Street markets in London: Portobello Road & Camden Lock

Portobello road, Portobello road
Street where the riches of ages are stowed;
anything and everything a chap can unload
is sold off the barrow on Portobello Road-
You’ll find what you want on Portobello Road

The first time I’d seen the words ‘Portobello Road’ I was about 8 and it was in the quirky 70s movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I’d liked the catchy song and dance scene that happened at the market that was–and is– the Portobello Road Market.

Today it’s not quite a flea market but for a sophisticated city like London, I suppose it classifies as such. Portobello Road is in the colorful rowhouse neighborhood Notting Hill (made famous by the 90’s Julia Roberts movie, probably) in West London, a short walk from our hostel on Inverness Terrace.

The Saturday market is a series of booths and/or mobile shops assembled on Portobello Road and broken into sections by cross streets. The first few segments sell carefully curated ‘antiques’ and memorabilia; it was early in the morning but we had to shoulder our way past a large crowd of beady-eyed collectors.

Just past that classy crowd is foodie heaven. International foods like thick Ghanian soup, Argentine paella, German brats all simmered slowly in gigantic vats next to stalls selling organic burgers and vegan pizza. There were long lines at the stalls selling savory and sweet French crepes. Fresh loaves of bread and gooey pastries were piled in big heaps… I’d just eaten breakfast before arriving and I was suddenly hungry again.

We agreed to go back for lunch and continued on down the road. More random items for sale. Impressive racks of cheap, actual vintage clothes were outnumbered by dozens of booths selling carbon copy trendy summer dresses and tank tops with the UK flag. Prices were reasonable (for London) though there were the usual ripoffs.

Xiker somehow found the resolve not to splurge on every flowered teapot he saw, but I tried on a lot of things and admired even more stuff. In the end I walked away with a dress for an upcoming wedding, and after much deliberation, a heavy winter coat (despite the fact that it was early in the summer).

First look at Portobello Market
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come early… it gets paaaaaaacked by 11 am
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is this too short? (it was.)
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a nearby sign said this fur business been in the same family since 1949.
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And then once we’d dropped off all the bags in our room, Xiker (bless his heart) took me to the Camden Lock Market–a place I’d never heard of before–knowing full well I was in spending mode.

I really enjoyed wandering around the Stables market, which used be a gigantic horse stable before it was converted into a trading market–and then eventually into the market it is today. Stalls in this market are rented out day to day or annually, but chain stores are not allowed to sell their goods here.

Fortunately for Xik, the rest of the market sold dresses and shirts identical to the ones we saw at Portobello earlier, so I bought nothing. Despite the carbon copy stuff for sale, it was lively and atmospheric.

Plenty of food to be found here, with several sections full of people holding out toothpicks and yelling at you to try a sample, but it’s all imitation chinese and mexican food.

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inside the stables (pic taken at closing time. tsk)
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Cool food court seating
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our dinner view
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