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Bargain seekers find unique items in second-hand shops



Customers shopping at a thrift store in Europe
Bargain hunt: Berlin, Germany, has dozens of flea markets and almost 300 thrift shops | Photo: Julien Pier Belanger

Over the past decade, way before saving money became a trend as people try to get through the current cost of living crisis, going through second-hand items in thrift shops has been a habit for many seasoned treasure hunters. And, although in the UK these same places are called ‘charity shops’, the idea behind it is universal: to find a bargain, to spot something unique and take it home – even if you don’t necessarily need it.

“I go to thrift stores regularly, once or twice a week, just to check things out (mostly without buying an item). As a former fashion student, I enjoy looking at beautiful things and trying stuff out. Then, last month, for the very first time, I spotted an antique item that I found unusual enough to buy. I do not buy or sell antiques regularly, as I do not have the expertise – not many of those can be found in general thrift stores.”, says Alexandra Nima, an Austrian entrepreneur who lives in Estonia and recently paid €18 for a framed antique silver dagger while visiting a Tallinn thrift store.

Once she got home, Nima searched on Google to try to identify the purchased item, and found out that she now owned a silver khanjar, a traditional dagger originating from Oman, a country located on the Arabian Peninsula. The accessory is part of Omani male national dress, dates back to the 19th century and, in 2014 Dorotheum, an auction house founded in 1707 in Vienna, a similar item was estimated to be worth between €600 and 800.

“Not a bad catch for a first-timer” – celebrates Alexandra – I will now definitely keep my eyes open around here for further rarities!”

Designer Nathan Heinrich who in 2020, during the height of the global pandemic, moved from New York to Italy to live with his partner, also visits his favourite thrift and vintage shops in the Prosecco Hills, near Venice, several times per month.

“Currently, I am collecting art, lighting, dishes, and interesting objects for a home we are renovating here in northern Italy. In the past month I have purchased an 1800s shopkeeper’s scale for €40, a 1960s amber teardrop crystal chandelier (€50), and a Collection of 19th-century copperware priced at €10 each.”, says Henrich. “Spending the day wandering through little shops full of treasures is one of my favourite pastimes – especially if the prices are a bargain!”, confesses the dual-citizen professional that used to run offices in California and New York, but now his new life includes running a digital magazine and podcast about his experiences as an American living in Italy.

There’s a thriving thrifting scene all across Europe, with thousands of flea markets and charity shops trading second-hand items online and over the counter, making the old continent one to hunt for unique objects – several of them unnamed relics and remnants from wartime Europe.

Nima and her €18 antique silver dagger: eyes wide open for rarities

“While I was in Budapest, Hungary, I went thrifting at an eclectic cold-war antique shop. It was full of memorabilia from the USSR and had a lot of interesting antique electronics, like camera gear, that was Soviet brand and never sold in the West. Even more interesting than the electronics was the Soviet Propaganda. There were lots of posters, boggle heads, dolls, and other trinkets hailing Stalin, Lenin, etc.
There were also gas masks and army gear. Going thrifting in Budapest was honestly like stepping into a time-machine to the USSR.”, recalls Katie Cafaro, a travel blogger from New York, who has been full-time traveling for the past year and frequently visits thrift shops. “I got a button that says something in Russian, it’s beautiful but I have no idea what it says. Overall, I thought the store was very inexpensive for the quality and age of the goods. Very few antiques were over $50.”

Besides high street thrift stores, many cities in Europe also offer regular flea markets.

In Vienna, Austria, those looking for great-value items that once belonged to someone else visit Naschmarkt, a food market that since the 1970s has held a flea market every Saturday morning, with stalls selling anything from furniture and old vinyls to tableware, clothes, and books. In Naples, vintage-lovers flock to Mercato di Resina (Via Pugliano) one of the most famous markets in Italy for second-hand and military goods. And in Paris since the 1860s the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen, one of the biggest flea markets in the world, has welcomed thousands of traders every weekend selling bric-a-brac, clothes, and art.

Saving money may be more necessary than ever. But, regardless of the escalating cost of living in Europe, going through second-hand items in thrift shops and flea markets – be it to find a bargain or an unusual item – has been catching the attention of people for centuries.


Millions of people in Britain admit to making costly car mistakes



a car being driven through the snow in the UK
Survey shows that 45% of Brits have driven without making sure that their screens and mirrors were properly clear

As winter takes hold and temperatures start to drop, a recent research by Aviva reveals the most common mistakes drivers could be making when it comes to getting behind the wheel this winter.

