We mostly knew London for the tower clock of Westminster, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and other things grand and royal. But the 1999 movie “Notting Hill” showed people a face of London that many of us haven’t seen until then. It wasn’t the London of kings and queens, nor of statesmen and parliamentarians. Rather, it was the London where two unlikely characters, Will Thacker and Anna Scott, met and fell in love in a quiet and posh but unassuming neighborhood, where the guy kept a small book shop for a living. And the quiet neighborhood of Notting Hill – which, pretty as it is, could just have been another neighborhood in the affluent west end – shot to fame.
Notting Hill is an affluent residential area in central London, with rows upon rows of clean, elegant, spic-and-span Victorian townhouses. Depending on where your interests lay, it could be the prettiest neighborhood there is (think white wedding cake come to life), or the most monotonous blocks of streets ever (think endless rows of houses that all look exactly like each other). It could be your “Wonderland”, or it could be your “Truman Show”. But one thing for sure, walking through the quiet streets of Notting Hill would make you feel “Slumdog Millionaire” – you’re the slumdog in a neighborhood of millionaires.
Running through Notting Hill is a cute and “eccentric” little street called the Portobello Road. Will Thacker’s (Hugh Grant) bookshop was along this road, though his bookshop is fictional (they rented one of the shops along the road and turned it into a bookshop for shooting purposes). A market stretches almost the whole road, selling all sort of things, from food to souvenirs, though the highlight is the numerous antique shops that line it. With a lovely, laid back atmosphere (though it can get terribly crowded), Notting Hill is a pleasant walk, even if you’re not buying anything.
* Photos taken January 2016.