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14 Things a Hotel Concierge Can Do for You (And 6 Things They Can’t)

Few travelers think to contact the hotel concierge for much more than directions or restaurant recommendations—but if you don’t, you’re missing out on a wealth of local expertise. A good hotel concierge has impressive powers and can assist with almost any travel problem you might face, so you shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage.[st_content_ad]

That said, a concierge is not a magician. Below are 14 things your hotel concierge can do for you, six more they can’t, and four tips for maximizing your moments at the hotel lobby.

What a Hotel Concierge Can Do for You

Save You Money

The concierge can tell you how to get to the airport for less, where to find nearby happy hours, what the best free sights and activities are, and how much is a fair price for a taxi.

Recommend Fitness Facilities

If your hotel doesn’t have a gym or lacks the equipment you want, the concierge can usually point you to an affiliated hotel with better facilities, recommend a good running trail, or give you a list of nearby fitness centers that offer daily or weekly passes.

Get You a Ride When There Seems to Be None Available

If it is rush hour, raining, or really late, finding a taxi or Uber ride can be tough. The concierge can make this happen with a phone call in many cases. This can even work if you’re not staying at the hotel in question. I once saw a friend walk into the lobby of a New York hotel and offer the concierge a tip; within seconds, we had a ride.

Get Tickets for You

Many concierges are careful to say they can’t get tickets for sold-out shows, but the truth is they sometimes can. They may have relationships with brokers, or know season ticket holders who may not be using their seats, or even have tickets themselves; Michael Fazio, author of Concierge Confidential, started to purchase tickets to certain shows that he would then sell to guests, usually at a markup that matched the secondary market.

Keep You Safe

A concierge can offer advice on whether a neighborhood, park, or activity is safe to visit, and what you can do instead if your idea is iffy.

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Help You Celebrate

Are you proposing to your partner or celebrating a landmark birthday? Your hotel concierge can help with anything from filling your hotel room with flowers and balloons to organizing a rooftop proposal, complete with a photographer to document the occasion.

Help You Do Your Job

A concierge can assist with all kinds of work-related tasks, such as getting materials to a printer, setting up a courier service, mailing packages, and setting up a meeting space.

Help You Look Good

A concierge can get you an appointment with a barber or hairdresser, get clothes pressed, and more.

Fix Sticky Travel Problems

A concierge can help you find an expeditor or make an embassy appointment if your passport is stolen, or facilitate repairs if your smartphone goes on the fritz. They can also accept overnight mail or late-arriving luggage.

Get You a Table

Restaurants will often find a way to fit in customers who are recommended by their preferred concierge contacts. If the restaurant is truly full, the concierge can often get you to the front of a waiting list.

Recommend Local Service Folks

Need a babysitter, an auto repair shop, or a dog walker? Your concierge can help.

Create a Custom Itinerary

If you have a bunch of stuff you definitely want to do but are uncertain how to make it all fit together, the concierge can take your list of attractions and put together a coherent and achievable plan. He or she can also help you avoid pitfalls such as road construction or closed subway stations.

Help with Special Needs

If you are disabled, aren’t feeling well, or have other special needs, a hotel concierge can offer considerable assistance—like calling wheelchair-accessible taxis, finding English-speaking doctors, and recommending restaurants that can accommodate certain food allergies.

Provide Assistance Before You Arrive

The concierge can be a resource not just once you’re at the hotel but beforehand as well. For instance, he or she could help you plan out your first day, including a restaurant reservation for dinner.

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What Your Hotel Concierge Can’t Do for You

Gossip

Discretion is an integral part of a concierge’s job, so they tend not to talk about other guests, including which celebrities might be staying in the hotel.

Illegal or Immoral Activities

You shouldn’t expose a concierge to risk by asking him or her to help with illegal—or dubiously legal—activities such as obtaining drugs, forging signatures, finding “companions,” or the like.

Babysit

A concierge can help you find someone else to look after your child, but he or she can’t actually do the babysitting while on duty.

Float You a Loan

They’ll help you with money concerns, but concierges are not banks; don’t ask them to dig into their pockets for you.

Sell Stuff for You

Concierges are also not your personal eBay or Craigslist; they can’t sell tickets you no longer need or items you don’t want to take home. However, he or she may be able to recommend a place where you can do the sale yourself.

Book Tickets to Sold-Out Shows

Truly sold-out shows tend to be just that; however, you can ask if the concierge has any ideas or contacts to help get you tickets, and he or she might have a strategy for you. If there is truly no way to get certain tickets, the concierge will tell you so.

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Tips for Using a Hotel Concierge

Don’t Be Shy

You might feel as though the concierge is only there for the folks in the penthouse suite, but this isn’t the case; he or she is there to help all guests, so feel free to ask.

Give Them Some Time

Concierges can often pull off difficult tasks, but to do so on very short notice is tricky, and it distracts them from helping other guests. Give the concierge some notice if you need something beyond simple advice.

Present the Concierge’s Card

When a concierge sends you to a restaurant or other establishment, it is often his or her name, not yours, that is the attraction for the proprietor. So if a concierge asks you to show his or her card, do it; these relationships are what makes concierges able to help you now and in the future.

Not All Concierges Are the Same

Concierges at the very best (and most expensive) hotels are notorious for pulling off near-miracles; those at less prestigious establishments typically don’t have the same pull.

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Ed Hewitt is a seasoned globetrotter who brings you a biweekly glimpse into the latest travel news, views, and trends—and how they could affect your travel plans.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated with the latest information.

Categories
Cities

The 10 Best Spots for Shopping in Houston

There’s no shortage of great shopping in Houston, from the largest mall in Texas to local boutiques and art galleries. The following Houston shopping guide will help you make the most of your visit.

The Galleria

You haven’t truly experienced the Houston shopping scene without a stop at The Galleria, which is visited by more than 30 million people each year. It’s the state’s biggest mall with hundreds of stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, GAP, Gucci, and Lucky Brand Jeans. In addition to shopping and dining, there’s also an indoor ice skating rink (open year-round), plus two swimming pools, multiple beauty salons, and a children’s play area. It’s all too easy to spend your whole day here.

Uptown Park

Near the Galleria at the European-style Uptown Park, find exclusive retailers such as Ann Taylor LOFT, Bill Walker Clothier, Elizabeth Anthony, and the Longoria Collection. There are also several restaurants here.

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Memorial City Mall

Another popular Houston shopping center is Memorial City Mall, located a few miles west of the city. The city’s only American Girl store is a big draw, but there are dozens of other shops including TUMI, Old Navy, Macy’s, and the Disney Store.

