My favourite shopping streets in Europe

Also read: Awesome shopping streets in Asia.

Strøget, Copenhagen (Denmark)

A gorgeous street in Copenhagen, but alas, the shops close by 7 pm and the prices are outrageous for tourists on non-European salaries. Strøget is one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, and is lined with popular high street stores like Topshop, Zara, H&M and some local brands. There’s also a giant Lego store (yay!). The summer of 2014, Strøget was buzzing with tourists and locals enjoying the atmosphere, sipping coffee at outdoor cafes, and just strolling about. I especially enjoyed the walk on cobblestoned streets and checking out the heritage buildings, still in excellent condition.

Shopping Stroget in Copenhagen

Stroget shopping Copenhagen

Taksim Square, Istanbul (Turkey)

Back in 2010 when I visited Turkey, the famous Taksim Square was THE PLACE to be on a Saturday night. Crowded even in the day, the place came alive on weekend evenings, with thousands of people partying, shopping and grabbing a bite well past midnight. The streets off the square became a no-car zone, dozens of food and souvenir vendors set up shop and the “party” began. The atmosphere was pulsating with high energy, and I felt like I’d just had two Red Bulls. After a quick pizza, I made my way through the packed streets to go shopping, spending at least an hour at the multi-storeyed Mango store. The best part—shops were open till midnight!

PS- Due to the changing political situation in Turkey, I’m not sure if the late-night shopping continues.

Kurfürstendamm, Berlin (Germany)

Who would’ve thought that the staid German capital would have such wonderful shopping! Kurfürstendamm (quite a mouthful no?) is the center of most tourist activities in Berlin and a great place to shop. The street has all the high street brands you could name- Zara, Diesel, Uniqlo, H&M, Pull & Bear… you get the idea. I shopped till I dropped at Pull & Bear, and got a great leopard print backpack from Zara for just €10. I also bought kitchen appliances at the German department store KaDeWe, which was stocked with unbelievable appliances in the German aesthetic: clean design and high-tech precision. Also the souvenir shops are worth checking out for cool tees, shot glasses and Berlin messenger bags that look great and are easy on the pocket.

Berlin Kufustendamm shopping

La Rambla, Barcelona (Spain)

Being in Spain, you expect to see local fashion brands at every corner. And well, they are! In and around the 1.2 kilometre-long La Rambla, you have the choice of the world’s best-known fashion and beauty brands, and you will never want to stop. I shopped at Zara, Mango, H&M, Bershka, The Body Shop, Shana… This was in 2011, and the Euro was not as frightfully expensive as it is today. At the Plaza Catalunya end of the street (north end), there’s the Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, where I bought Bobbi Brown makeup and tons of accessories. El Corte Inglés is a quintessential part of the Spanish life and each store is different from the others. It’s a must-visit anywhere in the country.

Barcelona shopping La Rambla

Barcelona shopping La Rambla artists

Travel Thursday: 10 apps for stress-free vacations

I’m obsessed with travel so before a vacation, I spend HOURS looking up new destinations, hotels, flight fares, attractions, tips and advice. And on vacation, I rely on my mobile devices to help me navigate make the most of my (too short) holiday.

Planning a vacation is isn’t easy. There are too many things to do- choosing a destination, planning an itinerary, booking flights, hotels… you get the drift. It’s bound to drive anyone up the wall. But since I’ve begun using my mobile phone to plan, book and track my vacation, the whole process has been relaxed and a lot of fun! Seriously our phones are the ultimate travel tool.

Here are my top 10 travel apps available on Microsoft devices to make your holiday planning and vacations a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Note: All these apps have been downloaded and tested on the Microsoft Lumia 535.

For Trip Planning and Discovery

HappyTrips

HappyTrips will inspire travellers with listicles and features, along with destination mini guides, hotel and attractions information and more. For example, the Berlin section includes guides on shopping, outdoors and museums in and around the city.

HappyTrips mobile app 

TripAdvisor

Can any trip be complete without reading what the TripAdvisor community has to say? TA has been my go-to app for the longest time now- I especially rely on the community to research hotels (I’m finicky about those!) and sightseeing options.

TripAdvisor windows mobile app

Burrp

I’ve been relying on Burrp since way back to locate new restaurants! 🙂 Now I use the app to discover the best places to eat, party, shop, indulge or chill. Keep this app handy for trips around India.

Burrp windows mobile app 

For Trip Booking

Kayak

Kayak is the easiest way to booking hotels, flights and rental cars across the world. With a slick interface, useful filters and an impressive range of options, the Kayak app is a must-download before your next holiday.

 Kayak windows phone app

BookMyTicket

BookMyTicket works as a gateway to several booking sites across India. In a click, the app will direct you to leading portals to book train tickets, flight tickets, bus tickets and taxis.

BookMyTicket Windows app 

Utilities

My Trips

This travel assistant app keeps track of your itinerary- flights, hotels, appointments etc and works even when offline. I especially like that it keeps track of previous trips to help with a quick trip down memory lane!

My Trips windows app

Here Maps

Here Maps is a navigation tool and more! The most useful feature is a “Collection” which is like a bookmarks folder to save places you want to visit or remember, such as “Barcelona”, “Singapore shopping” or “Chinese restaurants”. So you can save places before your trip and let the app guide you when you’re travelling.

Here Maps windows mobile app

Translator

Sometimes your little finger to locate a restroom doesn’t work. So let Translator do the talking for you (literally). This app will translate keyed-in text, speech and image-based text across multiple languages and give output in the form of audio and text. Super useful!

 Translator Microsoft Lumia app

Currency Converter

If, like me, you’re constantly converting dollars, euros, bahts, roubles or krona into rupees or vice versa, Currency Converter will save you a lot of trouble. The app tells you the latest exchange rates to make your shopping easier and quicker.

Currency Converter on Lumia 

For Your Memories

Photo Editor Master

Picture-perfect images are possible even without a fancy DSLR. Use this app to enhance your vacation pictures and share your travel story with the world! Do I see you pouting for a selfie already?

photo editor windows phone

All apps are available on the Windows store and can be downloaded on a Microsoft Lumia phone. Handset provided by brand for testing.