Monday, 1 October 2012

Wonderful World of WIFI

Here I am, sitting in Starbucks, something which goes against all my better instincts. I have a strong dislike for Starbucks and the so-called coffee it serves in bucket-sized cups. I object to their taking over the world of coffee-drinking places  when so many other places produce much better coffee. So why am I here? The answer is simple and consists of four letters: WIFI.

In Spain we have no difficulty whatever in finding cafes with perfectly good WIFI connections for free. In Sicily we had WIFI in all the hotels we stayed at. We have returned to the UK just in time for our son to move house. Consequently he has no internet connection until tomorrow. So we have been obliged to find another way of connecting:  WIFI in cafes.

We tried Caffe Nero, where the coffee is relatively good, in their branch in Chesham, where the boy has relocated to. Decent coffee, but hopelessly weak signal. So reluctantly we moved our business to Starbucks, Chesham on Saturday and yesterday. 

Today we are in London, on Baker Street to be precise. On one corner is Starbucks and just opposite, Costa. So we went into Costa and had decent coffee but once again hopeless WIFI. So back to Starbucks, where once again the connection is fast and efficient.

How hard is it to set up a good WIFI system? If little places in Spain can do it, why can't cafe chains here in the UK? Is it something to do with being chains? I have no answer but I feel just a little frustrated.

Anyway, here I am in Starbucks, but not drinking their coffee. Phil opted for orange juice but I spotted a "Naked Antioxidant", made I suppose by The Naked Bean company. This drink declares itself to be an apple, pineapple and kiwi smoothie. When you pour it put it looks like cold spinach soup. The dominant taste however is banana. Strange!!

On the bottle it makes a virtue of its odd colour and says that people should drink this smoothie as a challenge to all the pink and orange smoothies in the world. The list of ingredients is astounding:

3.3 apples

1 banana

0.3 kiwi

0.3 mango
1 pineapple

It also contains certain "healthy" ingredients to make it green: spirulina (what is that?), chlorella (what is that?), broccoli, spinach (I did say looked like cold spinach soup), blue-green algae, odourless garlic (is there such a thing?), barley grass, wheat grass, ginger and parsley.

It has NO added sugars, NO preservatives and comes in a recyclable plastic bottle. It sounds as though it's good for you and, what's more, it tastes good. I am amazed.

If I have to come to Starbucks again, this is what I will have in future.

Oh, yes, the other thing I forgot to mention in my rant about the difficulty of getting Internet access is the cost. Today alone it has cost us over £10 - cofffee in Costa and then fruit drinks in Starbucks. This is considerably more than we would spend in a whole evening in the Nuevo Derby cafe in Vigo. And there we would be given free tapas with our beer and some friendly conversation from the staff.

It's very strange that in the UK, where the computer - household ratio is far higher than in Spain, it is so much more difficult and so much more expensive to get public WIFI access. Incidentally, we made enquiries about WIFI when we arrived at the airport here, before catching the train into London. There is Internet access just about everywhere in the complex, we were told, but you have to pay for it. So it goes!

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