River Oaks District

For some of the most upscale shopping in Houston, head to the River Oaks District. You can find designer clothes and shoes, fine jewelry, and high-end specialty items such as crystal and cigars.

River Oaks Shopping Center

Not to be confused with the River Oaks District (it’s about three miles away), the River Oaks Shopping Center dates back to the 1930s, and is one of the oldest shopping centers in the country. It’s home to an art deco movie theater as well as dozens of shops such as J. Jill, GAP, Barnes & Noble, and Chico’s.

Rice Village

Just a couple of blocks from the Rice University campus, Rice Village has more than 300 stores for browsing. The mix of national chains (like Chico’s and Urban Outfitters) and local boutiques makes this a fun and eclectic place to hunt for clothing, housewares, jewelry, and gifts.

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Sawyer Yards

If paintings, pottery, or other unique works of art are on your must-buy list, head to Sawyer Yards. This creative hub houses hundreds of local artists who open their studios to visitors during special events year-round, such as Second Saturday each month and biannual art shows in the spring and fall.

Lucchese

There’s no Texas souvenir like a pair of cowboy boots, and the best place to find them is the flagship store of Lucchese Bootmaker, located near the River Oaks District. Alongside boots the store sells apparel, accessories, and Texas-themed home goods.

Katy Mills

Bargain hunters should head out of town to the outlets of Katy Mills, about 25 miles west of Houston. Retailers here include Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, Adidas, and many more.

Houston Premium Outlets

Can’t get enough outlet shopping? Houston Premium Outlets is another shopping center that’s worth the trip (it’s located in Cypress, about 30 minutes northwest of Houston). Fill your shopping bags with discounted offerings from brands like Hugo Boss, Armani, DKNY, and J.Crew.

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Sarah Schlichter was hosted by Marriott and Visit Houston. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration. June Naylor contributed to this story.

Categories
Money Travel Technology

How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

Travel experts (myself included) will always recommend that you rely primarily on plastic while traveling: specifically, credit cards for big-ticket items and debit ATM cards for cash on arrival. The longstanding issue with that practice has always been foreign transaction fees—but you might be surprised to hear that this pesky type of fee is becoming less and less relevant.

In many cases you can now avoid foreign transaction fees entirely, while in others you’ll pay them, but will ultimately lose less money than any other cash-acquirement option. For foreign travel, especially, you can’t beat plastic: In fact, you may actually need credit cards in more and more places as they opt out of cash all together. Cashless retail outlets are becoming widespread, especially in Sweden and across China, with some places refusing to accept any paper currency at all.

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Beating Foreign Transaction Fees on Credit Cards

Credit cards have improved dramatically in recent years for overseas purchases. About a decade ago, most banks had a three percent surcharge on foreign credit card purchases—even purchases in U.S. dollars. But now, most big issuers—including Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, and American Express—offer multiple credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. For the most part, cards that target travelers typically no longer have foreign surcharges. To see a list of cards without foreign transaction fees, see Airfarewatchdog (SmarterTravel’s sister site).

And although you can use a credit card to withdraw cash, that’s not a good idea: With all banks, cash withdrawal on a credit card comes with interest charges, plus fees, as well. The biggest trap for use of credit cards outside the U.S. is now the attempt by some merchants to bill you in dollars rather than local currency. The trap? They convert your bill at a lousy exchange rate. If a transaction ever prompts you to choose between dollars or the local currency, always choose the local currency. Also keep in mind that, even if your card charges a small fee, it’s likely less than the fee any currency exchange counter will take from you.

The best ways to deal with credit card purchases to avoid foreign transaction fees are:

  • Use whatever no-surcharge credit card serves you best.
  • Don’t let anyone try to bill you in dollars rather than the local currency.
  • Don’t use a credit card to acquire cash.
  • If your current card adds a surcharge—and you don’t want to apply for a different card—a loss of three percent is still a lot less than your loss converting currency at any exchange counter.

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Beating Foreign Transaction Fees on Debit Cards

The foreign transaction fees situation is not as good with debit cards, but still improving.

In most of the world, you can use an ATM card issued by a U.S. bank at an ATM in a foreign country to withdraw local currency. The actual exchange is carried out by the international American Express, MasterCard, or Visa networks, and the exchange fee is typically one percent or less. But most U.S. banks add a surcharge of $3 to $5 per withdrawal from any ATM other than its own ATMs, including virtually all ATMs outside the United States. Many add an exchange surcharge on top of that, as well. And the local ATM operator may add a fee.

For a while, the Global ATM Alliance offered no-fee withdrawals on Bank of America debit cards when used at another member bank’s ATM, but Bank of America later imposed a three-percent exchange surcharge. The main exceptions are many small banks—most notably savings banks, online banks, and credit unions—that waive debit card transaction fees and cover other fees on foreign withdrawals.

And a new debit card problem has emerged in recent years: Many big international hub airports have kicked out ATMs operated by local banks and substituted ATMs operated by exchange bureaus, such as Travelex. The signs on these ATMs say “no fees,” which is somewhat true: Your money is exchanged at the same retail rate you get at the exchange counter, and that rate is typically around 10 to 15 percent worse than the official bank rate. And then there’s your own bank’s fees.

Ways to withdraw local currency from a local ATM without piling on the foreign transaction fees are:

  • If your usual ATM card is from a big bank with stiff withdrawal fees, consider opening a no-fee checking account at one of the many small banks that waive or cover foreign ATM charges.
  • If you don’t have any local currency when you arrive in a foreign country, avoid airport ATMs operated by exchange bureaus if you can. If you can’t, get only as much as you need to get to your hotel.

And finally: Traveler’s checks? Not if you’re living in the 21st century. You’ll have a lot of trouble finding a bank that will exchange these checks, if you still have them. A lot has changed in travel banking in the past couple of decades—for the better.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2012. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Group Travel

Two Unbelievable Weeks in Europe

Author: Kathryn B.
Date of Trip: July 2006

Day 1 – Chicago to London July 25th

The journey began in Chicago O’Hare airport where I met the other four people I was flying with. We all were expecting security to take a while so were there way too early. We left Chicago on British Airways (go row 42!) and the flight to London Heathrow took about 7.5 hours. Since we left late afternoon in Chicago, we landed at Heathrow at 7am in the morning and missed the nighttime.

Day 2 – First Day in London!

