Things That Only Happen in East London
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, Samuel Johnson once said. To paraphrase the celebrated writer, we can highly recommend delving into some of the outlandish activities that could only take place north-east of the Thames.
A Café that Only Sells Cereals
What can I tell you about the latest major hipster phenomenon in London that you don’t already know?
It looked like they had finally got rid of them. Around a hundred anarchists from the activist group, Class War, who set out to combat inequality, attacked the Cereal Killer Café last September. However, not only has the establishment emerged unscathed from the attack, it continues to draw long queues of patrons at its front door. How long the truce holds remains to be seen, although what on earth could be more innocuous than a Chocapics seller? Problem is, the 5-euro bowls of cereal in this unique café have grown into a symbol of the drama of gentrification besetting London.
However, you are sure to find so many cereal combinations that you’ll be able to eat for months without repeating any of them. They offer no fewer than 100 cereal varieties, 12 types of milk and 20 different toppings!
Here is the statement which Class War put out when calling for action against Cereal Killer Café:
“Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs.
Local authorities are coining it in, in a short-sighted race for cash by regenerating social housing. We don't want luxury flats that no one can afford, we want genuinely affordable housing. We don't want pop-up gin bars or brioche buns – we want community.
Soon this City will be an unrecognizable, bland, yuppie infested wasteland with no room for normal (and not so normal) people like us. London is our home. Working class people are being forced out of our homes but we won't go out without a fight."
Protest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhUT2YDDa6Q
The Hot Tub Cinema
40 degrees and oodles of champagne! Welcome to the most bizarre cinema in all London… the Hot Tub Cinema!
The intrepid cinema-goers daring enough to plunge into this unforgettable experience can choose from a host of inflatable tubs set out on the rooftop of the former Shoreditch station.
The dress-code, as you can imagine, is a bathing suit. But, if you really want to fit the occasion, the thing is to sport a 90s swimming costume, as only classics are shown in this cinema.
And, here goes the lowdown you were all waiting for… yes, the hot tubs are communal, and can hold up to six people!
A Cat Café
Walking into Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is like stepping into the Internet. This is London’s first ever cat café, the haunts of twelve friendly feline creatures, all rescued from sanctuaries. The venue is in the popularBrick Laneprecinct and is becoming all the rage, so much so that you are advised to book ahead. Otherwise, you would be hard put to find a free table.
Perfect Your Zumba in the Neighbourhood Church
Think you could tone your gluteal muscles while purifying your spirit? Could there be any better form of redemption than to practise Zumba in a church? For those of you who have lost their faith, for further information, see here.
I bet you are taken aback by these proposals. But, there’s more to come, although we’ll leave that for another post. If you want to see it for yourself, starting packing your bags and check out our flights here.
Text and images by Isa Roldán for ISABELYLUIS Comunicaciónmore info
Turin for Film Lovers
It was a film that led me to Turin. I was stunned by a giant edifice topped by a spire which towered over the city. It was the Mole Antonelliana, a vivid name alluding to both its blunt presence and its designer, Alessandro Antonelli, who had initially conceived of it as a synagogue. I discovered it in a humble but significant independent film entitled Dopo Mezzanotte (After Midnight), by Davide Ferrario, who lives in the city and has shot many of his films there. It is a hymn to cinema, a passion triangle with the action set in the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, which has been housed in the Mole since 2000. With an area of 3,200 square metres, it is the largest in Europe dedicated to “the Seventh Art”. It is a highly original, spectacular exhibition, both for its location and the layout of its collections, including pre-cinematographic devices, magic lanterns, and both old and modern stage items – notably masks from Star Wars and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Superman’s cloak and Marilyn Monroe’s bodice. It is actually one of the most frequented museums in Italy, quite a feat in a country with such a rich history and art heritage. It is also the site of the Turin Film Festival, next slated for 20 to 28 November, which has featured such filmmakers as Nanni Moretti, Gianni Amelio and Paolo Virzi.
The City that Bewitched Risi, Tornatore and Argento
The fact that Turin was Italy’s first capital is evident in its cinema, from Neorealism to erotic comedies, with a profusion of such explicit detective films as Double Game, Black Turin and Torino, centrale del vizio. It was in Turin that the master of horror movies and self-confessed lover of the city, Dario Argento, shot several scenes from one of his first hits, The Cat o' Nine Tails. He went on to film in their entirety his latest works, Do You Like Hitchcock?, Sleepless (Non ho sonno) and Giallo.
