Saturday gave us a break from the sweltering weather. (For once I wasn’t sweating within two seconds of leaving the house) We decided to venture over to Notting Hill to have a look around Portobello Market.
Now I have a confession to make. I am a London girl born and bred but I have never been to Portobello Market before this weekend! I even went to university in London and still didn’t make it out to Notting Hill. And it wasn’t through want of trying… (I once showed up at Notting Hill to meet a friend and she had forgotten, FAIL)
The central line was down unfortunately so we were dropped off by a taxi at the very end of the street. This meant I didn’t have a chance to get any cash out (This one fact saved me a lot of money).
First thing I noticed was that there was people everywhere! I never realised that the market was such a big tourist attraction. I wouldn’t suggest wearing flip flops like my bf did or going there if you have an aversion to large crowds of people; many of whom are tourist and tend to stop walking unexpectedly. (I nearly walked into quite a few of these! Which would have been disastrous as I was carrying a hot cup of tea!)
There was a lot of things going on alongside the stalls. Street performers, some of which were pretty amusing, such as headless Victorians and mens vocal choirs were at regular intervals. I really liked that the stalls were in some sort of an order. It wasn’t like Camden, which is my usual market haunt. These stalls were organised into second hand, flea market, Food etc. it was even clearly sign posted.
It seemed like you could have bought pretty much anything at the market. I was particularly happy to see a lot of artwork and old maps for sale. It was a jumble of everything.
There were a few things that bothered me. Firstly the prices! I know its West London but blimey! I was glad to see that there was some haggling taking place but the face value prices really were designed to rip tourists off. (Also if you don’t like second hand then you’re going to have some trouble)
I also had an issue with the lack of banks/cash machines. I didn’t see a single one the entire length of the street. (This may have been because I was concentrating on not running into tourists)
Finally there was the issue with the ‘normal’ shops. This is what really annoys me about market areas these days. When I used to go to Camden market it was all stalls and independent stores, now its named brands. I saw Jack Wills, I saw All Saints, I even think I spied a Dorothy Perkins! I don’t get it! Why would you come to a market to go to a store that you could go to on a normal high street?! Now I know that there isn’t a market there all the time but do these store really need to be there? Do they really have a place? Or are they there just to rip off tourists brought to the place by the market………?
(phew I’ll stop ranting now)
Overall it was good fun but you might want to take a couple of hundred quid with you as bargains are few and far in between, plus I couldn’t find a case machine. The atmosphere is amazing and my tip would to head to the food end if you don’t like large crowds as it was a bit quieter and had an interesting mix of flavours from around the world.
As an aside to this they really should sign post where bits from ‘Notting Hill’ was filmed as we got a bit confused over which book store was used!