The Link Bus provides a cheap way of getting around Auckland. It runs at least every 15 minutes on a circuit around the outskirts of the city and through the centre. It stops at most of the main central attractions (Sky Tower, Viaduct Harbour, Victoria Park Market, K Road, Auckland Museum, Newmarket Shopping, Parnell, Ponsonby and the Cathedral). If you're going to be hopping on and off, it's probably best to ask the driver for an AucklandPass ($9 - unlimited bus and North Shore ferries) or the flat fare is $1.30. All stops have real-time information to tell you when the next bus is due and there are automatic displays and announcements in the bus which list attractions at each stop. The bus operates in clockwise and anticlockwise directions and the driver will tell you if it's quicker to get to your destination using the bus in the other direction
Stops are clearly marked and the buses are painted silver. The website is www.stagecoach.co.nz/thelink/index.html
A good place to pick up some more unusual souvenirs - lots of craft stalls here, none of the usual tourist tat - and at decent prices. Or you can just wander around and check out the people, then stop off for a cake from the shop around the corner, just over from the tourist info office. Then, head up to the harbour bridge pylon to check out the views.
The rocks, Darling Harbour
Really great CD store. From 60s French pop to free jazz to New York indie to hip hop to free folk to electronica to new weird americana in all its wonderful weirdness. The staff have a rep for attitude, but in many years of shopping there, I have yet to experience anything other than pleasant helpfulness. And if it's good enough for Thurston Moore... (Kims on St Marks place is worth a visit for those odd items which might be out of stock at OM (want to complete that Jandeck collection?) - OM was established by breakaway staff from Kims).
15 East 4th Street
Beer Mania offers over 400 Belgian beers to sample on site, buy and drink at home, or order online. Open 11am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. The owner, Nasser Eftekhairi, is usually there and is fount of knowledge on all things to do with Belgian beers.
174-176 Chaussée de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. www.beermania.be Tel: 00 32 2 512 17 88 Nearest metro, Trone or Porte de Namur
From the outside, this is a big bookshop. Wait till you go inside. Downstairs they've cut a football-pitch sized cavern into the earth and filled it with a bewildering variety of literature. Let someone know you're going in case you can't find your way out.
48-51 Broad Street Tel: +44-1865-792792
One of Paris' more renowned maisons de thé and always my first point of call. Head upstairs to the café for afternoon tea and patisserie, Parisian style or a light lunch where all the dishes have a definite tea influence. Don't be overwhelmed by the intimidatingly large selection of teas on offer, both in the restaurant and the shop downstairs.
There are 3 locations in Paris, my favourite is 13 rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris 6ieme Tél. : +33(0)1 40 51 82 50 www.mariagefreres.com/
Every major city has one: Chinatown in London and New York; Le Quartier Chinois in Paris; Berlin is actually building one. So it may surprise you to learn that even cities in China have Chinatowns too.
In Shanghai it’s the Yu Yuan area, a sealed-off district where development is not quite as rampant as elsewhere and the atmosphere of old China still pervades. At its centre is the famed Yu Yuan teahouse and classical gardens, plus the temple of the city god. Yu Yuan is pretty commercial these days – most of the area’s business is in selling tourist tat, but it’s still the place to go for Chinese arts and crafts.
A bit tricky to get to by Metro. Your best bet is a taxi.
A wonderful chance to enjoy a decandent (and cheap) brunch buffet and latte macchiatos at several restaurants and cafes. As a plus you can observe Berliners shopping at one of the nicest food markets in town, hipster mothers and their even hipper children have been spotted queuing next to the foreign minister and the atmosphere is good fun, with wurst stands and soup bars as well as fresh produce and cut flowers.
Walk up Kollwitzstrasse from Senefelder Platz U-Bahn stop, also walking distance from Eberswalder U-Bahn
I found this fantastic little shop several years ago and always make sure I return. The staff are incredibly accommodating; and the shop offers estate wines to suit any budget. They also offer tastings on Saturdays and are more than happy to pass on their knowledge of great wine.
6, rue de Bourbon le Château, 75006 Metro: Odeon, Saint Germaine des Pres Tel: 0143291162
This is a modern hotel with excellent facilities and tasteful décor. It represents fantastic value for money if booked online (double rooms can be had for as little as £35 per room including breakfast). It is situated in a southern suburb of the city that has interesting bars, restaurants, market stalls and shops frequented by the locals. Some real bargains can be found here. The only drawback is the distance from the centre of Beijing and the fact that taxi drivers don’t know where it is – be sure to pick up the hotel’s card at reception with detailed directions. It is, however, ideal for visiting the nearby Temple of Heaven Park.
The Lanes are another fantastic free attraction with their curiosity and antique shops. The North Laine, spelled differently for some reason, is another quite extraordinary place - it's a kind of hippy Ground Zero for Britain. You could spend a day wondering around here and the prices are extremely low.
Less a bookshop than an experience, Shakespeare & Co has to be visited to be understood. A favourite of struggling authors ever since it opened more than 50 years ago, the list of novelists and poets who have grabbed a couple of nights sleep here is extraordinary. One of the most topsy-turvy and downright enjoyable browsing experiences there is.
37 rue de la Bûcherie; Nearest metro: Maubert Mutualité
The fact that this is the largest bookstore in Europe, providing a huge range of author events throughout the year, is only one element of its appeal. The cafe on the fifth floor, complete with stunning views to the south, is the perfect place to pass a couple of quiet hours flicking through the bestsellers.
203-206 Piccadilly; Nearest tube: Piccadilly
Not just a toy store for all ages, in the summer months Kids Market hosts several special events and is a great venue for birthday parties. There is an old fashioned arcade, a multi-level play area and outside, in an old fashioned caboose, a deli dedicated to your dog or cat.
1494 Cartwright; Tel: 682 2116; www.kidsmarket.ca
Of course you don't have to stop there. The legendary food hall offers an absurd variety of food to suit everyone from gourmets to guzzlers. Also worthy of note are the Neuhaus chocolate counter and the pastries.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1; Tube: Knightsbridge; Tel: 020 7730 1234; www.harrods.com/
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