July 16, 2016
My hostel serves breakfast at 9.30am on weekends. I thought I could make it even though I am not a morning person, but when my alarm went off, I chose to sleep in with my rumbling stomach until noon. Yes, air travel is tiring.
I got up for lunch which was served at 12.30, met some cool girls while eating, Rose from Somerset, UK (she is the only English at the hostel), Jane from Columbia, USA and Keila from Belgium (originally from Congo). They sounded like they have been here for more than a month, and been doing language exchange on some nights. They were going to Shoreditch today.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on my first day in London, although there are a lot going on during the weekend everywhere, I need to take it easy considering my physical status, so I decided to go for a walk around.
Notting Hill isn’t very far from my hostel, and there is the famous Portobello Market on Saturdays. Since I watched the movie Notting Hill long time ago, I’ve always wanted to go to this particular market and pretend to look for my Mr right in a local bookshop. So now, one line is crossed out from my bucket list, though the bookshop in the movie wasn’t there.
On the way on, I passed local pubs, cosy cafes, cheap eateries like Nando’s, chic restaurants with a lot of nice looking customers, Aussie chef Bill Granger’s famous resto Granger & Co. with a long waiting line in front of the door, exotic restaurants like Persian and Indian, and lots of typical lovely white houses.
At the market, the first one that caught my eyes was an antique shop of a friendly man who was really nice to talk to. He had some good-looking heavy wooden balls with numbers written on them. Can you guess what they are? They were bowling balls – not the indoor bowling with 10 pins that we all know about, but an outdoor sport called Lawn Bowls or British Bowls. With what I heard from the seller, I think it’s a bit like Pétanque in France. He said Brits still play this sport and there are even Bowls Clubs, but it’s still an old-fashioned sport and some people buy the balls for home decoration. Well, why not? They would look good on a shelf in a living room. I promised him that I am going to come back and get a few balls from him once I get my own flat to decorate.
The market is a witch. You know that, right? Before I left for the market, I kept telling myself NOT TO BUY ANYTHING, CUZ I NEED NOTHING, and I am staying in a hostel, for God’s sake. But in the end… you know how it’s like. But I shouldn’t blame myself, because I bought stuff that is supposed to be useful, such as a pair of Converse sneakers that is going to help me walk miles and miles in my new city, postcards of London to send to my family and friends, a travel book The Long Hitch Home by Jamie Maslin (with his autograph!!) that is going to get me through the nights, a fresh pineapple juice that kept me going under the hot sunshine (and gave me a nice shot for my Instagram page). Well, it isn’t too bad for a shopaholic, is it?
Honestly, you can spend a whole day at this market. Check out some unusual cool stuff in the morning, grab one of those delicious looking street food for lunch, buy a few postcards and stamps, have a short break with coffee while writing the postcards to your beloved ones, go back to the crowd and check out real things that you are going to buy and get yourself ready to haggle, take selfie shots with fresh fruit juice in your hand and crowd at the background, go to the fruit and vegetable section in the late afternoon and buy discounted stuff. What a day!