Sunday, 23 June 2013

What are you packin'?

Forget the Tower of London, Colosseum or Roman ruins, one of the real attractions for me when travelling overseas is the local supermarket and pharmacy.

If I see one, I want to go in.

Why?  Because I just know they're probably packing better stuff compared to what I can get at home.

Take Spain.    One supermarket there had almost a dozen different types of Special K.  

Do I eat Special K?   No.  But the point is, what if I was a Special K lover and didn't realise a smorgasbord of Special K existed in the world?

Spain: Land of Special K varieties

And then there are pharmacies.  Last year on a trip to France I was stockpiling cold and flu medication like I was operating a drug lab.   To be fair, I did have a cold to start with, but then I continued to buy the tablets after the cold disappeared.

Am I planning on cooking up some speed?   No.  But unlike in Australian pharmacies, it was quarter of the price (even in Euro), and didn't require my driver's licence and usual cross-examination by a 12-year old pharmacy assistant.   I'm still working through my stockpile now when I get the occasional cold.
France: land of cheaper cold and flu tablets

It's no surprise that shopping in a foreign land is a big appeal for many travellers.  But for me the exciting part is not about designer labels and high-end goods, but the discovery of what else is out there at even the most basic grocery end of the scale.  

To be honest, I'm not sure I will ever again experience the sheer thrill I had in the US buying a $7 tub of 500 ibuprofen tablets.

All this supermarket aisle wandering has made me realise what a shallow pool we Australian shoppers are swimming in.

Perhaps that's why we've embraced internet shopping with such gusto?  

Instead of distributors deciding which limited range to introduce to Australia, suddenly we are standing in the supermarket equivalent of Aladdin's Cave.

What's been your best overseas supermarket discovery?

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