Essaouira beach offers an amazing bohemian mix of experiences. Kick back and soak up the sun, or go surfing. Watch young Moroccan men play football and head-to-toe clad ladies supervise their children playing in the waves. Or ride by camel the length of the beach and gaze out at the ruined fort in the ocean that (allegedly) inspired Jimi Hendrix's 'Castles In The Sand'. When the sun gets too much head up into the (UNESCO heritage) town. Stop for fresh grilled fish by the harbour and then into the souks for mint tea and shopping, or walk the fortress ramparts and stop at the wood-carvers' workshops for aromatic Thuya wood items. Nowhere else on this planet offers such a unique beach experience.
Google map: bit.ly/sfYDBN
Christmas has finally arrived in Seville. It is not as sparkly or 'in your face' as a British Christmas scene but is definitely here, with flamenco-style villancicos (carols) are being played from the stands at the Feria del Belén.
It may seem excessive having a whole market dedicated to the nativity scene, but it is here where they do not do things by halves. The feria starts mid November until 23 December, and its 20-odd stands have a range of hand-crafted figurines, buildings, bridges, even a pyramid if you wish. Their nativity scene does not just include the stable and baby Jesus in a crib: it extends to the mountains, the farmlands, rivers, ponds and often proudly takes up a large table in Spanish families' houses.
This year (2011) the market takes place alongside the Archivos de Indias and the Cathedral. Other years it can be found at the Plaza de San Francisco next to the Ayuntamiento.
Google map: bit.ly/vG6xW6
* BecomingSevillana is our Been there local for Seville. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/seville-local-kim.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/BecomingSevillana.jsp
She also has her own blog: becomingsevillana.blogspot.com/
Hardly worth crossing town for but handy to know if you're closer by and in search of organic produce, this tiny market (about seven vendors) is present every Thursday morning, not in the main Place St Jean but just on the corner of the cathedral opposite Vieux Lyon metro station.
Corner of Place St Jean / Avenue Adolphe Max, Vieux Lyon, 69005. Metro: Vieux Lyon.
Google map: bit.ly/rGwSRP
Individual shops on every corner from shoes, clothes, unique stationary etc.
With the added advantage of picturesque outdoor street market, with quality leather in all shades of the rainbow and styles from briefcase to handbags.
Mercato nuovo smaller market next to statute of il porcellino - the saying goes if you touch it you will return again, which would be wonderful mixing sightseeing, great food and shopping.
Ponte Vecchio for the special present of jewellery and watches.
Plaza di San Lorenzo, 50122 Florence, Italy
+39 055 23320
Google map: bit.ly/trDkS7
Stay on Newcastle Quayside and you'll be in shopaholic heaven. Less than 10 minutes from the Metrocentre, five minutes from the city centre and if you really want to branch out and discover quirky, one off shops, leafy Jesmond is about 15 minutes away. On Sunday Armstrong Bridge in Jesmond showcases the work of local artists and jewelers. If you can't find what you're looking ask for a quote to custom make a piece of jewelery or commission a painting, you'll be surprised at how reasonable it is. At night the Quayside comes alive with bars and restaurants catering for all budgets. On Sunday morning browse through the Quayside market for leather goods, metal work or handmade pottery. There is such a good friendly atmosphere in this place, and for those who like to mix a bit of culture with their shopping there's always the Baltic (free) which is currently staging The Turner Prize or the Sage Gateshead for something musical. Watch out at the Sage though or you could end up taking part.
Google map: bit.ly/s6nqbV
If you like colourful, cheap and unique things then head to the souks of Marrakech. I've been several times and have filled my suitcase every time. You can find items here for pennies, which you could end up paying triple figures for back home. Whether it's a multicoloured tea set, some handmade wooden boxes or a faux designer bag, you'll always find what you want here. Unfortunately, if you're not up for bartering then there really is little point in visiting.
Souks, all over Marrakech
Beautiful Christmas markets in a picturesque setting where you can follow climbing a snow laden hill to a stunning fortress with a warming and fortifying drink of gluhwein to power you through the atmospheric market selling a vast array of hand crafts and delicious foods.
Everything seems new, shiny and expensive when shopping in Japan, so the Toji Temple market in Kyoto is a refreshing find. It's open on the 21st of each month (in honour of the founding priest who died on 21st of March 835) and the stunning grounds of the temple and many of the surrounding streets, are filled with stalls selling various treasures. My favourites are the ladies selling beautiful antique kimonos and rolls of delicately embroidered kimono fabrics for astonishingly low prices. Among the Japanese antiques, new and vintage clothing and rows of shoes, bedding and cookware, priests wander past stalls selling sizzling "takoyaki" octopus balls, the temple bell tolls and clouds of incense drifts on the air. Best of all, being Japan, everyone is unfailingly polite so despite the crush you don't need sharp elbows.
