Monday, May 12, 2014

Living like a local in London with Julie on Portobello Road

Renting Julie's room on Portobello Road from Airbnb was a first for me, because while I've rented flats on Airbnb before, this is the first time I rented JUST a room. I couldn't resist the pull of Portobello Road, I really love London Markets, so the opportunity to live right at the heart of one, for an affordable price was really something I couldn't resist.

I arrived in London after more than 24 hours travelling, with my crappy connection through Dubai and all. That's what you get when you book on saver miles. just saying not complaining. I emailed Julie, my landlady for directions on how to get to the flat, and while it's accessible by tube, (Notting Hill Gate which I'm familiar with is 20 minutes away while Ladbroke Grove which I'm not familiar with is only 5 minutes away) I decided that the thought lugging around my luggage without knowing exactly where I'm going wasn't something I was willing to do. 

I decided it was easiest to book a seat on easy bus, which has transfers directly from Gatwick Airport to Earls Court. I was planning to just flag down a cab, so I wouldn't have to look for the place by myself, but luckily, I asked the bus driver where I could get a cab, and he told me there was a mini-cab company just down the road. The advantage of a mini-cab company is that they will give you a flat rate to go to your destination, while a black cab is more expensive and you will pay based on the meter.  I even asked for their card so I could call a cab to bring me to the easy stop bus stop on West Brompton Road when it was time for me to fly to Florence (also out of Gatwick).

They charged me £13 to go to Portobello Road, but the driver short-changed me using the excuse that he didn't have change. It wasn't a lot, and this isn't normally the norm.

I was so excited to see I would also be living in a flat
with a blue door in Notting Hill.
Since I stayed in a real home on Portobello Road, there was no lift.
My room was on the third floor but Julie and her son helped me
with my luggage.

I absolutely loved my room. It was beautiful in a shabby chic way, and it really made me feel that I was LIVING on Portobello Road. hahaha.

The bed was very comfy, and I had crisp white sheets,
and a comforter that I loved snuggling into.
Across the bed, there was a chest (I didn't touch), a sofa,
and a small desk.
I loved the small touches, like the books with well-curated titles.
There were a number of books on Portobello Road,
and on things to do in London.
Julie even prepared fresh flowers for me.
I also had a really nice view of the neighboring flats
from my window.
I was quite excited since the Airbnb ad said there was a balcony,
but I didn't feel welcome to use it, and it just looks prettier in the pictures
or from a far. I wasn't sure it was somewhere I wanted to hang-out in. 
Julie also has several cats, which I didn't mind and I just ignored.
My room was really clean, and they didn't go there, but the rest of the flat,
had cat hair, and sometimes, even cat poop before it was cleaned.
I just decided, I refused to let it bother me, so my room, which I loved, really became my only haven.

The biggest challenge for me, was actually having to share the toilet and bath, but since I was a cheapskate who compromised for location, I had no choice but to suck it up. Hahaha.

The toilet was always clean. and it was decorated in a
very cute, artistic way.
However, the bathroom, which also had the washing machines, really left a lot to be desired. I didn't even take any pictures, because it was really that bad! hahaha. I think, I just convinced myself that everything was just really, really old and not dirty, so I wouldn't creep myself out of taking my daily shower. 

The sharing the toilet and bath wasn't as bad as I thought. Everyone seemed to be considerate, so I've always been able to use the toilet and bath when I wanted to except for once over the four days I was there.

Julie is an artist, so you can see her artistic touch throughout her home. She's actually a sculptor, so her house has a lot of framed photos of her work.

This was the picture in my room.
I assume that the framed pictures on the hallway are also her work.
Me, with my very own blue door in Notting Hill.

Julie's flat is located towards the "new and used" clothes section of Portobello Market. This is the other end of the market, away from the Notting Hill Gate end. The location is really great because there are a lot of restaurants - directly in front of the flat. I arrived around 10pm at night and I was starving, so after freshening up, I just literally crossed the street and I had several options to choose from. I remember a Mexican, Thai and Japanese Sushi place, but I ended up at Lisa's, a cozy Swedish place.

Restaurants right across the street from the flat.
I was so excited to see that the Portobello Road Vintage and Fashion
Market was just across the corner.
When I stepped out the next day, I was even more excited to see that
the flat was right smack in the middle of the market.
I didn't even realize that the market starts on Friday.
Couldn't resist a selfie from the mirror beside the flat.
The blue door was where I stayed. It's right beside a vintage store.
You can even see the vintage mirror where I took my selfie.
There is also another part of the market right after the corner.
This is what you can see from the balcony in the flat.
It's normally busy Friday and Saturday,
but there's a coffee truck on a non-market day.
I wasn't really planning on browsing in the market on a Friday,
since I didn't know there was one, but I stumbled on a jewelry vendor
with a whole lot of silver charms which was on my to buy list for Sofia.

I really enjoyed my stay with Julie in London because of the great location. I was able to figure out which buses I could take, to get me where I wanted to go, and the tube was also very accessible from Ladbroke Grove.

I was quite sad when the flowers started wilting.
I took this picture on my last day in London.
It reminded me of Beauty and the Beast. Hahaha.
This movie and my love of markets made me
really really enjoy my stay at Julie's.

If I were going to London again, I'd probably still consider staying with Julie, though I would still look around to see if there are any other options within the same price range in an equally interesting area. However, if I don't find anything, I think I would stay with Julie again, but I will be less shy and I would ask Julie directly if I could also use her kitchen facilities, and whether or not breakfast is also included in the room price since this is what was advertised in the listing. I was just intimidated by living with Julie's family that I purposely stayed out of everyone's way and I appreciated that they also gave me my privacy.

If you're interested in staying with Julie, you can visit here airbnb link here. You can tell her I said Hi!  just saying.

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