Back in March, I found myself in London again. This time I flew solo while T remained Stateside. I had a great, great excuse to return to London for another visit: to do a sisterly catchup with my sister, who lives Down Under and was spending a couple of months in London for work purposes. My first day back in London I already had plans to make a visit to Notting Hill. "You haven't been to Notting Hill yet?", I asked my sister before I left Chicago for London. That was an incentive for us to stroll together the streets of this charming neighborhood. Admittedly, I really wanted to return to Notthing Hill for two reasons: 1) To get red velvet cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery which I've heard much about. On my previous visit to London, I made T go with me to this cupcake shop only to find that it had already closed for the day. So this time I made the red velvet cupcake purchase happen. 2) As a treat for T who was Stateside, I promised him two Paul Smith ties from the flagship Westbourne House.
As much as Notting Hill is in any tourist guidebook, it still is very much a residential area which has not lost its local charm. Londoners visit the shops, pubs, and restaurants housed in Victorian architecture from the outside. Along the curved Portobello Road, the facade of the stores is eclectic and painted with blue, yellow, green, or red. There are cookbook shops, local designer stores, and more quaint shops. Veer off Portobello Road and get onto Westbourne Grove and Blenheim Crescent for more store surprises consisting of fashionable boutiques and food stores. At the end of the walk along the curved Portobello Road, there is Golborne Road where locals get their fix of Portuguese and Moroccan food at many old school restaurants along this street. For more upscale and chic boutiques in Notting Hill, Ledbury Road is where they're at.
"I love Notting Hill!", my sister later tells me.