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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

What city do you (or would you) travel to holiday shop?

November 11th, 2010

Yes, I am already making my lists and have even purchased a few goodies for friends and family. I love this time of year and enjoy finding that perfect present.

I do plenty of online shopping but also peruse boutiques and local shops for unique gifts. One of the cities I enjoy for this is Vancouver, Canada. My husband and I live in Seattle and relish the 3-hour drive up north for Christmas shopping– so much so that it’s become an annual event for us. It’s as much about the weekend escape as it is about selecting gifts: I savor my first peppermint hot chocolate of the season, my husband happily snaps photos of the urban landscape, and Vancouver’s crisp air creates a lovely backdrop for the festive season.

Someday I’m going to hit New York for this annual “task”. Have you ever indulged in destination holiday shopping? Where are your favorite spots? Do tell!

Aimee Palacios Travel Guide , , , , ,

Free things to do in Paris

May 12th, 2010

Basilique du Sacre-Couer on Montmartre
The view from the highest point in the city is free (and a great place to kiss apparently).

So far in 2010, Paris has been experiencing a return to prominence as the top European destination for travelers. I found the city so beautiful with art, food, and wonderful people on nearly every corner. Plus it’s so easy to get around on the excellent Metro system.

To really enjoy Paris you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. Book one of our value hotels and then enjoy these ten things you can do for free while in Paris:

1. Notre Dame – You can enter Notre Dame and walk the grounds for free. Certain areas are only accessible by tour, however.
2. Basilique du Sacre Coeur – See that big white thing on the hill known as Montmartre, you can tour it for free. It’s the highest point in the city, so enjoy the view, and it’s directly above some of the city’s best markets for exploring (don’t miss the spice market).
3. Take a ‘podcast’ tour - Download a free walking tour podcast and set out on your own. Rick Steves has a great Paris walk-tour and it’s a free download.
4. Enjoy a free walking tour – There are a number of free tours in Paris. At St. Michel in the Latin Quarter and in Montmartre you can join a free walking tour of Paris. Plus there are some tour guides who regularly offer ‘free’ tours. Just be sure to tip your tour guide.

Chopin's grave at Pere Lachaise
Tributes surround Chopin’s grave at Pere Lachaise

5. Celebrity Spotting the easy way – There’s one place where you can always find famous people, the cemetery. The Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise is the famous resting place of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas can be found at The Cimetiere de Montmartre. Also many churches have some amazing burial tombs.
6. Have a Picnic in the Garden - Stop by the Tuileries, a 16th century palace with lots of public art to explore. The Jardin du Luxembourg – is best known for its puppet shows and toy sail boats, but it is also filled with sculptures, gardens, and excellent people watching opportunities. Grab a baguette, some cheese and wine and enjoy a wonderful afternoon.
7. Book Stores - Paris has some of the most unconventional book stores around. Les bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine are a must see and nearby is the world famous ‘Shakespeare and Co.’ store.
8. Performance Art - The Centre Pompidou usually has a free outdoor concert or other public art performance. You may also enjoy walking the streets near Picasso’s home (now a museum) and photographing the graffiti art that is very popular there.
9. Look Around — The height limit set for buildings has meant that the density of architectural beauty is very high in Paris. There’s the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the exterior of the Louvre just to name a few. Repeat this tour at night for a completely different experience. The Centre Pompidou and La Defense are examples of more modern approach that has come to Paris lately.
10. Go Shopping for flair – The Champes Elysees is world famous for a reason. But for me the magic of Paris is found in the small shops frequented by the locals. The Galeries Lafayette is known for its breathtaking setting. The unique Belle Epoque architecture of the store is worth a trip. Be sure to see the dramatic colored glass dome and the ornate Art Nouveau staircase while there.

This is just a short list. Keep an eye open for free days at museums, art galleries, and other events in the parks or streets of the city.

Photo Credits: Basilique du Sacre-Couer and Pere Lachaise. Both under a CC license.

JFrost Destinations, Travel Guide , , , , , ,

Travel Craft

March 22nd, 2010

I spent much of this weekend trolling the world of hand made crafts on Etsy.com looking for a perfect gift for someone. Along the way I discovered these perfect travel related items I couldn’t wait to share with you here.

How cute are these Compass Cufflinks by westergard11. They actually work, so even if you’re dressed up for some fun in a strange town, you won’t get lost.

Etsy travel craft - compass cuffs

Cufflinks not your thing? birdzNbeez’s shop has a compass set in a ring or a pendant. They’re functional too.

Traveling with children? Then you know how important it is to keep them entertained during those long flights or rides. Stow away one of these Tri-Fold Crayon Wallet’s from GetSassed and you’ll be rewarded with hours of quiet from the little ones. Best thing of all, this is totally machine washable, unlike the back of your car seat, so choose your crayons carefully.

Etsy travel craft - toddler traveler crayon wallet

If your kid is more at home with chalk instead of crayon, the Travel Doodler ChalkMat is a thing of beauty. Your kid can draw and erase until their heart is content with this clever earth-friendly item.

Etsy travel craft - traveler chalk mat

Finally, I really liked this Passport Wallet from interrobang made out of recycled seatbelt webbing. It has no metal or magnets, so you can keep it in your pockets when passing through airport security. Perfect for those documents you want to protect.

