Archive for the 'Budget' Category

In Search of Banksy: 30 pounds and 48 hours in London

DSCN2994There´s nothing like a good ole map-less search for illegal art through the streets of a foreign city to get you off the tourist track.

Call it my guide to ¨spending less and seeing more¨: extend your flight connection from an hour and a half to 48, crash with a family friend in Brixton, and set out on a scavenger´s hunt through one of world´s most expensive cities for illusive works of a notorious street artist. Arm yourself with nothing more than a transit day pass (5.6 pounds), a scribbled scrap of notes from a Banksy locations website, no guidebook or map, and a long-time London resident down for the quest. You´ll trapse through the heart of the city, through 2 ethnic neighborhoods, 2 gentrified hipster havens and an unabashed tourist trap; take 4 tube rides, 3 buses and walk an estimated 5 miles; pop into 2 galleries and 1 museum; sip cappuccinos on a roof-top cafe (2 pounds), munch on Jamaican patties at an Afro-Carribean market (2.5 pounds), and down some killer dal at a Pakinstani restaurant (17 pounds, with hella leftovers). You´ll venture down abandoned tunnels and crumbling back alleys as you tour the city´s sweet, tender underbelly, swollen with bright colors and pealing wheatpaste. And all for less than the Lonely Planet shoestringer budget.

Bristol-native Banksy has become synonymous with street art, his satyrical, subversive large-scale stencils offering poignant and humorous statements on politics, culture, capitalism. While his pieces have popped up in cities around the world (an apparent traveler himself), London is one of the hotbeds. The ephemeral nature of street art makes finding his work a kind of wild goose chase.

DSCN2972New Zealand native, world-travler and 30-year London resident Dave served as my gracious host and personal guide extraordinaire. We began at the Waterloo tunnel, once a Eurostar passageway, once abandoned, now a designated graffiti area. None of Banksy´s work remains, but lots of other bright colors and politized stencils fill the surprisingly clean, un-urine-smelling underground area. We rambled along the brown, gurgling Thames to the Tate Modern, sister museum to the Tate Britain, one of the museums hit in Banksy´s guerilla art hanging. We checked out the excellent Futurism exhibit (which warrants its own post), making use of Dave´s free +1 entry.

Our search took us through two once-funky, now-trendy gentrified neighborhoods, the Angel and Old Street areas. We passed a crosslegged girl working on a legit piece on the exterior of a hip nightclub, a one-time poppin gay bar that was ¨the perfect mix of seedy and interesting,¨ Dave sighed in bittersweet nostalgia. Amid the antique stores and vintage shops of Angel, we at last found a Banksy. Preserved under plate glass like the Mona Lisa, I posed next to the children pledging a Tesco shopping bag (of course, I forgot my camera cord at home, so you´ll have to wait for the proof).

DSCN3006We found another Banksy on a quiet sidestreet off of unabashed tourist trap/hipster hangout Brick Lane. The first half of the blocks we walked were wall-to-wall Indian restaurants, with pushy male touts outside jostling for patronage; I think they´d find more success if they employed the Latin American method and used smokin hot girls in skimpy clothing. The street morphed into uber-cool bar and pub land, and that´s where we found the most street art of our mission. My favorite was a collage of corporate logos composing the now-commodified famous image of Che. The Banksy we found was several blocks from the hubbub, a painter sitting next to a large yellow flower. The words ¨vandals found vandalising this vandalism will be prosecuted¨ appeared right beside the large spray of paint covering the stencil´s face.

One of my visit´s sub-missions was to find one of those Cockney ATMs; while that searched proved unfruitful, it did bring us to bomb-ass Tayab, a Pakistani restaurant doing a cafeteria-style smorgasborg for Ramadan. I wisely stocked up on minced meat pastries for my next day´s flight, as well as enough leftovers for a spicy breakfast.

DSCN3018Another culinary and culture highlight was our next morning´s stroll through the Brixton Market, the pulsing heart of the Afro-Carribean Brixton neighborhood. African flags and fabrics, produce-selling mom and pops, Bob Marley tapestries, Obama t-shirts, Rasta onesies and pot-leaf-adorned everythings filled with multi-block indoor/outdoor bazaar of bad-assedness. There wasn´t a single corporate logo in sight, and as I sipped on a Buffalo-milk cappuccino and watched passerbys, I couldn´t help but feel my 48-hour powertour had provided me with a pretty good glimpse of the London in which locals live, graffiti-adorned, cumin-scented and throbbing with life.

Packing Up and Taking Off, By Numbers

I got this idea from a Matador Travelers Notebook series, By the Numbers, reminiscent of the Harper’s Index (the only part of the magazine I ever manage to read all the way through).


Number of hours till take-off: 19.33

Number of good-bye hugs given in the last 36 hours: 9

Anticipated number in the next 16 hours: 4

Number of underpants planned to be packed: 5

Number of underpants currently packed: 0

Number of books packed: 4

Number of non-guidebooks packed: 1

Budget, per day, in US dollars: 54.76

Percentage chance, based on previous travels, that I will end at or under budget: 80%

Cost, per day, of at-home expenses during trip (rent, health insurance, etc): 21.78

Percentage chance, based on reality, that at-home expenses will end under budget: 0%

One-way BART fare to SFO, in US dollars: 8.3

Number of nights currently set up with places to stay: 10

Number of couchsurfing requests written in last 2 weeks: 6

Number of couchsurfing requests accepted: 3

Number of Survival Arabic podcasts downloaded: 12

Percentage change, based on previous travels, that I’ll actually listen to said podcasts: 15%

Number of articles slated to be published during trip: 2

Number of submitted articles floating in the nethers of editors’ inboxes: 4

Number of hours, per day, I plan to write: 1

Percentage chance, based on previous travels, that I will meet writing goal: 25%

Percentage chance, based on new blog and current upswing in writing trend, that I will meet writing goal: 75%

Down-dogging for No Fee

For the final assignment of my five-month editorial internship with the trip-planning site NileGuide, I got to indulge my increasingly nerdy obsession with donation-based yoga.

NileGuidance, NileGuide’s blog, features weekly travel themes; I scratched my head and made several trips to the water faucet while considering what to write for fitness week. Then I remembered the inferno of an afternoon in the East Village, when Alicia and I jammed ourselves in a mat-to-mat studio and power lunged our hearts out (and thighs off). We took a pilgrimage to the mother studio of our beloved Yoga to the People, who had earlier that year reached its well-limbered tentacles to the West Coast. Our little Berkeley studio had been getting increasingly crowded (class sizes now edge over 50), and we wanted to get a taste of what the New York studio was all about. So, while spending a week in the most killer city in the US, we popped into a noon class. As the windows fogged up and our sweaty hands slid us out of our down dogs, we felt right at home.

Yoga to the People’s new San Francisco studio opened in May. It’s on the fifth floor of an industrial building that, in a previous incarnation, served as the venue for raucous illegal punk shows (carrying amps up five flights of stairs: not fun). Now, the space gleams with new hardwood floors and nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that display the San Francisco skyline with the effortless panache of a French girl.

Donation-based yoga is catching on like a California wildfire. Studios are sprouting up all over the country, all with the common goal of making yoga accessible to everyone. Not bad. And you can be sure I’ve downloaded Yoga to the People’s free podcasts, and will be busting some half-pigeon on my upcoming trip.

Check out the full post, or just google “donation-based yoga”—my post is coming up second! (SEO is a beautiful thing.)

Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

Join 3,719 other subscribers

Tweet this Sh%t

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Buy This Sh#t