Pretty Little London
I think we can all agree that walking through a city is much different from driving through it because it gives us the opportunity to interact with locals on a different level. I love being able to linger in different places and stare at things that are easy on the eyes, especially if i'm not racing against the clock. Walking just brings a different perspective and I love it. Maybe because I actually don’t drive, but it could also be because I’m a New Yorker and New Yorkers walk a ton! Whenever I visit a new city, I'm always looking for free walking tours, except this time, I decided to ditch a tour and go whereever my feet led me. A self-guided walking tour.
During my 7-day visit to London, I decided to walk-though Portobello Road, Notting Hill and Kennsington Park Road. I took the HammerSmith and City Line train from East London to WestBourne Park Underground Station. When I got off the station I exited left and followed the main road leading toward the Westway flyover. At Elkstone Road I turned left and walked through a path in the park which led me to a tow-path next to the Grand Union Canal. As I walked along the canal, I was captivated by the reflections in the water and for a quick minute it did not feel as though I was still in London.
From the Grand Union Canal I then turned left at the sign showing the direction of Portobello Market. I kept walking towards and over Goldbourne Bridge to pass the neighborhood called "Little Morocco." There you'll find shops selling beautiful rugs, leather sandals and beautiful Moroccan styled outfits and accessories.
I kept walking until I finally got to Portobello Road. The area is well-known globally for its market - Portobello Road Market which started in the 19th century.
There you’ll find an eclectic collection of clothing from street and vintage to designer wear, books and music. You’ll also find antique collectables, art, crafts and yummy street food if you visit on market day. The neighborhood became popular after the movie “Notting Hill” was filmed there. My first visit was in August, 2007 for the annual Notting Hill carnival.
Notting Hill is undisputably one of London’s prettiest neighborhood and it attracts hundreds of people who not only visit for the market, but to see the charming pastel and bright colored victorian townhouses, bookshops, mews, cafes and pubs with rooftops covered in flowers. Honestly, the neighborhood is just aesthetically pleasing.
After a brief break from walking on almost every street in the area, I stumbled on what could possibly be the most instagrammable place in London – St. Luke’s Mews. Just in case you're wondering, mews are very common in London and were originally built to stable horses and accommodate servants. These now converted fancy apartments are nestled in alley ways between the victorian townhouses.
I then went on to Kensington Park Road where I got to photograph some of Londons’s most luxurious apartments.
After wandering around for most of the day, my legs felt like they were giving up on me...almost ha! I decided to make my way to Notting Hill Underground Station to get the train home.. I then realized that the famous pub - Church Hills Arms was only a 3 min walk from the station so I decided to check it out.
And that was the end of my self-guided tour. I'm so glad I did it!!
The beauty of a solo self-guided walking tour is that you get to rest whenever you feel like, pause for as long as you wish, you’ll get lost and don’t feel bad because you’re on your own schedule, you might even bounce your toe a few times and have a laugh at yourself. And if you’re worried about who will take your photos, that should be the least of your problems, you’ll make friends with strangers and they will gladly take your pictures. Like me, you might end up teaching an 80+ year old man how to take photos on an iPhone and others may blatantly say no, but who cares, because a few blocks later you might just run into a photographer, just like I did. Just keep walking!
I would love to hear about your favorite way to explore neighborhoods in a city, do you prefer exploring by driving to see a few things then leave? By walking to pause for as long as you wish and capture the beauty? By segways - that could be so fun! Or do you prefer biking or guided tours?