If you think Canary Wharf is mainly plain grey, cold and very, very corporate… then you are certainly right! Argh, I’ve never been a big fan of this place as what is there to like about that peculiar area which looks more like local Manhattan than the beautiful, charming England we all know and love?!
And as much as Manhattan can still be impressive in a way, Canary Wharf is simply soulless, bland and absolutely terrifying. Or maybe it’s just myself but herds of identical humans in their corporate uniforms who eat their deliveroo dinners in the office scare the shit out of me! So does the ghost town the area becomes every weekend… it’s rather dreadful indeed!
Having been living in the neighbourhood for over half a year now, I’d still rather spend 10 minutes on the bus to Whitechapel and make it to my beloved Grounded each time I crave coffee. That’s mainly because while ordering my flat white I’m much more used to a warm smile and ‘hi darling, how’s it going’ than automatic, robot-like ‘two sixty!’ slapped in my face.
However (yes, of course there was going to be a ‘however’!), since the last couple of weeks have been rather hectic and I didn’t really feel like going out at the weekend, I decided to put my prejudice aside and take time to actually discover what’s on my doorstep.
I spent the afternoon wandering around the highest buildings in the country but, exactly like over 100k bankers working there, they all looked the same. A few square feet or green space here and there made it even more miserable with those questionable pieces of art, little fountains and cranes all over the show to never let you forget what a marvellous, developing society we are.
I was less than impressed.
And then, all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of roof garden. You spot ferns and palm trees and the Bird of Paradise flowers. There are bamboo plants, too!
Someone plays the piano in the background and the sun decides to shine brighter then ever. Chinese tourists are about to master their perfect selfie smiles, a tired backpacker listens to music on the bench and a group of bubbly girlfriends indulge in their takeaway giggling hysterically every now and then.
Suddenly, my entire perspective changes. Unbelievable as it sounds, there’s actually some life going on there! And although the baristas downstairs don’t give a damn about greeting anyone, the coffee still tastes good. And if there was a prize for grumpiness, the staff at Franco Manca next door would be a strong competition, but hey, their pizza is still the best 10 quid dinner you can get in the town.
And the interiors are super cool with oh-so insanely pretty floor tiles you want to post on your Insta straight away, no matter how cliche and last season it is.
Also, in spite of that ridiculously sterile and overpriced vibe of everything around, you can always count on more than affordable menu and a couple of sticky tables at the local Weatherspoon if that’s more to your taste, how very charming indeed!
Canary Wharf has definitely gained a few points in my eyes and I did find a few places I quite enjoyed over there. Having said that, I still made it to Grounded in the end and was absolutely delighted to hear about my favourite barista’s holiday, to notice that the other one’s changed his beard style, to smile and wave at the next and happily explain to the their colleague why my hair’s not pink anymore.
What can I say? I still need people around- fun, genuine and friendly- to be my happy self. As, although I very much appreciate the clear pricing policy going on around the Isle of Dogs, it’s not quite ‘two sixty!’ that makes me feel at home.