“Mile End Park, London was established on industrial land destroyed by World War II bombing,” I read, pausing my steady walk at a sign atop a small hill in the park. I am on my way from the Museum of London Docklands to Hackney. The first is a highly interactive (and free;) museum in the middle of a quarter that amazes by its mix of modern constructions and a long history. Arriving too early (the museum opens at 10 am), I enjoyed strolling around the quarter, discovering modern buildings established in impoverished areas just 40 years ago. The museum itself spans a diverse range of topics, allowing me, as a visitor, to feel the fear during World War II attacks on the port and the anger and motivation during the Dock strikes.
Looking at my map after my three-hour visit, I see the long green area representing Mile End Park and decide to take the one-hour walk to Hackney. The park awaits you with a lot of positive surprises. Well-maintained playing grounds, outdoor sports areas, and long boats in picturesque canals are all delightful sights to my eyes as I walk. Passing the impressive Gate of Victoria Park and crossing the huge green area, I end up in Hackney, where I enjoy the variety of outdoor art. The hip quarter seems to spread joy and a relaxed yet energetic ambience.
Time travel to Olympia
I cross the bridge for another time travel – this time back to London in 2012. Being an athlete myself and having worked as a journalist for several Paralympic Games, I had been looking forward to visiting the Olympic Park long before departing for London. Now, I am impressed by the stadium, the green parks around it, and the many sculptures and artifacts. I close my eyes and try to imagine all the excited people – spectators, coaches, sports psychologists, performers – and how they were welcomed in the capital of England.
Stratford’s cultural surprises
Stratford surprises me with more sights than expected. After exploring the Olympic architecture, I discovered an art exhibition at the London College of Fashion, which provides insights into a collaboration between the school’s students and refugees. Before taking the bus back to London Bridge, I enjoy the Christmas lights at a mall opposite the bus station and take some fun pictures inside a mirrored Christmas tree.
Public buses – best sightseeing
Every local recommends public transportation over the Hop-on-hop-off double-deckers, and I enjoy the ride, securing a seat in the top front row and observing the London populace on a relaxed weekday evening.
Art everywhere you look
Surprise tip: Strolling around London Bridge and the Tower of London, I discovered several art exhibitions around these two sights at the tunnels. Abstract depictions of historical events that happened in the tower are a good night gift for me before returning to my accommodation.
Spending several days in London, I was positively amazed by the numerous vegan signs welcoming me everywhere. From 100 % vegan restaurants to supermarkets advertising vegan alternatives on their windows, I smiled every time I saw another sign being optimistically overwhelmed by the great offer of more sustainable food.
I love to travel to smell, feel and listen to a city – aspects which are not replicable on a video screen or via pictures. Discovering different cultures, talking to locals and making new friends is what makes me addicted to traveling.