The city of the Juventus and Torino football clubs, the annual contenders at the “Derby della Mole”, is also an obligatory stop on the journeys depicted in the perennial classics. Enrico Loverso emigrates from the poor south to the Turinese industrial north in The Way We Laughed (Così ridevano) by Gianni Amelio. In Everybody's Fine (Stanno tutti bene), by Giuseppe Tornatore, an elderly, splendid Marcello Mastroianni visits his adult children distributed across Italy and finds the last of them – of course – in Turin. And, the irascible blind captain played by Vittorio Gassman sets off from Turin station in Scent of a Woman, directed by Dino Risi (the remake, with Al Pacino, came years later). Risi also happened to make his cinema debut in the same Alpine city, when he was assistant director during the shoot of Piccolo mondo antico (Little Ancient World), and it was there, too, that he one night declared his eternal love to the stunning actress, Alida Valli, while they were sitting in a carriage in the rain, in the romantic, lush gardens of the Parco Valentino.
The Setting for Robberies and Spies in American Movies
In The Pink Panther 2, with Steve Martin, one of the city’s most prized treasures is stolen – no less than the Turin Shroud. However, the film that has probably set Turin most on the map is the 1969 cult movie, The Italian Job, by Peter Collinson (which has seen a recent remake). In it, Michael Caine flees with his loot from the carabinieri in his Mini Coopers, through the Palazzo Carignano, along the inner staircases of the Palazzo Madama and around the exterior of the Gran Madre di Dio Church, skidding through the glamorous Galleria San Federico shopping centre, and driving over the flared roof of the Palazzo a Vela, built for the Italia 61 Exhibition and refurbished as a sports centre for the 2006 Winter Olympics. He also drives up the heady oval test track on the old FIAT factory – the city’s veritable economic driving force for decades – housed in the Lingotto building, now a multidisciplinary space for trade fairs and festivals. In his final getaway, his Minis reach the nearby Alps, the formidable mountain range which acts as the backdrop for this stunning city, after having crossed the river Po.
And, opposite the Po stands the majestic Piazza Vittorio Veneto, which appears in The Bourne Ultimatum, a saga starring Matt Damon. However, the café where we later see the fired up secret agent sitting is actually in Madrid! The fact is that the film crew were back working in Spain when a change to the script forced them to repeat the shoot of the scene originally filmed in Turin. The magic of cinema always involves some hidden devices!
If you fancy seeing the city for yourself, secure your ticket here!
Rome On Celluloid
The Eternal City is also a city of celluloid. From Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn’s Vespa ride, to Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni’s dip in the Fontana di Trevi, Rome has been the backdrop of some of the most iconic sequences in cinema history. We embark on a celluloid tour of the capital of Italy while recalling the best movies that featured Rome as one of their protagonists.
To Rome With Love (Woody Allen, 2012)
Woody Allen stands out as one of the filmmakers who has most successfully captured the essence of New York. However, in recent years, the indispensable American director went on a pilgrimage that led him to film in London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome. One of the most outstanding movies from his European tour, To Rome With Love, revolves around Monti, a district of Rome which shook off its unsavoury past and became one of the liveliest areas in the city. The film also captures the beauty of other spots, notably the Via dei Neofiti, the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti and the popular Bottega del Caffè.
Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
A masterpiece of Italian Neorealism, a style which in the first half of the 20th century yielded some of the milestones in cinema history through its stark portrayal of mundane, everyday life. Lamberto Maggiorani, an unemployed construction worker and untrained newcomer to acting, breathes life into the character of Antonio Ricci, who has his bicycle stolen during his first day’s work posting advertising bills. While chasing the thief, Lamberto runs through the popular quarters of Trastevere and Porta Portese.
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960)
One of Federico Fellini’s heights of creativity and one of the most accurate cinema depictions of Rome’s character – particularly as it was in the 1950s, with its post-war mixture of glamour and humdrum genre life. Marcello Mastroianni stars as Marcello Rubini, a gossip magazine journalist who follows the great film star Sylvia wherever she goes (especially on her night outings), the role played by a mesmerising Anita Ekberg. Although such landmarks as the Piazza del Popolo, Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini feature in La Dolce Vita, the movie will always be remembered for the scene at the Fontana di Trevi.
The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
Awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is the 21st century’s La Dolce Vita. Enveloped in a fascinating surrealistic aura, seldom has Rome glittered so exuberantly on celluloid. You simple cannot help falling for Rome as seen through the gaze of Sorrentino as it settles on the Piazza Navona, Baths of Caracalla, Villa Medici, Palazzo Colonna, the Colosseum, Gianicolo, the Tempietto di Bramante and the Orange Garden.
