Sunday, November 21, 2010

Three's Company: Natural History and Science Museum

I was already on the 333 to Tooting Broadway for the Northern Line heading to Highgate Cemetery on Octobre 17th when I received a message from Katja saying something the along the lines of "We're on the way to the Science Museum - wanna come?" So sure I did.

All I did on the day before was to rest (yeah!) for most of the day and to go to Tooting Broadway for a new haircut, some shopping and foooood as all I had eaten so far was breakfast. Oh by the way, some time ago, I found out that the toast I get here is always already expired. Always. I have given up to complain or to get upset about those kind of things quite a while ago as mentioning anything would be of no earthly use and I'd rather live peacefully here than in a tense atmosphere.
Haircut. I am fussy about my hair. Fussy to a pathetically high degree. Embaressingly fussy. I once came out with such a bad haircut that I did not enter a hairdresser for more than half a year and the one I went to right before I departed to LDN, although I had been there before (but with a different coiffeur), gave me a haircut that eerily resembled the one from Mireille Mathieu with is not a good thing, either.
Anyway, I walked around for a while until I found one that looked halfway trustworthy. There surprisingly is quite a variety of hairdressers to choose from at Tooting Broadway and no - not all of them would rather give you beads or weaves (contrary general assumption). I came in, had my hair washed three times (I asked whether it was really necessary before the third time as I slowly started to think that they are going to charge extra - what they did not - but appearently, the last time was with conditioner), was treated in a friendly manner, asked how I wanted it to look like, was given further advice and left the place quite pleased with the result. I hate the places where they want to hear from you exactly what you want them to do as it always seems to me then that they don't know what they are doing and furthermore, I am not a frickin' hairdresser so how the hell am I supposed to know exactly how you are ought to cut my hair. Ah, there we go. I think it became obvious now that I really have got hair issues. Dunno where that came from.

After strolling through Tooting Market and the area for a while, finding something to eat became the main goal. The first low priced stall went out of food (haha! To their defence however, it was rather late and I was still in the market hall then and there was still some stew stuff left, but that was not really what I was looking for. It was Jamaican food, btw). I then decided to go to an Indian restaurant, which was not the best idea I have ever had. I am talking about the restaurant, not the fact that it was Indian. The amount of food was way too small for what I paid, it was way too greasy and again they gave me one of the shittiest seats available. meh.

That was the day before. I actually wanted to write about my day with the two gals, so here I go.

I arrived in South Kensington a bit earlier than they did, so I had plenty of time to get myself a (not too nice and rather flat) cheap coffee from a place right at the station and sit down on a bench for a while before they showed up.
Writing about coffee. Probably deriving from their history of being tea drinkers, the English coffee of choice is instant, somewhat weaker, milkier and sweeter from what Germans usually prefer. A kettle here is just as much a kitchen essential as is a coffee machine in Germany (FYI, I don't even own a kettle - if I need hot water, I use a good ol' pot on a stove - takes longer, though). Just a little side note. That being said, London Town is still plastered with coffee shop chains and you also don't need to look fot too lonh in farther areas. It seems to me, that Starbucks is to my surprise not the one to find the most but rather the runner up to Pret a Manger (or just plain Pret) which seems to be omnipresent. Followed by Costa and Nero, with the occasional Paul's. As I am someone who is very fond of coffee (as well as tea), I will gladly give you my opinion about the coffee of mentioned chains.

Let's start with Starbucks. Starbucks is the place to go if you want nice, tasty, overpriced fancy shmancy hot beveranges with a lotta cream and syrup but with very little coffee. Let's be honest. Who does not love overpriced fancy shmancy hot beveranges with a lotta cream and syrup but with very little coffee once in a while?
Don't go to Pret if you want coffee. I like their food; you can see the 'effort' in offering more healthy food and the fact that everything is supposedly organic is to their favour as well, but their coffee tastes plain frowsty. Fail. End of story. Organic BS or not, if it tastes bad, I won't buy it.

I cannot say a lot about Paul except that their coffee is alright and their food - at least the macaron I once had haha - is delicious but everything is ridiculously overpriced.

The coffee shop that takes the cake for me is definitely Caffè Nero. Their coffee tastes almost nutty, roasted but not burned and their prices are - for coffee shop standards - rather low.

But finally time to come back to the museums...

We first went to the Science Museum. I have already been there three years ago and remembered it being - watch out, uncreative ad talk on its way - "fun and interactive" meaning that there are many things you can/need to do something with. Different ones than there used to be  years ago which is a good thing as it makes it worth revisiting.

Besides the obvious themes of natural science and technology, the new exhibition "Who am I" adds psychological, biological and socioligical aspects. That was were we spend most of the time.

I don't want to go further into detail as is way better in describing what they offer, but it really is worth a visit, especially combined with the Natural History Museum , which is right next door, so to say and picks up themes such as geology, biology and, well, natural history. Again, we did not quite see all of it as the two still had an appointment, and I might visit it again.

Oh yes, both museums are free except special temporary exhibitions and a few extras.

Both are enjoyable and not the kind of museums where you oooh and aaaah over historical, man made, high cultural objects (arts and crafts for short), which I like as well (the V&A still being my favourite museum).

However, while grown-ups still find something interesting and are going to have there fun - children will get the most out of it.

After leaving the museum oh so much wiser but hungry, we decided to have dessert before our actual dinner (or was it a late lunch? dinner? linner?).  So we went to Snog - a frozen yoghurt shop with a shitload of toppings to choose from. I had green tea yoghurt with chocolate brownies, strawberries and mochi blobs on top. The gals had plain yoghurt and dark chocolate and that were actually all one could choose from. Tasty? Yes. Expensive? Definitely.

We moved on to Victoria Station as their train was going to depart from there and ate at Garfunkel's again (I just love their spareribs and chips. Honestly. I do) where Sarah taught me that you can just ask for tap water in restaurants here as a beverage. We all got big glasses of it even with icecubes and a slice of lemon without being charged. Love it. The best thing that would happen I assume if you asked for tap water in Germany, would be the waitress giving you an irritated look, the worst thing would be you being thrown out. Well, a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture.
Afterwards, we I drank an alright but not too good chai latte with them at the train station (at least I had a chai latte) before they had to leave what made me decide to walk around the area by myself.

Shame on me, but I did not know that Buckingham Palace is so close to there! I pretty much ended up there by coincidence, but surely not regretting it at all. The palace itself is really not too interesting from the outside. However, the fountain in front of it is!

I got to Hyde Park Corner Station, passing the Wellington Arch.