AT Europe: London - Portobello Road Market

(This week we start AT Europe in earnest - a little experiment to see where it takes us. Kristin already covers Paris, now here's London! Let's see where she takes us next.)

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Calling itself “the world’s largest antiques market,” Portobello Road Market is a tourist trap and a native institution, an antiques haven and a junk yard, a food market and a scavenger’s paradise for vintage and cutting-edge fashion where you might spot designers like Marc Jacobs checking out the merchandise.

Five-pound antique brooches -- always in stock -- can work as much magic on a lampshade or a curtain tie-back as on a cashmere sweater...

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Portobello Road Market is also the best and the worst place in London to spend a Saturday, when the market stalls are open from dawn (shops and arcades are open six days a week). Along the main road stalls, wedged in with the tourists of the world, you will find silver, magnifying glasses, letter openers, military uniforms from wars past and other artifacts of eras gone by.

You will also find an embarrassment of tea paraphernalia for the endangered ritual of the afternoon cream tea -- teacups in a multitude of patterns, cake forks, jam spoons, sugar lump tongs, shiny teapots and silver-plated toast racks that work even better as letter holders (for the not-yet-paperless).

The market has been around in one form or another for some 300 years, and all the sellers are required to subscribe to a written code of ethics. The website lists two shipping companies to help you get your large purchases home. Portobello Road Market.

- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristin.hohenadel @ gmail . com

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.