Bricklane Market

Bricklane Market

Today my flatmates and I ventured over to the area known as Bricklane to visit the Bricklane market. It's open on Sundays only, so this was our first real chance to visit it. We reached the market by taking the tube to Aldgate East station, and then walked about five minutes through an Indian and Bengali neighborhood lined with incredibly-smelling restaurants and little sweet shops. (Both of which I will be returning to soon to try!) It still blows my mind how a quick tube ride and walk can completely transport you to a new world of sights, smells, and sounds. The people that define a neighborhood change from block to block, and the level of diversity is truly astounding.

 

In any case, we reached one of the indoor markets, and were immediately overwhelmed with a blast of heat and delicious smells. The market reminded me of the Des Moines Downtown Farmer's Market, but placed inside an old warehouse and with Indian/Thai/Chinese food dominating the scene.) There were some great clothing booths and lots of amazing little art stands.

 

At the market, I managed to accomplish three of my London goals in a matter of minutes.

  1. Buy some quality loose tea. (Great chai from a tea vendor who shared his favorite teashops)
  2. Eat delicious Indian food. (Yum! See next post!)
  3. Find a brown leather bomber jacket. (Not only did I find one, but it fit me like it was made for me, and the vendor gave me a twenty percent discount when I bargained. #winning?)

 

It was an overwhelming, awesome experience. We didn't manage to make it all around the market areas, but will return soon! As we explored the area, we also found some great street art. Enjoy the pictures below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Lessons from Life in London (thus far)

Little Lessons from Life in London (thus far)

1. Walking around without too much direction during the day can lead to some amazing discoveries; little food markets, hidden art galleries, and amazing pieces of architecture are literally around the corner everywhere.

2. Get some foods from the market and talk to the vendors. The food is fresh, delicious, and has a great local quality. Great deals abound, especially with produce. Also, the stand-keepers are incredibly friendly and knowledgable about their products. A meat vendor who sold me some sausages told me how best to cook them, and an extremely enthusiastic Italian cheesemaker gave me samples of his various cheeses before I chose the cheese pictured below. It's a cheese infused with wine, giving it an initial nutty, sweet flavor that fades into a mild creamy taste. It's among the tastiest (yet simplest) things I've ever eaten in my entire life, yet I only found it because I decided to walk the market route on a whim.

The Best Cheese I've Ever Eaten

 

3. People love to have a little chat, and it makes the tube ride go more quickly. Londoners are quite generally friendly, and everyone we've talked with on our tube rides or in the pubs has been delighted to carry on a short conversation between the stations. Any topic will do, but the Olympics seems to be a great one, especially if you compliment the success of it. They are so very proud of their city, and rightfully so. Everything seems well organized and there is a festive spirit in the city. A well-dressed businessman whom we asked directions from was positively bouncing as he spoke about what fun it was to have the Olympics here. A side-note on conversations that we noticed quite early: your name and other personal information are rarely, if ever brought up in a conversation. The conversation begins, and names are exchanged later if the conversation is going incredibly well, but the casual tube talks don't ever last that long.

4. Speaking of Americans… Americans are loud. Really, really loud. Now that we have started to acclimate to this environment, we tend to blend in much more, talking quietly and not raising much noise. The Americans who are tourists, passing through for a matter of days, tend to stick out quite dramatically due to their volume. It's not a judgment either way, but just something that I wouldn't have noticed had I not been living here.

5. Adventure is out there! We have already engaged in so many spur-of-the-moment decisions, and they have led to great food, great experiences, and great stories. In London, if you don't act, you may not get the opportunity again.

6. Efficient public transportation is absolutely incredible. I bought an weekly travel card (unlimited use of the tube and buses) this week to last me until I can apply for a student one, and the sheer freedom it gives is incredible. I can get all around the city so quickly and easily. After a little over a week, I feel totally comfortable and confident reading the tube and bus route maps, transferring stations, and switching lines. I was surprised at how quickly it became almost unconsciously easy.

 

 

More lessons to come as I learn and adventure!

 

The first Tube ride and more!

The first Tube ride and more!

We survived (actually thrived) with another beautiful day in London. Temperatures were in the 60s-70s Fahrenheit, with a slight breeze rolling around the city. We did not have any school plans, but had a fair amount of goals to accomplish throughout the day.

  1. Find a wok/frying pan and knife
  2. Find hangers and a set of doorstops
  3. Get Oyster Cards (London Public Transport pre-pay cards)
  4. Eat somewhere cool for lunch
  5. Explore the city a bit

 

Not only did we manage to do all that, but we also accomplished some other awesome (baby-steps, but awesome) tasks on our third day in London.

We also:

  1. Successfully took the Underground, even changing lines!
  2. Adventured all over SoHo and Chinatown
  3. Found a delightful costume shop that amused us and was the source of our new proud Union Jack dining room decoration.
  4. Had some phenomenal bubble-tea!
  5. Navigated to a open-air market on a local's “English-language” instructions… (left, right, left, right, right, down an alleyway…)
  6. Purchased mangos, kiwis, asparagus, and more at the aforementioned market.
  7. Cooked an awesome dinner of stir-fried garlic chicken and veggies with rice noodles.

We are having an amazing time adventuring together, and are heading to orientation tomorrow! Enjoy the pictures below!

Awesome Building in SoHo

My Delightful Flatmates

Tracey's Rainbow Hat

Adriyel's Fierce Viking Look

Tracey and Claire Being English

Captain Mistry

Flat Dinner! (With Flag!)

The Stir-Fry

 

 

Fresh Kiwis and Mango

 

Moved In, and the First Adventure!

Moved In, and the First Adventure!

I am finally starting to settle into London.

 

The flights were pretty uneventful, and I met some interesting people en route. Jackie, a retired nurse from Toledo, Ohio, regaled me with stories of her family, experiences as a nurse, and her travels in Europe when she was younger. A nameless couple from the English countryside encouraged me to check out Wagamama, a Japanese Fusion restaurant. Alice, a student from the UK, gave me a list of clubs, landmarks, and restaurants to check out.

After surviving the flight (with The Hunger Games and Safe House providing me with some in-flight entertainment) I breezed through customs thanks to my program letter being and decent organization of other documents.

I then met up with the renownedly-efficient London public transportation system for the first time. Two tube rides and a taxi (with an entertaining “is he actually speaking English?!?!?!?” cab driver) ride later, I arrived at the flat. It's pretty awesome, and I will be posting some pictures as soon as I am unpacked.

After a quick flat orientation and the timely arrival of my final flatmate, we went on our first adventure. We ventured out to find some groceries for our daily meals. Successful in our quest, we returned home victorious, the spoils of a small local grocery now reside in our fridge. Tomorrow, we will be having some pasta with with garlic roasted shrimp, spinach, and red sauce, with a small salad. Tonight, however, we celebrate by going out to eat!

More on that soon. (hopefully with pictures!)