Somewhere over the rainbow….

So it seems everyone that I know is either overseas (Hello Miss Sara… having a fab time!!) or about to head overseas in the next couple of months!. Not to sound sad ūüė¶ or anything but I am a wee bit jealous!!… As it takes me back to a happy place of last year of traveling overseas (I love traveling, what I don’t like is the reality of coming back!). As the Australian dollar is at its best rate it has been for years, I thought if your thinking of doing a snap decision and heading overseas… here are a few of my suggestions for places to go!!. Here is my top shopping destinations you should visit at least once in your life!.

1. SINGAPORE

Were do i even begin with Singapore!. This tiny island in asia, is in one word AMAZING!!. I love Singapore and wish everyday that my brother didn’t move back to Australia, so it could give me an excuse to see him, go shopping and stay somewhere for free!!. People ride off Singapore as a city that you should only stay 2 days or just a quick stop over… those people are so WRONG!!. There is so much to do, that it is hard to pack it all in!!.

 

Singapore city just before night

 

About Singapore, it is very clean, It is very humid/hot all day and night (so pack summer clothing!!) ¬†So to escape this heat, everyone heads straight to where the air conditioning is and that’s any shopping mall on the island!!.

Singapore is shopping heaven ūüôā !!.. So much heaven they have one whole street called Orchard Road dedicated to shopping malls. One after another, after another after another!. Most of the malls have all the same shops, mostly high-end clothing such as Louis Vittion, Prada Gucci etc etc oh and ZARA!!. The malls are open from 10am – 10pm everyday…which is fantastic!

 

Shopping Heaven!!

 

Once a year the entire city goes on sale, the Great Singapore Sale happens every June and July! Discounts start from 30% in the first week to 80% in the last week of the sale!. This is the only time of the year that even the high-end places like Prada go on sale!…There are daily lines (up to an 1 hour wait) to get inside to buy something on sale!.

Apart from shopping, there really is other things to do in the city (lol..but on second thoughts, Man maybe this is not a destination¬†to take your sister, mother, girlfriend, wife to…!!) So here is a quick run down.

Orchard Road – Shopping heaven! Must see and do! Bring lots and lots of money!. Also worth a mention Arab Street is also a fantastic place to get your fabrics & textiles (way better than anywhere in Australia!) and Vivo City another mall that is fantastic!. Think twice the size of the Canberra Centre!.

Sentosa Island – This island has everything under the (very hot, so pack your sunscreen) sun!. There are beaches, hotels, casinos, bars and the Merlion (giant lion cross mermaid statue) in the centre of the Island. Worth going to for a fun day out, also stay for the light show at night.

Singapore Flyer – Like the London Eye, you get great views of the city both day and night.

Raffles Hotel – This iconic hotel is stunning and dating back to the 1880’s, this is where the first Singapore sling cocktail originated from.

Singapore Grand Prix – Held late September every year, this night Grand Prix race is a must see!!. The noise of the cars, the heat of the track, the overall atmosphere makes it a once in life time experience!

Night Safar @ Singapore Zoo – A tour of animals at night, all in darkness. Pretty cool!!

Food & Night Life – Food is so cheap and so good in Singapore, there are endless choices, to many to mention, although the flavour burst by McDonald’s are the best, they are a soft serve cone with a flavour (berry, chocolate etc) swirled through them. At just $1 they are so addictive.

If you’re heading out for a night on the town – head to Clinic, this funky night club ¬†based on a hospital theme and so there are hospital beds as chairs, test tubes as cocktail glasses, wheelchairs to sit in, drinks are good and it makes for fun photo’s!!.

 

Clinic - ill order a hospital bed thanks!!

 

I haven’t been back to Singapore since last year and since then they have opened 2 new casinos and a universal theme park, so I’m ¬†pretty sure these are places to head to also. For further information head to this website and watch the video!!.

http://www.yoursingapore.com/content/traveller/en/browse/see-and-do/your-new-singapore.html

2. Italy – Florence/Tuscany

Whilst trying to get a table for dinner… Waiter: Ah romantic table for two (in sexy italian accent!!) ?? At the same time ¬†Me: Um he is my brother, ¬†My bro: Ah she is my sister!!.. Waiter: Ah no romantic table for two then!! Truly classic :o)

 

Beautiful View of Florence...

 

Florence  is a city that you just fall in love with, the culture, the food (one of  best places for gelato in Italy) and the people!!. Milan maybe the fashion capital of Italy but Florence sure does give it a run for its money (and a massive hit in your pocket as well)!!.

Shopping is a blast in Florence, where do i even start!!. Hmm lets see! the markets!. Located in the centre of the city, the leathers market is a dream!. You can pick up pretty much anything from here such as an extensive range of leather hand bags, jackets, wallets, belts, gloves and many (and I do many) different silk scarfs.

