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Shopping on the Atlantic Coast

Abandon hope, all ye who shop around the Atlantic Coast of Europe: gorgeous stuff is everywhere and resistance is futile. Handmade woollens, fabulous pottery, Celtic and contemporary jewelry, local designers’ cutting edge styles, original art, crafts, and foodstuffs you can’t resist ought to help you get rid of any unwanted cash and take home some real treaures.

Shopping in Iceland is Hip fashions, designer jewelry, cutting edge music and sturdy outdoor wear – even the “non-shopper” is going to be tempted! Stock up on everything from fleece to hiking socks (highly recommended!) The traditional Icelandic lopapeysa, a knitted wool sweater with special design at the top and on the sleeves, is now a must-have fashion item. Reykjavik may very well be the best-kept secret of the cosmopolitan shopping enthusiast. Prices are generally on a par with those in New York City but when it comes to high fashion or designer wear, Reykjavik prices are almost always more reasonable. Thank the the lower overhead for that. Add to this the 15% tax-free refund for tourists - off a minimum purchase of 4,000 ISK (less than US $60) - and you may wind up with some excellent buys indeed. Incidentally, price tags in Iceland always include sales tax.

Ireland is a sophisticated, chic shopping destination whether you’re looking for cutting-edge fashion or traditional crafts. Ireland has a worldwide reputation for knitwear and woolen goods, so it makes a fantastic hunting ground for something to keep out the cold. If you're looking to bring something typically Irish home, Ireland is famed for its exquisite crystal and glassware with Galway, Tipperary, Tyrone and Waterford leading the pack. Ireland has a strong reputation for pottery and ceramics with styles ranging from chic and contemporary to rustic and traditional. Keep your eye out for leading names like Stephen Pearce, Louis Mulcahy, Nicholas Mosse, and Michael Kennedy.

Fashionistas may go crazy in Spain, where long opening hours give maximum access to top Spanish and international designers. Trendy, creative, traditional or deluxe fashions; enjoy your favorite fashions to the full with a day’s shopping in Spain. Leather goods and shoes in particular will probably prove to be a major and most welcome temptation. Every major city has lots to offer in fashion. If you love handicrafts, keep your eyes peeled in Galicia; for the famous Spanish ceramics, head to Valencia. For something really precious, a Spanish guitar sounds like no other, and the luster of Majorca pearls will cause smiles for years. There’s also that bottle of unctuous Spanish olive oil you might want to pop in your suitcase.

What souvenir will you take home from your stay in the Portugal? The handicrafts reflect their regional culture and skills in the most tangible way. Consider dwarf palm basketry from the Algarve, made into hats, flat baskets and mats in natural or tinted colors. On the banks of the river Guadiana men use the canes to make light and resistant baskets, perfect for picnics. If you like textiles, admire the bedspreads woven on old wooden looms, rag-dolls and the fine bobbin lace. Glazed ceramics and pottery are of superior quality and beauty, irresistible to most shoppers; the small furniture and wooden toys are also great collectables. Find these treasures at both shops and market stalls, and keep an eye out for modern interpretations of traditional crafts from glazed tiles to stained-glass windows, embroidery and tapestries.


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