Fun for sale

08/11/2017 11:11

No trip to London is complete without a stroll through Portobello Market

Visitors to London are struck by the proud splendor and glamour of one of the world’s oldest capitals, admiring iconic sites like Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge and dozens of museums. However, visitors seeking a glimpse into the city’s everyday life should not miss Portobello Market.

  Just a stone’s throw from Notting Hill Gate Depot, Portobello Market spans 3km along Notting Hill. The most-visited market in London, it attracts an average of 100,000 shoppers per week. Portobello Market began as a farm founded in 1740 and named after Puerto Bello in the Caribbean (now part of Panama) in honor of Admiral Edward Vernon, who'd snatched this territory from the Spanish the year before. Nowadays, pubs in this market including Portobello Gold and the Portobello Star still pay homage to the glorious past of the British navy, and one of the antique shops in the market is named the Admiral Vernon.

  This vibrant market has been featured in a slew of films, documentaries and best selling books, the most famous being the film "Notting Hill" starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The bookshop in the film has turned into a souvenir shop, but visitors to Portobello can't help but visit the house with the green door where the posh book seller William Thacker (Hugh Grant) fell in love at first sight with Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). This film brought Portobello Market to the attention of audiences all over the world.

  Portobello Market is divided into different sections selling second-hand items, clothing, jewelry, souvenirs and vegetables. The most sought-after area is devoted to antiques. This corner is located at the beginning of Portobello Road, closest to Notting Hill Gate Depot. Passing traditional London Mews houses to reach the crossroad of Chepstow Villas Street and Portobello, we find the start of the antique market, which stretches 1.5km to Elgin Crescent. All of the booths are open on Saturdays. Some also do business on Fridays.

Visitors may feel overwhelmed as there are over 1,000 booths manned by antique dealers from throughout England. It's great fun to browse through antique cameras, watches, pottery and paintings that date back 300 years, all sold at different prices so it's possible to find a bargain. Antique collectors usually frequent the underground booths as they are long-established with good reputations. The customers here are very relaxed, carefully scrutinizing every item before making final decisions. It seems that both buyers and sellers look forward to the weekends when they can meet and escape the city's fast pace at Portobello Market.

  When tired from exploring the market, visitors can drop by the nearby food courts to savor an Indian curry, Italian pizza or sandwiches from Europe and the Mediterranean. Fresh breads are baked over coal or in electric ovens, and always sell like hot cakes. It’s a great pleasure to drink a cappuccino while listening to street performers. The artists might be rockers wearing tank tops whatever the weather, an Italian opera duo singing in a corner, or simply a nerdy guy strumming tranquil ballads on his guitar. These people represent the lively fun of Portobello Market, offering exciting experiences that keep guests coming back.

  The best time to visit Portobello Market is in late autumn during the Notting Hill Carnival. However, this market is worth exploring on any Saturday. You'll be sure to find some antiques to treasure for the rest of your life.
Le Huy

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