A few words of warning: When shopping first do an entire lap of the markets and see what’s out there, shop around in terms of items and pricing. Keep an eye on your own personnel belongings these markets get so packed/busy especially from 11am-5pm and pickpockets¬†are always out in these places!. Cash is KING, bargaining is expected at these places so don’t ever pay full price for anything as they want your money!!… and they don’t want you to go to the next stall!. Finally… as tempting as that fake Prada or Gucci handbag you see being sold in the “back streets” of the markets at $50 euro is… DO NOT PURCHASE IT!!!… Many years ago to crack down on the selling of fake goods, they introduced¬†hefty fines if you get caught purchasing of fake goods!! Fines can run from ‚ā¨500 to ‚ā¨10,000… so not cheap!!

 

"Falso No"... the many signs in Florence telling you not to buy fakes!!

 

It is a pretty serious matter in Italy so I advise you don’t buy anything like that and check out this information.

http://www.italylogue.com/planning-a-trip/buying-fakes-in-italy-is-a-fake-gucci-bag-worth-a-e10000-fine.html

In relation to this, there is something in Florence called the ticket police, they will stop you and see if you have a receipt for the goods you just purchased (mostly from the markets). Try to get a receipt¬†from every store.. however you will get some stalls¬†saying “oh my machine is broken”… just be careful about this!.

Next up there is….

The Ponte Vecchio Bridge¬†¬†– This stunning bridge in Florence is home to jewellery shops!!… Situated over the Arno River, this is the place to get all things Gold and Diamonds!!. Jewellery is simply amazing here, it is of the highest quality and the most beautiful¬†designed pieces!. As this bridge is “tourist central” prices are expensive so again do your research… window shop and again you can bargain for a better price!!. The Ponte Vecchio bridge is also very stunning at sunset, so if you have time it is worth hanging around for it!.

 

I'll take two!!.. Jewellery shop window

 

 

The row of Jewellery stores!!

 

So amazing….

 

The Ponte Vecchio Bridge at sunset

 

Just outside the city there is something called Space & The Mall!!. Ever wonder where old designer stock goes?? Do they have a factory outlet of some sort?? well the answer is YES THEY DO ūüôā !! And it is like finding diamonds, gold and pearls in a treasure chest!!

The Space factory outlet is located in a tiny town called  Montevarchi, which is about a 50 minute drive from Florence (the drive is amazing, you see such beautiful Tuscan scenery like out of a romantic movie!). Space is the factory outlet for PRADA!!. When you first arrive you will be given a ticket, this is your purchasing number and when you have selected the goods you want, the staff place it in a holding area so you can continue shopping without holding anything.

 

Outside of Space. They wont let you take pictures inside!!

 

At Space you can buy everything, clothes, handbags, wallets, sunnies, sports wear, suites, shoes and so on. The range is fantastic and very affordable with prices starting at ‚ā¨50. I had gone to Space with my¬†brother Mario who isn’t the biggest fan of shopping and even he walked out purchasing a whole heap of stuff!.

After spending half of your money there… then head to a place called The Mall in another small town called LECCIO REGGELLO which it is about another 30 mins from the Space outlet.

The Mall has about every designer under the sun. Gucci (where there are massive lines and crowds), Armani, Valentino, La Parla, Salvatore Ferragamo, Fendi, Pucci, Alexander McQueen and Burberry just to name a few. There are a lot more choice here and there is so much to shop for, prices a very cheap as well!. There is also a café where you can rest your feet from all the walking and shopping!.

 

Ah.... The best mall i have ever been to!!

 

If you google both these places you will find that there are bus tours to both, this is the best idea instead of driving.

Apart from shopping, there are a number of great sight-seeing activities you can do also, here are my suggestions:

The Doumo – Amazing Cathedral within the centre, lines are long to get into this place so get there early!

Boboli Gardens РStunning!!. This amazing park which is blocked off by walls and so you would never know it was there within this city!. Lush greens, amazing scenery, lakes and statues dating back to the 16th century.

 

The Boboli Gardens.... hidden behind massive walls

 

The Uffizi Gallery – One of the worlds oldest museums and home to some off the most famous paintings, such as The birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

Accademia di Belle Artim РThis museum  is home to the very famous Michelangelos David!. This amazing piece of art is nothing you have ever seen before, carved from the one piece of marble, it really is a work of art!.

The endless Piazza’s in the City – all different all worth seeing.

Piazelle Michelangelo – This is a bit of a walk from the central city (so wear flat shoes) as you walk up hill to this Piazza where you get the most beautiful views of the entire city and other parts of Tuscany!. Well worth it and the your photos will be amazing!.

The Salvatore Ferragamo¬†Museum – the “inventor” of the high heel shoe!!.. This little gallery showcases many of his designs and pictures. If you are into high heel shoes this is perfect for you!!

So there you have it my top places to go shopping….I know these places are not Paris, London or New York… however im sure there are plenty of other great shopping destinations, i have yet to visit!…. Where else in the world has the best shopping, that you think is fantastic?

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