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England, June 2, 1998

Shopping Like Mad!

I loved shopping through my Cool Britannia experience

There is nutting quite like Oxford Street in London. After a year of the distorted Moscow shopping experience, I was in Heaven! All the shops, stores, and boutiques just lined up for my perusal. I went to Marks & Spensers, (of course), Hugo Boss, cK, and almost all the shoe stores in a mad shopping frenzy. I bought more suits, shirts, and shoes than you can imagine, or I could fit into my pack. It may seem odd, but I was doing shopping for the next six months. My next chance for Western fashions, at less than ridiculously obscene prices, will be in December when I go home for Christmas.

I was quite annoyed by M&S, they don't take credit cards, but I was really pissed off by Harrods. I went there the morning before my flight back and experienced quite a rude shopping experience. First, the guards would not allow me to wear my backpack in the store, and I mean my little daypack, not the full on backpack. I had to carry it in my hands, not wear it on my back. I tried explaining to them that it was called a backpack, not a handbag, for a reason, to no avail. Seems they thought I would knock something over with one on. Idiot boys, I'm gonna be inconvenienced, therefore shop less, and since the bag is now near my hand, it would be so much easier to swipe stuff. After that crap, the high VAT tax-free purchase minimum (70 GBP instead of the usual 30), and the outrageous prices, I left and I will never go back.

England, and I think most of the EU, has this interesting, and quite advantageous, tax reimbursement system. When you buy something, the sales tax, or VAT, is already included in the price. If you are a non-EU citizen, like me, you can get this tax back at the airport. Fifteen percent of what I spent in London, is quite a bit of cash I was more than happy to receive as a good bye present from England! I wish more countries did such wonderful schemes!

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