Today proved to be a fun one indeed for two American expats.  This West-Side gal joined forces with an East-Side resident to explore “Secret Subterranean London,” a quirky and haunting exploration of the bowels of this fine city on exhibit from 10-15 September in Shoreditch.  While not exactly what we expected (we thought we’d be spelunking deep into the labyrinthine tunnels of London’s underbelly), it was nonetheless yet another superb example of the more random, avant-garde experiences to be had, transforming what could have been an average walk down the street into an atmospheric and arty interpretation of London’s underground world—ideal for setting the mood for an impending autumn and Halloween, mwah-ha-ha-haaaaa…

From the Illumini website:

“The old rustic subterranean dark labyrinth, with its many rooms, alleyways and cells, will be transformed into several areas of historical underground, eg: world war bunkers, disused station, crypts, historical waterways and many more, long forgotten hidden secrets of London.”

While the dank darkness and howls of this underworld make one forget whether it is day or night, we did reemerge into the afternoon light and found ourselves feeling a bit peckish.  A wander towards the well-known Brick Lane guided us past darling vintage shops and exotic restaurants; just seeking a light bite and an afternoon brew, however, we opted for The Big Chill Bar for deelish veggie snacks (I’m not even a vegetarian, but I couldn’t resist the butternut squash empanaditas and still managed to tuck into my friend’s flatbread and hummus as well).  Still feeling a bit thirsty, we respectable ladies somehow found ourselves in a favorite pub of prostitutes past *blush*…none other than the 18th-century Ten Bells (just near Spitalfields Market), which Jack the Ripper‘s victims would frequent.  Nothing foul was afoot there, except perhaps an eccentric former house member of UK’s Big Brother sitting right outside in her signature hat.  Thirstier yet, we capped off our evening at Grapeshots wine bar, tucked away in a wee alley near Liverpool Street Station.

Such a fun, fun Friday, and such a refreshing change of pace from the usual gentrified West End where we Americans tend to flock in droves.  I am more than convinced that it is is highly underrated, particularly from the general expat point-of-view, so I highly encourage you to check it out as you research your relocation or, if you’re already here, as you contemplate what new terrain to explore on a leisurely day or night out.

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