The Victoria Quarter is, quite simply, probably the most beautiful shopping area in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is only small, but it crams almost one hundred stores into its stunning arcades and elegant King Edward Street frontage. The North's premier luxury shopping destination, the Victoria Quarter is home to designer boutiques from Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton alongside exclusive branches of stores like Arrogant Cat not found elsewhere outside of London, as well as jewellers, chocolatiers, popular high-end chains such as Reiss and All Saints, and famously, the first Harvey Nichols outside London. If the fantastic range of shops isn't enough to tempt you, the gorgeous architecture makes the Victoria Quarter unique. County Arcade is a sumptuous Victorian feast for the eyes in gilt and marble, while the airy atrium of Queen Victoria Arcade is home to the largest stained-glass ceiling in Europe. Immaculate shop fronts and striking window displays lend further elegance to the Quarter. Sheltered from the northern weather, you can indulge yourself year-round in indoor retail therapy without the soulless clone atmosphere of modern shopping malls. And there are a clutch of fantastic cafés located in the centre for when it all gets too much. It really is luxury retail heaven and makes a trip to Leeds a must for any shopper all by itself.
Victoria Quarter, between Briggate and Vicar Lane in Leeds City Centre. A ten minute walk from train and bus stations.
This is "real" Alexandria and a real treat too. Unlike the Khan in Cairo, tourists don't get hassled to buy stuff here. As it is not touristy you'd better bring a phrase book if you are looking for something specific, otherwise just enjoy wandering around the streets.
The Eastern end starts with clothes and material (some lovely scarves here), then there are a few streets with spices (far, far cheaper than Cairo!) and then the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables take over.
Best buys are loofas, dried Hibiscus, dates and Halva.
It's relatively easy to find your way home as well; as turning off the main street will take you to the Corniche and a taxi will never be too far away.
Walk inland from the Unknown Soldier memorial on the Corniche (Midan Orabi) until you hit the main crossroads (Midan el-Tahrir). Go right here and you'll gradually walk deeper and deeper into the market. It runs parallel to the Corniche between here and El-Anfushi area, just a few blocks in from the bay.
Betty's on St Helen's square is a Yorkshire institution and rightly so. Sitting in the Art Deco glazed dining room watching the world go by is a rare treat. Rare because the outdoor queues can be most off putting.
If it is windy and raining I recommend a trip round the corner to Little Betty's, located on York's prettiest medieval street - Stonegate.
The food, service and quaint ambience remain in Little Betty's but the queues are shorter and indoors. The upstairs rooms even have one extra special treat - open fires.
Sandwiches and cakes are available to takeaway from shops in both tearooms.
Betty's, St Helen's Square
Little Betty's, Stonegate
A lively little neighbourhood three miles north of the city centre, Chapel Allerton is about as close to a continental drinking and dining experience as you'll get in the north of England and is home to a clutch of the region's finest restaurants. Clustered around the junction of Stainbeck Lane and Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton may not be possessed of the beauty of a French square or Italian piazza but come on a summer's evening and find a lively, friendly buzz without the sense of underlying tension and atmosphere of total drunkeness that most of Britain's drinking districts entail. The restaurants and bars spill out onto the pavements, many with heated or covered seating areas, nestling in between a range of small independent shops that make a daytime trip a pleasant diversion from the bustle of central Leeds. Some of Chapel Allerton's more renowned restaurants include the much-lauded Sukhothai, held by many to be one of the country's finest Thai restaurants, a branch of Leeds' greek Olive Tree restaurant, Sami's North African cuisine, and two Casa Mias, the original, cheaper, trattoria-style eatery with a range of light Italian meals and sumptuous desserts and Casa Mia Grande, a high-end, high-quality Italian dining establishment that is among Leeds' best restaurants. As for drinking, traditional pubs like the Regent compete for your custom with quirky bars like Further North and quality cocktails at the Hub, Zed and Angels Share, amongst many others
Chapel Allerton, north Leeds, take the no2 or 3 bus from various points in the city centre.
I ordered a custom-made suit and shirt from Savilerow in mid-April 2008. I expressed at that time that I needed this order in time for my son's upcoming wedding on 17 May. Once they were aware of my deadline, Savilerow did all in their power to expedite the order. I received my suit and shirt from Savile row on 9 May and am extremely pleased with the results.
The suit's workmanship is wonderful - the fabric is superb and the tailoring is of utmost quality. As a repeat customer, I've come to expect nothing less from Savilerow. Past orders have exhibited the same craftsmanship shown in my most recent order.
Once again, Savilerow is to be commended for their outstanding service and speed of delivery. They have exceeded my expectations on more than one occasion and I would highly recommend them to all who are seeking customized tailoring at a modest cost.
