If you’ve seen my posts before, you might realise that I always try to check out the local street art when I travel. Most cities now have certain neighbourhoods that act as hubs for creatives, artists, and to some extent gentrification; creating welcoming space for international artists to cover their walls, floors and anything with surface area streets at a time. I live in Shoreditch so I’m lucky enough to see some of the most stunning pieces of street art daily, but there’s something so exhilarating about turning a corner in a new city and seeing walls full of colour.
I’ve been to Paris multiple times but it’s never quite clicked for me – the Louvre pyramid is stunning, the streetside bistro’s appealing, but I’ve always found the overall vibe of the city slightly cold and aloof. I think with many big cities it can feel that way for outsiders; I often feel the need to defend Londoners to outsiders who may see it as unfriendly or expensive. Taking the time to explore Belleville, a neighbourhood straddling 4 different arrondissement, enabled me to see a bit more of the ‘local’ side of Paris.
Friendsfest, which is exactly what it sounds like, is currently touring the UK giving fans of the show a chance to geek out. Put together by Comedy Central to promote their daily repeats of the show, there was an initial run last year on Brick Lane featuring Monica’s apartment, but this year they are back on a much bigger scale to maximize on the interest the public have for this classic show. For £22 I headed to Chiswick Park last weekend to see for myself just how possible it is to fill a field with memorabilia about a sitcom.
I’d been hearing about the bleak and isolated hamlet of Dungeness, a scattered wasteland on the headland of Kent, for some years, but it was only earlier in Summer that I managed to explore it myself. It’s home to artists and musicians seeking inspiration from its never ending shingle landscape and imposing power station, and it’s easy to see the appeal – every glance feels surreal and otherworldly, ripe for the canvas. Wooden cottages and dark Scandinavian architecture sparsely litter the landscape, making way for discarded lobster boxes and rusting hulls of ships abandoned to the forces of nature.
Since my aspiration in life is to become a mermaid, it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of my favourite animals is the manatee. With a loving but unglamorous nickname of ‘sea cow’, these creatures might not always get the most press, but they are delightful, friendly and funny (scroll down to see the classic manatee squash video). While others may have had teenage dreams of swimming with dolphins, I’ve always wanted to swim with manatees, and on my third trip to Florida I was finally able to tick it off my bucket list.
New Orleans is one of the most culturally rich cities in the United States, littered with historic buildings and surprises around every corner. Chain stores and fast food have been shunned for Royal Street art boutiques and homestyle restaurants brimming with local seafood. While there’s no denying that there’s tourists crowding the streets, nearly everyone you talk to is a local eager to reveal their own favourite spot for gumbo or beer; you may have been to San Francisco or Boston, but New Orleans is unlike anyone else in the USA and worth a visit in it’s own right.
Along with rambling about, simply enjoying the ambience, there are several uniquely NOLA things you must try!