LOCATION North East London
TRIVIA Contrary to what many people might think, Hackney is one of inner London's greenest boroughs and has over 60 parks and open spaces
LANDMARKS Geffrye Museum, Hackney Empire, St Augustine's Tower
DISTRICTS Dalston, Hackney Central, Hoxton, London Fields, Clapton, Shoreditch
When I started doing this challenge, I knew from the get go that I was going to be really excited when it would be time to do Hackney - I even thought about doing it in two parts in order to fit everything in! However, when I finally decided to do it, I had come up with such a compact little plan that I didn't really feel the need to divide it into two parts after all. That's not to say there isn't more to Hackney than what's portrayed in this post though! I will definitely go back with my camera very soon, but just instead of focusing on the entire borough, I will just pinpoint smaller districts in greater detail.
What I love so much about Hackney is how colourful it is. Even Shoreditch, where probably no budding artists could actually afford to live anymore, is so full of amazing graffitis, colourful walls and quirky shopfronts. I think the whole area just feels very quintessentially London. That said, of course gentrification is very very real here too, and we have to remember to support all the little shops and restaurants that make the area so great, before it's fully taken over by even more Starbucks's and chain shops!
Our first proper stop was BúnBúnBún on Kingsland Road (which is also fondly nicknamed The Pho Mile) for Vietnamese food. I opted for the veggie Pho soup (I think you'll already remember my obsession for Pho soups..) and it didn't disappoint. I had a bit of a sore throat situation going on and the hot, spicy broth just felt like the perfect remedy. The service was efficient, the dishes were tasty and the menu had a LOT of choice, so all in all we had a very successful little lunch break. Apparently the restaurant's specialty are the "Búns" (hence the name!), which are a sort of rice noodle based salad that you can build to your liking. They look pretty great so I may have to arrange another visit in the not too distant future.. Who wants to go?!
After lunch we wanted to head over to Hackney Central for a little bit of shopping and dessert. You could walk there (it's about a 35 minute walk) but as the weather wasn't exactly wonderful we decided to be lazy and took the bus instead. Turns out that with Saturday traffic it can almost take that 35 minutes with the bus as well - insert my not amused face here! So, if the sun is shining even a little bit and you're not battling with extreme weather conditions (I might be exaggerating a bit - it was just a little bit grey for us..) I would definitely recommend walking.
When we got to Hackney Central the first place I wanted to visit was the lovely Paper Dress Vintage - a vintage clothes shop by day and a cocktail bar by night. They also host live music there every weekend, promising to showcase bands with a bit of a vintage feel!
I can only do so much shopping before I'll want to go sit in a restaurant/cafe/bar again - I'm pretty much always planning my next meal! So, after rummaging through a few other shops, we headed over to a little vegan cafe called the Black Cat Cafe. As I've already mentioned briefly, I'm trying to eat mostly vegan nowadays, and it was very refreshing to go somewhere I didn't have to think about what I can and cannot have - I actually could have anything I wanted! They do breakfast and lunch too, but as we'd already had our Vietnamese the only thing we were really interested in was dessert. I went with the cinnamon bun which was so lovely - I had my reservations, but honestly it was up there with one of the nicest ones I've ever had! Although of course nothing will ever beat the ones my mum makes..! My boyfriend was very impressed with their coffee as well and even preferred how the plant based milk (not sure which one they used!) tasted in comparison to normal milk. So, all in all it was a pretty successful visit!
Our last stop was a lovely pub called The Clapton Hart in - you guessed it - Clapton. I used to live pretty close to Clapton and loved coming to this pub, especially in the summer due to it's lovely beer garden. I was very excited to not only visit the pub again, but also to see how the area would look after a few years of not being there. Everything was mostly as I remembered it and it felt so nostalgic - I really forgot how much I liked the area! There were a lot of new little bars and restaurants and I really wish I'd live a little bit closer so I could visit more often! I definitely want to go check this Jazz Cafe out, it looked super cozy and they also seem to have live music on every night (I know, I know, sensing a theme here!). After a bit of a wander we finally made it to the Clapton Hart and it was as wonderful as I remembered it to be! It has that "cool" factor whilst still maintaining that really cosy, neighborhood pub vibe.
If you love Shoreditch but have yet to venture elsewhere in Hackney, do it now! There's so much more to this borough, and still so many areas I didn't even have a chance to visit. I'd say my favorite (so far) is Clapton, but really, they are all worth a visit. Also, please do let me know if you think I missed something absolutely amazing and I will make it my mission to rectify that wrong!
Eat BúnBúnBún and other Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road, Viva Tapas & Bebidas in Dalston (I love their nachos!)
Drink The Clapton Hart in Clapton, Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney Central and The Alibi in Dalston
See Comedy, music or theatre shows in The Hackney Empire
Do A long walk along the river Lea in Hackney Marshes and after, go to one of the little pubs next to the river for a well deserved pint! I love The Princess of Wales and The Hope & Anchor.