What with all the vigorous museum going the day before, yesterday we took things slowly. That Oliver woke up at 6:00 a.m. forced Catherine and I into an extended bout of tag-team sleeping and child-rearing that let us both emerge, by noon, with our wits somewhat about us. We took the afternoon “off” and rambled about the house, had a tasty lunch of cheese sandwiches, and by 5:00 p.m. we were ready to climb back onto the horse of adventure.
While we like the museums and ye olde architecture and the old world ambience as much as the next couple, Catherine and I have a secret love of overseas retail as well; Europe might not have invented the shopping mall (well, I think they actually did, back in the middle ages) they’ve certainly refined it to high art. And we’re suckers for that. So Monday became “a day at the mall.”
Although I’m becoming better at figuring out how Portuguese works, I still found it somewhat difficult to figure out how to actually get to the mall by public transit. Either nobody every goes there that way (malls are, after all, a car-centric invention), or the directions were hidden away in Google behind a keyword I could never find, but when we headed out to the Metro, I was only about 25% confident that we weren’t going to have to jump across several freeways to get there.
As it turns out, it’s really, really easy to get to Norteshopping (“the mall”) by Metro: you just get off at the Sete Bicas station (only 15 minutes from Mercado near our house), and walk one block left out of the station and one block left from there; the mall is on your right (I had help from a policeman along the way, but it’s really very obvious).
Norteshopping didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the highlights:
- A food court to end all food courts; I had a bowl of hearty soup, a salad of green beans, lettuce and mushrooms, a fresh roll, and a glass of fresh-squeezed juice all for 5 EUR; Catherine and Oliver had what she called “the best Chinese food I’ve had since I was in Vancouver last year.”
- A “check in your children” centre: parents can enjoy the delights of the mall while their children are, for 2,50 EUR/hour, cared for by trained (English-speaking) staff in a centre that includes 10 “theme areas” running the gamut from “dance and movement” to “new technology.” Think “the IKEA ball room, but with intention.”
- Stores the likes of which you’ve never seen; for example: at least a dozen stores devoted entirely to children and mothers: maternity wear, strollers, car seats, furniture, shoes, toys.
- A giant working steam engine. For no seeming purpose whatsoever other than to illustrate the principles of steam engines. Oh, and the steam feeds an espresso bar.
- An art gallery. In the middle of the parking garage. You have to see it to believe it.
- A multi-plex with shows that run to 3:00 a.m. every day (!)
The whole mall itself is open until midnight every night. We came close to just moving in.
But 9:30 p.m., after experiencing all of the above and doing our grocery shopping to boot, we headed back home. Twenty minutes later we were ensconced in our little stone house back in the last century.