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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Best of London’s East End

2011 is fast drawing to a close and 2012, the year of the London Olympics, is almost upon us. Whether you’ve managed to score tickets or simply plan on travelling to the British capital to soak up the atmosphere, the city’s East End, with its glorious Olympic Park, is the place to be in 2012. In preparation for the Games, the area has brushed off its down-at-heel image and has spruced up, yet still retains that edgy, gritty character that makes it so interesting. Pack your bags, book your international travel insurance, and head for London.
London’s most respected independent gallery has been championing internationally renowned artists from Picasso to Gilbert & George for well over 100 years and has recently undergone an expansion in order to exhibit even more. Galleries, exhibitions, historic archives, and special artist commissions make this bastion of contemporary art a must-visit when in the East End. It helps that it’s free too!
East End Markets
East Enders love nothing more than a bargain and Brick Lane, Petticoat Lane and Spitalfields markets have become known as some of the best in the city. Vintage clothes and accessories, retro furniture, quirky antiques, edgy art, and avant garde wear by up-and-coming designers can all be found amongst the eclectic stalls. The numerous tiny boutiques and large vintage emporiums around the Brick Lane area are worth a rummage through too.
For an insight into London’s long and fascinating history as a globally important port, from its beginnings in Roman times up to the shutting-down of the central docks in the 1970s, this free of charge museum in a group of Georgian sugar warehouses on West India Quay is first-class. Stories of trade, slavery, migration, commerce, war and exploration are presented through historical artefacts, photographs, audiovisual technology, old maps, scale models and reconstructions over 12 galleries. Currently a photographic exhibition entitled ‘Your 2012‘ illustrates the radical change the East End is undergoing.
Step into this restored Georgian townhouse and you’re immediately transported back to the 18th century life of a family of Huguenot silk weavers. Its 10 rooms have been designed to feel as if you’ve just interrupted the family – everything from the artwork to the furniture, to the smell and the light capture the atmosphere perfectly. David Hockney once described it as ‘one of the world’s five great operas’ and the creator himself called it ‘still-life drama’. The ability to completely lose yourself in another time is certainly spellbinding and historically and culturally absolutely fascinating.
London’s new sculpture
To commemorate the London Olympics and to help ensure the Park continues to be a destination for visitors long after the Games are over, a spectacular new sculpture has been commissioned. Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor (who studied in the capital and is now based there) has designed and built what is now the tallest sculpture in the UK. A gigantic 115 metre twisting red steel tower complete with two observation decks and a restaurant, those climbing to the top of the sculpture during the Games will be able to look down into the Olympic Stadium.

NOTE: This is not my own experience, but instead one provided by Good 2 Go! Travel Insurance. Please visit their site for more information.

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