London, Paris, Berlin and Rome: What to see, what to buy and what to eat

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Here are four of my favorite cities. For all the times I have visited these cities, there is always a new area to take in and an old one I missed. They are all suitable for women traveling with friends or alone. As anywhere, avoid dark empty streets at night and don’t flash jewelry. Learn, then take public transportation; it is always safer for women.



See: London has some of the top museums with art and objects collections never dispersed by conquest.  Top museums are FREE: National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert. Collections span from ancient Egypt (British Museum) to Modern (Tate Modern’s 2 buildings were a former Power Station. Surprises for you: V&A cafeteria was designed by William Morris’ in the arts and crafts style. Tate Gallery, best museum restaurant in town. British Museum don’t miss Sutton Hoo- not telling you why here. Tate Modern’ grab a free folding chair then lunch on the terrace with views of The Thames.  Others: National Portrait Gallery with Freud’s picture of the Queen, Wallace Collection, a private home, nice cafeteria (payable).

Buy: Burberry Clothing, Bond Street shoe stores with fashionable knock off’s, Boots the Chemist cosmetics. Don’t miss cheaper than in the US travel medicines at drug stores, including anti malaria pills.

Eat: Fish, fish and more fish. Excellent Indian and Chinese food. Some of the best artisanal cheese, crackers and breads, real Cheddar, real Leicester. Duchy Brand is owned by Prince Charles, nicely packaged for gifts.


See: Louvre, Orsay, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Orangerie, all world famous. We suggest you take English language highlights tours. In the Louvre underground, you will find a food court and retail stores. From the LV Foundation, you will walk through a lovely park and neighborhood with fine dining to get to the Metro/Subway From the Orsay, find the Rue de Bac and walk it to the top, stop in St. Sulpice church for a taste of The De Vinci Code.  From the Orangerie, wander through the Tuileries Gardens, formerly royal. and picnic with take away from Franprix stores. Many artists have dedicated museums: Rodin, Monet at the Marmottan, Picasso etc. What you did not know: you can buy a ticket for an event at the famous Opera House, or lunch near the top of the Eiffel Tower, or on a Seine River boat.

Buy:  Lesser Known Fashions, stunning in their appeal, even a cloth carry bag from the supermarket will have an edge. Some designers to look for are in the major department stores. Mephisto shoes are much cheaper in Paris. Watch bands come in amazing colors, costume jewelry will fool anyone in the US. Kitchen fun in any supermarket or hardware store (quincaillerie). Get the details.

Eat:  Eat chosen expensive meals at lunch, price fixed usually 2 or 3 courses as you wish.  Order red or white table wine, it will be excellent. Refuse bread if you don’t plan to eat it, it is an extra charge. Service is usually included.  Want to try the original steak frites? Le Relais de Venise, we call The Entrecote. You will stand on line; it moves quickly. Get the details.



See:  Here again we travel from Roman times to WW2 to a modern art scene. Museums to see: Pergamon on Museum Island, The Jewish Museum, Charlottenburg Palace, Wannsee, Hamburger Bahnhof Museum.  Wannsee shocks with history of the Holocaust. The Jewish Museum by Libeskind is a wonder of architecture and you will learn more than you thought. Much of Berlin is experienced on its streets, former East/West borders painted in yellow on sidewalks, homes of lost Jews are marked with brass in front. Be ready to be overwhelmed here. An interesting read for those visiting Berlin is unclassified CIA documents found here. Get the details.

Buy:  Elegant suede and leather goods, some with a Tyrolean slant. Must see: KDW Department Store, aka KaDeWe. A NYTimes reporter wrote that groups of East Berliners went first to KDW to gaze at oranges. They had never seen a real orange. Bikini Berlin is a phenomenon and vintage book stores are all over.

Eat: Dining in Berlin can be budget as in sausages and beer and big pretzels, popular like schnitzels, or fancy nouveau cuisine. We suggest you go for casual beer hall meals, they are local noisy and fun. Much German food is the predecessor of American foods: sausages, sauerkraut, baked goods, and pretzels. KDW has a terrific food hall. Get details.


Get ready for uphill walking and for spread out sites to enjoy. Roman ruins are mainly outside like the Forum, Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla, so visit them on fine days. Inside spaces are the Zaha Hadid designed MAXXI modern art museum which few know about, and The Jewish Museum in Trastevere area. If you want to see how ‘the other half lived’, check out Palazzo Doria Pamphilj central Rome. Or for all about the Popes, The Vatican and Vatican Library; get skip the line tickets for these two. Finally keep eyes open for pieces of antiquity built into facades and for the many piazzas and fountains. I also love the Pantheon area, it is free and beautifully situated.

Buy: Leather, good or cheap, shoes, umbrellas, silk scarves, ceramics, truffle oil, food but not meat unless canned. Department stores are not inviting in Rome, small shops serve better for local items. Paper goods, specialty pasta, biscotti, all easy to pack and gift away.  Beware of Chinese made fakes or any knock off’s. US Customs can confiscate them and fine you.

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  • Phyllis Stoller has a BA from Tufts University, an MA from New York University and a Finance Degree from the University of the South Bank, London England. Phyllis founded the leading tour operator for women's travels in North America. After selling her company in 2006, Phyllis started a new company for women: The Womens Travel Group which she defines as Smart Tours for Women. She was voted top in women’s travel by Travel & Leisure Magazine,the first to receive this honor. Phyllis has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, Lifetime TV for Women and others. Phyllis now resides in New York and London For more information: or to join a trip this year: Phyllis Stoller Visit her web site: Follow her on Facebook: on Facebook at /toursforwomen For more information: or to join a trip this year:

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