Portobello Road

I’ve been making UK and Mexico comparisons since…well, since forever, I guess. I visited a street in London just before Christmas that deserves a direct comparison with a very obvious Mexican counterpart. I used to regularly walk up Avenida Alvaro Obregon, near Metro Ninos Heroes. It’s one of my favourite places in all of Mexico City. Perhaps my mostest favourite. Especially on Saturdays when the antiques street market is in full swing. And when I could stop and chat football with one of the stallholders.

London’s version of Alvaro Obregon is Portobello Road. It sounds a little Latin, and for good reason. It’s name is derived from a battle in which the British navy seized the town of Puerto Bello in Panama from the Spanish. That town still exists, these days known as Portobelo. It sounds like the sort of town I’d like to visit. Portobello Road is better known these days as the location of the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movie Notting Hill. And, for Paddington Bear aficionados, the location of Mr Gruber’s antiques store. If you must insist on a non-fictious real life inhabitant, then perhaps George Orwell will do. I know this from the blue plaque outside the house. He lived here in the last 1920’s. There are zillions of these blue plaques on the front of houses across the country, showing where the rich, famous and infamous have been.

Which is better? Alvaro Obregon or Portobello Road? They both have their charms. For the shopping, Portobello Road wins hands down. By a country mile. For the atmosphere, Alvaro Obregon triumphs. Not least because the sun shines, the people are more cheerful and the surrounding plazas are delightful. But like I said, they both have their charms. You can see my Portobello Road photos on Flickr or Google. You can also read about another Londoner’s trip down the road by clicking here – it was this post that reminded me Portobello Market exists.