The town got very pretty once the sun set and the lights started coming on:
Somewhere in the late afternoon, chocolate chaud was consumed:
Since the Christmas market was a bit of a bust, we hit the local malls. Many euros disappeared in C&A, a British clothing chain that has since abandoned the U.K. for the rest of Europe. It reminded me of Target: simple but stylish basics at a good price. Not so good when you factor in the €99 train fare to get there, but hey, I was there already anyway. That ship–er, train had long since sailed.
The hypermarket Carrefour made me miss Target even more. I could have spent a small fortune here on everything from wine and cheese to underwear and party goods (if only I had a party to throw). My favorite weird thing here:
I remember, when I was a kid, jelly jars with cartoon character on them. In France, kids get cartoon mustard jars. (There was, like, an entire aisle of mustards. A big supermarket in the U.S. might have two smallish shelves of mustards.)
Of course, before we even got to Carrefour, I was already carrying too much, so my realistic purchase options were limited. The thought of having to haul bottles of wine back to London was too much to bear, and I flaked out on that. I ended up with one bag of groceries, the nonperishable of which will end up as Christmas gifts. As I told a guy later on the tube who was in awe of my Carrefour baguette and simply had to know where I’d gotten it — I’m sure he was hoping I’d say a Carrefour had just opened in Kensington — it was the most expensive baguette ever (€0.81 + €99) and sure as hell had better be worth lugging it all the way from France. (As it turned out, it was fine, but far from the best baguette I’d ever had. I could have done just as well in Waitrose.)
As the French might say, plus du shopping:
That is: too much shopping. It was a good thing I didn’t attempt to drag more stuff home, because the train back was packed, full of passengers and their stuff already en route from Brussels:
As it was, I had to sit with most of my stuff between my legs and on my lap, which was not fun.
The rest of the day was a lot of fun. But Shirley and I probably could have had nearly the same amount of fun at the big ol’ American-style shopping mall Westfields in Shepherd’s Bush, and then popped into the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. (I’ll check that out soon and let you know if it’s any good.)