Turns out, spelling things correctly is essential to making sure you arrive at the right place. Such was the case with the Portobello Market.
What we put into our Google map search was “PortAbello market”, like the mushroom. So as we exited the tube, we walked right by a flyover for PortObello Green and followed our little blue arrow 15 minutes away from the market to an abandoned street. Feeling totally betrayed by Google, we asked a passerby where Portobello Market was. He looked at us in disbelief and told us we were “quite far”. We showed him our map and instantly the lightbulb came on in his head. He then explained to us that we spelled it wrong. The actual market we were looking for was right across from the tube station we had just exited. Downtrodden, we marched to a nearby bus station to head back in the direction from whence we came and eventually arrive at the market. While waiting for the bus, I asked a fellow passenger about the market, whether we were getting on the right bus, if he goes to the market often, etc. and he affirmed we were heading the right way.
Because I love the movie Notting Hill, I also asked him about the infamous blue door. He knew exactly what I was talking about and told me exactly where to find it, as well as other interesting movie landmarks like the Travel Book shop. He told us he used to live in a flat directly above the shop’s filiming location! Immediately, I was in awe of this man!
While we conversed with this man on the bus, another passenger seated behind me chimed in and explained that the movie is actually a bit of a sore spot with the locals. Since its release, there has been an influx of tourists to the area hoping to experience the neighborhood charm that is so prominently displayed in the movie. As such, major developers had capitalized on the popliarity of the Notting Hill district and bought up all kind of real estate in order to develop it into apartment complexes. Apparently, the area is now home to mega millionaires or impoverished vagrants. As this knowledgable fellow put it, “If you have one million pounds, you can live here. If you have ten thousand pounds, you can live here. If you have anything in-between, you can’t afford to live here.”
Even though it was a slight inconvenience to set off in the wrong direction, if we had done it right the first time we would’ve never learned what we did about the neighborhood. Despite being rather put off by our mistake, we were rewarded with a bit of local perspective. On this trip I’m bound to make mistakes (especially directional ones) but not all mistakes are bad. Some of them even lead you to a deeper understanding of the places you’re visiting, like this one!