It is not so well known that Tokyo shelters geisha communities that are as old as their Kyoto counterparts. The streets behind Asakusa temple provide a glimpse of the 'flower and willow world’ and offer possibly the best chance you’ll get in this sprawling metropolis of spotting one of these elusive, enigmatic creatures.
Head down the nameless side streets that lead off the touristy Nakamise dori at Asakusa temple to discover high-class kimono parlours and discreet booths selling slender hand-painted bamboo fans, delicate tortoiseshell hair ornamentations, 10-inch-high ‘geta’ sandals and the white face make-up for which geisha are famed.
With a bit of luck you’ll also see a hooded rickshaw and black-clad puller with his distinctive wide brimmed hat and split-toed tabi shoes transporting one of these ethereal women to a nearby theatre or discreet teahouse. Squint your eyes and it looks like a scene from the 17th century.
Take the Ginza or Toei Asakusa subway lines - alight Asakusa station. If you feel like being more romantic take a boat-trip from Hinode Pier or the Hamu Rikyu gardens along the Sumida river alighting at Azumabashi bridge.
For more information about Tokyo's geisha district see www.asakusa-e.com
Asakusa Information centre (2-18-9 Kaminarimon) has English speaking staff 10-8pm daily)
The castle of Ioannina was built in its present state by the legendary Ali Pasha, the Albanian-born, Ottoman governor of Epirus in the early 19th century, on the foundations of the old Byzantine fortifications of Ioannina.
The northeast end of the castle includes the madrassa, or islamic religious school, which today houses a lovely Museum of Weaponry, and the Mosque of Aslan Pasha, which today houses the Museum of the City of Ioannina.
The southeast end is the Its Kale, or Inner Castle, and was the main compound of the Ali Pasha administration and living quarters.
The castle of Ioannina is the core from which the city expanded to its present size, and included all the major civic monument and sites of the city, including the synagogue of the once mighty local Jewish community.
Chamonix's best snowboard shop. It stocks a huge range of quality kit and all the staff are experienced snowboarders. If you plan on renting any equipment it's the best place in town bar none, and it's also does a good line in repairs and servicing.
134 av Ravanel le Rouge, Chamonix. Tel: +33(0)450535844
This cobble stone street has easily the best window - and actual - food shopping anywhere in the world. The tiny shops, many of them with street stalls out in front all seem to have different specialities. Quite the most delicious street I know
Rue Cler, nearest Metro, nearest metro is Ecole Militaire
Vast amounts of stuff are on sale in Kathmandhu's bazaar - from masala tea to tie-dye T-shirts and all the tat, trinkets and treasures in between. But for bored chaps doomed to drag themselves after their shopaholic other halves, this is the place to come and buy a kukri, a traditional Gurkha knife.
Avoid the cheap and nasty ones on the market stands and try to find this marvellous little shop; there's a variety of different suberbly-crafted designs and the owner will gladly talk you through every detail.
A showcase for innovative young Cape Town fashion designers on trendy Long Street. Co-owned by conceptual artist Doreen Southwood and designer Kirsty Bannerman, Mememe stocks an array of cutting-edge designers such as Richard de Jager, David West and Seth Harper, as well as their own designs.
A white polka-dot security gate and bright green faux grass doormat welcome you inside, while a pink metal poodle guards the cash register. If you’re looking for something original to wear, chances are you’ll find it here.
279 Long Street, 021 424 0001.
The upmarket old-fashioned service supermarket in São Paulo. If you can't find it here, you probably can't find it anywhere in Brazil (with exceptions detailed in other tips). Not cheap, but management very obliging and they can often start a food trend - eg a year ago there was hardly any basmati rice in Brazil and what there was was exorbitantly priced. I lobbied them and now they stock 5 varieties - all of a sudden tandoori chicken and curries are appearing on the menus of various restaurants. If you want to make a feijoada to impress friends you can buy a ready-made pack here.
Casa Santa Luzia Imp. Ltda
Alameda Lorena, 1471
01424-001 São Paulo SP
Everybody has been raving about all the new films coming out of Argentina -r oad movies, neo-realistic dramas, amateur actors and so on. But before you even get on the plane, try to see the film Sur - it's a lyrical evocation of Buenos Aires' lost tangi soul. It will help you to see ghosts where there are voids and see beauty where there is only damage.
Good video libraries, you can buy it in BA on the side streets of Florida
The Fünf Höfe ("Five Courts") are high class shopping passages in the heart of Munich. The area, designed by the swiss architects Herzog&deMeuron, lies directly between the Marienplatz and the Odeonsplatz in the Theatinerstraße. You can find there designer shops (especially Italy is very present...), book stores, galleries, lifestyle shops and very hip restaurants like the Vapiano (italian cuisine) or the Kaimug (thai).
Aside from shopping and eating you can enjoy art in the HypoKunsthalle which presents every year up to four temporary exhibitions.
The Turkish Market is a twice-weekly market selling everything from textiles and cloth, to meat and veg, to dinky toys. On every Tuesday and Friday, it gets very busy but the prices are fantastic.
Maybachufer, near Kottbusser Tor/Schonleinstr Underground
If you are after antiques (genuine, reproduction or curios), this has to be near the top of your list. On the second floor there are quite a few shops ( all visible from the car park). From Moghul pieces to Belgian colonial lamps ... get it all here.
Gulshan-2 (by the roundabout) going towards Gulshan 1.
This is a great street market, held in Place Chatelain, just off Rue de Bailli, on Wednesdays. You can pick up some delicious speciality foods here, from cheeses, to fish to wine. But the atmosphere's wonderful, so even if you don't want to buy anything, it's well worth wandering around the stalls (lots of tempting goodies to snack on if you're hungry, or try the champagne/wine stall). The market goes on into the evening as well, and the busiest time is around 6 to 7pm, when people come after work. Place Chatelain has some great restaurants and lots of atmospheric little bars too but be prepared to fight for a table!
Place Chatelain, off Rue de Bailli, Ixelles.
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
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/
If you're a traveller between 18-28, pick up a copy of JUICE magazine. It's a free guide to the coolest places on the island state for streetwear, sneakers, clubs and bars.
Most clubs & bars. Check out their website at www.juiceonline.com/
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