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Only 15 More Shopping Days Til’ Christmas . . . .

Posted: December 9th, 2010 by

Heralding in a new Holiday Shopping Season - Christmas Tree in front of Macy's - Flickr photo by Pravin-kumar

What a familiar statement that is.  Not to worry as there are numerous shopping opportunities; what with mega malls, discount outlet shopping centers, strip malls with large department stores and discount stores galore in most every city around.  If you are like many folks and simply don’t want to fight the crowds or just get out, you can turn on the tube and seek out gifts for everyone on Home Shopping Network and QVC or other similar TV shopping networks.  Plus, technology has pushed the envelope when it comes to shopping on the Internet.  New or used, you name it and you can find it on a variety of websites.

Some of our readers will remember planned shopping excursions, where for weeks you mapped out your trip to the big city to buy Christmas gifts.  It normally required an overnight stay in a hotel or nearby inn and often included a special meal at your favorite out-of-town restaurant.  Up early in the morning to beat the crowds with a shop until you drop attitude . . . then laden with gifts galore you return to your home-away-from -home; tired, but pleased that you found that special gift for Aunt Mary, Cousin Jane and Grandpa.

Going to the big city for shopping was a treat - Flickr photo of Washington, DC at Christmastime by ktlerconk

Part of the phenomenon of Christmas shopping from afar was the gaiety of sparkling tinsel and twinkling lights, seeing a larger than life Christmas tree and simply being part of the bustling Christmas shopping crowd.

Today, there are more reasons to leave the sofa or laptop to shop – mega malls are not just filled with retail establishments but many house amusement parks, hotels, and are considered tourist destinations.  Here are some stats when it comes to these mega shopping opportunities.  Eight of the 10 largest malls in the world are located in Asia, so if you really want a shopping experience of a life time you might want to travel to Dongguan, China, where the South China Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world.  This mall has it all; a replica of France’s Arc de Triomphe, working wind mills, a theme park, and has a whopping 7.1 million square feet of space to its name. 

If you want to ride the waves or experience the thrill of a towering roller coaster, then Cevahir Istanbul in Turkey is the place to go.  Considered the largest mall in Europe, Cevahir features a wave pool, roller coaster and several IMAX theatres plus a bevy of shops to meet the needs of even the most persnickety shopper.

Rollercoaster shown is in the West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada - Wikimedia photo

Mall of America, Flickr photo by cliff1066

For those U.S. shoppers who want to be a little closer to home, then the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada might just be the ticket for the whole family.  With 3.8 million square feet of shopping and entertainment space, including a casino, skating rink, water park, a petting zoo and other attractions, this mega mall rivals some of the best and largest.  Let’s not forget the Mall of America, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where forty million visitors a year visit to shop at more than 500+ stores, visit the Underwater Aquarium Adventure, Lego Imagination Center and Dinosaur Walk Museum or party hardy in one of their seven nightclubs.

The town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Lifesize nutcracker in Rothenburg Christmas Store - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Not into mega malls, and simply want to get caught up in the spirit of Christmas?  Dating all the way back to the 14th century is Germany’s Christkindlmarkt experience; a must do and see in towns like Dresden and Nuremberg.   Also, the Medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for its Weihnachtsmarkt.  Even if you don’t buy a thing, just touring this romantic town, whose history goes back as far as 970 AD, with its uneven cobblestone streets, aged half-timbered houses and an imposingly thick wall of stone that surrounds the city, will leave you with a feeling of good will and cheer.

Last but not least are those home-spun Christmas -bazaars, put on by churches and non-profit organizations galore, where crafters and artisans of all kinds put out their one-of-a-kind treasures or cloned home-made articles of all types.  You won’t want to miss these delightful, in-your-backyard shopping opportunities, where often times this is where you find that special gift found no where else. 

Happy holidays everyone – and happy shopping to you!

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Another Type of Tourism . . .

Posted: November 29th, 2010 by

Escanaba in Da Moonlight - Flickr photo by Elizabeth-table4five - photo also seen in the Michigan Historical Museum

Apparently hunting season marks the beginning of scruffy looking men with scraggly beards, or so it may seem.  This is especially true when deer season rolls around, no matter the locale.  One might assume it might be a form of camouflage or that it helps retain warmth on a cold drizzly day; often the case in November and December when hunters are traipsing about the woods.

Regardless of the scruffy looking folks, from a tourism standpoint hunting could mean an increase in business; albeit short lived, especially at a time when travel is slow.  Although many hunters may not require overnight lodging or they may opt to rent a hunting lodge in a known hunting area, hunting season does spell additional tourism dollars.

I looked up the Hunting Top 10 and learned that Ripley, West Virginia might be your go to place for turkey hunting or further south in Snow Hill, North Carolina you could easily bag a wild boar or black bear, and in Ahoskie, North Carolina spring turkey and duck are hunting specialties.  How about trophy white tail deer, with some bucks reaching up to 300 lbs.?  You might want to travel to Johannesburg, Michigan for this opportunity.

Flickr photo, wild turkey, black_throated_green_warbler

There’s plenty of duck hunting in Boswell, Oklahoma and Pike County, Illinois is known for its trophy whitetail deer and turkey hunts.  Elk, Mule Deer and Exotics can be found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Georgetown, Kentucky is well known for its water fowl in this central Kentucky area.

Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley, WV - Flickr photo by puroticorico

Tourism comes in many forms, and hunting is one of them.  No matter the reason you visit an area it still gains exposure and often times you might visit for one reason but return for another.  In the case of Ripley, West Virginia; here is an area steeped in civil war history, so while some might hunt deer, others might hunt the past.

How about the North Carolina area, which abounds in natural beauty where more people travel to this part of the country for pure nature than to hunt.   Although the photo of the flight of ducks was actually taken in Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, this could be a site seen in Bowsell, Oklahoma.  This small Midwestern town not only offers a duck hunting paradise, but a bit of serenity as well. 

Duck Hunt, Flickr photo by Icon Photopraphy School

While we might not understand why the Grizzly Adams look is typical for some at this time of year, perhaps Escanaba in Da Moonlight, termed as the “funniest play ever written about Deer hunters in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” might explain it all. 

All we ask is that you come back for a visit when the hunt is over!