Tag Archive | "shopping"

Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop: Dafen, China

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Although I kept saying we were off to Darfur, what I really meant was Dafen, the village of artists that is so famous that television series have been filmed to document the phenom and I have been dreaming of my own version of the Mona Lisa with my face painted into it. Hey, don’t laugh, you can be in the Last Supper, you can have your dog in a Warhol pose, or perhaps even Lichenstein with cartoon bubble speak.

Dafen (say Dah-fen) is a suburb of Shenzhen, not a quaint little Chinese fishing village filled with thatched huts or anything else dreamy that you are imagining. You get there on highways; you pass a few greenbelts, but mostly there is urban sprawl — the New China. Now here’s the really cute part: our driver mistakenly took us to the wrong part and so we ended up with some insider wholesale places before he came running after us, waving arms and barking in Chinese, tugging at our arms to retreat to his waiting taxi. We thought perhaps he had run into a ‘cousin’ with a great deal for us, but in fact, he took us to what was, we immediately realized, the village we were seeking.

Dafen art village is behind a Checkpoint Charlie kind of barrier, but its arm is a hand holding a paint brush. The village is very Greenwich Village 1970’s and cute, with Chinese high rises towering behind. There are coffee houses and bistrots and little lanes, all chockablock with stalls and shops selling orginal art, resin sculptures, calligraphy, antiquities as if from Xi’an, painted koi in ponds on oil and more Van Gogh that even a madman would imagine. The only thing missing is Elvis on velvet.

Suzy Gershman has been known as The Born to Shop Lady for over 25 years while traveling the world and reporting her series of guidebooks, magazine articles and television spots. Read more at Suzy Gershman.

Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop: Weighing In

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Luggage4

So there I was, at the Delta Airlines counter in the nicest of CDG's international terminals, E, and trying desperately to get back to the US. Because I had excess baggage, I had called ahead to get the skinny.

The I got to the counter with my four tiny suitcases and was told that I should pay 655 euros in excess. Whaaaat???

I tried to remain clam and spoke the magic word 'supervisor' through gritted teeth.

I explained to the supervisor that I had numerous small pieces because I had been responsible for housing two Volcano Refuges and the car did not have space for a larger piece of luggage. I explained that I had called ahead. I explained (and whined) in English and in French.

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Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop: Little Africa, Paris

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Igloo & african paris 010

Fabrics in Little Africa in Paris.

In this city of haute couture, you can find designer fabrics by the meter in many posh stores in well-heeled districts about town. But if you want a bargain, or just something edgy, you should go to the fabric markets.

The main fabric market, which occupies a hill right below Sacre Coeur, is called the Marche St. Pierre and it consists of many buildings on several streets and side streets. However, the really interesting fabric market is in the part of town called Little Africa, just north of Marche St. Pierre (walking distance).

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Born to Shop: Any Fleas Today, Lady?

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Flea

by Suzy Gershman

It's hard to find a shopper, or much of any traveler to France, who doesn't like flea markets.

But here I am to say, whooooaaaaa — there's better bargains to be had in France. I have become spoiled by vide greniers and Emmahus. To me, many flea markets, especially The Big Flea in Paris, are too touristy and too expensive.

It's Springtime now in the South of France, and so the season begins. There are, of course, indoor events during winter…and many Paris flea markets continue their cycle throughout the year. But here, in the South, the vide greniers have just begun. We have mimosa. We have forsythia. We have lift-off.

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Born to Shop: One Perfect Day in Hanoi

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Sofitelcit

A vintage Citroen in front of the The Metropole Sofitel in Hanoi.

When you wake up in a large room in The Metropole Sofitel Hanoi and sun is streaming in from the garden, it's already a perfect day. When your room-mates are snoring or buried beneath their down or fiddling with their crack-berries and you know you are first up in the luxury bathroom, it's a more perfect day. When you head downstairs to the colonial portion of the hotel and take in the buffet breakfast (take in visually and orally) and meet with new friends you have just met in The Lounge, then it's a very perfect morning. And that's just the start of the day.

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Born to Shop: Autobiography from the Autogrill

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Auto4
By Suzy Gershman

I am afraid of the dark. I am afraid of heights. And I am really terrified of Italian highways that go over viaducts and leave you hanging out there in the breeze while Enzo in his Fiat is soaring past you at 150kph. So Sarah, the Editorial Director of Born to Shop, drove today. We curled around the gorgeous houses and flowers and trees with a constant view of the sea and then hit the highway right outside of Genoa. Christopher Columbus clearly left because there was too much beach traffic on a Sunday.

Since breakfast was not included in our rate at our Italian palace hotel, we headed to France, hungry. We stopped at the first Autogrill we found past Genoa. The Italian highway routes have many service areas, only some of them have Autogrills. Since I especially like shopping at these, we held out. Imagine our surprise to find that everyone in Italy was having Sunday brunch at the Autogrill.

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