The research, which surveyed 2,000 Brits, reveals that more than a quarter (28%) are leaving their cars running to de-ice screens, with older generations most likely to take the risk. Over a third of those aged 75+ (41%) and those aged 65-74 (34%) leave their car on to de-ice screens, compared to 17% of 18-24 year-olds and 24% of 25-34 year-olds.

By doing so, Brits may be unwittingly putting themselves at risk with most car insurance policies excluding thefts of vehicles while the engine is still running. This is also an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states that drivers cannot leave vehicles running and unattended while on a public highway, otherwise known as ‘quitting’.

When looking at visibility, the research reveals that almost half (45%) of Brits have driven without making sure that their screens and mirrors were properly clear. By doing so, motorists could also be risking a fine under Section 229 of the Highway Code, which states that all drivers ‘must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all windows’.

The top 10 winter driving habits that could cause issues:

1. I have left my car running to de-ice the screen and warm it up:  28%
2. I have driven in gloves:  21%
3. I have driven in a big winter coat:  20%
4. I have driven even though there is snow on the top of my car:  19%
5. I have driven even though the screen was not fully de-iced or de-misted:  16%
6. I have driven without checking that my number plate was clear:  16%
7. I have driven even though the screen wasn’t clear:  15%
8. I have driven even though I was too tired: 14%
9. I have driven even though the mirrors weren’t fully clear:  14%
10. I have driven through floodwater or a ford:  13%

“While we all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible, it pays to be safe, particularly as the risk of an accident typically increases during the winter months. Spending five or ten minutes to prepare your car means that not only are you more likely to avoid an accident, but also a hefty fine – which can be as much as £1,000 – points on your licence or even a driving ban in the worst case scenario”, says Martin Smith, Motor Claims Manager at Aviva.

Other British driving habits include leaving the car unlocked to quickly pop into somewhere (13%), pouring boiling water over a car windscreen to de-ice it (11%) as well as wearing inappropriate footwear such as heels (9%) or wellies/snowboots (7%). Those driving whilst wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear could also risk a fine under Rule 97 of the Highway code which states that you should ensure: ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’.

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5 of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe this winter



The Bulgarian ski resort of Borovets comes out on top as the cheapest, where a beer costs just £1.17 and a lift pass costs less than £30 a day.
The Bulgarian ski resort of Borovets comes out on top as the cheapest, where a beer costs just £1.17 and a lift pass costs less than £30 a day

Whether you are a seasoned skier or a first-timer, one thing that is for sure is that skiing can be a very expensive trip. Even if you don’t enrol for a celebrity-like skiing weekend, following on the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, Orlando Bloom, or Gwyneth Paltrow, the costs can pile up. as research shows Brits fork out between £500 and £750 per person on spending money for a ski trip. 

If you are keen to hit the slopes but are being mindful of the pennies, here is a shortlist of five of the cheapest resorts you can visit in Europe, based on the average cost of a lift pass, accommodation, ski rental, and of course food and drinks.

“Skiing can be a very expensive holiday, especially for families. However, there are some fantastic resorts out there offering surprisingly reasonable prices, without compromising on those amazing views and fantastic ski runs”, says Laura Evans-Fisk, head of digital and engagement at eurochange. “Borovets in Bulgaria came out on top as the cheapest ski resort. It’s definitely an underrated destination, with unbelievably low prices for food and drink, and a whole week lift pass for less than £150.” 

Borovets, Bulgaria

Topping the list is bargain-friendly Borovets, Bulgaria. The country is quickly becoming a cheap and cheerful favourite spot for skiers, and it’s easy to see why. Located in the Rila mountains, Borovets is an all-round resort providing luxury amenities at very reasonable prices. With fabulous nightlife as well as gentle slopes for beginners, it’s an ideal destination for adults and families alike. Ski passes start from just £29 per day, so you could really save some cash if you visit for just a few days.  

  • Adult lift pass (6 days): Лв370 (£143.75)
  • Ski rental (6 days): Лв155 (£60.22) 
  • Accommodation (per night): From Лв135 (£52.45) 
  • Beer: Лв3 (£1.17) 
  • Wine: Лв6 (£2.33) 
  • 3-course meal: Лв15 (£5.83) 

Vogel, Slovenia

Lesser known than its Austrian and Italian neighbours, Slovenia’s Vogel resort is no less spectacular. Tucked away in the stunning Julian Alps, Vogel offers exceptional value alongside outstanding snow sports facilities and stunning views. The après is one of the cheapest around, with beer costing just €2, and a three-course meal setting you back just €17. 

