A trip to Camden Market, one of my favourites in London.
One thing I love about London is the diverse range of markets to be found within its limits. The city is awash in markets suiting every taste, personality, and budget. This is wholly detrimental to a
reformed shopaholic like myself, but I love the amount of choice that is essentially at one’s fingertips.
For example, are you looking for a market with quaint cafes, tidy pastel-coloured houses as a backdrop, and stores shifting slightly higher end brick-a-brack and vintage clothing? If so, make your way to Notting Hill Market.
Looking for a super edgy, ultra hipster market where the people watching is equally as good as the bargain hunting? Then head on over to Brick Lane’s market.
Looking for a market that not only has mouth-watering eats but is well-placed for sightseeing? Then you must check out Borough Market (right next to London Bridge) or Greenwich Market (just down the hill from the Greenwich Prime Meridian).
See? There really is something for everyone.
This, then, brings me to the subject of today’s post: Camden Market. One of my favourite places to while away a Saturday afternoon, Camden is not prim, or hipster, or particularly close to any major tourist attraction (actually, I take that back — it’s a 10-minute walk from Primrose Hill, which according to this website has “one of North West London’s most cherished views”) . Anyway, what Camden is is grubby and goth. You can feel this as soon as you alight at Camden Town tube station.
As you pass through the turnstile you’ll probably happen upon a decrepit-looking starving artist type banging out a Nirvana song on his battered guitar. The throngs of eclectically dressed young people crowded around him will make it difficult to exit the station. When you finally manage to detach yourself from the critical mass, you’ll cross the street, only to be confronted by more crowds and a bevy of tattoo parlours, all in a row. Then, you’ll notice the buildings: covered in gargoyles and dressed with large signs that scream ominous titles like “Dark Angel” and “Black Widow”.
Camden, at first meeting, may be a lot to handle — at a glance it’s all rock n’ roll and inappropriate S&M costumes hanging in store windows. And that’ s why I like it, really. It has personality and is visually stimulating. I always make it a point to bring visitors here because it’s so different from squeaky clean throughfares like Covent Garden. That’s not to say that the market isn’t gentrified, of course (a Starbucks and Aldo shoe outlet hold court on the main strip right alongside the tattoo parlours, after all). But there is a marked difference between Camden and Covent Garden or Notting Hill. A trip to Cyberdog, the futuristic clothing store deep within the market whose shopping experience is akin to a night at a rave, clearly demonstrates this difference.
The market sits on the Camden Lock, which, on a nice day, is prime backdrop for a picnic (if you can find a spot on the ground to park your behind), and lately, the food offerings at the market have become stellar. There is seemingly food for all taste buds and preferences, from Brazilian to vegan to dirt cheap Chinese takeaway.
But what of the actual buys? In my humble opinion, you come to Camden more for the overall vibe than for the shopping. The market is a dizzying labyrinth of stores that sell everything under the sun, but I’ve found the quality questionable. However, don’t take my word for it — go and see for yourself.
Have you ever been to any of London’s markets? Which one is your favourite?