Across the Pond

Jasmine Peters-McClashie

(Jasmine Peters-McClashie)

London offers a unique shopping experience, and I am not talking about the luxurious Harrods and Harvey Nichols stores, but the infamous street markets that sell everything from specialty soaps to vegetables.
Embedded in the culture of London are the endless street markets, which date back to the 11th century. Browsing the markets is a great opportunity to study London culture and the demographics of the people who frequent the markets in that area. It’s also one of my favorite pastimes. Go to Southbank Market in the theatre district and you will find imported French cheese and bread, or head to Shepherd’s Bush Market and find cassava and Halal meat.
With a national push to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles, the availability of street markets in all 32 of London’s boroughs that are open every day is a great public health example. The most popular street markets are Camden Market and Portobello Road Market, following closely by Greenwich Market.
If you wanted to step back into Victorian times, the Camden Lock Market — not to be confused with Camden Market — is the place to get vintage clothing and jewelry. One of the largest street shops in central London, the Portobello Road Market is the place tourists go for antiques — locals go to Brick Lane for antiques and vintage goods. The Brick Lane markets sell anything and everything. Brick Lane is also the epicenter of street art in London.
Another one of my favorites is the Shepherd’s Bush Market located in White City — one of the predominantly African, Caribbean and South Asian neighborhoods. They have produce from overseas, and a variety of clothes from saris to knock-off Gucci.
If you are an artist, the West Piazza of Covent Garden Market has street performers to entertain you every afternoon. Good acts can draw huge crowds and the performers love to get audience members to help them.
London is an expensive city, but there’s no need to worry because there really are so many cheap things to buy in London markets and so many fun things you can do for free. By experiencing just these few shops, one can get a feeling of the spirit, diversity and electricity that runs through London.
End a perfect day with a quick stop to buy a Chinese bun topped with sweet chili sauce, hop on the red double-decker bus and enjoy the view of a city come to life at night.

(Jasmine Peters-McClashie)

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