First off, I’m in London! It’s so very exciting. The trip has been filled with plenty of history, adventure and learning so far. We have seen sights like Big Ben, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey, but none of these adventures have been like the eccentric Camden market.

Store fronts in Camden

Store fronts in Camden

The market itself is about four times the size of Winona; there are multiple outlets and centers stretching out from its main roads like a great spider web of quirky gift shops. The streets are packed with people in bright colored clothes, corseted tops, piercings and other various trendsetters. Even the walls of the buildings are decorated with anything from giant shoes to dragons to show what type of store dwells below. My group and I cut away from the main road and ventured through two side markets, one marked by giant horses, known as The Stables, and the other by a lion.

Cassie, Sophie and me with a Camden lion

Cassie, Sophie and me with a Camden lion.

We thought we were going to be lost in the Stables for sure! It was an intricate maze, with no chance of being able to follow successfully. Parts of it were in a building or covered by series of awnings, but the others were open-air stalls. Each was packed with goods and butted right up to the stall next door, each vendor eager to get your attention and your pounds.

Some of our favorite shops involved bountiful racks of dresses for 8-10 pounds ($12-$16) and shops filled with delicate lace and bead worked gowns. Others consisted of one specialty item, such as scarves, hats or watches.

The lion side wasn’t quite as large, thankfully for our already very tired feet and heavy backpacks.   It had a large variety of food stands where vendors yelled at you in different languages and held out samples of what was supposed to be Japanese or Mexican food.

Overall, our group ended up with bags of great finds for both of our family and friends. We’ve already planned on returning to Camden just to further explore its depths!

–Sami Schwanke