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London: A city of street fairs and fun markets

By Haley Seger
On March 14, 2012

LONDON - Like the museums, palaces and gardens,
London's markets are definitely something worth seeing. Each one has its own history and personality. The three I visited alone were very different from each other, and London has many more markets that I haven't seen yet.
I visited Covent Garden first. I had heard that is one of the biggest tourist traps in London, particularly on the weekend. I went primarily because other plans fell through, meaning I needed something to do that didn't cost any money and wasn't too far away. Although Covent Garden is an
unrepentant hub for tourists, it has its appeal. There were plenty of stalls set up aimed at tourists, selling everything from artsy pictures of double decker buses to the standard 'I Heart London' hoodies. Street performers heckled passers-by at every corner while they performed their magic tricks. Covent Garden also wins the prize for best place to people watch simply because of the combination of tourists and stall owners who want to sell something. My second market was Portobello Road Market. The actual
Portobello Road Market was pretty unimpressive. The stalls
primarily sell vintage clothing, which I don't really care about and it felt a bit like a sketchy flea market. The street leading to the market was the more interesting part. The stalls there actually sold fruit and vegetables like a traditional market, the only one of the three I've visited that does, as well as the
usual random stuff. The stall owners were friendly but not pushy, which definitely makes going to a market a lot more enjoyable. My third market was Camden. Camden Town is actually a series of markets instead of one large market. When you first exit the Tube station, there are multiple
shops reminiscent of Hot Topic, but the real markets are beyond that. Each market has its own feel, unique from the chain of markets all over the town. For example, Camden Market's narrow aisle of knock-off clothing feels a lot sketchier than the open stalls and friendlier atmosphere of the Locks Market, despite being less than a five minute walk from each other. My friends and I spent a good four hours in Camden, and I know we didn't see everything in
the town. If you ever visit London and decide to go to Camden though, make sure to go early on the weekends. When we got back on the Tube to head back to the dorm, there was a massive line of people waiting to get out so they
could get their shopping in. I wish I could capture these
markets and their different personalities better in pictures, but at least half of the personality of these areas comes from the people. London has many more markets, but these three are some of the best known ones (and therefore,
I know, the most touristy). Hopefully I'll find the time to visit
the ones that the locals actually take the time to visit. I would also like to give a special thank you to Professor Paul Fiorelli and his group of MBAs, who were kind enough to take me
out for Indian food on Thursday. Thank you very much!


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