have been a shame!

This wasn’t just a meal, it was an experience! Sitting at the kitchen bar allowed me to ask follow up questions, see what else was being prepared and to really savor the food. It was so good, that I would consider going back to Brighton just to eat here again! This is ranks as one of the best meals of my life.

Wondering what else you can do in Brighton besides eating at The Set Restaurant? Read all about what to do in Brighton here.

 

Art, Museums, Travel, UK

10 Things to do in Brighton

September 4, 2017

Brighton

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.

Brighton was the highlight of my trip to the UK. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that it is next to the sea. I am always happier when there is an ocean nearby. Having seen photos, I knew I wanted to go. However, I wasn’t sure what there was to do in Brighton. After doing some research, I decided I needed two days in Brighton in order to see everything. Here are 10 things to do in Brighton.

1. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Even though I had no idea what to expect, I always have to hit the local museum where every I am. Brighton was no exception. The museum is an interesting mix of decorative arts, local history and art. One of my favorite parts was the exhibition of performance. It had pieces from all over the world related to performance. I also discovered an artist I had not heard of before, John Constable and very much enjoyed his work. There was a temporary exhibition focused on his Brighton works. However, I wasn’t allowed to take photos.

Brighton

2. Royal Pavilion

Built by King George IV when he was Prince of Wales as a pleasure palace. The palace was built in an elaborate style with an Asian flair. Although not in actual Asian style. Each room gets more and more ornate. Another place in which no photographs were allowed, although to be fair, it would damage the decorations if everyone was to take photos. Definitely an unexpected surprise and one of the lesser known Royal Palaces in the UK.

Brighton

3. Brighton Beach

You can glimpse the beach as you walk down from the train station, but its true beauty is seen up close. The color of the water is stunning, especially for such a northern sea. The beach itself is pebbles and not sand, which has its advantages such as no sand in your shoes! The only thing you have to look out for is the aggressive seagulls, who will not hesitate to take you Avocado Chicken Pret Sandwich out of your hand! (Yes, I speak from experience!) If you are brave and are warm blooded enough, you can brave a dip in the water.

Brighton

4. Brighton Palace Pier

Whether arcade games are your thing or not, you must take a stroll on the Brighton Pier. It’s construction began in 1881 making it a historic structure as well. There are places to eat and games to play on the pier. I enjoyed looking at the water from this vantage point and watching the beach goers.

Brighton

5. Hove Beach Huts

The Hove Beach Huts are famous and a beautiful. They are quite a walk from Brighton, but you get to enjoy the amazing view of the sea along the way. Most of them were closed up when I was there and I think that was due to my midweek visit. However, it made for great photography opportunities.

Brighton

Brighton

6. Admire the Architecture

Along the way and back from the Hove beach huts, you can admire the architecture of Brighton and Hove. I am no architecture expert, but the terraced houses are pretty however out of place by the ocean they seem to be. Many of them have been turned into hotels now as they are probably hard to maintain as homes. A good reason to stay in one of those hotels so you can see inside.

Brighton

7. Eat Fish & Chips on the Beach

Fish and chips are quintessential British fare and a must on the Brighton Beach. I ate mine so fast I forgot to take a photo! A food blogger I am not.

8. Walk the Boardwalk

The ability to people watch and shop at the same time is a great reason to walk to the boardwalk in Brighton. There are art shops, beach supply shops and tons of gelato shops! Watching people play on the beach was also a fun site. You can also see the British Airways i360 from the Boardwalk and is a great way to see it if you are not brave enough to go up it.

 

Brighton

9. Watch the Sunset

The sunset in Brighton is spectacular. It sets in a way that highlights the boardwalk. Look towards the British Airways i360 and you can’t miss it. I enjoyed it from both the beach and the boardwalk.

Brighton

 

10. Check out the West Pier

You can’t help but notice the derelict pier in Brighton. The West Pier has experienced a series of disasters over the years and was opened before the Brighton Palace Pier in 1866. It is a haunting site and offers an excellent photography opportunity. It was my favorite subject in Brighton.

Brighton

 

I fell in love with Brighton and could have spent several more days there. What is your favorite thing to do in Brighton?