As most of our day was free yesterday we spent some of it doing shopping. The first shop we went to was CVS Pharmacy (after breakfast). Now you must say ‘A Pharmacy?!’ but if you have never been to American then you won’t understand that their pharmacies are unique. Firstly you find a pharmacy on just about every block corner in America. Secondly, the items sold in pharmacies are wide-ranging. They are really like a mini-supermarket where you can also get your medication. One of the aisles contained wine … confirms my thought that drinking is good for your health otherwise why would it be in a pharmacy otherwise?! We spent just under $100 in the pharmacy. There is some medication you can get simply off the shelf in America which you cannot get anywhere else in the world and so we always take advantage of doing precisely that when we are in the US.
Helen and Chloe had a brunch with the bride, bridesmaids, other aunts and cousins. That is fairly traditional in the US. Usually it’s held on the day of the wedding but as it is a morning wedding, this one was held the previous day. I picked them up from there after they were finished and we headed to do some more shopping. Helen had discovered that this weekend is tax-free weekend in SC. One weekend a year just before school restarts the whole state has a tax-free weekend. I assume it is so people can buy all the necessary school items but we understand it also includes other essentials like TVs even! We could take advantage of that and save ourselves a few more %.
Our first shop was Target which is a massive hypermarket type place (but on steroids). What strikes me every time I am here is the variety you can access in a store. An aisle of health bars was what struck me this time (and I really do mean an aisle). The prices are also incredible. I compared the price of golf balls (yes you can see my interest in that!) and they were about 30% cheaper than what we pay in SA. After some random purchases made at Target (like bake mixes) we headed to find a mall. The traffic was terrible and while it was only a few miles away it took us a long time to get through the traffic. It is clear that everyone was out and about accessing the tax-free weekend.
While driving around it really struck us again how many shops, restaurants and cars there are in America. And make that large shops, large restaurants (both normal and fast food) and large cars actually. The place is just full of them. It really is a consumer driven society. I travel around the world a lot and have been to many different countries but it really stands out to me again when I am here. We did eventually find the mall but couldn’t find a parking. If you know anything about America you will know they never under-provide for parking at malls so it gives you an idea of how busy it was. I wasn’t planning to buy anything but Banana Republic were selling shirts (and they are really nice quality) at 50% off so not only did I not have to pay tax but I got it half price. Who can resist an offer like that?
By this stage I was feeling the jet lag kick in and so we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap. Helen resisted and paid later on in the evening for that mistake. Last night was the Rehearsal dinner. It is traditionally held after the rehearsal for the wedding and includes the whole wedding party and close family and friends. We met my sister and brother-in-law for a pre-dinner drink (they were staying at the hotel where the dinner took place) and then we had dinner afterwards. It was a very nice evening. The food was great (it was done by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse which is a top steakhouse chain in the US) and the company was great (we sat with my two sisters and their husbands). They played a video of Andrew & Melissa (the two getting married) with a variety of photos from their lives to date. That included a shot of my son (Stephen) and Melissa kissing (he started early!). There were also a few off the cuff speeches. Informal and very pleasant. We walked back to our hotel (it was around 9:30pm) and the Main Street of Greenville was just humming with people – clearly the place to be on a Friday night!
Until tomorrow …
P, H & C