We all took the tube to Russell Square and dropped our stuff off at the Imperial Hotel. This was the only hotel we had single rooms at, but the rooms were very cute and tiny. In the lobby, we met some more fellow Contiki-ers and we all decided to go explore. We’re tired and exhausted, so what better thing to do than go get drinks at a pub!

I enjoyed a lovely Strongbow (a cider drink, similar to fruit flavored beer). Couldn’t get any food at the pub, so found a little bakery. Wandered around the city some more and eventually wound up at the park across from the hotel again with some wine. This was also in the middle of Europe’s heat wave, and London doesn’t really like air conditioning. Quite warm. After some chilling in the park, I went back and took a much-needed nap.

6pm was our designated time to meet the entire group for the first time in the lobby. We met all of the 45 that were on our trip, our driver Aaron, and a tour manager Pete, later deemed Petey Pablo, made for a very large group. A big group of us went back into the city for dinner and ate fish and chips at another pub. The owner seemed a little daunted that a huge group of Americans overtook the bar, but he agreed to give us food. We all moved to the upstairs part and enjoyed some more drinks and food.

After dinner we took some pictures in Trafalgar Square, bought more wine, and from the advice of a few police officers, headed to the river to “drink to our heart’s content”. Enjoyed the sights of London and had a very fun first night.

Day 3 – Full day in London

The first group event was a coach sightseeing tour of London and saw all the big sights, including: Big Ben, London Eye, Tower of London, London Bridges, and Trafalgar Square. It was a great way to see the entire city quickly and not waste a lot of time walking around lost, almost being hit by cars coming at you on the wrong side of the road. We were dropped off in the middle of the city, got some lunch, then a group of us walked to Buckingham Palace. Took some pictures, then me, Anne, and Kate walked through Hyde Park and down Oxford Street back to the hotel. Lots of walking. Thought we might kill ourselves a few times crossing the street and not knowing where the cars were coming from. Due to jetlag, the heat, and an hour of sleep the night before, took another quick nap at the hotel, then met everyone for our first group dinner.

Dinner was a very traditional British meal of soup, meat pies, and a strange sponge cake dessert. Probably my least favorite meal of the trip. Took the coach to Contiki sponsored Battle of the Bands, but dinner took so long that we only saw the last band perform. Danced and had a great time then headed back to the hotel in a taxi.

Day 4 – London to Paris

Left early in the morning for our first long coach drive. Took about two hours to get to Dover, England where we boarded the ferry. I was amazed by how big the ferry was and how many cars and buses were loaded onto it. Saw the White Cliffs of Dover and the Dover Castle as we left the shore and ate lunch during the 80 minute ride across the channel. The ferry took us to Calais, France where we got back on the coach and drove about 4 four hours to Paris.

In Paris, we stayed at the Ibis Hotel in the more northern part of the city somewhat near Sacre Coeur. The hotel was really nice and I was roommates with Caitlyn, who was my roommate for most of the rest of the trip. The group ate dinner downstairs in the hotel, then we went on the “Illumination Tour” of the city of Paris on the coach. Although my digital camera broke on the tour, it was beautiful to see the city all lit up at night, and it really deserves its nickname of “The City of Lights”.

When we reached the Eiffel Tower, we were surprised to get out and be able to go to the top without even waiting in the long lines. It was awesome to go up there and experience it. In London I was still getting over jetlag, and it’s not all that different from major US cities, but Paris is such a contrast. Paris is still probably my favorite European city so far, it’s just gorgeous. I didn’t go out that night and got a decent night of sleep for the first time in 4 days. Lots of partying still to go.

Day 5 – All day in Paris!

Today we had the entire day to do what we wanted. I didn’t really want to go see the museums since I’d seen them the year before when I was in Paris, so I went off on my own to see how I’d fare by myself in a foreign city. I’m happy to say I did quite well. I walked everywhere around the city. Started by going to see Notre Dame, went inside, took some pictures, then headed back by the Louvre. I stopped for an awesome chocolate crepe. There is nothing like a nutella filled crepe in Paris for some reason. I decided some shopping was in order so walked up the Champs D’Elysee. I had a lot of fun shopping for souvenirs for my family in the chic stores. After finishing the trek up the Champs D’Elysee I ended up at the Arc de Triomphe for some more photos. I wanted to head towards the Eiffel Tower and ended up on a street that had all the big expensive stores on it like Chanel, Gucci, Jimmy Choos, etc. I was too scared to go in because I was in a t-shirt and gym shoes, but the window shopping was superb.

By the time I made it to the Eiffel Tower I was exhausted from all the walking so got some sort of slushie thing from a vendor and lay down on the lawn for awhile and people watched. Since I was by myself, I got a bit of unwanted attention from some French guys, but I assured two different gentlemen I was not interested in going out with them that night and was much too busy to stay any longer. It was getting later in the afternoon so decided to go see Napolean’s Tomb since I never saw that before and it didn’t look too far away on the map. The army museum was kind of scary, but the tomb itself was cool. I left to go find the nearest metro stop and figured I’d transfer a bunch of times, but I picked the one that went straight to my stop somehow. Got back to the hotel and slept for awhile.

Now comes my favorite night of the trip. We were going to the Moulin Rouge! I’m a little obsessed with the movie, so actually going to the real thing was so exciting. So we got all dressed up and headed to the very Bohemian artist’s corner next to Sacre Coeur for dinner. The steep steps were interesting in heels. Dinner was great though and definitely worth the climb up. We were entertained by this crazy looking old singer during the huge meal with unlimited wine.

I tried escargot for the first time, and it actually wasn’t bad. I had French onion soup and beef. Delicious. Being a little tipsy now, we made the treacherous trip back down the hill, still in heels, and somehow didn’t kill ourselves. Walked over to the Moulin Rouge and enjoyed a wonderful cabaret show. Fancy costumes, acrobats, tons of dancing, singing, lots of champagne, flashy colors, just overall awesome. If you ever get the chance to do any part of this trip, this would be one of the best times in my opinion. The whole day in a beautiful city, followed by a wonderful meal in an unique spot of Paris, followed by a world-famous cabaret show. I’ve definitely been bragging about this part quite a bit since I’ve been back, hehe. Anyway, it was really late by the time the show ended and got back around 2am.