Etsy travel craft - Passport Seatbelt Wallet

JFrost shopping , , , , , ,

Paris Shopping by Neighborhood

March 12th, 2010

Shopping in Paris

Surprising a lot of people, Paris is a top destination for Spring Break this year. If you’re on your way for spring break or any other season, you may want to map out your shopping strategy in advance. Paris is broken into neighborhoods or as they call them arrondissements. Each has a unique character, special restaurants, and shopping. But there are a few that are clearly the best:

1st Arrondissement — Where the 1st arrondissements meets the 8th on Paris’s Right Bank is where you’ll find the best shopping strip. This fertile hunting ground includes the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, home of the big designer houses, and the Champs-Elysées, which has seen changes over the years, but it still the place to be seen. If you are near the Palais Royal, you’ll find a jewel of a collection of boutique shops around the garden areas of the palace.

2nd Arrondissement — Located near the Palais Royal you can find the Garment District, which features amazing clothing bargains and some other unique shops. There is also a small collection of streets that are now closed to vehicle traffic and covered in glass. The Passage de Grand Cerf, between 145 rue St-Denis and 10 rue Dussoubs, is a place of amazement. From hipi retro stores to Asian-themed shops you’re bound to find something that pleases. Plus don’t pass up on the food stalls.

3rd Arrondissement — Home to the Musee Picasso this neighborhood is a great place to find street art, particularly stencil graffiti, sprinkled on building walls and inside doorways. The upper Marais area, down near the 4th arrondissement features a large number of men’s clothing stores. Also look for the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, which is open on Sundays, a rarity in Paris. It features trendy fashion boutiques and outdoor dining opportunities.

4th Arrondissement — This is the neighborhood for lovers of art and food. Both the Pompidou Centre and the Bastille district are settings for up-and-coming artists and galleries, not to mention street performers. You will also find the Marche aux Fleurs et Marche aux Oiseaux (the Flower and Bird markets) just on the north side of the Ile de la Cite.

Shakespeare and Co

5th Arrondissement — Part of the Latin Quarter, it’s also home to many of the cities educational and research establishments, like the Sorbonne. This means you’ll find plenty of budget shopping, apropos for someone living on a student’s budget. My favorite joint in the whole town is the eccentric and electric book store Shakespeare and Co., which you’ll find right down beside the Siene. For the young, and the young at heart, visit l’Epee de bois (the Wooden Sword) on the street of the same name.

9th Arrondissement — Home to many of the city’s big department stores, including Printemps flagship store. The 9th is defined by the Paris Opera house, railway stations, and luxury hotels, but don’t pass up the Passage du Havre. This old shopping arcade has its history in fish shops and transportation, but the modern incarnation is a beautiful mall. Enter on the Rue de Caumartin and experience the modern Paris shopping experience.

Photo Credits:

Haussman Boulevard & Printemps store / CC BY 2.0

Shakespeare and Co. / CC BY 2.0

JFrost Travel Guide , , , , ,

New York City - Few tips for travelers…

January 30th, 2008

I just got back from New York lately and thought it might be good idea to share some of my experience. Probably the most important thing is to understand that no matter if you have been there once twice or more, this is a never ending city. I was in NYC many times before and I am willing to take a flight again right now…

Obviously , I could write a book on NYC but this is just a post so I have decided to limit myself to 3 tips only.

Broadways Shows - this is a “Must Do” in every trip to New York. Personally I saw this time Mama Mia which was awesome. A very professional show, great actors and singers. If you like ABBA, this show is really for you. We (me and my wife) could just see it again, prices on the web are between $90 - $200+ but here is the tip, go to the TKTS booth near Times SQ and you can buy it for much less. We paid for example $62 per ticket. For people who know the booth from the past it moved to the Marriott Marquis Hotel (West 46th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue). The line there is really misleading, it looks like long but it goes really fast. If you wish there is a much less crowded booth, there is another one at the corner of Front and John Streets.

Museum - I am not going to recommend the Metropolitan or MOMA or Googenheim. They all really great and worth spending time (and money). I want to share with you a much less famous museum, it is called the Frick Collection. This is considerably small museum that was originally built at the beginning of the 20th century by Mr Henry Frick for his residence. All the art master pieces (mainly painting but not only) belong to Mr. Frick personal art collection. I consider this place more as a gate to a different era in New York History since any walk in the museum galleries simply let you feel how a rich man lived his life in NYa hundred years ago. Don’t take me wrong, the art pieces are very impressive too but this isn’t what I personally took from this place. All information (opening hours ,shop, prices etc) about the museum can easily found in the museum website. Few practical tips: take the audio guide ,it give a very nice explanation about what you see. Also, if your budget is limited and you cant afford the $15 admission, come on Sundays when you pay how much you want. The Frick is located at at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street.

Frick Collection

Shopping - no way to cover NYC shopping in this post. Still few places you should not miss.

  • B&H Photo - an AMAZING store for photography, audio and video equipment lovers. If you are one of those , you are going to thank me…you can visit their website but the experience in the store is something you will never feel on the web. Their rates are really competitive.
  • 34 St -simply go from 34 St & Fifth Ave. along the street and you will find all the brands…
  • SYMS - this store doesn’t look fancy but it is kind of an outlet for shoes and apparel (Men, Women and Kids). Extremely attractive prices. Highly recommended. Store is located at Park Ave and 54 St.
  • Toys R’Us, Time Square - The store in Times Square is phenomenal. if you go with kids limit them to one or 2 presents otherwise you will end up with bankruptcy. What is so unique in this particular store is its size and the fact that they place a big wheel inside the store (yes inside). If you don’t believe here is a proof…

Oren Hadar Tips, Travel, Travel Guide , , , ,