September isn’t quite over, yet the tsunami that marks the beginning of the school year has already started erasing the memory of summer. A few weeks ago I’ve written all about my childrens’ highlights from our summer trip. Today I want to recall one of my own personal favorites, before routine blurs its recollection away.
London has many world-class attractions, from monumental architecture to grand museums. It is also dotted with little markets, hidden in alleys all over the city. Most operate all week long, but have a rotating display of booths: antiques on Mondays, crafts on Tuesdays and so forth. Some operate only on weekends. I really wish I could have visited all of them, but my time in the city was limited. Still, I was lucky to see some. Of those, my absolute favorite was Brick Lane Sunday Market and the alleys surrounding it.
Brick Lane Market is located in an area composed of many small markets that merge into each other. Some are outdoors, others, like Old Spitalfields Market, indoors. They offer everything and anything, from antiques to vintage clothes to arts and crafts to food. We visited on a Sunday, when the market is at its peak, and quite an experience it was!
When my children heard the plan for the day was to visit a market, they noisily objected. “Not ANOTHER crafts market!” they protested. “BORING!!.” But after dragging all over the city from one Harry Potter site to another just to make them happy, I had no intention of giving up. I promised to stay for only an hour or two, and off to market we went.
The place was BURSTING with life. People, noise and music mixed with the smells of many foods. There was much on which to feast the eyes. People were dressed in colorful, interesting outfits. Stall displays were eye-catching, and the arts and crafts booths were inspiring.
Here for example, is an old cab converted into a coffee stall. We just couldn’t pass it by without buying a latte:
And this is a picture of some of the stalls, displaying all kinds of knickknacks:
One stall sold interesting-looking leather shoes:
A few stalls sold handbags, though not necessarily handmade (or local. I suspect many arrived on big ships from China):
Appealing foods were everywhere. They were colorful, beautiful-looking and fragrant, and represented every imaginable country. We ended up staying for lunch, tasting vegetarian Ethiopian food, Chinese dumplings, Japanese tempura, and, for dessert, some Dutch chocolate-filled pancakes.
There was also amazing street art everywhere, scribbled on walls, painted on doors, or hiding high above. Some of the artists had a good sense of humor. Once we realized there were a few threads of art spread around the neighborhood, hiding above eye-level, our entire visit turned into a fun, “Find Waldo” game.
These, all looking to be by the same artists, were posted high above doors on different lanes:
My son liked these cute dinosaurs, also spread in two different locations:
And I assume these two works represent the same face:
There was also a lot of colorful graffiti:
This one, around the corner from a mosque, looked sweet and hopeful in a week besieged by terror and fear:
And another street painting I liked:
We noticed his little guy right before we left. He is one of my favorites:
Needless to say, we ended up staying much longer than one or two hours. In fact, we spent the entire day at the market. At the end my daughter came to thank me. “Thanks for taking us there,” she said. “It was really fun!”
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