Every year, since 1966, The Notting Hill Carnival has overtaken the streets of London in Notting Hill, Kensington, and Chelsea for three days in August. James’ sister, Caroline told us to wear shoes and be prepared for lots and lots of people and partying. Andrew and I weren’t sure what we were in for… so when we arrived, we hesitated – slightly shellshocked by the scene, and then we quickly joined in. We had a fabulous time dancing in the streets, photographing strangers, listening to drum-lines and live Caribbean music, attempting unsuccessfully to avoid mosh pits, as well as unsuccessfully losing James in the commotion! It was great fun! Largely led by the West Indian community, it was quite the juxtaposition of a huge carefree crowd against the meticulously kept houses and storefronts of the area. I think London (and perhaps England as a whole?) has a bit of a proper sterotype for us Americans. The Notting Hill Carnival proves to all there is a completely different side to London that is well worth a look, or in this case, a three-day street party!
Before we made our way to Notting Hill Carnival, we headed to Camden Lock Market. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting… I think living and traveling in and around Asia for so long has somewhat warped my definition of a market though… It felt more like a sprawling outdoor (and some indoor) mall instead. Very clean and if grungy, it was grungy on purpose, with lots of girls dressed in goth milling about. Regardless, it was still fun to walk around and it felt more London (in a strange way) than biking along the river and through downtown.
Andrew is a fan of the Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright combo, so I snapped a picture of The World’s End as we walked past, wondering (and just in case) if it is The World’s End. A few metro stop detours later we were walking through Notting Hill towards the Carnival. The streets felt empty and you had a sense that there was more going on in other parts of the neighborhood. Which there was. Most definitely. It was almost as if we rounded one corner we went from one extreme to the other almost immediately. It was great fun. Perhaps not the most family friendly carnival, but for us it felt good to let our hair down for once on this trip!