Les Houches, France 

For a Mont Blanc ski holiday without the Chamonix prices, look no further than Les Houches. A top choice for families, this picturesque village is quiet at night, while the neighbouring high-altitude areas are perfect for advanced skiers. A six-day adult ski pass is less than £200 and equipment can be rented for less than £100 for the week. 

  • Adult lift pass (6 days): €197 (£158.46) 
  • Ski rental (6 days): from €114 (£91.70) 
  • Accommodation (per night): From €77 (£61.94) 
  • Beer: €2 (£1.61) 
  • Wine: €5 (£4.02) 
  • 3-course meal: €20 (£16.09) 

Livigno, Italy 

Nestled in the heart of the Alps, Italy‘s Livigno offers sterling snowsport facilities for all skill levels, from absolute beginners to black slope aficionados. And thanks to its tax-exempt status, Livigno provides premium resort standards at budget prices, giving you far more for your euros than most other ski destinations on the continent.

  • Adult lift pass (6 days): €223* (£179.38) 
  • Ski rental (6 days): from €74.00* (£59.52) 
  • Accommodation (per night): From €101 (£81.24) 
  • Beer: €3 (£2.41) 
  • Wine: €10 (£8.04) 
  • 3-course meal: €30 (£24.13) 
Grindelwald is one of the more affordable resorts for getting the Swiss ski holiday experience.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

While Switzerland tends to be an expensive country to visit, Grindelwald is one of the more affordable resorts for getting the Swiss ski holiday experience. Even if you’re not a keen skier, there are plenty of other activities to try out, including tobogganing and winter walking.  Set in the beautiful Jungfrau mountains, Grindelwald provides a picture-perfect slice of the Alps for far less than you’d expect.

  • Adult lift pass (6 days): SFr385 (£308.79) 
  • Ski rental (6 days): from SFr237 (£190.09) 
  • Accommodation (per night): From SFr57 (£45.72) 
  • Beer: SFr2 (£1.60) 
  • Wine: SFr13 (£10.43) 
  • 3-course meal: SFr24 (£19.25) 

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New iPhone photography exhibition opens in Paris



A shot of some of the work being displayed at the iPhone 15 photo exhibition in Paris
The two-day event held at the Salon Corderie features work from five photographers, all shot on iPhone

“I Remember You,” a two-day photography exhibition, has opened today in Paris highlighting original work shot on iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The collective work of photographers Malin Fezehai, Karl Hab, Vivien Liu, Mika Ninagawa, and Stefan Ruiz incorporates people, places, and things that move them, exploring memories and the power of photography to preserve them.

“‘I Remember You’ brings together five photographers who share their deeply personal conceptions of memory, connection, and nostalgia,” explains Isolde Brielmaier, Ph.D., the exhibition’s curatorial advisor. “It is a moving glimpse of life, preserved in time.”

In celebration of the opening, each artist spoke about how iPhone has contributed to their creative process and what they hope people will remember from their featured work.

Malin Fezehai is an Eritrean/Swedish photographer, filmmaker, and visual reporter currently living in New York. She has worked in over 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and America. Fezehai is a National Geographic explorer, and in 2023, she became a Climate Pledge grantee. She is working on a project about adaptation to living on water. Her career started in her native Sweden, where she studied photography before attending the International Center of Photography in New York. Her work focuses on communities of displacement and dislocation around the world. She was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme to photograph survivors of violent extremism across sub-Saharan Africa and published a book titled Survivors. She has received a 2015 World Press Photo Award and the Wallis Annenberg Prize, and was named one of the “30 Emerging Photographers to Watch” in 2015 by Photo District News. Her image depicting a wedding of Eritrean refugees in Israel was the first iPhone photo ever to receive a World Press Photo Award.

“The integration of the iPhone into my photography workflow marked a significant shift in how I perceive and capture the world around me — feeling more inclined to capture life as it happens — the fleeting, candid moments that often define the human experience,” Fezehai says. “Its ease of use and ability to capture high-quality images effortlessly enables me to explore and document the ordinary in extraordinary ways. That sentiment is embodied in the work I created for the show.”

“I Remember You” will be on display at the Salon Corderie in Le Marais in Paris on Friday, November 10, and Saturday, November 11, from 11 am to 7 pm.

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