Going To London's Notting Hill Carnival

Mickey turner | 2023.03.19 20:42 | 조회 11

After putting my Notting Hill Carnival plans on the back burner for several years, I finally dusted them off and made the necessary preparations for what was to be an exciting and yet restful week. Armed with top-notch accommodations and airline reservations websites, planning was a breeze. I also wasted no time in paying the required airline asking price after concluding the airline tickets were this pricey due to the August time frame. Utilizing a prominent home sharing site I settled on a small studio in the town of Shepherd's Bush, about 25 minutes north of London by Tube. The studio was clean, in a safe neighborhood, close to public transportation and came with its own bath, kitchen, cable TV and wireless internet. At only $450 U.S. for the week, what more could a budget traveler ask for?

Notting Hill

The flight over to London was smooth, and with such great meals and dozens of feature films to choose from, this carrier certainly earned a five-star rating in the hospitality department. On arrival at Heathrow airport, to really get a feel for the place, I avoided the cabs, opting instead for the Tubes and buses. I arrived at my flat around midnight and was greeted by the night attendant who ushered me to my studio. Before turning to leave he produced a pad and sketched the locations of the local supermarkets, restaurants, bus and Tube stops, cell phone shops and other local landmarks.

The following morning, I grabbed the pad and set out to locate the nearby landmarks stopping to pick up some basic grocery items along with a bottle of wine. Before returning to the studio I also bought a British SIM card for my unlocked cell phone as well as a Top-Up card and an Oyster card. The Top-Up card adds talk minutes to a cell phone and the Oyster card is a universal transit card that allows prepaid rides on buses or the Tube without having to fidget for cash and coins. Both the Oyster card and the Top-Up card proved to be indispensable and allowed me to carry less cash on my trips around the city.

Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been held on the streets of Notting Hill Activities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea during the August Bank Holiday weekend. Originally created and led by British citizens of Caribbean descent and later expanded to include, African, Latin American, European and other groups, the 2-day bacchanal is now widely regarded as the largest street festival in Europe, attracting at least 2 million people annually.

On the actual festival days, I found the festivities and events well-coordinated, no doubt honed over decades of producing the event. An official festival fold-out map showed the parade route with annotated Tube and bus stops, the location of the food stands, rest stops, security services as well as the locations of the parade reviewing stands and DJs by music genre. Along the parade route I was greeted by groups of masqueraders and revelers in their colorful costumes enjoying the pulsating sounds of Caribbean music, delivered from what can only be described as walls of speakers mounted on mobile flatbed semi-trailers.

The police and security services seemed to be having a great time too as they controlled the flow of crowds in and around the Tube stops and other transportation hubs. This stood in stark contrast to media predictions that there would be sheer chaos due to the incidents of riots that had occurred in London a few weeks before. The festival turned out to be just great fun for the thousands of people fanned out along the Carnival route.
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