20 great destinations for shopping

Shoppers of all kinds will fall in love with the places that made this list of the top 20 cities for shopping. Whether you live nearby or are planning a trip, this list offers places ideal for anyone in need of some retail therapy.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The French Quarter and Bourbon Street are only the starting point in the unique shopping destinations you’ll find in New Orleans. Stroll the French Market and pick up vibrant art from street vendors, or dash down a side street and discover one of the many galleries and specialty shops that sell one-of-a-kind items. This is also where you’ll find all manner of New Orleans themed clothing, voodoo dolls, postcards, and other tourist finds.

After exploring The Quarter, head to Magazine Street, where many of the city’s college students and young professionals flock. If treasures for the home are what you are looking for, then trek to Aux Belles Choses, a “shabby-chic” shop where the owners hand-pick each addition to their store. For the hottest fashions, try Buffalo Exchange and Funky Monkey, where hip fashionistas trade in their old clothes for new outfits and accessories. Be on the lookout for the latest trends and vintage frocks and accessories.Toronto, Canada
I love the the Distillery District, a pedestrian mall and historical district where a number of Toronto’s emerging artists and designers have shops. Tour the works of art at one of Thomas Landry Gallery’s two locations or browse rack after rack of denim masterpieces at Lileo. Peruse the collections of artists like Wendy Walgate, who create pieces with deep meaning out of familiar materials.

Established in 1975, Courage My Love is a Bohemian shopping mecca and is where Hollywood stylists and starlets flock to accessorize. It’s like looking through a friend’s closet, if the closet just happened to take up an entire store. If luxury is more your style, then make tracks to Zenobia, where a personal shopper will compile a perfect wardrobe for you. Your Zenobia representative will help you craft your style months in advance then have your pieces tailored in season.

Tokyo, Japan
The pomp and ceremony at Mitsukoshi is incredible. Founded in the 17th Century, this Japanese department store chain has the most outstanding customer service I have ever seen. Here you can find everything from traditional Japanese garb to gardening tools. Visit the main store in the Nihombashi District or one of the other buildings placed conveniently throughout the city. Another historical and traditional store is Kyukyodo, which sells stationary and writing supplies. Here, even sheets of paper can be works of art.

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is a city of American prestige and history. While you are here, take in the sights and enjoy the city’s luxuries. At Firestone and Parson, you can find fine exquisite antique estate jewelry and silver as as well as new baubles. Louis Boston is one of the world’s premier sellers of fine clothing. The staff is second to none, and they go the extra mile to get to know their customers. They will work with you to ensure your new wardrobe matches the current fashion climate and your own personal style. While you are in town, design a custom handbag at Lill Studio or, if you don’t have the time, browse their ready-made collection. This innovative store makes shopping an affair to remember.

Marrakesh, Morocco
For Western travelers, Morocco is an exotic and exciting shopping destination. This is why the winding streets around Marrakesh’s Djamaa El Fna Square, with its labyrinth of treasures, plus its hustlers and haggling shopkeepers, is a must see. For a dizzying array of local and international herbs and spices, visit Herboriste du Paradis.

Beijing, China
Beijing is a flourishing shopping city set in the shadow of the iconic Great Wall. You can visit the traditional night market and pick up the usual tourist trinkets, but it’s the quiet cultural revolution taking place here that really gets me excited. China’s art scene is exploding, and I’ve found that it’s easier than ever to find works by contemporary Chinese artists. Formerly a state owned factory district, the 798 Art District is an amazing collection of designer boutiques and galleries, where you can find everything from pop art to chic designer clothing. It is breathtaking to see how the artists-in-residence have transformed and divided their space.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi is a land of luxury and excess for travelers. Enjoy the modern feel and energetic nightlife, but I would suggest visiting shops with a more local feel. Al Motahajiba sells traditional head scarves and Muslim dress, but you can also find glamorous party dresses and formal wear. Some of these dresses will leave you breathless (but so might the price tags). And, if you truly want to experience Middle Eastern luxury at its best, shop at The Paris Gallery, where you will find traditional perfumes and exclusive luxury products.

Mumbai, India
Mumbai is a bustling, busy, and sometimes dirty city. My favorite shopping destination was Mangadalas Market, where there are plenty of bargains on everything from textiles to clothing, both modern and traditional. This is a great place to find accent pieces (and fabrics to make your own) for your home. Women should definitely check out Naina’s, where you can order customized saris. And, Cottage Industries Emporium has an unbelievable selection of crafts made by skilled Indian artisans.

