One of the things I love most about being at university somewhere far from home is the visits from friends and showing them round a city I can call my own. I’m lucky to have friends in other universities too so I can escape for a nice little city break every now and then.
Bilbao is unlike any city I’ve been to, and the Bilbao BBK unlike any festival I’ve experienced. I was amazed at the enormity of it (typical me not doing my research) as I expected it to be a small, traditional town. On the contrary, Bilbao is a bustling hive of activity, with both modern infrastructure and rich cultural heritage to explore. In the days after the festival we stayed in a hostel in the centre of town and tried to cover as much ground as possible to see everything we wanted to.
Festival Season is undoubtedly my favourite time of year. I say this every year (because it’s true). It’s the cocktail of friends, music, drinks and (most importantly) funky outfits that gives you a buzz like no other. This is also the only week of the year I will gladly throw myself into embracing the great outdoors, whether it be rain (is it even a festival if it doesn’t rain?) tent malfunctions or ant infestations I’ll take it all because nothing beats that festival feeling.
Planning to see The Last Shadow Puppets in London meant an excuse for a weekend away with a friend in the big city and a chance to explore. On Saturday Abi and I ventured around Shoreditch and grabbed lunch at Pump street food market: a selection of urban food tucked away off the road in coloured beach huts strung with fairy lights and littered with rustic benches. I went for a falafel and halloumi pitta with salad, humus and spicy sauce (very delicious but very difficult to eat on the go as we soon found out). We checked out Borough Market, packed with people drinking pitchers of Pimm’s and soaking up the sun and then made our way to the gig.
On Sunday we headed straight back to Shoreditch for another look around and some much needed brunch. We ended up in Barbour & Parlour: a quirky retro bar that serves all day food and drinks, cuts hair and even has a beauty salon upstairs. Their avocado and poached eggs on toast was also second to none.
Brick Lane was our next stop, where we lazily strolled; scoured antique and record shops, browsed galleries and pulled silly faces in a photo booth. I’ve been desperate to get my hands on a Red Hot Chilli Peppers vinyl, so when it cropped up in Rough Trade I splashed out and bought Californication. There were some funky independent jewellery stalls and the street art is definitely worth seeing. My favourite was the sign wrapped around a lamppost (above) next to a lonely hat saying ‘he left me hanging while I was alone and high.‘
From there we took a tube to Camden Town and (after getting very disoritentated in the crowds) cooled off by the canal with a drink.
Abi and I ended our weekend in Soho, one of my new highlights of London. The streets were quieter, the shops were spot on (I couldn’t go to London and not do a bit of shopping) and to bask in the warm weather for as long as we could we had dinner outside at an Indian Restaurant – Dishoom. A ‘bombay cafe in London’ they specialised in street food designed to share; and their vegetarian options were delicious (which is hard because lets face it I still miss a good chicken tikka masala).
London remains one of my favourite places to visit and explore, because every time you discover something new and a little different, especially when you’re not looking for it. I can’t wait to return.