Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Phantom of Opera

For those of you do not know I love musicals, plays, ballets, but I have yet to see an opera…anyway I love performances on a stage. The entire experience is magical, the costumes, the sets, the music, even the lighting transport you to another world for a few hours where the possibilities are endless. Out of all the musicals I have seen performed The Phantom of the Opera is my favorite. I did not see this for the first time on the stage however, I saw the movie first. Now how I actually came about to see the movie I cannot remember but I do know that I have been obsessed with it ever since. So much so that my mother finally bought me the DVD because she was tired of constantly renting it from the movie store.
So how I ask you could I not see my favorite musical in the city it originated in? The answer is, you have to see it! And the other night I finally did!

Lights in Picadilly Circus on the way to the theater! 

The show was spectacular! Not even the annoying audience members around me could ruin my experience! The performers were incredible and the entire production was amazing! I am so happy I got to see it. The only thing that would have made the experience better would have been seeing it with my mom. The theater and any arts are amazing productions and something I am so fortunate to be able to take part in, even if it is only from the audience. Cheers! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Ritz

I made these reservations ages ago. It was during one of the first weeks I was in London. We had been on a tour bus and the guide stated that an iconic London location was The Ritz and if we had the opportunity to have tea there we should. So I made reservations for three and when December 3rd rolled around the day had finally come. I would have booked the reservation for earlier maybe in September, October, or even November but when we had the option to have tea in December when the parlor room was decorated for Christmas the choice was easy…we would wait. 

And thank goodness we did! The room was absolutely gorgeous and the experience was incredible! We arrived promptly at our reservation time. Handed our coats to the coat check and were seated for tea. The air was full of Christmas cheer! The entire parlor room was decorated with wreaths, a Christmas tree, garland, and even carol singers later in the evening. 

The food was divine. We of course choose the champagne option, because when you are The Ritz you have to have champagne, I am pretty sure that is a rule somewhere. The sandwiches were amazing and by far my favorite part of the tea besides the tea itself. I ordered the Christmas special blend tea. It tasted similar to apple cider but with a more tea like feel if that makes sense. Next were the scones, which were warm and inviting and the clotted cream and jam just made them all the better. The last tier featured an assortment of pastries. Now I know tea does not seem like it would be filling but trust me, it is. Not only did they refill our sandwich plates but later in the evening a lovely waiter came round with a desert cart. To say I was stuffed by the end of tea was an understatement. High tea, if you do it at a good place, is similar to American Thanksgiving. Full of wonderful food and beverages and later after the meal you cannot believe you ate that much and are asking for someone to carry you to the nearest couch. 

Sara and Caitlin! 

The experience was magical. Gone was our stress about finals, or the acknowledgment that we were all exhausted from being in Austria the weekend before. As soon as you stepped into The Ritz you were transported to another world. Almost like a fantasy or an escape from the reality outside into this iconic London atmosphere. The service was impeccable and I would do this again in a heart beat if someone asked me to. All in all the one of the best tea services I have ever had and a great way to celebrate Christmas! Cheers! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen

Our last day in Vienna was bitter sweet! We had been to many Christmas markets and today was the day to final buy something from the markets. Obviously the majority of the markets have beautiful ornaments and I really wanted to buy the gorgeous glass ones but there was no way they would have made it back to America let alone London. But we did find some pretty ornaments that we could take back but I can't show them because 1. I did not take pictures of them and 2. they are gifts for people and I don't want to ruin the surprise! Anyway our favorite market was at the Shönbrunn Palace, or the summer palace! Isn't even more gorgeous during the day! 

After wandering around the palace and Lindsay's photo shoot we stopped for some lunch and then back at the cafe we had eaten yesterday for the yummiest hot chocolate you have every had! And sacher torte, which my mom said I had to try and I will admit it was delicious! 

I just want to say as a disclaimer. Yes, I eat a lot, yes I enjoy every bite of it, no I do not feel guilty about it, but yes I will feel guilty when I get back to the states but until then I will live it up and not care. 

I had the best time in Vienna. It was full of laughs and a great time! It was for sure one of the best places I have been to while abroad. It was the perfect last trip and I wouldn't have wanted to spend my 21st birthday anywhere else...except maybe London or Houston. Cheers! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

More Mugs

After my lovely birthday and our day in Salzburg it was time to spend a full day in Vienna! Our day started with a visit to the Imperial Palace! 

Lindsay and I decided that I can live in the Imperial Palace and she can live in Shönbrunn Palace so when we get bored we can just visit the other! The Palace itself is stunning like all Austrian Palace's are. We visited the Sissi Muesum which takes you through the life of Empress Elisabeth or 'Sissi' as everyone referred to her. She was quite a woman and that is all I will say. We also were able to tour the Imperial Apartments of Empress Sissi and her husband Emperor Franz Joseph. As you can see the palace and the grounds it sits on are massive and clearly I had to have the larger palace...

After the tour we were quite hungry so we found this cute chocolate cafe and popped in for a bite to eat! 

I finally was able to try Gulasch which was really yummy and the perfect thing to eat on a cold day. 

I have no idea what this is called but it is pancakes filled with cream and it was delicious and supposedly an Austrian delicacy so we ordered it, ate it, and had no shame in doing so. 

Isnt' the cafe so pretty? It was the perfect place to eat after just touring the Imperial Palace. 

Besides the yummy cake there also was a chocolate figure in one of the windows of this women. Or at least I think it was chocolate it might be marzipan. After lunch it was time to visit St. Stephens Cathedral. 

Another beautiful European church! If anyone knows how to build a church it is the Europeans. Every church I have wondered into has been more impressive than the last. With amazing stain glass windows, elaborate chapels, beautiful alter pieces and lots of crypts. 

This is the entrance to St. Stephen's crypt. My dad told me that we had to tour it so we did and I am so happy that we did. It was really cool down there even with all the deal bodies plus it was interesting to learn more about the plague as well as how people buried their dead back then. 

Since I celebrated my actual birthday in Salzburg we wanted to go to a nice dinner for my birthday on Sunday evening. So I found this lovely restaurant called Mini that was perfect! The staff was excellent and the food was divine! I can still taste the duck rigatoni I ordered! After dinner it was off to another Christmas market!

The pretty lights alone made me never want to leave Vienna! 

The christmas market was in between city hall and the opera house! It was the biggest one I have ever been to but not my favorite. Don't get me wrong they had everything and more but it was clearly the largest tourist attracting market. I like more of the local christmas markets where you can tell the people in the booths have made all the items themselves and everyone knows each other.

Still the ornaments were beautiful! 

Lindsay and I. 

More on Vienna tomorrow! Cheers!