As many people who visited one of the top touristic destinations of the world, London, i did all the great attractions that guidebooks promise will be forever memorable. From the London eye, to Harrods, to the museums, to Buckingham Palace.
But that was the last trip. This visit was a tad different.
I stayed with friends in Shoreditch, East London. Before I went, everyone I knew said one thing about this area, “you will love it!”, and boy did I ever.
Here is my ultimate list of the top 10 #NotATourist things to do in London for geeks like me:
1- You don’t need to hire a guide, or join a walking tour. Just have at hand this interactive map of street art in Shoreditch/Hackney and do the exploring yourself. It should take you 3 hours to see all the main attractions, from Banksy to Bambi to Stik to Space Invader and more. You will find the Banksy @ Rivington street, inside Cargo, which is a super fun nightclub in the evenings. Go inside towards the back and you will find another hidden piece “His Master’s voice”.
2- While you walk around, you have to drop by Nude Espresso in Brick Lane. The breakfast menu is divine, and the Ethiopian blend is to die for. And if it’s lunch time, drop by Franze and Evans, the many homemade salad options are great, and their dish of the day never disappoints.
3- While you are still in the Shoreditch area, drop by Spitalfields market. Definitely one of my favorite, and non main stream, shopping destinations in London. Open all days of the week, and each day has a different theme. From leather goods, to jewelry to clothing and food. Beats Central London shopping any day.
4- BoxPark on Shoreditch high street is a cool spot to hang out, have some international food and pick up some unique souvenirs. Starting Friday, they have special events and parties too. Ask about special events and weekend games that happen in the deserted parking behind Box Park!
5- Do you want to join the Rebel Alliance? Want to live and breathe scenes from your favorite films and then watch them with your co-stars? Then Secret Cinema is for you. This summer they are featuring The Empire Strikes Back. I cannot tell you any more, as we promised to TELL NO ONE. But all I can say is, this is a MUST!
6- Now as an explorer, you may not want to spend your trip watching movies, but RoofTop Cinema is a great way to see some of your favorite classics under the stars, given it is one of the rare clear skied nights in London town. And if you are really into watching some old school flicks in a non conventional setting, check out Hot Tub cinema. It is pretty self explanatory.
7- Greenwich park and Royal Observatory (pronounced Grenich, as I was corrected many times by giggling locals) is a must visit if you are like me, a space and science junkie. A 10 minute walk into the park and you will stride up a hill and enter the Observatory and astronomy center. Take a foot selfie on the actual Meridian line, touch some of the first telescopes in modern history and see a show in the planetarium. Indulge the geek in you and touch a 4.5 billion year old object. The pizza in the cafeteria is actually quite good too.
8- Ever experienced immersive theatre? Well, this is a good place to do it. On show this summer is Alice’s adventures underground. In the Vaults, deep under Waterloo station, join the adventures of Alice, literally. You are part of the show, and you are deep underground. Here’s a tip, if you can manage it, try to chose to be a club . You will have to go to understand! Don’t make plans after the show, because your final destination is a club where you can party with the characters in costume. When you walk out, you may be lucky to see some street artists in action adding to the almost fully covered underground tunnel.
9- In the mood for a rooftop view without having to dress up like a Lord, pay a fortune and wait in an eternal queue? Then Queen Elizabeth hall rooftop garden is the place to go. A five minute walk from the London Eye, it is a lesser known chilled venue with a view of the river and all attractions surrounding it. Go up, order a coffee and Millionaire’s shortbread and soak in the view. Have a picnic or just read a book, do whatever you want really, as long as you are not loud or smoke!
10- Welcome to the dark side! Like your video games like moi? The Dark Room is a live action video game crossed with a geeky comedy night #GASP. Here is how they describe it: Imagine a choose-your-own-adventure mixed with a riot and performed by a Commodore 64. It’s strange, insane and addictive and there’s a £50 grand prize if you can beat the game and escape… THE DARK ROOM.
It was difficult to chose only 10 things, but this was my list. Feel free to add more!
In the pictures: Instagram accounts @sarahgirgis87 @allaes @nohawagih (me)