118 Rose hotel,Suriwong road
Savile Row Tailor,bangrak
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
There isn’t anything you can’t find at this fantastic bargain store. Shopping for hours feels like minutes. It was the perfect place to update my much needed wardrobe with my wish list items and didn’t blow my budget. I couldn’t believe the amazing selection of designers at such a great price.
Union Square, 4 Union Square South,
40 East 14st, New York, NY 10003
Few things about tailors in Thailand.
Tailors in the west will only tailor clothes for you from fabric that you purchased from them. In the east some tailors would accept fabrics. It is recommended you buy the whole suit from your tailor including the fabric.
You must ask them to recommend something that they would say would tailor nicely, not just blindly get the highest count that you can afford.
Get a wool suit while in Bangkok. Wool generally makes a good suit. It drapes nicely, tailors well and looks formal and nice. Contrary to popular belief, light weight wool is even good for the summer and in most cases better than polyester blended fabrics.
In Bangkok the famous among the local expats would be Excelsior tailor.
A must visit shop by the delegates and embassy staff in Bangkok.
115/1 Suriwongse Bangrak Bangkok 10500 Thailand
Texas Tax Back offers foreign shoppers to get back local sales tax. You'll need to do this at their office in the Galleria Mall in downtown Houston. Bring along the merchandise, receipts, passport, and travel details and they'll process the refund to your credit card. Only receipts with a sales tax of over $10 are valid (although you can combine receipts for the same store to get past this limit) and you must pay with a credit card registered to your name. The rate at present is 8% so if you have stocked up on presents the savings can be sizeable. There are also two offices in San Antonio.
On a visit to Cairo, as well as the usual tourist places, take a trip to Heliopolis, a suburb to the north-east of the city. It was built in the early 20th Century by a Belgian and hence has some fantastic European-style architecture (and his own palace, which is a wonderful Taj Mahal-esque structure). Within the district is the centre of Heliopolis, El Korba, whose Bagdhad Street has some amazing colonnade type arches running along in front of the shops; you could almost be in Venice's St Mark's Square! (or somewhere similar..)
Helipolis has a large, wealthy Christian community of a range of different denominations, something you will notice by the proliferation of churches there. It has a nice feel to it with a number of cafes, bars and one of the British club's branches is here. One of the two British Council offices is also in Heliopolis which means there is a small-ish community of British teachers in the area too.
Pop up there and spend half a day especially if you're interested in architecture, churches and an alternative tourist experience. The Presidential Palace and a number of official government buildings are in Heliopolis as well, should you be interested in that.
Just mention Heliopolis (Arabic: Masr Gadida) to any taxi driver, they will know it. It should take about 20 mins from Downtown, much longer at busy times.
On Monday mornings there is a great flea market called Noordermarket which is fantastic for second hand retro clothing.
There is a general market on Saturdays on Lindengracht (parallel to Noordermarkt) selling everything from the mundane to the exotic and on Monday mornings the market specialises in cheap and cheerful materials.
Both are great places to mingle with the locals.
It's at the top end of Prinsengracht.
If like me, you are totally into everything anime/animation related, then you should check out this kooky little shop right around the corner from Carnaby Street. They sell funky Japanese-style figurines and play things – great for children and as gifts for adults.
Although the majority of what they sell seems to be of the ornamental persuasion (for show), they also sell books, magazines, games and posters – my personal favourite being a huge Pixelation City, complete with people, cars, buildings and river, all presented in a space invaders-esque design. Very niche, but oh-so-funky.
19 Beak Street, London, W1F 9RF
The Christmas window display in Galeries Lafayette is a must for all ages, but especially if you are travelling with children. The clever French even provide a little wooden platform with steps for the children to stand on. This year it is a pink Alice in Wonderland theme. While you are there don't forget the souvenir shop on the 6th floor which is surprisingly good value, and from there walk up the steps on to the roof to see all of Paris for free.
Galeries Lafayette, Boulevard Haussman, Paris 8
I backpacked around Europe last summer and held onto my handbag for dear life at all times. As a poor student carrying around over 500 Euros, I couldn't take any chances. At one point I ran out of money and used my UK debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, only to receive frantic calls from my bank to see who had been using my card at a bank in Rome.
This summer I made a similar trip around the US and I came across the concept of prepaid cards. I loaded my dollars onto it before I left and it was like having a local debit card. I could even withdraw cash from it at an ATM. When I ran out of money I just sent a text message to the card account and bought currency to put on the card in just two minutes. I think the card is also available in Euros.
It's now as much of a holiday staple for me as my sun tan lotion and flip flops.
