Day 82: More London – Museums and Shoreditch

The next day we headed to Baker street, very close to the flat, to check out 221b Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes’ address.

We picked up groceries and searched around for prices that didn’t make us wince.  For the most part,  the prices are the same as home, but doubled for the exchange.

Colin had prepared a map of recommendations for us to check out. The first stop was Daunt Books on Marleybone High Street, a beautiful travel book store with guide books, fiction and history books arranged by country.  If we had more time we would have spent all afternoon there.

Daunt bookstore

Daunt bookstore

We saw a Banksy piece, now protected by a sheet of plexi-glass, on a wall across from Tower

Tavern.

Banksy

Banksy

It’s incredible how many museums and galleries are free or by donation. Its great not only for making cultural and historical information accessible for all, but it also makes for great public spaces.

We stopped briefly at the British Museum and both the outside and interior atrium became well used public spaces, whereas too often museums are under-used.  We visited one wing, where the library of King George III had been donated.  The walls were lined with cabinets full of books and other collectables, a very rich background for the sculptures and displays.

Next we visited the John Soane Museum.  Its the house of John Soane, a former architect, and showcased original furniture, art and various sculptures that were collected and architectectural drawings of both realised projects and proposals for the city of London.  Its crazy – this guy somehow owned an Egyptian sarcophagus!

The Soane Museum - no pictures allowed inside.

The Soane Museum – no pictures allowed inside.

We stopped in the Lincoln’s Inn Field, then headed to the Huntarian Museum of Surgical Abnormalities across the street, a part of the Royal College of Surgeons.  Its the most impressive collection of human and animal specimens in formaldehyde, showing various systems, stages of development, diseases or abnormalities. For lunch, we had a repeat of the samosas at Borough Market.

Lincoln's Inn Field

Lincoln’s Inn Field

As we wandered we loved seeing the narrow alley shortcuts and the covered markets and arcades.  So many interest spaces to attract people to walk.

We checked out some of the iconic buildings downtown – fun to photograph, but for the most part not fun to hang around judging by the empty plazas surrounding them.  Let the architects vs. planner debate begin on whose fault that is! The Lloyds building was very  interesting – similar to the Pompidou centre,  but stainless steel. It looked like a manifestation of the past’s interpretation of the future – some sort of dystopian world with glass elevators on the exterior, and exposed mechanical systems.

I thought the Gherkin was a nice composition with the … in front.  Its unfortunate that the only people around were like me, taking photos, or office employees walking quickly past.

The glassy downtown quickly made way to a highly contrasting Brick Lane.  We walked down … a highly protected historical area, often used for film sets.  The apartments are not cheap, and apparently Keira Knightly owns one.

Brick Lane was bustling, vibrant and smelled of curry.  With our newfound knowledge on street art obtained in Berlin we had a much great appreciation for the neighbourhood and were able to identify a number of artists.

Building corners are a popular area for little street art installations that we saw repeatedly, such as 3rd faces, tile space invaders, resin jesters or an Eyeball man.

Shoreditch is an awesome area – perfect mix of people, shops, restaurants and bars, with a sprinkling of grunginess – the next victim of gentrification!

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We met Brynn and Colin after work and found a pop up Gallery put on by a paper manufactuer.  They had a display of exquisite graphic design projects and books showcasing their paper.  They have the recipe for the Queen’s paper that has been in use for over a hundred years.

Brick Lane is known for Indian food, and its also known for aggressively selling it.  Even walking on the other side if the street we were accosted bt Indians and practically dragged into restaurants.  Luckily a friend who lived nearby could make a recommendation for Dosa World around the corner – saying the best places dont advertise.  It this case that was definately true.  We shared plates and had the best Indian food yet! They dont serve alcohol, but you’re allowed to bring your own, and they provide glasses.  It was an amazing night of curry and conversation.

Colin and Brynn

Colin and Brynn

After we took the tube back to the apartment where other friends were coming over to watch the Sens / Canadiens game.  The feed didn’t work so we listened to the broadcast and watched the lines change on the webpage – and fell asleep one by one.

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