Tahiti, French Polynesia
For me, Tahiti is THE place to buy pearls. You can find the natural marvels in every shape, color, and size. At Te Tevake Creations, carved mother of pearl and natural pearls are used in exquisite jewelry combinations. Robert Wan offers pearl jewelry in distinctive designs. If you’re looking for more traditional arts and crafts to prove you were here, try the market Le Marche.

Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is full of fascinating bazaars and traditional retailers. I loved navigating the stalls at The Grand Bazaar, even though I only got to experience a handful of the loud, bustling marketplace. It has more than 4,000 shops and was established in the 15th Century. The Spice Bazaar is much smaller, but the selection of edible treasures in the form of spices, teas, and more is dizzying. And, at Melda Silverware, the traditional silver is simply stunning.

– The above was written by Wendy Withers, Seed contributor



Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii

I stumbled upon the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, while searching for a place to buy sandals and I ended up spending hours there. Besides having almost 300 popular stores, the indoor/outdoor setup of the Ala Moana Center provides the ideal environment for both enjoying the Hawaiian heat and cooling off.

Chinatown in Seattle, Washington
Having visited the Chinatown districts of many cities, it’s safe to say that Seattle’s International District beats them all. Besides the shopping, it offers numerous art galleries, restaurants and bars. The Venus Karaoke bar is a must for experiencing karaoke the traditional Asian way, in a private room without strangers watching as you belt out a tune.

Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, Arizona
As I strolled around the Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was walking in a stunning desert park. It’s a place where you can easily spend an entire day. After visiting the shops, I enjoyed an outdoor dinner as I watched the sun set. After the meal I relaxed and painted pottery at the As You Wish Pottery Painting Place, and played video games at Dave & Buster’s while waiting for it to be finished.

Georgetown Flea Market in Washington, DC
The Georgetown Flea Market is perfect for bargain hunters searching for vintage items. Perusing the market is half the fun, rummaging through the antique pieces wondering what you will find. I was lucky enough to come across 3 vintage 1950′s dresses, all for a discounted price significantly lower than anyplace else I have purchased them in the past.

Greenwich Village, New York City
The Greenwich Village shopping experience is unlike any other and is what landed it on this list of the 20 best cities for shopping. Every trip made to Strand Bookstore results in a rare find, and I still love the bright pink fishnets purchased at Ricky’s. The best find of all time? An authentic vintage Chinese wedding gown for the low price of $100, found amongst other unique items at Stella Dallas.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Pennsylvania offers diverse shopping. I scored an Amish rocking chair then enjoyed a family-style Pennsylvania-Dutch home cooked meal. The city’s multiple outlet centers prompt return trips every year, and is especially beneficial for school shopping. Extensive sales often bring the prices down to less than $10 an item, and on my last trip to the Lancaster outlets, I left with 12 items for less than $100.

Siena, Italy
The shopping in Siena, Italy provides a noteworthy alternative to the shops found in Rome or Milan. In addition to the many boutiques, Siena offers a variety of weekend markets. I purchased handmade bowls at a tremendous discount as well as several homemade bottles of olive oil that incidentally were selling for $10 more in Rome.

Piccadilly Circus in London, England
A major intersection in London, at first glance Piccadilly Circus doesn’t seem to have much to offer for shopping. However once the weekend comes, Piccadilly springs to life. The weekend market is the perfect place to purchase small trinkets and inexpensive souvenirs. I was able to score postcards, small purse and handmade paper, all on a student budget.

South Congress Street in Austin, Texas

South Congress Street in Austin, Texas, better known as “SoCo,” epitomizes the Austin experience. With a motto of “Keep Austin Weird”, the city boasts several unique and odd places to shop. Staying at the famous Austin Motel on SoCo allowed me to feel like a local, drinking coffee at the trendy Austin Java while taking in the shopping on a daily basis. I came home with loads of fun accessories, one-of-a-kind clothing items and handmade soaps all made by local Austin folks.

The Grove in Los Angeles, California
If you enjoy shopping at a traditional mall, you will love the last of the 20 best cities for shopping, The Grove in L.A. Instead of housing the shops in one building, The Grove spreads the stores across an outdoor pavilion riddled with water fountains. The atmosphere is ideal for taking in the beautiful Los Angeles weather, and I was able to meet several local people who recommended night spots.

– The above was written by Rebecca Reinstein, Seed contributor

Related:
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Cycle across India in 2011

Looking for a new kind of travel experience? One that combines cultural immersion with physical challenge across a beautiful and mysterious landscape? Then perhaps Tour d’Afrique, the Toronto based company that specializes in adventure cycling tours, has just the thing for you. As part of their DreamTours program, the company has organized a 46 day ride across India that is set to get underway in early 2011.