Day 6 – Paris to Lucerne, Switzerland

Got up around 6am to leave Paris, which after the huge day the day before was a little tough. Thankfully we could sleep a few hours on the coach. It was sad to leave Paris after so little time there. Got my first sights of the Alps, and as we got further into Switzerland, just got more and more gorgeous. It was a long drive to get to Lucerne, but the scenery made it worth it. When we arrived, we went to a store to get some Swiss army knives and watches. Already bought quite a bit of chocolate at a rest stop on the way. Lucerne is extremely picturesque. Flowers everywhere, water, mountains, cute buildings, charming bridge. The Hotel Flora was really nice. We walked to the restaurant for dinner. We were told it would be traditional Swiss food and a show of some sort. The show was all different Swiss cultural acts like yodeling, horn blowing, dancing, saw playing, beer chugging, flag waving, and a cow licking the audience. It was so much fun and the food was great as well. I didn’t know much about the Swiss culture, but now I feel like I have an idea about how those neutral people spend some of their time when not making knives and chocolate.

Some people went swimming in the lake, but were done by the time we got there, so Rachael, Diana, and I went walking around the town. Out of nowhere it started pouring, like torrential rains that seemed like it was out of a movie, and we got stuck no where near the hotel. After waiting around by a store for a little bit with a French family, we decided just to run for it.

Halfway there once we were already soaked, we saw a pub, and figured a drink couldn’t hurt. A few Contiki people happened to be there so we hung out with them for a few hours and played a drinking game. It was pretty funny. We somehow got lost on the way back after the pub, so ended up wandering around laughing a lot for close to an hour. Jaimee kept trying to get us back and Narelle kept playing tour guide. For a night that didn’t seem like we were going to do a whole lot, it ended up being a lot of fun.

Day 7 – Lucerne to Hopfgarten, Austria

Switzerland was the only place we stayed for one night, but before we left, we got to go up Mt. Pilatus, aka the home of dragons. Mt. Pilatus is one of the highest mountain peaks in Western Europe and it was beautiful. The first part of the trek up was a four-person gondola ride halfway up, followed by a large group ride to the top. It was a gorgeous day and the clouds didn’t come until later so we got some great pictures. Once at the top, we climbed up the steep steps to the very tip, and got even better views of the Alps and the town of Lucerne. The fresh air is something that is forgotten in busy city life, and it was refreshing. We yodeled, yelled “Ricola!!” across the hills, and did other silly American things, but it was fun. We climbed back down, ate lunch, drank Swiss hot chocolate, and met to go take the steepest train in the world down. The steepest train ride in the world is not as thrilling as it sounds, mainly because it went extremely slow. Saw some Swiss cows grazing in the fields.

We got back in the coach and headed to Austria. As a surprise, once we got near Hopfgarten, we pulled off and stopped at the Sworovsky crystal factory. We got to shop for an hour or so, and I got a really pretty necklace.

We continued on to the adorable town of Hopfgarten and our hotel Haus Lucas and was greeted by Grandma waving in the upstairs window. The Haus was extremely comfortable and homey, and before the meal started, we were taught the correct way to take a shot of Schnapps. The pinky and thumb hold the shot glass and the other fingers rest against the glass. I think the meal prepared by the staff and served by “Hans and Helga” or our driver Aaron and TM Pete, was one of the best of the trip. Hopfgarten is not exactly a party town, so we drank at the Haus bar for awhile, then I went to bed in preparation of our mountain bike ride in the morning.

Day 8 – The day in Hopfgarten

We woke up to rain, lots of rain, which is not the greatest for a 25k bike ride through the mountains. So, we delayed the ride and I ended up having a really relaxing morning wandering around the town with Rachael. Bought some Schnapps, ate lunch, surfed the internet, enjoyed the picturesque simplicity of the mountain-surrounded town. By the time we met for the mountain bike ride again, it was beautiful and sunny. It was too late to go do the original bike ride, but we were able to bike through the entire town and stop at an ice cream place for some delicious ice cream. The rain then started again, and by the time we got back were soaked and muddy. Since we were so muddy and wet, a few of us decided to keep biking and enjoy the rain. Tons of exercise, really muddy clothes, but a lot of fun. Even when things could have been deemed bad, everyone made it fun. And besides, how often do you get to look like crap and be drenched through in Austria?

Another great dinner, some drinks at the bar, then we walked over to the Silver Bullet bar for some drinks and dancing. Couldn’t go too crazy, even with cheap chocolate shots, because white water rafting was the next morning, and that hungover would not be too fun.

Day 9 – Hopfgarten to Venice

Second favorite part of the trip – white water rafting! I was a little nervous about it, since I’d never rafted before, but the guide made it easy, and for a raft full of girls, I think we did a good job. The rapids we did were only a level three, but it was exciting still. We didn’t end up with a hot rafting instructor, but rafting through Austrian mountains, swimming in frigid waters that we were forced to get into, standing in a circle on top of the raft, made the experience awesome. Probably the thing that made this so special is it was an experience I never planned on doing in my life. Not only was this white water rafting, but it was in Austria. Ahh, so cool. Once we finished going down the river, we were met with orange juice and vodkas, got rid of our equipment, and ate lunch.

After an adventure packed morning, it’s off to Italy! It took the rest of the afternoon to get near Venice where we stayed. We ate dinner in the hotel then since we weren’t actually in Venice but a small town about 45 minutes away, we wandered around. Didn’t find much to do. I was pretty tired and sore from all the exercise the past few days (I almost never do physical activity, so two extreme sports was pushing it for me), so decided to go to bed early.

Day 10 – Ciao Italy!

Another very rainy day. Got to the spot where to board the boats to get to the island and got to buy some lovely Italian ponchos. Our advice for Venice was to get lost – which is extremely easy to do, and really all you can do to really experience Venice. Saw a glass blowing demonstration in the morning, then most of the day was spent wandering the extremely narrow streets and shopping for Murano glass and masquerade masks. Then of course, it’s not a trip to Venice without a gondola ride through the canals. Drank wine and relaxed on our ride.

Our gondolier informed us that they do not sing though, which was slightly disappointing. It made it better when we had a really hot gondolier in the gondola in front of us. After the ride, we wandered around a bit more, then met for dinner. Enjoyed a very traditional Italian meal which was very good, except the fish portion of the meal was a bit tough to eat because unlike America, the fish is whole, head and everything. Interesting little culture differences like that is what makes it so cool and you really realize you’re nowhere close to America anymore. We sang some songs on the boat ride back to the mainland, and I napped on the way back to the hotel and went straight to sleep. By this time of the trip, sleep was appreciated and the crazy schedule was starting to catch up with me.

