“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Notting Hill may be best known abroad for its namesake rom-com, but its true story is even more compelling. Once notorious throughout England for the 1958 race riots described in Colin MacInnes' novel Absolute Beginners, Notting Hill now hosts Europe's largest multi-cultural gathering: the Notting Hill Carnival. Originating from Afro-Caribbean traditions, the annual event is now a proud expression of "Black British" identity. Stretching from Great Western Road through Westbourne Grove to Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill features shops and restaurants representing over 20 nationalities. Some consider Notting Hill the culinary heart of London, especially the half-mile stretch from the stalls of Portobello Market and the gourmet delis along Elgin Crescent. Nearby are the Turkish Baths of Porchester Centre, Middle Eastern cafés along Queensway and the Greek Orthodox cathedral of St. Sophia on Moscow Road. To the south are the stuccoed houses and garden squares of Holland Park, where summer opera plays in the ruins of a Jacobean mansion.