In the middle of a hectic week in classes, I was beginning to feel cooped up in my apartment and school. I then took a look at my list of places I wanted to visit in London and decided to change scenery, even if it was only to see a little bit of the area before heading to a local cafe. I even studied in a museum on one of the hotter days here, so that I could get inspiration and air conditioning. This past weekend I headed over to Notting Hill to walk through Portobello Market.
The first time I went to Notting Hill, I must have gone too early, because the market was not quite set up yet. I wandered through the neighborhood and ended up stumbling across a cafe called “Haminados”. As I walked in, the owner greeted me saying I was just in time for the baked goods he had just pulled out of the oven. I sat outside in the little courtyard behind the house with my friend, and split a fresh apple strudel and cheesecake (they were delicious and if you don’t trust me, trust Freddy Mercury, a fan of this man’s bakery). The walls are covered in “The Beatles” posters and has a very homey feel with the mix of furniture, cups, and cushions.
I loved this cafe so much that I ended up going again this weekend to work on my final projects. He remembered me and my friend and set us up inside at the dining table, protected from the rain. He would say phrases like: “Whatever you want, you got! It’s your day! Make the most of it!” He brought out board games for kids, made special dishes for a woman celebrating her birthday, and had regulars orders ready for locals to pick up quickly. Basically, I’m a big fan and I’m only sharing this cafe because I’m leaving soon.
Outside of the cafe are beautiful painted houses, galleries, and a short walk away- Portobello Market. When I left the cafe around 3:00pm, the market was in full swing and was much larger than I expected. The beginning of it is mostly antique stores and is the most tourist attracting area. There is also an indoor antique market that’s more hidden away. The next section of the market has fresh produce and baked goods. At around 3:30, the flowers and baked goods were being sold for 1 pound, so I would definitely suggest looping back around to this area later in the day to see what goods are left. Surrounding the area are trendy thrift and vintage shops.
The last area of the market was lunch foods and drinks. There were several vegetarian and vegan options as well, which I was thoroughly impressed by. They had vegan cookie dough, vegetarian mexican food, falafel, doughnuts, churros etc. A cafe that I enjoy in central London, “Farm Girl”, also has a more hidden location in the middle of the market and also offers healthy, and delicious vegan food. I also saw a flyer that advertised that the market has a “Vegan Sunday”, with a large list of local plant based restaurants and vendors, so I will be visiting again to take part in this. I also ran into a live jazz concert at a Japanese restaurant called “Ukai”. People were allowed to wander in and enjoy the music free of charge. I believe that this band plays here regularly, as their portraits were hung among the Japanese art and their fan base was very supportive.
On the way back to the tube station, check out the various art galleries in the area, as well as the beautiful houses. Pottery, glass, and painting studios allowed guests to walk in and take a look at their in-progress work.
Notting Hill has a very residential feel that takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the city, even when you are surrounded by the crowds of visitors. There is so much to explore, eat, watch, and listen to in the area, so take a day to seek out the little hidden gems of Notting Hill.