Day 11 – Venice to Florence

I have to say I wasn’t all that disappointed to leave Venice. I had a nice time and it’s great that I can say I saw the city, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. Plus I heard wonderful things about Florence and couldn’t wait to see it. The scenery on the way was again gorgeous. Coach travel really lets you see the country side that you never would if just flying from city to city. It’s funny how there are random castles or postcard views, that aren’t tourist attractions, just part of life.

Sorry, got sidetracked there. It was a long drive to Florence, but we ending up making a surprise stop in Pisa, home to the Leaning Tower! Pisa is such a tourist town, and if not for the Leaning Tower, wouldn’t exactly be impressive. But, the Leaning Tower is a lot of fun to see and take cheesy tourist pictures with. We also had a crappy souvenir contest for under two euro outside the Leaning Tower, and it’s amazing how much crap they try to sell to tourists. But hey, it’s fun, and we fall for it.

Few more hours of coach travel and we arrived in Florence. Our hotel was right in the middle of the city, so we could walk everywhere and explore. Florence is so pretty and probably became my second favorite city. Had dinner on our own then met back as a group to go to the Red Garter bar. Drinks, karaoke, lots of Australians, dancing, and lots of fun.

Day 12 – A beautiful day in Florence

Started the day off with a guided sightseeing tour of the city. It was a good orientation of the city. Then off to go exploring some more. The main goal of the day was to see Michelangelo’s “David” at the Academia, so after a failed attempt to jump the queue, we waited in the long line and ate gelato. The line only took an hour or so, then we went in and saw David. Very cool. Took some sneaky pictures.

Wandered around the rest of the museum, but the rest was nothing compared to David. More walking and enjoying the city. Had to get back a little earlier to get ready for our best meal of the trip. Once we were all dressed up, we took our group picture at the top of Florence, then went to the restaurant. The food was amazing. The best Italian food hands-down I have ever had. I ate way more than I thought could fit in my stomach, then got seconds. During dinner we were treated to an opera singer as well, and she sang beautifully. I’d say this was favorite moment #3, because everything about it was just so authentically Italian and great. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was because the trip was soon coming to an end, but I shed a few tears during dessert and “Ave Maria”. After dinner, it was time for some serious partying at Space Electronic, the biggest night club in Florence. At this point, I probably shouldn’t have kept drinking, but did have the one free drink that comes with entrance, and did plenty of dancing.

Day 13 – Florence to San Gimignano to Rome

We left Florence and headed to Rome. Around noon we got to the town of San Gimignano, which is a one of the cutest towns I have ever seen. The views from within the medieval walls are stunning. It’s so picturesque (which I say about a lot of things, but it seems like everything on this trip was) and it’s surrounded by vineyards as far as you can see. I loved stopping here. It’s too bad we only had an hour or so, I could have stared out at the hills of vineyards for hours. Got some Chianti though that I have yet to try from here, so hopefully it’ll be a good reminder of that little town.

Then officially off to Rome, which is not all that far from Florence. Got there in the afternoon for a guided walking tour. It rained a bit, but not too bad, and we learned a lot about the Colosseum, some of the ruins, and the Wedding cake building. Pete then took us on his tour and we saw the Trevy Fountain and ate some award-winning gelato. Had dinner on our own and had some awesome pizza. Met back as a group and headed to the hotel for a relaxing night.

Day 14 – When in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Another full day to do as we wished. I decided to stay with most of the group and go see the Vatican and St. Peter’s first. Long line in the hot sun, but Pete was awesome and got us Vatican pizza while we waited. After about an hour and a half we went inside the Vatican and saw the Sistine Chapel. The paintings in there are truly amazing. A few of us then snuck in with a tour group and went inside St. Peter’s without waiting in the line. St. Peter’s was probably the thing I was most impressed with in Rome. It’s the biggest church in the world, and it is enormous and beautifully decorated everywhere. Walking through that was great. Those two things took up quite a chunk of the day, so we went and got lunch at a really nice restaurant. Very good spaghetti. I loved the food in Italy, it’s all just so good. Especially the gelato, mmm.

After lunch, Racheal, Kelly, and I did more wandering around Rome and saw the Pantheon and Spanish Steps. Pantheon was very cool, Spanish Steps were disappointing, probably because of the construction. We met again at the Wedding Cake building as a group and layed around for awhile. Lots of walking as usual. We walked over by the Colosseum and had a great dinner with a wonderful view of the Colosseum outside. It was an awesome place to have our last group dinner.

Back to the hotel and we decided to have a toga party while giving out our Contiki Compadre gifts. I’ve never had a toga party, so Rome was a good place for one.

We had some drinks at the bar and all stayed up late talking since it was our last night. Some people had to leave at 4am and some at 8am, so lots of goodbyes were said the night before.

In summary…

It’s weird that I started the trip not knowing anyone, and by the time it was over, I was really sad to see everyone go. I really got close with some people and made great friends. My Contiki was so much fun, such incredible times and overall, UNBELIEVABLE, that’s about the best way I can sum it up. I miss traveling with the group on the coach from place to place, hearing the day songs played over and over, being in a new place so often you almost forget where you are, desperately trying to learn a little bit of a new language so you can get by, and having awesome experiences I never thought I would have the chance to do. I can’t wait to go on my next Contiki. If you get the chance to go on one, do it. You won’t be sorry.

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Cities

Las Vegas in December

Author: schinamama
Date of Trip: December 2005

Well, I thought I was in for a warm treat visiting Vegas in December and getting away from the cold of Pennsylvania, but who would know that I was going to bring the cold with me. (It went down to 36 degrees at night!) Don’t let the weather stop you from going any time of the year. This is a mecca that is alive 24/7 and caters to almost any need you have. Just get up and go.

Everyone should see Vegas at least once, and this was my second trip. Of course, you have to see the Bellagio water show and the inside of the hotel. The garden had the holiday display, and you have to see Dale Chiulys’ blown-glass sculptures. Treasure Island was under construction, so if you are going soon, be careful where you walk or you will be sidetracked through the hotel big time. New York New York is a small disappointment, except for the delicious deli, and of course, unless you want to go on the roller coaster. Go to the Rio for the great New Orleans show and beads galore.

We walked the Strip and visited the shops. If you have not been to Vegas before and you are not a gambler, I guess you’ll want to see the shops and the hotels because they are all different designs and beautifully decorated. The new Wynn hotel was still not complete. The wood, glass, and fabric were gorgeous. Everything there was classy, even the waitress staff. And if my husband can even point that out, it must be so. He mentioned that the women serving the drinks were dressed and built so much classier then the women at the Venetian. Of course, it was the first thing I noticed, but for him to actually say it to me was an eye opener.

