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As a perpetual traveler, my friend Kat makes an amazing international host. This is a girl who was born in South Africa, lived in London for over a decade, moved to Thailand (where we met!) and explored the world in between. So she knows a thing or two about traveling.

So when I arrived in England claiming I was only there to see her and didn’t really like London all too much, she knew exactly where to bring me to change my mind.

Shoreditch is a trendy district of East London that is home to a smattering of chic bars and restaurants, the cutting edge Brick Lane Market, and miles of colorful street art. On a typical gray London morning we took to the streets for a marathon session of photographing the area’s best graffiti and sampling the region’s finest drinking establishments.

This was not the stuffy London I had in my head — I loved the modern and bright displays of creativity splashed over walls, doors and any other available surfaces.

Of course, Kat’s London Tour would not be Kat’s London Tour if it didn’t involve delicious food and beverages. Our first fuel stop of the day was at buzzed-about , a restaurant owned by the Soho House Group. The food — a simple pizza and a homemade cheese macaroni dish — was fantastic and I went crazy for all the beautiful design details. It was probably my favorite restaurant from this trip — but I wouldn’t expect anything less than Kat, who used to be a big shot manager for Soho House Group. I have such cool friends.

After lunch we got back to the important business of wandering. I ate and drank almost all of my London budget, so I was grateful for free activities like window shopping and admiring murals.

The more we walked around, the more I was reminded of Brooklyn, my favorite borough in New York City. There’s an intangible edge to Shoreditch, where a creative buzz and an independent spirit fills the air.

All that walking made us thirsty, and so we sought refuge several bars along the way. One of the highlights of our pub crawl was the delightfully seedy , where we stumbled upon an open mic event. I ordered yet another cider — one of my favorite facets of the United Kingdom. Of course alcoholic ciders can be found in many places world including the US, but the United Kingdom has the highest per capita consumption of cider and the largest cider-producing companies on Earth.

I don’t drink beer, and so I struggle what to drink during the daylight, when society frowns upon hard liquor consumption. Last year when I spent the summer in the UK, I felt that cider was an answer to my prayers. I literally cannot get enough of it, and I will return to London again in the future if only to consume Rekorderlig Cider and bacon rolls from Gregg’s. Maybe not at the same time.

And because this trip was apparently all about proving exactly how gluttonous one human being can possibly be, we capped off the day with wine and cheese fondue at . I wish I could describe it to you, but the ciders and wines were starting to catch up with me.

We stumbled home right before the London tubes closed down at midnight — come on, London! Twenty-four hour service, please! London still may not be my favorite city, but exploring Shoreditch certainly helped turn it in my favor.

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29 Comments...
  • Chrystal McKay
    September 26 2012

    Honey I shrunk the Camera! I LOVE that photo! What a great day you had! I didn’t explore much beyond the touristy spots in London because I was there for a very short time, so I can’t wait to go back and see the London that locals love!
    Chrystal McKay recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      I was only there for four days the first time… maybe that didn’t help my ho-hum impression! This time I warmed up to it a tiny bit when I got to check out Shoreditch and Camden.

  • brendan @worldwanders
    September 26 2012

    Beautiful! Ever since moving to london, ive been hanging out in shoreditch practically every weelend, some of these places i yet to visit…the cheese mac n pizza places looks delicious!
    brendan @worldwanders recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      If you’re hanging out in Shoreditch you have to eat at Pizza East! The best part is the prices are really reasonable.

  • Emma
    September 26 2012

    I’m loving the London posts, though they are making me feel a little homesick – I would kill for a Greggs bacon roll right about now…

    You’re also giving me lots of new areas to explore when I next go home!

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      My problem on this trip was I did a lot of late boozy nights… making it hard to get to Greggs before the lunch switchover! Arghh!

  • Amanda
    September 26 2012

    This neighborhood looks awesome, all the street art is gorgeous. And I love the cold weather outfits again! I miss wearing more than just a tank top and shorts every day…
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      Well, my friend Kat is LITERALLY the most fashionable person I know (and we lived on tiny island in Thailand together!) so I knew I had to keep up somewhat with her 🙂 But this is actually all from the same suitcase as I had in Iceland… you’ll notice a lot of the same items!

