London – the lesser known secrets “Serenity within the Chaos”

London. 2022. Yes – it would have seemed far-fetched if I turn the clock back by a year, when Covid-19 was raging unprecedented havoc and pain amongst all our lives. I used to be a regular in this ever-charming city, travelling for work, that had stopped after my last visit in early January, 2020. Did you note the time? Co-incidence? 🙂

Fast forward to this May – an English summer was beckoning, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. On a mildly chilly English evening, I landed in Heathrow and packed myself in the Heathrow-Windsor Marriott Hotel, all excited for the new work propositions, but more eager for the weekend to roam about in the streets of London, finding lesser known places to explore.
Long story short, this is about a day in the (unexpectedly) sunny, yet windy London where all I wanted was to find a bit of serenity amidst the chaos in it. Ironical? London never ceases to surprise you.


Let this photo, magically remove the two years of despair and pain.


Ready for a walk?

The plan was to start early in the day and visit St Dunstan-in-the-East, then walk further to soak in the raw and rustic ambience of the Sunday Market in Brick Lane. Once done, move to Covent Garden to explore the up-street chaos of the city and then spend some leisure on the banks of Little Venice. Finally, take an Uber up-to the Thames river front, beside London Eye and then when the evening sets in, get enthralled by the graffiti walls of the Leake Street Arches. Roughly, by the end of the day, this is how the Google map route looked like. 🙂

P.S: If you are short on time, then scroll down to the end and you can catch this 1-min Instagram Reel to see the journey 🙂

St Dunstan-in-the-East

Fancy finding the ruins of a church from 1100 AD (yes, that old), almost destroyed in second world war, yet snuggled amidst all the tall modern buildings of 21st century? This is almost like finding a nest of peace amongst the noise. While there isn’t not much to see for, yet this quaint place with its Gothic architecture, ruins pose that perfect photo-op on a sunny day, that every visitor can dream off. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

Sunday market, brick lane

Brick Lane is a world in itself, predominantly a migrant settlement, which now has developed its own character and culture, beyond the norm. It took an odd 20 mins walk to reach there from St Dunstan’s. Sunday Market in Brick Lane is unique ensemble of five different local markets, which sells everything you can imagine from art, craft, collectibles, antiques as well as fashion goods. Not to forget the amalgamation of world street cuisine in the Food Hall itself, where you can go for a gastronomic extravaganza!

COVENT GARDEN

Leaving behind the potpourri of Brick Lane, we reached Covent Garden, London’s one of the most vibrant modern district. It’s a reflection of modern day London as we know – shopping, theater, street culture, food joints – everything in front of you! Since I was almost in a self-walking tour, so the must-see places for me were the Apple Market, St Paul’s Church square and just walk around and soak in the vibrant London life! If you have time, then a short trip to the next door London Transport Museum could also be worth. Now, words cannot describe this place, so let the pictures talk.

Little VENICE

Isn’t it ironic that if you have a canal in a city, you are almost always tempted to name it something with Venice? So here you are in Little Venice in London, built around the Regent Canal. Post some delicious pizza at the Pizza Express near Covent Garden, I was again searching for some tranquility in the afternoon, and this was almost the perfect place in town. While you can walk around a limited area within the banks or sit down and relax in the Rembrandt Gardens, but a canal tour could be worthwhile to take you around the picturesque neighborhood.


The long day was slowly winding up and the sun was about to go home. While the evening lights still remained, winds were getting chilly and my legs tired. But before we headed to the final destination of the day, I was eager to walk around the Thames River Front, something if not done, makes the trip incomplete. So back to one of my favorite laid-back place in the city where I can just sit back, close my eyes and stop the time in my head. Peace.

Show time… Leake street arches

So the best attraction was saved for the last.
If you have some rundown rail tunnels lying within the prime spot of the city (a 5 min- walk from The Big Ben), what you will do with it? In some cities, you will keep it as-is like an eyesore in an otherwise picture-perfect neighborhood. But trust these people to turn it upside down into a celebration of urban art, culture, food – all beneath the Waterloo station tunnels!
Truly an urban gem, where the street art is ever-changing while the surrounding lip smacking food joints are the only constants, this place opens after 5pm every day and is a real hidden secret in the city of London. Keep your eyes wide open for the murals and live graffiti events – I happened to see it live with a lady creating graffiti (see the last picture below).

A short 1 min walk through the Arches

SAYING Good Bye

As we always say, London never ceases to surprise. This time, I consciously wanted to skip the other “touristy” spots and just let myself free, to see people smiling at each other and enjoy the ambience in a “post-Covid” (??) world – some thing which felt unimaginable, even few months back. So the journey back was sublime yet somber with sun setting and rain clouds hovering around. It’s time to go home…


P.S: Inspired & intrigued to read about my previous travelogues about London, hit these links:
https://honumans.com/2017/10/19/london-a-fleeting-glance-at-the-city/
https://honumans.com/2020/04/08/camden-town-london/
https://honumans.com/2018/01/24/londons-secret-street-graffiti-in-shoreditch/

P.P.S: If you are short on time, then you can catch this 1-min Instagram Reel to see the journey 🙂

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