Travel photo essay: Saturday in Notting Hill.
“All that a city will ever allow you is an angle on it–an oblique, indirect sample of what it contains, or what passes through it; a point of view.”
— Peter Conrad
Last week I had the amazing opportunity of hosting my mother in London.
On Skype in March, I’d been telling her about my new-found obsession with Kayak’s Explore tool–it allows you to select a city to “explore from,” and then wait for flags to pop up above cities across the world showing the lowest ticket price available.
We were casually testing cities and dates with the tool when I spotted a return ticket from our hometown in Virginia to London for a mere three hundred pounds…some $480. “Mom, you have no choice,” I said. “You’re coming to London.” Perhaps not every ounce of my strong will had been beaten out of me as a child.
But once the ticket was officially bought and hotel reservations confirmed (at the cozy-if-claustrophobic EasyHotel in South Kensington), the real fun began for me: planning the itinerary. And suddenly I was reminded of just how much there is to see in London.
We only had five full days, one of which would be spent in Kingston. I decided the best way to organize each day was by region: Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and the SouthBank, Russell Square and Holborn, and so on. Soon, though, I was running out of days and lamenting having to lob off entire areas that still seemed so necessary to “seeing London”: Camden and Regents Park, Brick Lane, etc.
With each new region we passed into throughout the week, my mom marvelled at how distinct they all were: “It’s like a different city every time you turn a corner.”
On Saturday, we braved crowds and Central Line closures and made our way to Notting Hill for the famed Portobello Market. It was one of the first touristy bits of London I myself visited back in 2008 and I knew we had to visit. “This is different, too!” my mother remarked as we wove our way through teeming streams of people, past hawk-eyed vendors and sweet-smelling waffle stands.
I too couldn’t deny another simple truth.
That despite the interminable winters, despite protests and train delays and a sour economy, I still love London.