Tō-ji is located in Minami-ku near the intersection of Ōmiya Street and Kujō Street, southwest of Kyoto Station.
Japan, Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto Minami Ward Kujocho １
Google map: bit.ly/ujghKE
Shopping in the Old Town of Split (originally a Roman Palace) is a truly unique and amazing experience. This cobbled and car-free area is packed full of authentic, independent stores, specialising in shoe shops, cafes and bars. If that's not enough, in summer a fruit and veg market and numerous gift stalls are found close by. Positioned on the seafront, it promises excellent views of the azure sea and lush palm trees as well as delicious, home-made ice-cream!
Google map: bit.ly/uwRlDA
Albert Cuyp Market began in 1904, along a wide street in the area of Amsterdam called De Pijp, just a five minute bike ride south of the city center.
It has 300 stalls, from cheap chic clothing to fresh fish, from bike accessories to huge amounts of flowers (10 roses for 5 Euros. Guys - it's never been cheaper to buy your way out of trouble).
It's a classic outdoor market, with various vendors barking out their specials all day while locals and tourists amble along and scarf down a fresh stroopwafel (thin syrup waffle) or fries. What it lacks in aesthetics - cheap-looking stalls atop dark grey gum-imprinted asphalt - it makes up for in products and in characters.
I personally get to experience the best and the worst of it. The best being tons of fresh, quality food about 90 seconds walk from my door, one street north of Albert Cuypstraat. This also includes the roasted chicken dripping off the spit, and the butcher who always has a spare bit of smoked turkey for our dog.
Tied for the tops are the people. The characters are real-life, seasoned market-hawkers - mostly very friendly, some gruff, always authentic and fair (this is not one of those markets where you haggle). They'll switch to speaking English in a second too. The old salty dogs selling an awesome variety of fish look like they caught it themselves that morning, and a faulty bike lock is replaced right away. You never feel jobbed (ahem, Istanbul and Barcelona markets - looking at you here).
The worst? The clattering fish and flower trolleys at 5:30 in the morning as they get set up for the day ahead, 6 days a week (the market is closed on Sundays). Ear plugs are a must for this time of day if you sleep anywhere near the market.
And the trash - the street is remarkably clean after 7pm as the city cleaning crews sweep it all up, but between 5 and 7 you can't imagine the heaps of trash and heaps of stink. (Of course, time your trip right at the end of the day and snag deals like 10 kiwis for 1.50Euros, and the stink is less than you think).
The next day, from a blank, flat slate, it rises all over again from the pavement. This is one of those places that you can't experience in many parts of the world.
Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 201 8800
Google map: bit.ly/u1lhTR
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
Google map: bit.ly/pO3GJS
Borough food market is not a London secret, in fact its one of busiest attractions in South London and one of London’s most famous markets. This however doesn’t make it any less appealing. I visit Borough for breakfast or lunch and snack on my buys while exploring the Southbank. It’s the perfect start to a day out in the city and launches new visitors headfirst into the reality of London. It is full to bursting with people and offers huge choice and variety (it’s also a little dear on the pocket).
8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
+44(0)20 7407 1002
Closest tubes: London Bridge and Borough Closest station: London Bridge
Opening hours: Thurs, Fri and Sat 8-4 (but the earlier you get there the better your chances)
Google map: bit.ly/nj08Mm
* Sophie is our Been there local for London. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-sophie-mitchell-intro.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/SophieMItchell
Market under the arches that ring the square where people sell stamps, coins and old bank notes.
I bought some Franco era peseta coins as souvenirs. These coins cost only 50c or €1 each and are a reminder of Spain's dark days.
Plaza Mayor (Nearest metro Sol)
9am - 2pm every Sunday
Google map: bit.ly/qF8NUX
Do not go to Victoria without missing one of the central points of the city. This historic covered market offers a stunningly colourful display of fish, fruit, vegetables and souvenirs of the Seychelles. It is the place to go for presents for family and friends before you leave as you can pick up very cheaply lots of locally produced herbs and spices (cinnamon, saffron, vanilla), semi-precious stones, goods made from wood or coconut-based products and textiles. It closes at midday on Saturday so make sure you get there early if you have a Saturday evening flight home.