  • Rika
    September 26 2012

    Wow – totally not the London I had pictured in my head! Looks awesome. I would love to get my hands on that cider you had…totally up my alley! I’m with you on the no beer as well, and in some countries it’s surprisingly either a struggle or more expensive to be a non beer drinker.
    Rika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      Maybe that’s why I liked Shoreditch so much… it’s so unexpected! And yes, cider is Britain’s gift to the world!

  • Savvy Scot
    September 27 2012

    I think I will check some of these places out at the weekend! I am glad you found Rekorderlig Cider – Strawberry and Lime is the best! They have recently started selling it by the box in supermarkets 🙂
    Savvy Scot recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 29 2012

      Oh my gosh! If only I could find that in supermarkets here in the states, I would be a happy girl 🙂

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad
    September 27 2012

    I have never heard of Shoreditch but I will definitely bookmark it as a cool area to explore in London! I love all of the street art.
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 29 2012

      Shoreditch and Camden are the two areas of London that have really resonated with me. Definitely check them out!

  • Alice
    September 27 2012

    Hi Meihoukai!

    I’ve lived in London all my life, and Shoreditch is by far my favourite place 🙂 So glad you got to check it out!
    And yes PLEASE Boris, 24 hour transport… or on the night bus it is.

    I found your blog yesterday and have almost read it through… I’m leaving for Hong Kong in a month for a long trip through SE Asia… so has been a great insight!

    Alice
    x

    • Meihoukai
      September 29 2012

      Hi Alice! So glad you found me and that I’ve helped with the trip planning! Southeast Asia is one of the most magical places in the world… you’re going to love it!

  • Sarah Somewhere
    September 27 2012

    Gorgeous photos Meihoukai, edgy and creative (just like Shoreditch I suppose!). You really captured the quirky, fun vibe of the day. Well done, I’m weirdly a little London-sick myself! Which is a good thing since I’ll be heading there after India to see my boyfriend’s family…in winter…arrrgh…
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 29 2012

      Both my trips to London have been in the middle of the summer, and I’ve still found the weather disappointing. I really don’t think I could handle the winter! Blech.

  • Elaine Burr - Gram E
    September 27 2012

    I’ve been to London a few times – long, long ago. NEVER HEARD OF SHOREDITCH. Guess I should go again. Still enjoying your journey. Keep it coming. Did I miss Honolulu? Gram E

    • Meihoukai
      September 29 2012

      Nope, I’m in Honolulu now, so it should show up on the blog here in a few weeks 🙂 I’m always a little behind!

  • Our Dear Lady Expatriate
    September 30 2012

    Do you know the song “Let’s Go Swimming” by Allo Darlin? It’s a stunning track, which is good because now I have it looping round my head after reading your article! It has this line “And all of the hipsters in Shoreditch could never style it.”

    I’ve always listened to that song and wondered what Shoreditch looked like. And now thanks to you, I know it looks like a pretty rockin place to spend a weekend!

    Great post, Meihoukai – cheers! 🙂
    Our Dear Lady Expatriate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 2 2012

      I’ve never heard of the song, but once I get back to regular internet connectivity (aka civilization!) I will check it out!

      • Our Dear Lady Expatriate
        October 4 2012

        Neither because I’m pushy nor because I’m on commission… just because it really is a beautiful tune 🙂


        Our Dear Lady Expatriate recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          October 5 2012

          Gahhh I have the worst internet connection in the world right now but I can’t wait to watch this when I’m back in civilization! Thank you!

  • Sophie
    October 1 2012

    Seems like you had a blast ! Thanks for all your pictures showing us a unique perspectives of London.

    • Meihoukai
      October 2 2012

      I did Sophie, and thank YOU for reading!

  • Jo
    October 5 2012

    aaahhh East London – this is the place where I want to live.

    • Meihoukai
      October 8 2012

      I have a few friends who have lived here and they all love it! I say go for it 🙂