There is always something happening in Camden. One of my hands down, favorite locations to shop, wander and people-watch; the centre of the alternative fashion scene is a wonderland of fascinating sights, smells and sounds. Hop on the underground’s northern line to step through the looking glass into one of London’s most diverse shopping locations and pick up a little bit of that Camden cool…

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Shops:

Just strolling along the main high street is fun. Exaggerated store-front decorations are par for the course in Camden and a host of big names make their home here alongside unique boutiques and the countless tattoo and piercing parlours that offer a somewhat more permanent memento of your trip. I worship at the altar of the gorgeous Irregular Choice store with its roaring tiger-head wall mount and stunning array of fabulous shoes that are guaranteed to get you noticed. One of the more brilliantly bizarre shopping experiences is the crazy world of Cyberdog. Venture tentatively through the looming door where you are told photography is banned and descend the escalator beneath the podium dancers (yes, really) into what sounds like it might be an underground club. Shop assistants are decked out in rave gear, neon paint and day-glo outfits with futuristic, cyber-punk hair and the whole store is lit up with UV lights and thumping beats. Is it a club? Is it a shop? Who knows but as you emerge blinking back into the daylight, you’ll probably be in the mood for a drink. At least.

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Markets:

Although the markets that make Camden such a fascinating place to visit are open every day, the place truly starts hopping at the weekend. Camden Lock Market, an bright and airy arts and crafts market overlooking the canal has a gorgeous array of gifts and jewelery and the stalls that make up Camden Lock Village and Inverness Street Market are well worth a look-see for the combination of second-hand and unique fashion finds. However, venture a little deeper into the Stables Market and a whole world of winding alleys and market treasures awaits. Decorated with huge, iron horses to commemorate the horses that used to pull the canal barges back in the day, the Stables hosts a maze of bric-a-brac, retro accessories and vintage offerings a-plenty.  The Electric Ballroom, as well as being a music venue,  has a famous, indoor fashion market on Sundays too.

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Eats:

Like to eat? Then you’ll be in food heaven in Camden. The rabbit’s warren of street food style eateries begins at the imposing, glamorous, Asian restaurant, Gilgamesh and stretches down into the depths of the market. Steam, smells and neon lights combine with the shouts of people urging you to taste their wares. Whether you fancy authentic noodles, curries, Mexican delights or just something sweet and decadent; you’ll find it all here in this mini-festival of food. Pick up something tantalising and perch yourself on one of the motorbike-themed seats propped up by the canal.

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Drinks:

There are many places in Camden to pick up a pint. After all, this is England. The Lock Tavern has a nice, sun-trap of a beer garden and the Hawley Arms had the reputation of being a firm favourite amongst the more raucous of the Brit-pack fashion and music darlings such as the late Amy Winehouse. In fact, due to Amy’s love for Camden, you’ll spot street-art tributes to her all around and many a fan has made the trip to her best-loved pub. However, on a beaut day, it’s hard to beat the lockside where you can sit outside and watch the canal-boats passing through.

As day turns into night, it’s time to remind yourself that Camden is best known as the party capital of the punk and rock scene so how better to experience it to the max than to catch some live music and the choice is pretty extensive. The Barfly is a popular venue; the Purple Turtle bar knows how to party and the Electric Ballroom has been around for 70 years, playing host to the Clash and the Smiths. One of my favourites is Koko, near Mornington Crescent tube station, a fabulous venue set in a 19th century theatre where Charlie Chaplin regularly performed.

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So, if you’re in need of a day out somewhere a little bit different and with a little bit of edge then you need to get a whole lot of Camden in your life.

Pictures by Alex Saint except last image by Orators

Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.

Keep up with the Saint sisters and their adventures in Bristol, London and beyond at www.saintsonaplane.com and @saintsonaplane or Alex herself @alexsaint13

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