Venetian

We stayed at the oh-so-beautiful Venetian hotel for $149 a night, pre-paid. You get a bathroom that’s a room unto itself, with a sunken tub, separate shower, and the toilet in a separate room. Then the bed is on one level, and you step down into a little living room area. There are two TVs. So if you have kids, that’s a great feature. The Venetian is the largest hotel in Vegas and the world, so they say. There are shops on two levels. And of course, they have the gondolas there. If you like the Italian scene, you either have to stay there or visit.

The Venetian is known for its Canyon Ranch Spa. They have a fitness gym, restaurant, and spa. Some people are crazy for this and they do it well. The outdoor pool is another best feature here and if you like to swim, come back when it is warm, or bring the bathrobe from your room. The pool is fabulous and heated.

Las Vegas Entertainment

We saw the Blue Man Group show. It was a great show, but yeah, it’s expensive, big time. But what isn’t expensive that is good? They are entertaining and fun. But the theater was not full. I was surprised.

The next night we saw KA, one of Cirque Du Soleil’s productions. It was an amazing show, as this was the one with their moving stages. The effect was awesome, but I have to tell you that if I had to recommend one of the shows, I’d say go see “O”, the one with the water. Both cost another fortune. But if you want to see something that is out of the ordinary, these are the type of shows to go to; they are not the Ringling Brothers type of circus. I repeat, if you are going to spend your money, go see “O”.

Canaletto

We had dinner at Canaletto’s the first night, and the food was very, very good. If you get a table on the patio, you are actually in the courtyard and get to see all the people strolling or the performers. We sat inside along the canal and heard the singers in the boats. I had the polenta appetizer–bits of rectangular polenta with different toppings that were to-die-for. The sea bass entree was wonderful, and the three different pasta dishes were excellent. The bread disappeared in a minute, and we had seconds. I must say that I can’t remember what dessert was, so it did not leave a lasting impression.

Grand Canyon From Las Vegas

Talk about money, and talk about big. This was it. If you are going to be all the way out in this part of the country and never going to be there again, go for it. Since we were in Las Vegas, we were picked up from our hotel. We took a bus to the airport, a plane to the Canyon, then took a helicopter down into the canyon, then took a boat down the Canyon River, then did the reverse and had lunch on an Indian Reservation, and then finally got back to our hotel. The whole thing took about 5 hours.

Now, here’s what I want to tell you: You can get a deal for this. Yes, you can. Talk to the people at Scenic Airlines or Papillion Helicopter. It should cost you about $285 to maybe $300. That’s for this time of year. Ask them for discounts, and ask them for AAA discounts. I got taken for a ride by another outfit. They all use scenic airplanes, and Papillion helicopters, helis. So call them first and get a price and a time, and then ask around. Book early if you can and do it. You don’t have to do all of it, but if you can do the helicopter part or the plane part, go for it.

The most amazing features that I found were the colors of the land that you see only from the air. Sometimes you see an artists’ drawing of a scene from the Grand Canyon and you think “Hmmmm, where in the world did he come up with those colors?” And you know what I now know: where those colors came from. Cause I saw them go by on the ground from the helicopter and airplane. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Pinks, purples, mint greens, dull grays, sparkling emeralds–one right after the other. It’s the next best thing after Alaska, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

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Cities

Strasbourg Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Strasbourg Shopping

In any French city, you’ll find luxury brands and fancy accessories aplenty, but shopping in Strasbourg really stands out for its local products.

Candy

Strasbourg is very famous for lot of number of high -end chocolate shops. In fact these shops look much like chocolate jewelry shops – the chocolate creations and candies are delicious and look like art. The prices also seem closer to a jewelry store than to a candy store. But enjoy, life is short!

La Cure Gourmande is on the same street as the Cathedral. Known as a Sucreuitier (Candy shop) and Biscuitier (Biscuit Shop), it wins first prize for presentation. Upon entering the store, an employee will greet you and offer you a sample of the biscuit of the day. Everything looks magnificent, but be careful if you decide to enter into this place, as there appears to be no turning back!

Christmas Market

The Christmas market in Strasbourg is world famous, and the market’s atmosphere should be experienced by everyone. Walking around in the crisp air beneath the city’s fabulous Cathedral while browsing through French gifts brings a whole new perspective to the holiday spirit! You can buy Christmas gifts and decorations, but you can also browse French postcards depicting the cathedral, sweaters, berets, candles, handicrafts and more.

La Village de la Biere

Here’s a little shop where you can purchase all sorts of different craft beers, beer glasses and beer accessories. Belgian beers, UK beers, along with beers from other countries were available for purchase, and though the prices are high, the place is quite popular.

Souvenir Shops

There’s a  seemingly endless selection of souvenir shops in Strasbourg, especially around the streets near the Strasbourg Cathedral and on Cathedral square. The shops stand tightly packed side by side, each with their wares on display outside. There’s  a little street which runs between the Cathedral and the River Ill where you can souvenir shop here to your heart’s content. Everything you can think of is available from baby clothes to sun hats to local crafts, coffee mugs and the ever-present stork-emblazoned goods.

Supermarkets

There are only two big supermarkets in Strasbourg’s city center – Monoprix and Simply (a branch of Auchan) – which means they are packed at most times of the day. Simply is on Rue des Grandes Arcades, halfway between Place Gutenberg and Place Kleber. You’ll find the slightly better Monoprix supermarket on Place Kleber, in a basement underneath the department store.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Strasbourg Shopping.

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Beach Cities

Key West Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Key West Shopping

Shopping in Key West is as entertaining as any other activities the keys offer. Kitschy items inspired by Key West’s quirky culture make this shopping experience one-of-a-kind.

Gifts and Souvenirs

One of Key West’s claims to fame is the home of author Ernest Hemingway and his clan of six-toed cats. Hemingway is gone, but the cats remain, and the Hemingway House Book Store offers a full array of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, poems, short stories and biographies, as well as various publications related to Key West.

The Bahama Village Market is named for Key West’s many original residents who were of Bahamian ancestry. The market covers 16 blocks in the southwest part of the city. It carries typical souveniers like straw hats , beads and sea sponges.

Mallory Square

During the Sunset Festival on Mallory Square, local artists sell their goods. The merchandise is akin to what you would find at an art fair or craft exhibit, including high-quality, hand-painted T-shirts, jewelry, ceramics and art.

