At last, I managed to visit Notting Hill – the vibrant neighborhood of London.
My interest in spectacular Notting Hill started growing up after watching its eponymous movie “Notting Hill” acted by Julia Roberts. In the movie, Julia played the role of a famous Hollywood star, who visited London and happened to visit a bookstore in Notting Hill. The bookseller (acted by Hugh Grant) and Julia became friends, later, both of them fell in love.
My celebrity crush Julia Roberts was the main reason to watch the movie. But apart from her, the shooting location attracted me. I watched the movie two more times to view the colorful locality and started dreaming of visiting the place at least once in my life.
Finally, I got a chance to visit London in 2020. But Due to Covid-19 Pandemic, I had to be confined at home. At last, before one week of leaving from London, I started for Notting Hill. To be precise, drawing a square between Notting Hill Gate Station, Westbourne Park Station, Ladbroke Grove and Holland Park, is known as Notting Hill. In short, the area around Portobello Road, Lansdown Crescent and Ladbroke Square with other mews, are included in Notting Hill.
Next few hours, I was completely amazed to see the vibrancy of this neighborhood of London. In fact, it has its amazing character. Colourful houses, scenic mews, adorable gardens, exotic cafes, antique shops, book stores of Notting Hill makes this area the most instagrammable place in the city. My search for Julia Roberts was converted to exploring the area.
After leaving Notting Hill Gate Station from the northern end followed by a right turn I reached at Pembridge Road.
Admiring the classic architecture of this area I reached Pembridge Square. I turned left, crossed the street. After turning right I reached Portobello Road, the spinal cord of Notting Hill. Lots of pastel houses were seen on both sides of the street.
Further on Portobello Road, I ducked into Simon Close, a small street with lovely houses.
I came back to Portobello Road. Walking towards North I reached Denbigh Terrace. The lovely blue-pink houses made my walk more colourful. I found a girl walking towards me. She was looking for an address as in the film Julia was searching the house of Hugh.
I headed towards Portobello Market. This is the World famous market of antiques. One of them is a jewellery shop. I stood in front of the shop and started choosing a necklace to give Julia if I met her.
“Excuse me Sir, may I help you?” asked the sales girl. I had no answer. I was ashamed. To avoid the awkward situation, I said that I am looking for a map of ancient London. She suggested that I visit the next shop. I went to the map shop just to escape from the uneasy situation. In the map store, I met the shopkeeper. When he came to know that I am an Indian, he showed me a map of Kolkata from 1825. I was surprised to see the ancient map of my hometown.
I found a bookstore. Not sure whether the shop where Julia met Hugh. I went inside. I found a book placed casually on a table, it seemed like the book touched by Julia. I picked it up. I got the fragrance of a perfume in the book. It was Channel 5. Did she really come? Did I miss her just for a few minutes?
I came out of the shop and continued my search. I walked towards north and followed by a left turn I reached Elgin Crescent, the semi circular road with cafes, pubs and shops.
Further left towards east took me to Rosemead Road. I found the garden where Hugh and Julia broke into. It was a private garden and still it is. I was not allowed to go inside.
The semi circular road led me Lansdowne Crescent.I soaked up more colourful classic architecture with gardens.
I headed towards northwest, turned left and continued walking towards Lansdown Grove. This road had lovely graphittis in the walls. Next I turned left to Ormond Court.
At the junction of Ormond Court and Portobello Road, I found the blue door of the film “Notting Hill”. I remembered that the hero of the film, Hugh Grant, stayed in a similar colourful house in this locality. Julia Roberts stayed in the home and next morning media persons gathered in front of the home where Julia felt irritated and Hugh came out wearing only a towel.
I wished to get into the house and wait for Julia Roberts. I imagined, the doorbell would ring, she would come to me and say the immortal dialogue,, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
It does not happen in reality. I continued my walk exploration. Walking towards east I reached Lancaster Road. I saw the rainbow coloured houses this street is known for.
Next I visited beautiful St. Luke Mews, probably the most photographed mews of Notting Hill. This was featured in the film “Love Actually.”
Coming out of the mews I walked towards Westbound Park Tube Station. I visited Notting Hill to get the feel of my celebrity crush. As usual, I could not meet my celebrity crush. I did not feel sad, rather I fell in love of the neighborhood – Notting Hill.