Monday, December 17, 2012

Camden Market - London's best market if you ask me

Camden Town Market Horse Tunnel Stables Market
Horse Tunnel Markets - a labyrinth of shops

There was a spot of sunshine today and I thought I'd hop onto the Tube and head to Camden Market. It has been quite some time since I've been to the market, which is a two minute stroll northwest along Camden High Street. Named after the Camden Lock (or Hampstead Road Lock), one of the many locks along Regents Canal, it is more commonly known as just Camden Market by Londoners and is fast becoming my favourite London market.

Regents Canel Camden Lock Market
Camden Lock along Regents Canal - the lock that gave the market its name

Besides opening seven days a week, Camden Market operates a weekly night market on Thursdays. First established in 1974, the market gradually increased in size and now covers over six market sections - Camden Lock Village, Camden Lock Market, Camden Buck Street Market, Camden Market Hall, Camden Stables Market, Inverness Street Market.

Camden Town Market piercing and tattoos

Camden Town Market Camden High Street

Camden Town Market giant Converse shoe
Offerings along Camden High Street

As you step out of Camden Town Tube station and make a right up along Camden High Street, you'll walk past the row of stalls on both sides of the street peddling goths fashioned street wear, tattoo services and souvenirs.

Camden Town Market Camden Lock Market
Camden Lock Village - rejuvenated after the 2008 fire

Camden Lock Village was devastated by a fire in 2008. Reopened in 2009 after a major renovation,  the market on the bank of Regents Canal was given a fresh lease of life. With stalls selling a mixture of clothing and souvenirs complemented by a handful of food stalls, the market is characterised by its trademark Vespa chassis lined up along the river that served as seats for those grabbing a bite.

My favourite is no doubt Camden Lock Market itself. Hosting a large food stall section, it is one of the largest collection of international street food stalls in London. Offering Ethiopian coffee, Polish sausages, Turkish kebab and falefel, Brazilian churros, Pakistani roti, Chinese dimsum, Spanish paella, Peruvian lomo saltado, Japanese sushi, along the likes of mulled wine, fish & chips, grilled meats, fruit fondue, curries, cakes and pies, and I am only halfway through the list.

Camden Town Market Brazilian churros

Camden Town Market pie and mash

Camden Town Food Market
Food market at Camden Market - a convenient pitstop

Always playing second fiddle to Notting Hill's Portobello Market (all thanks to Notting Hill [1999] by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant) and Borough Market, Camden Market has its own charms. Unlike Portobello Market's increasingly genteel image, only in Camden Market can you find artisan jeweller, with full body piercings, bending over his desk working on intricate earrings located alongside a smiley teenager selling t-shirts with angry punk messages. Right next to her is a stall with broken bits of Star Wars collectibles with the owner nowhere to be found.

Camden Town Market Giant Horse at Stables Market
The giant horse head is one of the favourite photo props at Stable Market

Stables Market, located on the site of a former Pickford Stables (1854) is an underground maze full of vintage offerings, goths and cybergoths, handicrafts and memorabilia. The warm yellow incandescent that lit up its corridors give the entire floor almost a mystical feel.

Camden Town Market stables market since 1854
Stables Arch at Stables Market

If you are in London for the first time and have time for only one market, I would gladly recommend visiting Camden Market. One thing to note - as most stalls (especially those selling food) take only cash, make sure you bring enough. Although there are cash machines dispersed throughout the market, it charges you a transaction fee of £1.88 at the time of writing. Fortunately, there are a couple of free cash machines (thanks to HSBC and Barclays) near Camden Town Tube station's exit.

For more stories on Camden Market, check out Caitlin Davies' Camden Lock and the Market. Which is your favourite section within Camden Market? Have you any stalls to recommend?

Camden Town Market Bar

Camden Town Market Beatle shirt stall

Camden Town Market crowds

Camden Town Market Union Jack stall

Camden Town Market clothing stalls

Camden Town Market handicraft stall

Camden Town Market handicradt stalls

Camden Town Market vintage stalls

Camden Town Market Regent Canel

Camden Town Tube Station

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