I’m British through and through but nothing says Christmas more passionately than Brugge does each December. The Belgians of course have two celebrations with the Feast of Sint Niklaas coming early in the month!
The city streets are beautifully decked out with twinkling lights and window displays and the main and smaller squares like Market Square and Simon Stevinplein have their stalls selling all kinds of gift, food and drink specialties. It’s a picture book / chocolate box place that you may wander and wonder around in the warmth of their hospitality and friendliness - and in safety.
My ideal 24 hours? I set off on a Friday afternoon straight down the M20 from London and directly into the Eurotunnel terminal from the motorway. Go to the toilet, buy a drink, drive onto the train – 25 minutes of rest – drive off the train, to the end of the tunnel road, turn right and just keep on straight for 55 minutes and there is the Bruges turn-off – 10 minutes later I am parked in the centre. Nothing could be easier and hardly needs a map or GPS!
If I just kept walking around the main central triangle of the city it would only take me some 15 minutes to do so – but there is so much to see that is worthwhile. Ice Skating in Markt, climb the Belfry, eat Flemish beer stew and photograph the canals and picturesque buildings as the sun sets and the sky glows. You are never far away from where your hotel is and it is so easy to take a small break to recuperate and re-energise!
Saturday is market day at Tzand (square next to bus station) – buy wonderful cheeses to take home; visit The Church of our Lady to see the Michelangelo Madonna with Child statue and take a canal boat trip, a museum visit or a romantic Horse and Carriage ride around the cobbled streets. Too much to do – so little time!
Now don’t forget those chocolates, those fresh cream pralines. Much much cheaper than the UK and guaranteed to produce sounds of delight (and quiet munching noises). I also buy ginger bread, chocolate figures and honey waffle biscuits.
Driving home; quickly visit a supermarket in Belgium for very good beer at low prices. Try a jar of Advocaat as this goes great on ice cream or Christmas pudding! Wine is also reasonable in price here.
… and it’s back to Coquilles to catch the train back home. Mission accomplished… Tired and very Happy!
Here’s a link to learn more oldchocolatehouse.com/links.html
Beautiful chocolate store and cafe. Everything is about or produced with cocoa beans: movies, music, shower gel, soap, candles etc.
Chocomotion, Marktgasse 9, 8001 Zurich.
phone: +41 (0)43 288 09 88
station: tram 4 or 15 until "Rathaus"
This independent boutique is a treasure-trove of modern gifts and homeware inspired by Oriental designs. The products are truly unique and it is a must for someone looking for the distinctive piece. The mix of decadence and girlieness is one of a kind!
1st floor in Kingly Court; the haven for independent boutiques off Carnaby Street.
Just back from a visit at the end of October, after the kronor had crashed and this made things cheaper, though still about the same as the UK.
We loved a second hand bookshop off the main drag and just down from Cafe Rosenberg and near the old Cirkus club. It was piled high with books, with a fair few in English. It has a vibe of total happy chaos.
Our favourite cafe was the one on the corner of Laugeamur and the street where Cafe Rosenberg is - it's a yellow house. Very good coffee, cakes and atmosphere.
We ate at two very good places down at the harbour. One is called "The Baron" and is a fish market. The owner takes his leftover fish and makes the most delicious crayfish soup you can imagine. You sit on old barrels and
drink beer while sipping your soup from a cup which is very atmospheric. If you get fed up with fish just by it is a very good hamburger joint with terrific burgers and fries. Even cheaper is the hot dog stand round the corner from it selling Icelandic sausages in a roll. Very reasonable.
Best bargain for shopping were the Red Cross
charity shops on Laugeamur. I got a beautiful
Icelandic wool jumper there for about five pounds.
And do try the public thermal pools of the city. They are more "real" than the Blue Lagoon, which though fabulous, is rather touristy in feel.
Café Rosenberg, Lækjargata 2, 101 Reykjavík
The Baron, Geirsgata 101
Every Saturday local artists sell their stuff at this great market. You can find all sorts - clothes, jewellery, photographs, paintings, sculptures. Even if you don't buy anything, it's great for a browse!
Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011, next to the Bastille
The Hyde Park area (used to be an independent town a hundred or so years ago) is an urban village with the University of Chicago as a hub and, incidentally, near Obamaville. Especially see the Rockefeller Chapel, a lovely Gothic building with a magnificent organ and a bell tower that has free summer concerts. On their website you can check out events held there, too.
Hyde Park has a number of bookstores - the most interesting to me are the Seminary Coop Bookstore at 5757 South University (new books and other locations) and Powell & O’Gara’s, 1501 East 57th Street (used books to get lost in).
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