I still remember that before I went to London I spoke to one of my friends who worked in Canary Work and he told me it’s like a modern version of Amsterdam with canals and steel buildings everywhere. Well maybe not quite like Amsterdam but…
I remember the first time I arrived in Canary Wharf. Taking DLR from Britannia Village I arrived underground in the tube station and took an escalator to the ground level. The wind hit me. The concrete choked me. The people jostled me. The station was full of people in well tailored suits and dresses. Everyone was in a hurry. Everyone was indifferent. Everyone was cold and grave.
The atmosphere put me down straight away. Overwhelmed I walked around and observed. I felt quite sad instead of being excited. I guess this was not the best beginning to me living in London. I guess I was more overwhelmed than I expected and than I wanted to admit. Not impressed, overwhelmed. I remember my friend A. from New Zeland remarking everyone looks like robots no smiles, no eye contact, just going about one’s own business. This is the first impression. It lasts unless you make your own circle of friends and walk around with them.
Canary Wharf is very windy all year round so definatley I don’t recommend it in winter. With time I became used to its ambience but never felt comfortable there.
I remember insane moments when planes approaching City Airport seemed to fly right into One Canada Square building or the wonderful setting sun reflected in the glass of skyscrapers. I remember I liked to sit in a restaurat/pub in the West India Quay after dark with panorama of Canary Wharf, lights in some offices creating a chaotic maze.
One Canada Square building was used in the last two episodes of the second season of the popular British science fiction television series Doctor Who – Army of Ghosts and Doomsday. According to the action series it housed the secret alien technology research institute called Torchwood.
If you like movies like I do check out this Canary Wharf movie map before you go over.
My favourite places:
Gaucho – Argentinian restaurant. The best steak in Europe (that I tried) besides Restaurante Parilla or Caballito in Madrid, Spain. I looked up the one in Madrid on Google maps and street view name is the first while Google map gives the second. Anyway we went there when I was on Dukan diet and couldn’t eat any fat or sugar, only protein. I was eating meat for quite some time and then encoutered this heaven on Earth, mouth watering, full of flavour with no oli steak. Ohhh I still dream of it. The service was excellent. Our waitress showed us a wooden board of meats. Explained which is which, which part of the cow it comes from and then how it’s best served. We had to change table in the middle of the meal which wasn’t a problem. I was really impressed. I recommend it if you have a few quid to spare.
During the same diet I used to be a frquent customer of Caffe Nero in Jubilee Place. I spoiled myself with Classic Frappѐ Latte with sugar free caramel syroup yum (you can forget the sugar free option in Poland, there is no demand for it, as well as for sugar free low fat yogurts… can’t really blame Polish people). But the biggest temptation for me there was always White & Dark Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake. Rich, creamy, baked layers of white and dark chocolate truffle cheesecake, on a crispy chocolate biscuit base, topped with swirls of white and dark chocolate. Very sweet, my friend couldn’t finish it, but also very chocolaty yum yum. I just want a recipe so I can make it myself!
La Tasca – Spanish restaurant, crowded but cozy with warm interior. You can choose from wide selection of tapas. House wine is nice but you might have to wait for the service. From my experience also it’s better to book in advance. Don’t take it the wrong way, it’s not the best place I have been to in London but I find it comfortable and full of joyful live instead of fast and minimalist modernity if you know what I mean. You probably don’t though.
Rum and Sugar – the cheapest place to eat in Canary Wharf with best pub hamburger and fries. Most of the time full. Funny toilets. I liked to eat sushi in Itsu Jubilee Place. I have a friend in that. Isn’t that right K.?
I was refused an account in HSBC. I had a job but I have been in London less than six months. They wanted to force me into Passport Account which is expensive. I just wanted a regular account with no overdraft option. The refusal was too much for me, I felt humiliated and burst. I don’t think I was ever so rude for a Sales Assistant before or since.
Later on just before I moved back to Poland I used to be a Lettings Negotiator in Canary Wharf. Yes, I did go into those fancy top floor aparments, but also the less fancy ones. I be honest, it’s just not me at all. I prefer nice cottages or mansions with big gardens in rustic style. But well I had many clients very impressed. The medium expensive places (as for CW) were small or even less than small, the bright ones were always expensive. Most of them are not stackable. But well whatever makes you feel good.
I think the biggest disappointment for me was the apartment I saw in Port East. Pan Peninsula studio apartments are just insane for the same price you can get far more spacious option. Altough I have to say you get a inhome cinema for residents, amazing pool and gym as well as top floor bar which will impress all your friends surely. Let’s not forget about Spa. Still the stuios are awful.
The above view is from my favourite apartment to let we had. It’s top floor in small apartment block in the south part of Isle of Dogs. It has a narrow balcony and panoramic window overlooking Millwall Park and Canary Wharf. I will write another post on Isle of Dogs separatley. Now a bit of history and additional pictures in slideshow. Hahhaa before that, one more picture from an apartment in New Providence Wharf. Look at this magnificent view! Picture on the left.
Let’s start with that Canary Wharf is a major business district one of London’s two main financial centres. The West India Docks where it’s located, once formed part of the busiest port in the world. It was closed in 1980. Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf. The recovery began with Credit Suisse wanting to build here their back office. The idea was then sold and developed into a bigger project involving creating new business district. First buildings were completed in 1991. There is a picture above escalator showing the construction in progress. have a look on the right. One Canada Square became the UK’s tallest building and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands.
The area is full of people during working hours and during the time of after work drinks on Thursdays and Fridays. It tends to be deserted over the weekends. I suppose everyone just hangs around their homes not where they work. There are many events in Canary Wharf trying to make it more sociable and alive. This include fashion shows, food festival, ice rink, operas, movies under the sky, exhibitions and others.
The Idea Shop in Canary Wharf is poorly stocked and therefore I appeal for more books!
Two more remarks: if you take photos in CW be prpared a policeman can come over and ask you to show them to him. If he thinks it’s a threat to security he will ask you to delete them. Second there is a statue of a man in W India Ave. I think he is happy and free cos he quit working in a corp.
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