Today my wife and I went for a walk to The Notting Hill Book Shop and the surrounding Portobello Market, the setting for the movie Notting Hill (1999). I didn’t have any special plans, but I had some spare time. After discussing where we would like to go, we decided to go. Me and my wife’s dates usually start like that.
We took the underground for about 16 minutes from Kings Cross Station, which is close to our house, and got off at Ladbroke Grove Station. Where we live is Bloomsbury, Camden, London, while the location of Ladbroke Grove Station and Portobello Market is Kensington. Camden or Kensington is an administrative unit. By the way, right next to Kensington is Chelsea, famous for its soccer club.
First impressions of the Portobello market
Portobello Market is London’s largest antiques market. It started in 1837 and has a history of nearly 200 years. It consists of three or four markets, including a high-end antique market, a greengrocer selling fruits and vegetables, and a market selling daily necessities. However, it was very quiet when we went because it was a weekday.
However, it seemed that the atmosphere of this neighborhood itself would not be more crowded on the weekend. For foreigners like us, it is a tourist destination worth visiting at least once, but for those who live here, it seemed like a place where they could just live a peaceful life.
London market, hamburgers from America
While exploring Portobello Market, it was time for lunch. Just in front of us, Five Guys hamburger restaurant caught our attention. Five Guys is often referred to as one of America’s top three hamburger franchises, along with Shake Shack and In-N-Out, and is also famous as a favorite of former US President Barack Obama. Choosing an American burger for lunch at London’s famous antique market was a little odd, but I thought it was the safest choice. So we opened the door of the Five Guys store and entered.
The Notting Hill Bookstore, the world’s most famous travel book corner
We finished our meal with a hamburger and headed out again. Now we are on our way to our next destination. The Notting Hill Bookstore is the setting for the romantic comedy film Notting Hill, played by Hugh Grant as the bookstore owner and Julia Roberts as a famous Hollywood actress. I opened Google Maps. The Notting Hill Bookstore was there just turning into the alley in front of me.
Although it appears in the movie, this bookstore is mainly focused on travel books. In fact, in a separate space inside the bookstore, there was a dedicated space for travel books called The Travel Book Co. Right in front of the travel book corner, the ceiling was made of glass windows, allowing sunlight from outside to seep into the inside of the bookstore. So, although it was the most corner of the bookstore, I was able to feel the warm atmosphere.
I bought a few books. Of course, I also bought a book for my daughter. As a doctor, I chose it as something that can develop my daughter’s medical knowledge. As it is a recent book, the COVID-19 virus is also introduced.
The Notting Hill Bookstore, more than just a small bookstore
When I actually visited The Notting Hill Bookstore, I could see that it was not much different from the independent bookstores that are popular in Korea these days. It is even smaller than most independent bookstores in Korea. But thanks to a well-made film, this little bookstore has impressed movie fans around the world and has become a destination that travelers want to visit at least once. In fact, while we were looking around the bookstore, many tourists were passing by and taking pictures outside the window. Once again, I realized the power of content.
(Next post will be updated soon.)