London has been the stomping ground of many great literary characters as well as home to scores of distinguished authors. Charles Dickens illustrated a dark and dodgy London, Sherlock Holmes solved mysteries from his Baker Street residence and in the 1600s Londoners frequented Shakespeare's Globe Theater. In a town so rich with literature, you won't be surprised to find that it's also home to countless fantastic book shops.
I later learned that this store is an original Edwardian bookshop, meaning its architecture represents a style popular in the early 1900s when King Edward VII was in power. The style is known for being more low-key than Victorian era architecture, in that it isn't as cluttered and uses less elaborate wallpaper, curtains and colors.
I wasn't just impressed by their luminous skylights and cozy oak book galleries, their travel section was massive! The picture below shows part of their travel section, which is organized by country. The rest is found downstairs.
With the combination of the ambiance and already being a bookworm, it took no time for me to become lost in their wide assortment of books.
After a depressing visit to Harrods that left me feeling subpar and poor, (I'd blog about it but I got yelled at for taking photos, ridiculous!) I booked it out of there down Brompton Road. As I was shamefully running away with my head down, I blew right past the Victoria and Albert Museum without much of a glance.
Now, when you travel you can grow weary of touring museums and cathedrals. (Snob alert, I know.) But honestly, all of the paintings start to look the same after a while and admission gets expensive.
While London is one of the most expensive cities I've visited, they have one perk that not too many other cities provide: FREE admission to all their museums. That's right-- no admission fee, just a donations box that sadly too many people blow right past. But to be honest, London is breaking my bank, so free admission to anything, especially their amazing museums is a breath of fresh air.
This is hands down one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. It also has an iceskating rink and carousel set up for the holiday season-- as if it needed help looking more picturesque.
I ventured in and found that it was just as breathtaking inside as well as out.
Sorry to say that I was a tad more fascinated with the building itself than what the museum was displaying.
But, a few exhibits did catch my eye-- one of them being the display of gemstones. Here I learned the vital skill of being able to discern different diamond cuts. (I apologize in advance for the low quality photos.)
There was also a fascinating display of hundreds of tiny humming birds.
In nearly every borough of London, there's a famous market. And darnit, I'm determined to shop my brains out at every single one! (Well, "window" shop my brains out, because I'm still in shock over the pound to dollar conversion.)
Today I visited Notting Hill and its legendary Portobello Market. Sad to say, I didn't run into Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant or get caught in one of their ridiculous "we like each other but you're famous sohow could this possibly work?" scenes. On the bright side, from the moment I shoved my way into the market through all of the people, I was up to my ears in unique antiques, books, jewelry, clothes, bags and oh so much more!
The site of Portobello Road used to be a farm and is named after the Caribbean's Porto Bello. Turns out, the name was chosen to honor English naval officer Admiral Vernon, also known as "Old Grog." In 1739, Old Grog took Porto Bello (now in Panama) from Spanish colonial possession of using just six ships. Today the street is lined with gorgeous pastel-colored homes and shops.
The best treasure I found was two Charlotte Brontë novels dating back to the 1890s. I'm still dreaming about them and will probably head back to purchase these literary gems before the week is over.
Among other treasure I found were:
Timeless hates from the 20s through the 60s.
Leather bags from the 50s.
More vintage leather-bound novels.
Amazing travel-inspired home decor.
More leather, yum!
Printing press letters.
Hand-painted figurines from the 20s.
The booths went for what seemed like miles, but I won't overload you with too many photos. Check back soon cause I'm heading to the Spitalfields Market!