Thursday, November 24, 2011

Covent Garden

I've been to Covent Garden several times, but never for more than half an hour or so.  It's a nice area to wander around when you have some time to kill before seeing a show in the West End -- which is how I've always ended up there.  It seems like a fun mix of small vendors, independent shops, and high-end stores, with a variety of places to grab a bite to eat and the added entertainment of the always-present street performers.  Wednesday I decided to spend some quality time there to get a better look, and maybe even do a little Christmas shopping.

In the 13th century, this area was used as a vegetable garden by the monks of Westminster Abbey -- aka a "convent garden."  Even after the neighborhood was developed about 350 years ago, Covent Garden continued to be associated with fresh produce, and was home to an open-air fruit and vegetable market.  A flower market was added later, where the likes of Eliza Doolittle once worked.   Nowadays, you are more likely to find flower-scented soaps or fruit-flavored gourmet ice cream at Covent Garden, but it still has the look and feel of a shopping destination.
Fruit and Veg
The covered marketplace is all decked out for the holidays, with some of the largest ornaments  I've ever seen.
Big Balls!
I browsed around several shops in the main market hall and then wandered through other parts of the neighborhood.  There were so many shops!  Many of them tucked away in cute little alleys and courtyards.  Of course, just like the rest of London, everything was ridiculously expensive, and they don't seem to have big Christmas sales here like they do in the US.  I bought a few small gifts, but not one single thing for myself.  A Christmas-shopping first!

As I walked back towards the train station, I was treated to a glimpse of the giant topiary reindeer all lit up.
Rudolph after dark
I also saw what is easily the Worst Christmas Window Display Ever:
Nice try, FCUK
I was never particularly tempted to shop at a store that rides on the coattails of its own ridiculous initials (French Connection UK), but this makes me want to actively boycott them, and perhaps even throw eggs at their boring, cardboard-box-filled windows.  Or perhaps I should throw something more brightly colored -- rotten fruit?   At least that would make it look a little more festive.

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