Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Literally shop till you drop

So what did we do Saturday?

Oddly we got up early Saturday to do, of all things...shop some more.

Because Sweden was on a mission.

Similar to me when I'm in specific other countries, when you're in a country that has something you want that is not available in your own country of living...you prioritize. Sweden had very specific stores she needed/wanted to hit up: Victoria's Secret, Gilly Hicks, and Primark.

Victoria's Secret I'd definitely been to (mainstay in the States of course), but the others I'd never been to. I'd seen people carrying around Primark bags everywhere but I didn't know what kind of store it was. It seemed odd to me how prevalent the bags were. They're like the equivalent of "big brown bag"/"little brown bag" of Bloomingdales. But even more common. So much more common. Like a 30% visual rate on the street kind of common. In a city as big as London, that's saying something about the prevalence of these bags. They were everywhere.

Anyway, it was time to get up and make our way to Oxford Street/Bond Street. The shopping center of London. We got off at Marble Arch and started our several hour shopping stretch.

Holy crap, is all I have to say.

I'd been shopping on that section of street before but nothing like this. Maybe I really am a Finn on the inside now or maybe I've just lost my capitalistic touch but I can't do this kind of thing. I've lost my edge. I didn't buy almost anything the entire day. Sweden, on the other hand, went mad crazy. As she was more than happy to do (this is what happens when you shop in foreign countries...this does happen to me...especially when I'm in the States, despite my minimalist tendencies).

First, Primark.

This is the equivalent of maybe Topshop in style but of Walmart in cheapness and in store size. Good god the store was enormous and extremely cheap. It carried everything in the world you could possibly want to wear and so cheap you didn't even care. It was so big and so crazy the only world I used to describe it the entire we were there was: clusterf*ck (sorry for the sailor speak). Everywhere you went there were people sweeping the floors because the hordes of people were leaving crap everywhere. There were lines for everything - dressing rooms, check out lines, you name it. The cashier line was like being at Fry's Electronics - there was a separate man hired to do nothing but tell you what cashier was now open to take your purchases and ring them up.

To be honest it was exhausting. And I couldn't even begin to look at anything. It was like being in an Ikea where everything was a little bit offputting. I think I am starting to become like my boss - I care too much about where my stuff comes from now, whether it's well made, whether I'll want it in another three years. Having things for just a season doesn't make sense to me. I don't want things anymore. This store was the exact anti-Christ of that idea. I couldn't even touch things. The cheapness of it all just made it worse somehow.

But I did it to please Sweden. We were there for an hour and a half. She bought 80pounds worth of clothing and shoes. This equated to three pairs of shoes, a pair of ovrealls, a pair of pants, a dress, and countless shirts. Keep in mind that everything here is about 12pounds and under. 80pounds can buy you a lot of clothes. And it did.

We wandered down the street and went into several other shops. Eventually we were finding ourselves so exhausted that we weren't speaking anymore. Clearly it was time for a break. Our plan was to find a Starbucks and have a drink and snack before continuing. We didn't even make it that far. We got outside, spotted a Ben's Cookies (which she'd had before but I'd never heard of and every friend I've asked, including British friends, have never heard of) and that was as far as we got.

We each ordered a hot chocolate and cookie a piece. We decided to go down the alley way next to the Ben's Cookies counter and stand in the sun when we noticed the Yo! Sushi restaurant down there. By this time Sweden had already finished her cookie (I was only halfway through, being the slow eater that I am). We decided to eat sushi. We were that kind of exhausted and hungry.

So we had sushi. I'd never eaten at a Yo! Sushi before but it's basically sushi boats minus the boats. There are little dishes of sushi with covers on them going around on conveyor belts. The idea is hilarious. I didn't care though - I was hungry and I'd had a serious hankering for seaweed salad since earlier in the week. And I got it, along with carrots and edamame. Odd, but it tasted good so I didn't care.

I also gulped down roasted eggplant (delicious), a fabulously expensive sashimi salmon cake (with sesame oil, a lot of salmon roe, and other weird things), and a hand roll with salmon sashimi and avocado and mayo that I grabbed on impulse and just couldn't resist.

Despite the fact that London is nowhere near the sea, I have to give them credit: they do a good job getting fresh seafood. Surprising, but good. I won't complain.

After this we continued on our shopping expedition, newly refreshed.

We shopped for several more hours, hitting all the stores Sweden was interested in looking at. Including Gilly Hicks.

Now I'd never been in Gilly Hicks before. She explained to me that it was like Hollister or Abercrombie & Fitch as we were walking there. I groaned (quite audibly). After all the fiasco that'd been happening in America over those brands I was about to step foot into one of the biggest ones in the world. Great.

Turns out it was the Australian version of these stores and their mainstay was underwear, but still. It was basically the same thing. Surfer vibe, very dark, very perfumed, and very "exclusive." All of the people working there literally looked the same - tall, white, thin, long dark hair (these are all the girls). All of the guys looked the same too - tall, white, muscular, good looking. It was irritating. As soon as we grabbed all of the underwear Sweden's sister had requested we beat it out of there. I hate places like those. Sorry but I'm just not interested in being part of your "cool kids" club. Bleh.

Hours later we made it home. I now see what my sister means about hating shopping. I still do like it quite a bit but it is exhausting and now that I'm considerably less interested in buying anything it does become kind of chore-like sometimes. Hm...I'll need to rethink a few things in my life it seems.

Anyhow, our plans for the night were to go to a house party I'd been invited to by Scooter and then head 45 minutes in the opposite direction for our reservations at Kensington Roof Gardens, a supposedly very nice club that had live flamingos walking around.

Long story short we sort of made it to neither place. The house party we decided to skip out on because we got home considerably later than we expected and it would take us a little over an hour to get to (it was in Angel). We did get to the Kensington Roof Gardens location but by the time we did (less than an hour after opening, which was at 10pm), there was a line that was supposed 45 minutes wait. We waited (and listened to music and danced with ourselves)...and waited...and waited. The bouncer came down the line about an hour later to tell us that it would be about another 45 minutes and it was a one-to-one leaving system. Meaning someone had to leave for another person to get in. This was never happening, in another words.

We decided to head home. It was starting to get cold and by the time we got in we'd have about 2 hours to dance before it closed, and that was after we'd paid the 25pound entrance fee (which we'd not paid yet). Thank you, but no.

So we got home, changed into comfy clothes and watched a movie while chatting. Another good night, though perhaps not the one we'd planned. Oh well. Another failed night out with Don, but good nonetheless.

Just goes to show, you really gotta plan your nights out here. Something I'm not a huge fan of. Sweden complained, how are you supposed to be spontaneous in this city? The answer: you're not.

This will be an interesting lifestyle for me to get used to.

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