Duval Street

When the sun goes down, Duval Street lights up. Duval Street has the best shopping in Key West, with a little of everything. It has a good variety of souvenirs, clothing, jewelry and specialty shops. There are hundreds of shops on and around Duval Street. You’ll get better prices off Duval Street, but it’s fun to wander around and window shop too. Most stores are open daily from 9am-9pm.

Evan & Elle is a tropical clothing store on Duval Street with both men’s and women’s clothing, featuring casual Florida Keys-style apparel. This is a quality store, no cheap souveniers here.

Duval Village is a collection of small shops and stalls that sell T-shirts, sunglasses and souvenirs, one of a number of souvenir markets near Mallory Square. Be sure to shop around – prices for the same item can vary from place to place.

Fast Freddies is a great store, and it has the best window displays. Inside there is always some wild something you can’t live without. The place has tons of interesting furniture and home accessories in addition to clothing. Over the years it has become famous for its window displays and is often referred to as the “Southernmost Bloomingdales.”

Fast Freddies II

If you’re truly looking for a bargain check out Half Buck Freddie’s – this is where they send all the merchandise that they cannot sell at the regular store. It’s a little secret located on the corner of Caroline and William streets. They have great deals on a wide selection of interesting items from candles to accessories and decorations.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Key West shopping.

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Arts & Culture Cities

Bari Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Bari Shopping

Bari is a fantastic place to visit and all tourists want to take things home to enrich their memories. There are many places to go shopping in Bari, depending on your interests and what you want to buy.

Shopping in Bari

For window shopping or buying gifts, Via de Rossi is a good place to start. It’s a long street located in the new city of Bari. There are many different gift and souvenir shops perfect for taking home. There are also beautiful flower shops that have a nice stock of flowers, plants and cacti. Other shops shops on the street sell artisan pasta and specialty cheeses. For anyone in the market for handmade diaries or notebooks, there are stationery stores on the street. No matter what type of present or knick-knack a shopper is looking for, this is a great area to find it. It’s also a pleasant place for a stroll, as shopkeepers do not pressure to buy.

Buying Clothes and Shoes in Bari

For people looking to buy clothing, shoes or accessories, Corso Vittorio Emanuele or Via Sparano is the place to go. Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the central street in the new town, which leads in the direction of the old town and port. There are large chain stores of international brands on these streets. Bikinis for the beach are cheap as well as essentials for traveling, such as sun lotion and toiletries. Stores in the area stock super-trendy fashions and shoes at excellent prices.

The Borgo Murattiano

This area can be defined as a large open-air set of shops. There is such a variety that almost anything can be found there. Corso Cavour is in this area, with inexpensive stores and outdoor stalls. The shops open at 9:00 and close at 13:00. They reopen at 16:30 and close at 20:30. On Monday mornings and Sundays most of the shops are closed.

Coffee Roasters in Bari

One of the best finds for good coffee is a little shop called Coffee Roaster. The address is Via Pasubio in the Carrasi Zone. It’s a short walk from the Russian Church or can be reached by bus No. 27. The coffee blends are great and the shopkeeper will grind fresh beans in whatever blend or grind requested. They also stock wine and olive oil.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Bari.

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Cities Food & Drink

Sri Lanka Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Shopping in Sri Lanka

If you are visiting Sri Lanka, you might be going for warm beaches or exploring its scenic palaces and Buddhist ruins. It is a metropolitan island with many opportunities for shopping, whether you are looking for keepsakes, crafts, jewelry or just a quick snack while exploring. We’ve collected some of the best shopping tips for your visit to Sri Lanka.

Jewels and Jewelry

Shopping for gems is a popular pastime for visitors to Sri Lanka. While you can find finished pieces, gem stones are sold at very reasonable prices in several locations. Make sure you are versed in the real value of the market to protect against over eager salesmen looking to fleece tourists. The best gems can be found at Jewel QudsiFarhan Gem & Jewellery in Unawatuna, and on Columbo Street in Kandy.

Groceries and Sundries

You’ll want to know where to pick up some snacks and sodas without paying the mini-bar price at your hotel. Cargills and Keels can be found in multiple locations and you’ll pay what the locals do for freshly packed spices and other Indian cuisine. Remember to bring local currency when you shop.

Keepsakes and Wood Sculpture

Make sure you go home with a unique piece of Batik or Teak wood sculpture. While shops that sell local crafts are just about everywhere, you can the best variety at Laksala, which is a government supported store for local artists. C-Mart in Kandy and the New Sunflower shop are two other wonderful options with a wide variety and great prices. If you fall in love with a larger item, most shops will ship internationally.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Sri Lanka.

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Cities

Lloret de Mar Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Lloret de Mar Shopping

This popular beach resort, located on the Mediterranean Sea, along the Costa Brava, has been a favorite destination for decades. The ancient town holds many artifacts and ruins, and the shopping is also plentiful.

Farmer’s Market in Blanes

Along the seacoast from the central street to the eastern direction is the street of shops. There you can find everything you need in a tourist town- swim suits, souvenirs, among other goods. The Farmer’s Market in Blanes is a real local market popular for its fresh fruit and vegetables supplied by the farmers from Blanes and the surrounding area. The market is open mornings only Monday through to Saturday.  The choice is amazing for both fruits and vegetables. Spices and fresh cut flowers are also on sale and the aroma of the mix is wonderful. Prices are very reasonable because there is no hidden cost in packaging or marketing, just honest to goodness fresh food.

Souvenirs

The area surrounding the beach is filled with small shops selling (in many opinions) cheesy and touristy items. The shops sell almost everything, you can buy anything from food and alcohol to shirts, postcards, shoes, purses. Anything you could possibly want is most likely in one of the shops. The prices are fairly cheap, depending on what you are looking for.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Lloret de Mar.

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Arts & Culture Cities

Katra Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Katra Shopping 

Katra is an Indian town that is popular with tourists. This is because of its location in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains. The Vaishno Devi is nearby, and this town serves as the base camp for those that are making a religious pilgrimage to it. If you are planning on taking a visit to Katra, here are some tips to give you the best shopping experience while you are there.

Visit the Anil Gift Center 

The Anil gift center is located right across from the Manoranjan Food Center. Is a great location for shoppers to get fake jewelry, bangles, and other unique little items that you can’t find anywhere else.

Beautiful Woven Baskets 

There are beautiful woven baskets for sale all over the city of Katra. These baskets are unlike anything you will see anywhere else. They come in many different shapes and sizes like picnic baskets, fruit baskets, and more.

