Hey guys. Today I thought I’d show you around my new home. I’ll be getting back to travel later this week, but with my absence of late it seems appropriate to share the cause behind the disruptions.
Stratford, my new home, is in East London – and up until very recently it didn’t exactly have the best reputation. Thankfully, the area was chosen to host the London Olympics in 2012, a decision which has turned a once industrial wasteland into a shining example of what the Olympic legacy can accomplish.
I had actually visited Stratford once before the Olympics. It was my first summer in England, and I had decided to go up to the city and explore for the weekend, turning to couch-surfing for a cheap (okay, free) accommodation option.
My host lived in Stratford, and I remember being overwhelmingly happy walking through her neighborhood. Every person I saw was from a different background, wore different types of clothing, represented a different area of this incredible planet. That diversity, thankfully, is still very much a part of Stratford’s tapestry and one of the biggest reasons I find it such a terrific place to call home.
We moved into East Village, a neighborhood originally built to house the visiting Olympians, after stumbling upon their website in our search for a London property. The area was not one that we’d considered before, but we saw right away that East Village offered something very special we wouldn’t find anywhere else. Although we were only five minutes away from Stratford International station (a high-speed service which connects us to Central London in only 7 minutes) and one of Europe’s largest shopping malls, East Village has a real residential, community feel.
In front of our building we have an orchard where we can pick fresh apples and pears, there are nearby walking trails through our very own wetlands, and shops where we can buy freshly baked bread and perfectly brewed Americanos. The exciting thing is that this is only the beginning. There are plans in the works to open many more shops and cafes for the local residents, all of which offer something a little more special than you’ll find in the chain stores down the road.
Queen Elizabeth Park and the Olympic Stadium are located only a ten minute walk away. I love spending Sunday afternoons walking along the canal which runs through the park, people watching and pinching myself that I have access to such a gorgeous outdoor space. The swimming pool, where Michael Phelps won the gold (and Tom Daley took the Bronze in Diving) is open to the public, The Kid is now learning to swim in a pool where history was made. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
One of my favorite things in the park is the slightly odd sculpture, ArcelorMittal Orbit, which is not only the tallest sculpture in the UK but one of the most recognizable symbols from the London Olympics. At the moment you can can head to the top for a panoramic view of the Olympic park, but this Spring they will be introducing a winding slide from top to bottom… I’ll probably be first in line. (Check out the plans here.)
There is no shortage of things to get up to in my down-time, and I can’t wait to explore more of both our neighborhood as well as London itself. This is my first time living in a big city, and I love that every single day can turn into an adventure.
Our flat itself is on the top floor of our building, and the balcony and view really convinced us to take the plunge into East Village living. While the skyline is small, we have a perfect view of the sun setting over London every evening. When it isn’t raining, the colors stretching across the sky can be extraordinary, and it makes me feel so grateful every single day.
The flat is very modern, with Scandinavian style influences. It is a big change from our ancient terrace house by the seaside – no leaks, no noisy cars driving by, and we haven’t lost hot water yet. We still have a quite a bit we’d like to do in terms of decor, but for now I have my favourite travel souvenirs strewn around the rooms.
I should probably admit that the integrated dishwasher is what truly sold me. You have no idea how much you miss modern amenities until you wash dishes by hand (ie let them sit on the counter for days) for five years. You gotta appreciate the little things. Especially when the little things don’t come standard in England.
Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed this little peak into my London life, living in the E20 – London’s hippest postcode. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be here, and I promise to document my new life as a Londoner every step of the way!