Strolling Through Colorful Street Markets

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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.

Souvenirs, crafts, and delicious snacks fill The Jubilee Market in London. Photo by: c.b.w.

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!

Porotbello Road, London. Photo by: c.b.w.

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.

Dublin, Ireland. Photo by: c.b.w.

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.

Handcrafted wooden toys on display in a Prague marketplace. Photo by: c.b.w.

Wooden critters line market shelves in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by: c.b.w.

It almost looks too good to eat! Fruit Market in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by: c.b.w.

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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c.b. 2012

35 thoughts on “Strolling Through Colorful Street Markets

    • I love the interaction between customer and seller, too. Especially when its an artist – they are always so willing to talk about what went into the work and how they were inspired. It makes me want to go home and create something! 🙂

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  1. That’s one thing we really don’t have here – because of the harsh winters, I suppose. The closest thing to these markets would be inside The Forks Market, but the stands are not nearly as colourful as your pictures and without the charm of these places.

    Your mention of ‘Portobello Road’ reminded me of the song of the same name from Disney’s ‘Bednobs and Broomsticks’. 🙂

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    • Where I grew up, we waited for the craft fairs and markets of summer. Winter puts a bit of damper on open-air markets, but the warmth of summer always brought out local artisans and farmers. It was always worth the wait – even if they were small and in short supply. 🙂

      Next month, I’m heading to Indiana and I’m excited to visit the local Amish farmer’s market. We go every year and get some of the best bakery I’ve ever eaten!

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    • Yay! I almost bought one of those little critters, but I then I realized there was no way it would fit in my backpack (the only luggage I had). If anything, it gives me a reason to go back. 🙂

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  2. Have you ever seen the movie “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” with Angela Lansbury? I was singing “Portabello Road! Portabello Road! Street where the riches of ages are stowed!” as I read this 🙂

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    • It’s tough to get market shots without people standing in front of my camera, but a little patience goes a long way. I like to get pictures that evoke a sensory experience, so bright fruit and artisan crafts are the first things I aim at with my camera. 🙂

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  3. How wonderful to get to see these markets in different countries! It’s a shame I’ve never taken a picture of the Haymarket [Hötorget] in Stockholm. Wasn’t in to photography and never took pictures when I was there.

    Yes, it’s a lot of fun to roam around markets … talk with people too. Here in SJ, we have the CityMarket, which is indoors … it’s very old, and all the tourists go there.

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  4. I LOVE open-air markets!! I’ve always wanted to go to Bangkok and experience all the colors and smells and noises of merchants and customers hocking their wares and making deals. I’ve been a vendor at some of those here in AZ-it takes a special kind of person to haggle a price and yet make the customer feel welcome AND that they are getting a good deal!

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    • The markets in China were incredible, but none of my pictures turned out! Its tough to capture the color with so many people around!

      Haggling is one of my favorite things to do. It is a fine line between being friendly and settling on a number. 🙂

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