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Stop and smell the flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market
At the time when my friend first guided me through London's east end, it wasn't the sort of place you'd feel comfortable navigating alone at night. Years later, it's one of the most desirable neighborhoods in London and bulges with independent shops, trendy cafés and an effortlessly cool artsy crowd. One of my favorite spots to visit is the Columbia Road Flower Market where crates and stalls overflow with vibrant blooms, lush foliage and even some banana trees. Young couples and new families idle from vendor to vendor, pausing along the way to browse the sixty-some art galleries, antique shops and gardening stores that line the street. It's everything I love about Parisian markets....without the unwanted chaos. Market and shops only open on Sundays.
You could be here for a month and not get to every weekend market there is, but if there's one to make sure you stroll it's the Sunday flower market on Columbia Road in Hoxton. It's crowded, it's crazy, but there's nothing like it. East Londoners with cockney accents shill out every bloom there is, from daffodils and tulips to primroses and pussy willows. They'll yell, "Fifteen stems for a fiver!" or "Look at those lemons!" to the buxom blond appropriately purchasing a lemon tree. It's not a huge block, but expect to take a while to get through it -- and maybe a few times each way. Stop and smell the lavender, bargain for a bunch (or two or three) and once you're done, duck into one of the many stationary shops or art galleries. It's also worth veering off onto the side streets where there's live music and oysters being shucked on the street for a quid.