Night On Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991)
Roberto Benigni plays an eccentric cabbie, the main star of the Rome vignette of Jim Jarmusch’s Night On Earth.This is a collection of five vignettes with stories set in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Helsinki and Rome. In the episode set against the backdrop of the Eternal City, Benigni picks up a priest in the early hours and drives him through some of the best known settings in the city, notably the Colosseum, while making a hilarious confession of his sex life.
Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
Another essential film of mid-20th-century Italian Neorealism. Inspired by the true story of the priest, Giuseppe Morosini, who was tortured and murdered by the Nazis for having helped the partisans. Filmed in the district of Prenestina the same year World War II ended, Rome, Open City lays bare the physical and moral wounds left by the conflict on the streets of the Eternal City and in the spirit of its people. And, amid so much suffering, a masterful Anna Magnani.
Dear Diary (Nanni Moretti, 1993)
With Dear Diary, this Trans Alpine Woody Allen executed one of his most widely acclaimed films. A semi-autobiographical comedy in the guise of a documentary, it recalls the director’s experiences in three chapters – On My Vespa, Islands and Doctors.In the first of these, Moretti rides his scooter through Rome’s everyday settings in August, providing a different take on the Italian capital. One unforgettable moment shows Moretti dancing with his running Vespa.
Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)
However, the prize for iconic scooter tours of Rome goes to Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. It marks a sublime moment in the history of cinema, particularly the scene on the Spanish Steps or the sequence shot at the Bocca della Verità. The winner of three Oscars, this movie marked Rome’s ascendency as a city of cinema.
Book your Vueling to Rome here and let yourself be bewitched by this celluloid city.
Eight Bookshops To Enjoy During the Sant Jordi Book Fair
If we had to choose the ideal day for visiting Barcelona and seeing it in all its finery, that date would undoubtedly be 23 April. The celebration of the Catalan “Diada de Sant Jordi” (Feast of St George) sees Barcelona festooned with books and roses, and thousands of people crowding the streets in search of new book releases or their favourite author to autograph a copy of their purchase. Roses are also in evidence everywhere, particularly red ones, which all young men are duty bound to gift to their beloved. The ritual is re-enacted year after year and draws numerous booksellers to the city. Following is a list of the main bookshops in Barcelona which you are encouraged to visit on the Feast of St George or, to avoid the crush, any time you happen to be book hunting in Barcelona.
A true beacon of Barcelona’s literary scene and a must-visit destination for any reading enthusiast is Libreria Laie, specialising in art, literature and the humanities. This well managed bookstore also features a café-restaurant on the upper floor, the perfect spot for chatting about the latest literary releases.
2. La Central del Raval
Located in the heart of El Raval quarter, and housed in the former Chapel of Misericordia, is Central del Raval, a classic in the city’s literary scene, boasting some 80,000 titles. Featuring books on anthropology, architecture, design, art, cinema and photography, as well as poetry and the performing arts, among others. Also on the premises is an area devoted to literary activities.
Planning to travel anytime soon? Make a point of visiting Librería Altaïr to research your trip beforehand, as there you will find all the books you need to prepare your getaway. They specialise in travel, and as such are one of the largest bookshops in Europe, stocking travel guides, maps and books relating to all possible destinations imaginable.
Located on the Calle Verdi, in the heart of Gràcia, is the bookstore Librería Taifa. Founded in 1993 by the poet, publisher and literary critic, José Batlló, they stock both new and secondhand books. While specialising in the humanities, the store is noted for its section on cinema, which the proprietors hold in great esteem.
5. Hibernian Books
Also located in the Gràcia district is Hiberian Books, which is celebrated for being the only store in Barcelona specialising in secondhand books in English. Their list runs into some 40,000 titles, covering all possible genres, including a section featuring children’s books.
6. Loring Art
Loring Art are specialists in contemporary visual culture. The store started out in 1996 with just a hundred titles, while nowadays it has some 20,000, a treat for connoisseurs of this genre. Their offerings provide a journey through 20th- and 21st-century painting, sculpture, design, fashion, photography, architecture, cinema, music, the performing arts and electronic art.
7. Casa Anita
This unique bookshop located in the Gràcia district is dedicated to illustrated books. While targeting primarily children and young readers, their titles are a delight for children and adults alike.
8. Arkham Comics
This small bookshop in El Raval specialises in comics. Although it can be challenging to jostle your way among so many volumes, this is the perfect place for devotees of graphic novels, who are urged to take the advice of Xavi, the ever-helpful owner.
Book your Vueling to Barcelona and delve into the city’s literary world, as well as revelling in one of the city’s most becoming festivities.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info