Bangles 

You can also find multiple shops around the city selling bangles to travelers coming to the city. You will be amazed at the range of different items you will find when it comes to bangles and chains. You can’t find anything like them anywhere else. Like most things in India, they are priced very reasonably.

Dried Fruits 

There are also multiple shops all over the city center selling different dried foods. This includes dried fruits and different varieties of dried nuts. The selection and price changes on a regular basis, so the best thing to do to get a good deal is shop around and compare the quality and price of the items in each shop. These shops are usually located close to each other in rows.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Katra

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Arts & Culture Cities

Torino Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Torino Shopping

From foodie paradise to little-known designers, you can shop for your heart’s desire in Torino.

Eataly Turin

Forget Harrods, this is what grocery shopping heaven looks like. The fresh vegetables on sale are very best, there’a an unbelievable selection of cheeses, meats and seafood, piled high, the bakery dishes out only freshly made, perfectly flavored bread, and there’s every type of condiment, chocolate and dried goods available in mind-boggling varieties along with a wonderful selection of drinks.

Street Markets

There are several street markets in town, but the largest and most famous is the historical Porta Palazzo. Another large one takes place in Corso Svizzera and Corso Racconigi, which is the second largest in town. If you’re strolling down Via Garibaldi you’ll cross Corso Valdocco and its market. The Crocetta market is the trendy spot for brand name clothing, shoes and accessories.

Sporting Goods

Decathlon has one of the largest selections of sporting goods and apparel in town. This French franchise carries equipment and apparel for most sports in a one-stop store. They offer a variety of brands, although most items are branded under the Decathlon name. There are two stores in town, one located in Grugliasco and the other in Moncalieri.

For a wider selection of mountaineering equipment (except skiing) try Ronco Alpinismo in Corso Montegrappa 31, Torino.

Designer Discount Store

Il Grifone is a series of small shops selling heavily discounted clothes and shoes from a range of Italian designers and well-known brands. Located in an arcade in Turin, there’s shops for women’s clothing, men’s apparel, shoes and leather wares.

Q3

This is one of the most special shops in Turin. Very small and hidden, but proof that in Italy young, unkown fashion designers also exist, not just the usual big names. The shop is run by a really nice girl from Berlin and she has always some time to talk.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Torino shopping.

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Arts & Culture Cities

Helen Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Helen Shopping

Helen is a city along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia, United States. Known as the “Georgia Alpine Town,” it’s a popular tourist destination for fishermen, hikers, and most of all, for shoppers.

Fudge and Candy

While in Helen, sample the local fudge. As in many tourist towns, Helen is lined with candy shops. Kopper Kettle Fudge, Hansel and Gretel Candy Shop, and Brookstown Fudge are some of the favorites, but there are plenty of others you should checkout as well.

Antiques

Old Sautee Store, just out of town, has been around since 1872, and during that time, the store has only had four owners. Here, you can find crafts, street signs, mugs, silverware, and a number of other items from Helen’s not so distant past. When you’re done there, checkout the Nacoochee Antique Mall. With over 40 vendors, selling furniture, crafts, and antiques, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for here.

Souvenirs

Besides fudge and handcrafted furniture, Helen also has plenty of souvenirs to bring home to friends and family. Along Helen Square, there are several import shops where you can find vases, authentic German beer mugs, and many more items from Europe. Of course, if you are on the hunt for t-shirts, keychains, or postcards, Helen’s shops sell those as well. The city center is the best place to find crafts and souvenirs. There, the streets are lined with shops catering to tourists, and they shop owners will be more than happy to help you find what you’re looking for.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Helen. 

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Arts & Culture Cities

Dinan Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Dinan Shopping

Dinan is an ancient, riverside city in the Brittany Region of France. If you’re in town to shop, stop by La Place des Merciers, the open-air market, and

La Place des Merciers 

In the La Place des Merciers neighborhood, you can shop for bread, cheese, pate, fresh produce, and cuts of locally raised meat. You can also find leather, shoes, jewelry, and toys for the kids. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, walk down the street and explore the city. Dinan is littered with specialty, botique shops.

Market

On Thursdays, walk around old-town and checkout the open-air market. Local vendors and farmers gather weekly to sell their goods. If you’re staying in town for more than a few days, and you have a kitchen, this is a great place to grab carrots, eggplant, and other ingredients for dinner. The main market is located near Places Champs-Clos and du Guesclin. In the summer months, and around holidays, this area can get rather crowded, so plan accordingly.

Arts and Crafts

While you can find designer clothes in town, it’s not Dinan’s specialty. You won’t find streets of brand name stores like you would in Paris. What you will find, if you look, are unique craft, glass, and textile shops. If you head down to Jerzual Gate, you should be able to find several of these locally owned stores. There, you can shop for glass blown vases, hand-sewn blankets, and tables carved out of local timber. If you want to get a feel of Dinan’s medieval past, visit one of these shops.

Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Dinan

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Cities

Matlock Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips

Matlock Shopping

The United Kingdom holds many towns and cities still riddled interesting history and fun discoveries. You’ll also find plenty of Matlock shopping to engage in, so here’s some shops, stores, best buys and inside tips to point you in the right direction.

Truly Scrumptious

If you love candies and sweets then you’re going to love the Truly Scrumptious shop! Almost as good as Willy Wonka’s Factory, you’ll find so many kinds of tasty things to tempt your taste buds. But candy isn’t all they offer. For the perfect touch to that warm day, stop in here for some delicious ice cream. While they do boost the prices a bit because it’s in a tourist area, the treats are well worth it. The shop also offers seating outside in front and in a larger area through the back.  You’ll find the staff to be warm and friendly, and if you just want a quick refreshment coffee and cold drinks are also available.

Matlock Market

Matlock Market hall stands at the end of the town centre after a stream of high street and local shops. On a Saturday afternoon however, you may be disappointed with the lack of occupied stalls. Only a handful of stalls seem occupied: traditionally a sweet (candy) stall, a cakes and breads stall, a fruit and vegetables stall, as well as a handbag and luggage stall. In days gone by town market halls were a hustle and bustle of stall holders and patrons on a Saturday with the women of the town picking up fresh items for Saturday and Sunday dinners. These days, like in Matlock, many town markets have reduced down to a minimal number of stalls with modern-day supermarkets and out-of-town shopping malls taking customers away from the town centers and their markets. Still, it’s worth experiencing the Matlock street shops and taking a peek to see if there are any bargains.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Matlock Shopping – Shops, Stores, Best Buys & Inside Tips.