Stepping off the wind tunnel escalators of the Camden Town station, I was greeted by a street-performer beat boxing a dubstep rendition of Adele. Immediately I see themed pubs, the Underworld and The World’s end, a live metal club and the self proclaimed world’s largest pub. Walking to my studio apartment you pass more shops and restaurants including the unforgettable Chicken King and The Famous Flames, a FIRE soul food spot dedicated to James Brown. I hear James Brown’s Squeals for another 100 feet, passing a beautiful mural of Prince until I reach my new home.
Around the corner from my residence is the infamous Camden Market, a massive shopping center and a mecca of vintage and original goods. In the Camden market is a sprawling food complex, comprised of about 30 different international food stands ranging from Venezuelan Arepa sandwiches to handmade Italian pasta swirled and seasoned in a wheel of cheese. These artisan stands serve memorable and delicious one-off foods. On my first trip to the market, “Steak and Chips” caught my eye. I devoured a T-bone filet and chips(fries) in a garlic herb butter sauce. Because YOLO and why not, I also decided I needed desert. I spent about 5 minutes debating between four churros and Belgian chocolate dip, or a single churro with vanilla ice cream and toppings. I ended up getting the single churro and ice cream with walnuts AND the hot Belgian chocolate. May very well have been the greatest thing I have ever eaten. It looked amazing as well, but I wasted no time being trendy and taking a photo of the masterpiece. After that all-star meal I knew Camden Town would be a great starting place in my London adventure.
. Another thing I wanted to touch on was the almighty TUBE. The Tube is London’s extensive subway system which also happens to be extremely effective. Tunnel system really makes it feel as though you are in an airtight tube, with massive trains pushing air through the station. The escalators heading out of Camden Town station sometimes do feel like wind-tunnels, with air blowing past you that is a relief after being on the cramped on a stuffy train. With an oyster card you have the ability to traverse the entire city with relative ease. If you understand it… It may be hard to believe but the Tube system is extremely confusing for freshly arrived American. I spent roughly 6-7 hours trying to get around the city. I took the wrong split, I went North when I meant to go South, I missed a connection, I went to the wrong exit out of the station – Just about everything that could go wrong, did in fact, go wrong. After this ordeal however, I have become fluent in Tube mapping and have yet to make a mistake on the Tube.
First impressions of London have most importantly been the eye-popping amount of cultural and ethnic diversity seen around the city. I am more likely to see an ethnic restaurant or store than traditional British businesses. The “alternative” neighborhood in London is taken to an extreme and the locals seem to have been running with it with great success. London feels like a city that embraces its diversity and utilizes it to its advantage on the global stage. I have a lot more to say about the country that drives on the wrong side of the road and I plan to expand more upon Camden and my travels in future blog posts.
Until next time,