In the City: Melrose Trading Post

Melrose Trading Post

What: A weekly vintage goods, arts and crafts bonanza

Where: West Hollywood, in the parking lot of Fairfax High School (corner of Melrose and Fairfax)

When: Every Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Good Stuff to Know: Get there early. Parking fills up quickly, but there’s ample street parking in the surrounding neighbourhood – just be prepared to walk. Also, it’ll set you back three bucks to enter!

The Scene: Hipsters, ahoy. Looking for a terrarium, high-waisted shorts, scuffed (but not too scuffed) Doc Martens or an old typewriter? Melrose Trading Post has got you covered. Run by a partnership between Greenway Arts Alliance and the Fairfax High School community, the Trading Post is a great place to start a lazy Sunday in LA.

After cooler-than-expected December temperatures LA finally warmed back up, and I wandered aisle upon aisle of vendors wrapped in the warmth of the mid-morning sun. The Trading Post has a Spitalfields vibe to it – with more artists selling handmade goods (A++). I picked up several pairs of retro-inspired earrings and a few Christmas presents, and wished for a larger suitcase to cart home some of the shabby chic furniture and home decor dotted all over the market. One of the most popular booths was a vendor selling nothing but vintage postcards and pictures, meticulously organized by state. I’m not sure which my brain appreciated more, the travel aspect or the insane attention to detail.

Other things that tickled my fancy:

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  • $5 ugly (and I mean ugly) Christmas sweaters! Why are these so expensive here? Why are there so many in LA? Is this where Christmas sweaters go to die? Note to self, stock up here next year and resell them at home for a tidy profit. Or, just throw amazing ugly sweater parties (more likely).
  • Actual bathrooms!
  • The vendors I spoke with were all lovely! None were pushy and all seemed pretty laid-back for a flea market.
  • The enormous Macho Man Randy Savage body pillow that I really should have bought but couldn’t figure out how I would transport home. Would I have had to buy him a seat on the plane? How awesome would that have been?! I’m sorry Mr. Savage, I should have taken you.

Many vendors are equipped to take credit cards, but bring extra cash for haggling ease. And a friend who’s not an enabler – it took a lot of restraint wandering there solo. There are also a few food vendors and a cute little coffee booth (I opted not to have any coffee, as I was still coming down from Saturday’s activities), and a live band!

Do you have a favourite flea market?

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Day Trip: Camden Market

Camden Market

London is chock full of great markets including Covent Garden, Portobello Road and Spitafields, with many specializing in particular goods or services. Camden Market is one of the biggest in Europe, with hundreds of stalls and small shops selling clothing, art, food and random (and I mean random) stuff.

Camden Market is a good stop if you:

  • Are into goth/punk/vintage clothing
  • Enjoy people watching
  • Are hungry. Portions from food vendors are generous!

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While the market is close to several Tube stations, we opted instead for a waterbus trek from Little Venice (a short walk – or slight jog, in our case, from Paddington Station) to Camden. Cruising along Regent’s Canal, checking out enormous houses and the leafy trees in Regent’s Park, it was a peaceful way to start our visit to a place that’s anything but quaint. Once we arrived at the market, we wandered food stalls to  start thinking about lunch (maybe just me who did this), poked around stalls (there’s a cute little pop-up shop right by the food that’s worth a visit) and eventually settled by the canal to watch boats navigate through the locks.

And eat. The food was so good!

We capped off the day with a steep walk up Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park and rolled ourselves back down the hill onto a sunny patio for a Pimm’s.

As a head’s up, the market is pretty crowded. We went on a Friday, but Sunday is the busiest day – Camden Town Tube station shuts for the afternoon from 1 p.m. onwards to manage the crowds. A less busy option is Chalk Farm, a short walk or bus ride away up the Northern line.

Sunday Seven – Buffalo, More Than Wings

I went to Buffalo for work last week (the glitz and glamour of business travel), and during a wee bit of downtime I decided to wander around and see if there was more to the city than wings and many, many Targets.

