Whenever I say the words Portobello Road, the tune from the movie Bedknobs & Broomsticks starts playing in my head. And the words Notting Hill usually bring to mind a certain actress named Julia. But this neighbourhood is so much more than just a cliche. When the sun shines, it is at its most stunning, and when friends come to town, it’s a great excuse to revisit this West London beauty.

Portobello Road Market is usually a tourist trap, and navigating the street will be a great test of your patience. Get there early if you want to avoid the crowds. If you’re in full-on buying mode, go on a Friday morning for a slightly less stressful shopping experience. We weren’t really in pursuit of anything, and instead took our time perusing through the stalls and venturing down side streets. Our favorite antique store was the Portobello Print & Map Shop, which was full of beautiful old maps dating as far back as 1720. My love of maps might be pretty obvious if you’re a regular wanderer on this blog (or my Pinterest page), so it’s no surprise that we spent a long time here!

Since London is the epicenter of musical talent,  the street musicians are no exception and tend to be pretty good. We stopped to watch at least three free gigs before reaching the end of the road. Lunch was waiting for us there. The smell of caramelized onion drew us to the one of the busiest street-food stalls, where we salivated for a moment before it was our turn to order. The halloumi and grilled onion ciabatta sandwiches we had were a delicious, messy £5 well spent. However, I did make a vow to return next time for the Notting Hill Kitchen, after eyeing up a tantalizing Iberian menu that would make any Spanish chef proud.

After lunch we escaped the crowds and strayed towards the quiet, residential streets, like Kensington Park Road and Westbourne Grove, where we daydreamed about living in the mint-green house with the pillared porch. With full bellies, blue skies, and warm sunshine on our faces, we fell in love with Notting Hill.

[Photo credit: all photos are mine unless otherwise noted.]