Centre of Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles
Google map: bit.ly/mSZIoB
An eclectic mix of sights and smells that is lively and gives great views across to the Vancouver skyline. The market is full of great stalls and colours and is a dream for fruit and vegetables. The varied eating places in the market allow all members of the group to eat what appeals at the time. Take a trip down the harbour in the little tug boats to see the diversity of Vancouver. A great place to spend up to three hours.
Also known as “The Ex”, Canada’s largest fair takes place this year from August 19th to
September 5th at the Exhibition grounds. This is a bittersweet time of year for most Torontonians, who are sad the summer is drawing to a close but excited to attend this annual tradition which wraps up on Labour Day weekend.
The grounds are on a 192-acre site, and with such a variety of entertainment and events to
choose from, there really is something for everyone. Besides the large carnival midway with rides, games and food, there is also a smaller children’s midway. Some of this year’s events include aerial acrobatics and ice skating, a human cannonball, a sand sculpting competition, daily Mardi-Gras parades, hypnotists, music concerts and garden shows. The international air show takes place on the last three days of the fair.
Animal lovers can watch horse shows and competitions, as well as dog and cat shows. There is also a working farm, which gives city kids an idea of what it’s like to live on a farm. Animals range from the common cow to the exotic alpaca.
The casino has 84 gaming tables including Blackjack and Texas Hold’em Poker area with 24 tables.
The Ex is a shopper’s mecca, with over five shopping pavilions to choose from featuring
Canadian arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry and leather goods, furniture, appliances and home décor, international handicrafts, a warehouse outlet with specially discounted products from major Canadian retailers, and an outdoor market.
And it wouldn’t be a carnival without fast food. Besides the usual carnival fare of candy apples, cotton candy and pizza, the Food Building includes artery-clogging food like deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, deep fried coca cola, deep fried butter, and for the first time this year, the donut cheeseburger: a ground beef patty with cheese sandwiched between two glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Getting here: There are several ways to get to the CNE via public transportation: from Union subway station, take the 509 Streetcar westbound; from Bathurst subway station, take the 511 streetcar; and from Dufferin subway station, take the 29 Dufferin bus southbound.
210 Princes' Boulevard, Toronto, ON M6K 3C3, Canada
+1 416 393 6300
Google map: bit.ly/mXDeqt
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp
This artisan’s market showcases the works of local artists, with items ranging from crafts,
handmade jewelry, paintings, photography, one-of-a-kind clothing and even baked goods.
Over 20 exhibitors are set up in this collective space, which is a great venue for emerging artists to sell their work and for others to purchase unique items.
Toronto’s only year-round artisan market is located in Leslieville, one of the city’s hippest places to eat, drink, and shop.
It is located on Queen Street East and Caroline Avenue, just a 10-minute ride from the Queen Street subway station. Take the streetcar east to Caroline Avenue.
1114 Queen Street East, M4M 1K7
+1 647 997 7616
Google map: bit.ly/qlZyuS
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp
I never realised quite how seriously Kiwis take their coffee until I discovered Federation's fantastic brews. The flat white is a thing of joy and there are loads of tasty cakes.
Come early (especially at weekends) to get a seat at one of south London's best Thai cafes.
Located at the open Coldharbour Lane end, the bistro spills out into the sunshine and can stay open after the market traders have long since shut up shop and gone home. Great Thai flavours.
1 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village, London SW9 8PR
+44 207 095 8922
Nearest tube: Victoria line to Brixton, buses 3, 35, 133, 159
Google map: bit.ly/nkW5Dn
Stop for a lunchtime sandwich at Mustachio, known throughout the city for its famous Italian-style sandwiches: generous portions of veal drenched in tomato sauce and parmiggiano reggiano, with layers of crispy, breaded and fried eggplant, fried onions and roasted peppers on warm foccacia bread. Mustachio also offers pasta dishes, soup and salads.
South Market, Lower Level B34
93 Front Street East
+1 416 367 VEAL (8325)
Google map: bit.ly/o8uT3m
Established in 1803, this is one of Toronto’s major markets. The complex consists of the South Market, where over 100 vendors, including butchers, bakers, cheesemongers and green grocers sell their goods on a daily basis (closed Sunday). On Saturdays only, the North Market features seasonal produce, meats and baked goods from over 50 local farmers; and on Sundays only, an Antique Market with over 80 dealers is open to the public. From antiquarian books to vintage jewelry, fine china and furniture, there is something for everyone here.
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