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London

clock portobello road antique market london notting hillFrom the bustling department stores of Oxford Street to the charming antiques market of Portobello Road, London offers a shopping experience for just about everyone. Looking for a good souvenir? Seek out anything with the red, white and blue Union Jack -- like T-shirts, caps, socks and tea towels. Biscuits, lemon curd and tins of tea are always a good bet. And for big spenders, anything in Burberry's signature tan plain will make a fitting memento of your trip (but you may find cheaper prices on eBay than in London).

Oxford Street, the busiest shopping street in Europe, boasts a mile and a half of department stores (such as Selfridges and Marks & Spencer), fashion boutiques and big-name chain stores (Gap, Urban Outfitters, Laura Ashley).

For a more upscale shopping scene, make your way to nearby Bond Street, where you'll find names like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany & Co.

"If they don't have it, they'll get it." Harrods is called the world's biggest department store. There are some 330 departments (including a pet spa) and more than 30 food venues -- and you can't see it all. The 155-year-old landmark is handsomely dressed up in Edwardian terra cotta -- and the famous Food Halls will knock your socks off. It's well worth a visit even if you're not a shopper.

Carnaby Street has regained its "Swinging 60's" rep with plenty of funky shops, along what is really a collection of cobbled roads behind Regent Street. Check out the Great Frog for cool handmade jewelry.

You're wrong if you think Notting Hill only got popular after the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant film. Truth is, this place has been at the corner of Right Now and Fabulous for years (the Portobello Road antiques and flea market came onto the scene around 1948 and remains popular today). The Travel Bookshop, the inspiration for the shop where Hugh met Julia, unfortunately closed its doors in 2011. But Books for Cooks on Blenheim, an incredibly well-stocked shop with five tables tucked away in the back for lunch, is still in business. The area is chock-a-block with hip restaurants and funky shops, secret gardens and seriously grand homes for rich types such as Stella McCartney and Richard Curtis (he wrote the Notting Hill film). Head for Westbourne Grove and Emma Hope for shoes and bags.

When hunger strikes, head down the Thames to the Borough Market, a must-stop for foodies. Located on the South Bank of the Thames, the market was established 250 years ago and still does an overnight wholesale trade every night except Saturday. For us normal folk, stalls and shops operate Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It's easy to make your own meal here -- pick up cheese from one of the dairy shops, buy a loaf of bread and some meat pies, and accompany them with a side of the freshest produce in London.
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