Portobello Market and How To See Westminster Abbey for Free

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Last week we went to Kensington to explore Portobello Road and its famous market.

Our first mistake: We didn’t think about it how it was a Saturday.

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Coconut Water from Portobello Market

This may sound entirely hypocritical, but my least favorite place to be is anywhere with herds of tourists. Which is basically what Portobello Market is. We’ve learned that we struggle with these environments. It’s worsened if we’re hungry. However, once we got some good street food into our bellies, Portobello Market was actually pretty cool. Tons of vendors selling everything imaginable.

One of our favorite places to relax (and, frankly, people watch) is Parliament Square. So following Portobello Market we went to hang with our friend Big Ben. While we were watching a couple girls hardcore struggle with their jumping pictures, we hear the sound of drums and scores of people holding banners begin to fold into the square. Turns out we had front row seats to “a proper march!” The police in the square started going crazy trying to control everything. Traffic got all clogged up. The problem was that we couldn’t tell what the purpose of it all was.

Finally a girl came over and sat down close to us. I asked her what was going on and she said that the black community of London was petitioning the government over reparations for slave trade and the treatment of blacks throughout history. I guess last year a similar event occurred and the alleged response from David Cameron (British Prime Minister) was basically: “You’re about 200 years too late.”

I didn’t really get into specifics with her about what type or reparations they were fighting for (like a formal apology, lots of money?), but it was cool to talk with her about it. They marched all the way from Brixton to Parliament Square, which is a long way!

Later we headed on over to Westminster Abbey. We’d wanted to see the inside. But its expensive (we’re all about those free museums). So we decided we’d go to an Evensong Service at the Church instead.

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So Westminster is beautiful. The service was interesting. I’m pretty sure that like 85% of those in attendance were tourists and not part of the Church of England, but it was quiet, reverent service nonetheless. The choir sounded incredible. I could’ve sat there all evening listening to them sing with those acoustics. Passages were read from both the Old and New Testament. The service touched on being kind to others and having faith, despite what may be going on in the world; good stuff. There was a lot of sitting and standing and reciting things together as a congregation. Very different from what we’re used to, but it was cool to see how another faith worships.

In all, it was a nice way to end the day. We started with the crowds, witnessed a march, and then sat in the quiet reverence of Westminster Abbey. Man, we love London.

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