Departing from Agra, just south of New Delhi, on January 29th of next year, the Indian Adventure Bicycle Expedition will cover more than 2050 miles. In the process, the route will pass through Rajasthan, the popular Mumbai, and on to the beaches of Goa, before continuing to the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Mannar, and the Indian Ocean.

Cyclists who elect to ride the entire route will spend 37 days in the saddle, with nine more rest days built into the schedule. But for those who lack the time for the full tour, there are two other options, allowing for riders to enjoy an abbreviated course. The first is a 995 mile ride from Agra to Mumbai and the other a 1300 mile route from Mumbai to Kanyakumari that requires 25 days to complete.

Tour d’Afrique earned it’s reputation by launching an epic cycling tour of Africa that bears the same name as the company itself. Since then, they’ve also organized an equally epic tour of South America as well as an amazing ride along the ancient Silk Road. Their DreamTours program was launched last year, allowing us to come up with or own grand cycling tours, while the company uses its network of resources to organize the events. The Indian Adventure Expedition is one of the first tours to come from that program.

For more information on this ride, and the others that are available, go to the DreamTours website. Then, break out your bike, and hit the road. You’re going to need the practice.

Diners in India may face a fine for not clearing their plates

Ever get to a restaurant, realize that you’re starving and everything sounds delicious, proceed to order way too much food and then realize when it arrives that there is no way on Earth you can eat it all? While in addition to being wasteful, this kind of behavior can now earn you a fine in India.

According to the Independent, diners caught wasting food in Mumbai will be charged an extra 5 rupees (about 10 cents). The rising cost of food and gas prices in India was the impetus behind the idea, which was the brainchild of the Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners in Mumbai. The city is home to 7,000 restaurants and 40% of residents eat out at least once per day, so the wasted food does add up.

While the very small fine may not be enough to deter some people from wasting food, its backers hope that it will raise awareness about the rising cost of ingredients.

I have to wonder though, will exceptions be made if you just don’t like the food? I can only imagine overhearing the complaints: “Not only was my biryani awful, but they charged me extra because I couldn’t eat it all!”

Asian airline puzzled by mysterious mid-air toilet clogs

Any time you put 300 people in a metal tube, the strain on the in-flight toilet system is going to be immense – but Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific is having more than just a bit of trouble.

The airline is actually dealing with a huge mystery. Their toilets are so unreliable that a Hong Kong bound flight had to make an unscheduled landing in Mumbai, India when all ten of the bathrooms became clogged and unusable.

The 278 passengers on the “crappy” flight were delayed for 18 hours. But to be honest, I’d rather spend 18 hours in Mumbai than 18 minutes on a plane with no bathrooms.

In other incidents, two other Hong Kong bound flights had to refuse boarding to a substantial amount of passengers when all the bathrooms on one side of the plane stopped working.

All these incidents are on the Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft, and Cathay Pacific is said to be working overtime to figure out what is causing the problem. A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman suggested that passengers may be to blame.

‘You would be amazed at what we find in the pipes when we clean the system – not just face towels but medicine bottles, socks and even children’s stuffed toys,’

Until the real reason is uncovered, engineers are carrying out deep cleaning treatment and replacing pipes.
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New luxury trains coming to India

It just goes to show that luxury travel may be as enduring as the Taj Mahal.

Even in this economy, not one but two luxury trains are debuting in India in the next few months.

The Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey, the first privately-operated luxury tourist train in India, will launch on November 18. Its seven-night, eight-day itinerary includes Mumbai-Aurangaba-Ahmedabad-Udaipu-Sawai-Madhopur-Jaipur-Bharatpur-Agra-Delhi.

Maharajas’ Express will launch soon after, on January 9. It’s making the rounds along two routes: either seven nights/eight days through Mumbai-Vadodara-Udaipur-Jodhpur-Bikaner-Jaipur-Ranthambore-Agra-Delhi and back; or six nights/seven days through: Delhi-Agra-Gwalior-Khajuraho-Bandhavgarh-Varanasi-Gaya-Kolkata (with an option of a reverse trip).

The trains will be a throwback to Orient Express standards. On the Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey, the Presidential Suite replicates a five-star hotel, complete with a bedroom, living area, and personalized bathroom. Prices range from $525/per person per night to $1,120 on the Indian Maharaja-Deccan Odyssey, and $800 to $2,500 on the Maharajas’ Express.

So far, the trains are said to have strong bookings, especially with travelers from the UK, Japan, and Germany.

[Thanks, Jaunted]