To many Americans, travel means shopping, especially this year when the dollar is buying so much more in foreign cities. But, here and abroad, certain major department stores have acquired a fame that makes them not only purveyors of goods but authentic sightseeing attractions as well.
Among the world's most famous department stores, where you don't even have to buy to enjoy a walk amidst the merchandise:
* Macy's, New York City: Try Gimbels, advised Macy's mischievous Santa Claus in 1947's "The Miracle on 34th Street," enshrining Macy's in the hearts of movie fans, maybe forever. Nostalgia aside, the store's big strength is being instantly on top of what's new and trendy in the nation -- and at a good price.
* Galeries Lafayette, Paris: An instant view of the best of Paris goods under one charming roof.
* GUM, Moscow: Perfect for people-watching. The Government Department Store occupies a vast Victorian building directly across Red Square from Lenin's Tomb, and it's usually filled with shoppers who pay no attention to you as they jostle for food, clothing and household gadgets.
* Neiman-Marcus, Dallas: Chic is the word for this Texas institution, selling class to its clientele.
* Seibu, Tokyo: The merchandise displays are exquisite, and it's interesting to note such extra touches as resting places for grandparents, who always seem to take the youngsters when they go shopping.
* Harrods, London: The city's luxury-class store, appropriately housed in a red-brick palace in Knightsbridge. While your eyes feast on the fine goods, your nose will guide you to the wonderful food halls.
* Friendship Store, Peking: A big display for foreigners and China's elite. The Chinese-made clothing, accessories and arts objects can be excellent. If you see something you like, buy it, because you may not find another like it anywhere.