Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Notting Hill Carnival

We headed to Notting Hill carnival during the August bank holiday weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect and if arriving at the tube station was any indication, I should have just turned around and gone home. Instead we waited in a constant flood of people to get a gasp of fresh air. Finally when we arrived at street level, I was glad I stuck it out as the crowds thinned and we walked through the beautiful neighbourhood of Notting Hill. Gorgeous houses lined the streets, cautiously boarded up, suggesting a messy outcome by days end.

We followed the crowds thinking we were all going to a particular area, but the party just starts the second you leave the tube and doesn't end for blocks. Every street is covered with stalls, some looking more make shift than others, just trying to make a few bob out of the weekend. Jerk chicken can be found at almost every stall, with some curries and lots of corn. I was surprised to see machete-wielding vendors cracking through coconuts as if it were normal, I mean how often do you see that. Red Stripe was one of the chosen drinks of the festival, inconsistently priced and available everywhere.

A parade of people marched through the main street which went on for hours and miles. People randomly joined in and walked with it. We strolled down several smaller side streets which looked to be more residential. That was the best random accident ever, here we saw front lawns turned market vendors selling water, punch, sky cocktails, jerk, offering toilets for 1 pound a head. It was actually amazing how the police turned a blind eye to the guy walking with a trolley selling his own house brews. I guess anything goes on carnival once its not violent.

Carnival was definitely an experience but not the same one I thought I was going to be having. I guess the amount of street fairs Montreal has, led me to believe there would be more on sale other than food and drink. I am not sure how I feel about carnival in the end. It was rowdy and crowded, disorganised and just a drink fest. I think the word carnival is misleading and should be replaced with block party and as a block party it was perfect!!!

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