Who’s never been to London? I don’t think I know many people who never did. Knowing people who’ve never been there while living in Europe is a bit like meeting Belgian people when you’re an expat living in Brussels. It almost never happens.
London is actually the most visited city in Europe (with all due respect to Paris) and it’s not surprising at all. Everybody who’s been there will tell you : the city is purely amazing. So many things to do, places to see, museums to visit, restaurants to try, pubs to go… that you usually never managed to do everything you wanted to. And, of course, it’s kind of frustrating.
Visiting a city is always about choices. Especially now that we’re trained to this “city trip culture” that makes us think we can easily go and see all of a city in 3 days. So when in London for the first time, people usually go for the must-see and we can’t blame them. It’s the most sensible choice, after all.
However, if London is the most visited city, I wonder how many people think while going back home “damned, three days and I’ve barely seen anything of the city, I must go back or I’ll regret it forever” and how many actually think “alright then, I did what every tourist does so I’m done with the city !”. Most of them are probably thinking something in between like: “I’m quite happy with what I’ve already done but the city might worth another visit, if I ever find the time or the perfect opportunity”. But I wonder how many actually do go back.
And, more importantly, how do they choose what to do, after having accomplished the whole touristic tour of the city?
Life is full of alternatives that we don’t always know about (and that’s actually something that upsets me a lot, but that’s not the point)… so do touristic places and cities !
And… Lucky you, there is a website that suggests you ways to do so ! It’s called… Alternative London (how surprising, isn’t it?) and offers you some quite cool different ways to discover a specific part of the city, East London. They have a few kind of tours (London Bike Tours, Food & Drinks Tours, Street Art Tours, and so on) but also two graffiti workshops, which is probably the best way to finish the Street Art Tour, if you’re not afraid of embarrassing yourself and feel like having fun/being creative, at least. Let’s be honest, who never fancies the idea of being famous ? And what’s cooler than a being a famous street artist ? … Mmhh that’s what I thought, nothing. So this might be the best opportunity to make your dream comes true and become the coolest person in the world. You can’t reasonably miss it.
Anyway, the Alternative London Walking Tour really gets you into East London, this peculiar area full of History and creativity. Graffitis and street art masterpieces are literally everywhere, even at some places you wouldn’t have thought about. It’s funny to look for them, as it was a game we were all playing together, but also captivating to hear about their stories, discover the artist’s life events and the reason why he/she decided to do it…
The tour is only 2 hours long and the price is… up to you (this is, apparently the first London tour to run on a pay-what-you-like basis and I hope it won’t be the last one)!
If you’re not in a hurry, you can also try the Bike Tour which lasts 3 or 4 hours but gives you the opportunity of seeing a bit more of East End (and it seems pretty cool too, I’m actually thinking of go back there just to give it a try!) or do the workshop I was telling you about (you can find all the information here).
Just to give you an overview of what you might discover there, here are some pics :
You don’t plan on going (back) to London this year but you do like street art? Don’t worry, we have plenty masterpieces here in Belgium and some street art tours as well. As I live in Brussels and pass by graffitis and street art every day, I have to admit I’ve never been on a guided tour but I suggest you to try one organised by Fais le trottoir ASBL, they have plenty of them. And if you do, just let me know how it was !