Tuesday, July 17, 2007

London to the Netherlands

After spending so much time at the Science Museum, I decided I'd visit the Natural History Museum the next day, before leaving for the Netherlands. Before I left, Basia took me over to see her mother. We only talked for a few minutes, but decided that when I came back through London we would all go to a pub and chat.

A busker playing Queen at Ealing Commons

Nearby the Natural History Museum is a restaurant called Daquise. I heard from Basia that my grandparents went there when they were in London, so I had some barszcz for lunch and soaked up all the Polish conversation.

The Natural History Museum had a huge line outside, but it moved quickly. Plus you don't really notice because the building itself is so impressive it keeps your interest. The Museum had tonnes of everything you can imagine. From birds to plants to dinosaurs. I was most amazed by this piece taken from a medieval trough that showed the work/rest days like tree rings. And of course there's the earthquake room, which is such a low magnitude I didn't notice the floor was moving until I looked at the walls. I guess California does that to you.

I still had some time until my train left for the ferry to the Netherlands, so I went to the British Museum — known best for its many "acquired" treasures. There were a few pieces I wanted to see, but it was closing so I could only get into the central area where I promptly began experimenting with the acoustics. Certain spots in that space have some of the longest natural delay I've ever heard.

Clapping at the British Museum

My train left from the Liverpool Street station, so I went over there and got dinner from Marks and Spencer. Marks and Spencer absolutely amazes me. It's really just a small grocery store, but every single product is "Marks and Spencer brand". Every product has the same design for their packaging — and it all looks very hip. I think their hummus is really good, too, but everything tastes good when you're hungry.

The only problem with buying food in the Liverpool Street station is that there are absolutely no rubbish bins in the entire station. The central area is two stories and bigger than a football field, and there isn't a single trash can. I looked for at least half an hour. If you find, let me know where. I'll give you a gold star and my empty yogurt cup.

From London the train went to Harwich (though no one knows where "har-witch" is, only "hair-itch"). There was a beautiful sunset followed by some staff leading a few passengers through a surreal empty train station onto a bus, which then drove into the ferry. It all seemed really sketchy, but then we took the elevator up and there were plenty of carpeted hallways and whatnot. The room was probably the nicest I'll stay in for a while. I got my first hints of a necessary bilingualism when the started announcing things in Dutch, and then English.

Inside my cabin, Harwich to Hoek Van Holland

We lost an hour crossing the timezones, and arrived at Hoek van Holland (Hook of Holland) at 7:30 in the morning. We had breakfast before disembarking, and I had a great meal with some sinaasappelsap. Somehow orange juice tastes better when it has such a ridiculous name.

There's plenty more to say about the Netherlands, but I'll save it for the next post — I'm still catching up on translating my short scribbles from the last few days into full sentences.

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