Getting lost in London: this is one of the things that I am best at doing when travelling. There is something about the very unexpectedly short streets, the curving, winding shapes of the streets, and the (seeming) lack of street signs placement standards that make me wind up walking around in circles, just missing my destination. When I find myself walking past the next tube stop on the line, I know the situation has become truly hopeless.
But as all free spirits, Tolkien lovers, and Pinterest addicts will remind you, “Not all who wander are lost.” In this case, I will augment that statement to say this: “getting lost can sometimes actually make your trip better.”
In the summer of 2008, I spent two months living with my (future) husband in Wales. I was on a day trip in to London to interview someone for my (now defunct) podcast and buy tickets to a knitting event that the shop “I Knit London” was putting on. I exited Waterloo station and took the path that I thought I needed to get to the “I Knit London” shop.
This is where I found myself:
This is Leake Street, otherwise known as The Graffiti Tunnel in London. It is legal to paint here and was (as I later found out) made famous by Banksy.
I didn’t know how to identify any famous street artists in 2008. Basically, I hadn’t seen Exit Through the Gift Shop yet, so I didn’t even know there was such a thing as famous street artists. But have a look at this photo I took:
Do you recognize anyone? The blue and white tile design at the top is a Space Invader. The spray cans on the left are a Mr. Brainwash, and the black and white girl on the right is a Banksy.
I walked the wrong way out of this tunnel and it took me at least another hour to find “I Knit” when it should have taken about three more minutes if I had turned the right way. The yarn shop turned out to be underwhelming, but the unexpected Graffiti Tnnel? Oh my!
It was so impressive that I went back in 2013. Of course everything had been painted over by then and there was a whole new slew of stuff to enjoy.
You don’t have to wait 5 years to see new art- it changes quite regularly- potentially even daily.
Sometimes when you get lost you find a treasure trove of colorful art by famous artists that you didn’t even know existed, and that’s awesome. But other times, getting lost means that you waste a bunch of time and energy walking around when you could otherwise be enjoying all the incredibleness that is London (or whatever awesome place you have chosen to travel to.
Here’s a map, so you don’t have to get lost when trying to find the Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel:
Have you ever gotten lost in a foreign city? How did it go? Have you ever been to the Graffiti Tunnel? Leave a comment and let me know!