It’s not the most walkable city I’ve been to, nor the most vehicle-friendly thanks to the giant potholes that outnumber actual pavement at some points. And there were definitely moments where I retreated quickly and found an alternate route due to…sketchiness. However, there is more than  discounted shopping and meat (although there is a LOT of meat). Here’s seven things to check out in Buffalo:

7. Architecture
Wandering around Buffalo, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be spotted, with works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson, among others. So, uh, thanks recession for preserving these little pieces of history. Check out this helpful map from Buffalo Niagara Tourism for some architectural treasures, and be sure to visit the City Hall for a great example of art deco.

6. Shopping
Obviously this would be on here, but there’s more to check out than outlet malls and the massive Walden Galleria (although do check these out. And Target. Glorious, glorious Target). Elmwood Village was recently named one of the “10 Great Neighbourhoods in America” by the American Planning Association, and is bordered by museums on one end and Allentown on the other. You’ll find a variety of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops. Including Spot Coffee, which made me real happy for reasons listed in number 4. If you’re into antiques, you’ll find a variety of shops to tickle your fancy along Hertel Avenue, which is also the city’s “Little Italy”. And Allentown has small bookstores, antique stores and knick knacks.

5. Food

If you like meat, you’ll be a happy camper here (it is the home of Buffalo Wings, after all). If you’re vegetarian…good luck. After spotting plate after plate of wings and sliders pass by at a work social, I asked if there were any vegetarian options. “There’s turkey burgers coming soon, and some salmon.” I hear salmon/fish quite a bit (technically they are not vegetarian), but turkey is a new one. Luckily I had trail mix in my purse. Bless you, purse snacks.

It wasn’t all bad – a wander up Delaware led me to stumble across Chris’ NY Sandwich Co, a delightful family-run place with warm service and delicious sammies (and side pickles without even asking for them – amazing). They have a massive menu (both veggie and really non-veggie) and are only open for lunch. I had really hoped to make it to Chocolate Bar, which boasts a menu filled with chocolate-laced items. Chocolate in salad and pasta? See you next time I’m in town.

4. Drink
Bars abound in Buffalo, and there is a whole lotta nightlife going on, particularly with a 4 a.m. last call. 4 a.m. seems like an impossible milestone for me to reach. You people are nuts. At any rate, you have a lot of time to bar hop, so a good place to start is the Chip Strip downtown. There’s an eclectic variety of entertainment options to choose from – bars, clubs, restaurants, and coffee shops if you need a late-night (or perhaps early morning) perk-up. I checked out SoHo, a burger bar by day and club by night. Efficient. If you’re up for a challenge, check out Buckin’ Buffalo Saloon, home of the only mechanical buffalo in the US.  And the craft brewery scene is huge in Buffalo and definitely worth checking out for some local brews.

If coffee is more your thing, you won’t be disappointed. If giant serving sizes are your thing, you also won’t be disappointed. Bless you, America, for making everything extra large including my morning almond milk and fruit protein smoothie from Spot Coffee. Imagine my joy at discovering almond milk in a city that declares turkey a vegetarian option. I was pretty happy, but never able to finish the smoothie. 26 ounces is just too much for one gal!

3. Take in a Show
If steep ticket prices in Toronto have you feeling blue, cross the border to Buffalo and check out what’s playing at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Tickets for upcoming performances of South Pacific range from $35-65, and Billy Elliot and The Book of Mormon will be coming soon. Buffalo is also a great spot to see some NHL or NFL action for prices you can actually comprehend.

2. Fall for the Falls
Rather than dumping out the contents of your wallet for a hotel in Niagara Falls, stay in Buffalo and make the short drive north to check out the goods.

1. Forget Running of the Bulls – They Have Chickens
I thought this was a joke, and then I thought it used actual chickens, but to my relief it’s just people. As part of the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival, there’s a 0.5 km Chicken Wing Run. Held each September, finishing times are projected to be “several minutes to three-quarters of an hour”, although I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that good times would be had by all who watch. Don a chicken costume and take a break from all the wing-eating (there’s also Bobbing for Wings if you’re interested in something truly messy). Only in Buffalo.

So, have you been to Buffalo? What do you like to do when in town? Leave a comment below!