Thousands flock to London flea market in Madrid
25 June 2007
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Thousands of people flocked to a mock English flea market in Spain’s capital on Sunday, using British currency to buy bric-a-brac and browsing antiques stalls for bargains.
The event _ called Londonize _ was so packed, however, that foot traffic ground to a halt as people pushed their way past the 40 or so stalls set up around Plaza de la Paja in Madrid’s old quarter. Some waited more than an hour just to enter. Organizers said the number of visitors topped 50,000.
“It might have been easier, and certainly more comfortable, to fly to London,” complained Pedro Hernandez, who left after waiting 20 minutes to move just a few meters (yards) in the line to enter.
The market featured wares normally found in London’s Camden Lock or Portobello Road markets, and invited vendors from those markets. There were no Spanish sellers at the first-year event, which was sponsored by various British companies as a cultural exchange initiative.
Those who braved the 27 degree Celsius (80 F) heat to get in were greeted by men dressed as Beefeaters _ or guards from the Tower of London _ and “Bobby” policemen with pointed black hats.
Customers received a 10 percent discount if they paid in British pounds, and exchange points were set up for people to swap euros.
Shoppers were given three-minute lessons on how to haggle. One woman, Mercedes Blanco, practiced in broken English saying: “How much is it?”
“Sometimes you can die of success,” event organizer Fernando Godoy said, facing a crowd of several hundred irritated visitors who had yet to be let in after an hour of waiting.
Inside, women browsed books brought by Joanna Hardin, 41, who has sold books in Camden since 1987, or handcrafted jewelry made by Clare Mason, 31, also of Camden. In the background, Gary and Eustaces Portobello Steel Band played Caribbean tunes.
“We’ve sold masses, absolutely masses,” said Lyn Walford, who along with Camy Gregory was selling cricket bats, stitched leather soccer balls and sports prints.
One collector examined a police periscope in an antiques stall.
“Despite their high price, these have been very popular” said Mary Kilby, demonstrating tripod-mounted marine binoculars like those found on German battleships in World War II.
Food stalls offered traditional English fish and chips, Wimbeldon-style strawberries and cream.
[Copyright AP with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news