North-west of Kensington Gardens lies Notting Hill, known globally for the Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts chick-flick of the same name. The area is also famous for the Notting Hill Carnival. Initiated in the 1960s, the carnival is an annual Caribbean festival held every August with a reputation for good food and even better entertainment.
I had never been to Notting Hill but heard that the district was an attractive, cosmopolitan neighborhood with great shopping and quaint Victorian row houses. Although I wasn’t there in August, I was in the area for the weekly Portobello Road Market so I decided to take the opportunity to visit this as consolation.
Portobello Road is a primary north-south artery which runs almost the entire length of Notting Hill. Every Saturday, the street is closed to traffic and turned into a kilometer-long market complete with antiques, clothing, food and all other treasures (and junk) for sale.
I must admit that I was shocked by how large and congested the market was. The scale should have been immediately obvious when it took almost 10 minutes just to get out of the Notting Hill Gate tube (subway) station. Any uncertainty I had about finding my way to the market was immediately erased by thousands of people flocking in the same direction. The market has become so big that many vendors put up stands on streets leading TO Portobello Road in an attempt to cater to the masses.
I could describe the market but pictures can do more justice than I can. Suffice it to say there were hundreds of thousands of people and it was a spectacularly beautiful spring day. What more could you ask for?
I walked the entire length of the market then returned. I was so impressed with the atmosphere and buzz that I suggested my friend come up from his tour of the British Parliament and walked the entire length a third time. All in all, I highly recommend a trip to the market particularly if it is nice fine spring day…