Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona Bound - Ideas Anyone?

decor8 reader Samantha from San Diego wrote in. Prepare to be very green with envy, because Samantha and her friend are jet setting off to Europe in September for 25 days! She says, "We're stopping in Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. I was wondering if you or any of your fellow readers have any suggestions (food, sights, shops, anything)."

Okay here goes. Readers, feel free to chime in anytime, I know lots of you are globe trotters with your own fabulous suggestions.

For Berlin and Paris, check out the decor8 shopping links, provided in the column to your right (organized by city). Barcelona isn't listed because I've not been, although Time Out Barcelona may be a good start for you. They're online, so you can do your homework. These are listed under the Berlin links (yet), but I think they are worthy stops while in Berlin (and don't miss Time Out Berlin):

Ausberlin - Everything funky in this handcrafted boutique, from home products to fashion, even chocolate! Designers hang out at this well-known Berlin establishment.

Design + Handwerk Plattform (no website, so here's the address: 4th floor, Stilwerk
Kantstrasse 17 Tel: +49-303151-5620). An exquisite retail environment with furniture and accessories by German and International artists, most fresh from college. You can find modern white, s.wert design, ninelives, and others featured here. This shop is situated near the design centre Stilwerk.

Tausche - A unique shop that features the Taushe bags (and accessories), many can be altered simply by zipping on a new cover. This brand is Berlin-based, so even more fun to shop there! I love their bags, and the site is in English, so when you arrive back in the states, you can shop them online for new covers.

Refer to the Berlin links for other shops, like the amazing KaDeWe. If you've ever visited Herrod's in London, it's somewhat similiar. In addition to fashion and home, they have an amazing food emporium, I loved browsing and eating in there. Another must-see is P van b. Very posh little shop with decorative and slightly erotic wallpaper and accessories (like t-shirts).

Berlin tips: I love shopping in Germany, stores have a different vibe, a bit more serious than the states, that's for sure! Store owners and sales staff usually keep to themselves unless approached. You shouldn't enter a store, touch everything, expect them to speak English, giggle and linger with friends, etc. We tend to make shopping in the states a 'retail therapy' thing. We shop for ideas, inspiration. We bring our friends a long. We touch everything. In the end, we often buy little at these smaller establishments. In northern Germany, store owners are very prideful and expect you to respect their wares. Constant pawing annoys Germans. Small store owners treat you almost as though you are a privledged guest, so behave and enjoy the experience. Be careful that you place objects in the correct spot in which you picked them up. (I've only shopped Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, and Hannover (northern region), so it may be different in southern Germany.) You'll find that as you travel in Europe, retail shopping is very unique from place to place. The wares, the customer service, pricing, and if you don't speak Spanish, French, or German, you'll have to wing it a lot with the staff because you'll find that not many speak English, especially in Berlin boutiques (yes at larger stores like KaDeWe though). But, that's half the fun of shopping far off places.

I'll be in Berlin in October, so I'll have more Berlin finds to report here on decor8 then. For now, those are my Berlin tips.

For Paris, don't miss French Touche for a quaint shopping experience and of course, the big guys like Galeries Lafayette (gorgeous!), and Bon Marche, too. Time Out Paris and the New York Times can point you in the right direction to, they both have great guides to Paris.

Anyone else have suggestions for Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona must-sees?

(image from tausche)