One of my favorite things to do when I travel is visit local open-air markets. Whether I’m looking for a little trinket gift to give someone back home or a juicy piece of fruit for lunch, I’ll always dash towards a table display on the street rather than a shop.
On reason to love markets is that they are usually filled with incredibly unique items. Sure, there are the mass market souvenirs, but there are also handcrafted one-of-a-kind items that really capture the personality of a place. I always look for local artists or photographers as they can offer a wholly original perspective on the region. I’ll usually buy something small and then ask for them to tell me about the inspiration for the image. Even a small photograph becomes infinitely more valuable when there’s a story attached!
After more than a decade of traveling, I’ve learned to aim my camera at the markets I visit as they are bustling with vibrant color and glowing moments of humanity. From busy flea markets to fruit stands in small neighborhoods, markets are filled with family, friends, and strangers all coming together in one place. Different ethnicities, languages, and cultures all converge, making markets a lovely reminder that we are more the same than different.
In London, markets sell everything from books from antiques. Several street markets set up shop at Covent Garden including one of my favorite, The Jubilee Market. To get there, ride a train on the Piccadilly Line to the Covent Garden station. When standing in front of the main pavilion, (you’ll see The Apple Market), head to the right and keep going. A bright blue sign and a reference to Henrietta Street will help pinpoint the correct spot.
Of course, London’s most famous stretch of marketplace fare runs down Portobello Road. While the antique stalls are fun, I love the food kiosks above anything else. Fruit, crepes, and pastries make for a delicious stroll! To get there, the best way is to hop on the Tube and take a train to Notting Hill Gate, (Central, Circle, or District Lines). This stop is my favorite because there are big signs that point towards Portobello Road, which makes it super easy to find. Follow your nose for the food!
In Ireland, Dublin’s cobblestone streets wouldn’t be complete without flower markets peddling everything from daisies to roses. Amid the the gray clouds and brown brick, blooming bright colors sure liven up the place! Some of the more colorful kiosks can be found on Grafton Street in the heart of Dublin.
Prague, however, takes the prize for having some of the most lively markets I’ve ever seen! Tables are filled with colorful fruit, amazing handcrafted items, and spectacular artwork. A small market with a big personality is but a quick walk from the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square. Head down a street called Zelezna and hang a right on Havelská.
On a day when museums are closed or the weather is too good to stay inside, a few dollars and a leisurely stroll are all you need for a beautiful memory.
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