About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

15 November 2005

Being Dodgy

Being a (bit of?) a dodgy fellow certainly has its advantages - walking after sunset in Mowbray for instance. It also leads to police interviews. This morning at Victoria Tube Station, I got stopped by the tube cops - it was a bit of my fault I guess - one of the pockets in my bag was opened; but they did the whole bag and jacket search thing and asked whether the wires were connected to the iPod. I thought it was quite amusing really ; especially the racial classification section - they have so many!

Spent most of my day in the Science museum - a fascinating place, and wish that I had more time to spend there. Went (after paying 6 quid) to the "Aliens" exhibition - which was very cool - looked at both the fictional roots of not only aliens but also other "beings" like devils, angels, ghosts etc. But the main part was really about the strangeness of life itself - bacteria that can survive at extreme heat and cold, even multicellular organisms that survive at near freezing conditions at incredible pressures under the oceans. If there is life in those conditions, there is a really high chance of other life out there. Whether it is "intelligent" and whether we will ever encounter them is however much less likely. There was also a very funky section on models of other worlds under different conditions (like air pressure etc) and how that would affect life.

After spending so much time at the museum (went to basically every section), there was not much time for other things to do - like visit the Natural History museum - which I must say has one of the most imposing entrances to any museums I have been to. Went to petticoat lane, but today not being Sunday, there wasn't much happening there, took a walk over to Liverpool Street (nice tube station) and took a tube to St Paul's Cathedral, where I was just in time to see it close in front of me. I am not religious by any means, but do enjoy looking inside churches and temples and wonder what drive people to pour so much money and time into the artworks (which are usually very beautiful admittedly). Seeing that there wasn't much else to do around there, I took the bus to Trafalgar Square and on the spur of the moment decided to go into the National Gallery.

So I can now boast of seeing some very famous original paintings, and while I was very impressed by some of the detail esp. in the landscape artists in the renaissance, I can't say I was that impressed with the more recent masters like Monet. Admittedly, their works do look good from far, but get close and they don't look great at all. Same goes for Van Gogh. But some of the artists from earlier periods had some amazing detail, which I thought was very cool.

Thus ends my London jaunt - I now hope to wake up some insane time (in about 5 hours) to make it to Heathrow in time (just my luck - morning planes = encountering morning rush hour to get to the airport). My next blog post will most probably be after I get back from India

13 November 2005

Time, Crime and Chocolate

After arriving in London yesterday afternoon, I did go out and about; spending time mostly in and round Hyde park. Unlike July, it gets dark much earlier (about 5pm or so) and its much colder than DC (more typical I suppose), and with all the jetlag, I did not do as much as I hoped.

This morning, I woke up late (not really surprising) and decided to start of at Greenwich and visit the observatory. It was a bit disappointing that large parts of it were closed due to renovations. I spent a longer time at the Maritime museum (and a bit of time at Queen's house) which I found rather sparse to be honest. I suppose I am comparing it too much to the Smithsonian museums (who do not have a maritime museum BTW) but while the displays were great, I think in the end it is just too small. There was also an exhibition on Napoleon and Nelson but at 9 pounds I decided to give it a skip.

The London Dungeon was something I stumbled upon last time I was here and decided that I must make a visit this time round. At just over 10 quids (after a 2 quid discount on a student ticket) it is still a very expensive but interesting experience. It is a cross between interactive drama and a theme park on torture, death, disease and Jack the Ripper. The actors were largely brilliant and most played their parts really well. Probably the most interesting part was the labyrinth (very early on) which is effectively a maze where the walls are made of mirrors - very very cool. As for the torture, it is amazing what human beings are capable of doing to each other - all in the name of good.

Being a big fan of Sherlock Holmes (I have read every story and novel), the Sherlock Holmes museum was the next stop. Unfortunately, I can't really say it was worth the 6 pounds, but they had some interesting things - it is effectively an old Victorian house furnished as described and painted in the books and stories. There are quite a few original and prints of illustrations from the book etc. and gives a good overview of life in the turn of the 20th century.

Spent the rest of the day in and around Oxford street. Went into Hamleys (huge toy store), but with Christmas around the corner (well just over a month away), it was just too packed. Also went into the HMV superstore - did think about buying a few DVDs but realised that there was nothing that I really wanted (and that I had a huge depression in my bank account due to the iPod). Although, if there was a box set for all the seasons of "The Practice", I would probably tell a different tale.

Had a buffet supper (eat all as you want/can) at a Thai place near the HMV store for 6 pounds. Thought that was quite a deal. And lastly to the chocolate part of the title - Carl's family friend from Birmingham (forget her name ... sorry) talked about how different Cadbury's Dairy Milk tastes in South Africa, so I decided to investigate. After having quite a bit of the 200g bar, I can't really say that they taste too different although I think the UK version does have less sugar. Still doesn't compare to Lindt however.