Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Wicked Queso Quest

Matt had interviews in London last week, so we decided to make it an overnighter.  I've only spent 4 days in London, so there are still a million things on the To Do list.  We decided to check a few more off. 
 
We stayed at the Grand Trafalgar because it was familiar and in a great location.  We couldn't get the heat turned off in the room (we're accountants, not engineers), so ended up sleeping with the window open.  The benefit was that we could hear the chiming of "Big Ben."  

The actual name of this iconic landmark is The Clock Tower.  Big Ben is the nickname of the 14.5 ton bell.   It is the biggest four-face chiming clock in the world and actually leans about 9 inches to the Northwest.  It became operational on September 7, 1859. 
St. Catherine's Chapel Garden at Westminster Abbey
When we were in London last July, we tried to visit Westminster Abbey but the line was crazy.  This time there was no queue or crowd so we were able to relax and enjoy exploring.  We are Audio-Tour geeks so of course we walked around with the earphones to our faces.  We even try to coordinate when we each push play so we are in sync.  (I told you... audio-tour geeks.)"  

It's beautiful and obviously full of history.  Founded in 960, it is the final resting place of both Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots (among many other Royals and nobles).  William the Conqueror was the first King crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1066. 

     
Cloisters of Westminster Abbey
Poet's Corner was very interesting.  Tennyson, Robert Browning and Charles Dickens are buried there.

I was able to put my hands on the oldest door in England which is a wooden door over 1,000 years old.  Pretty cool.

The Abbey has a completely different atmosphere from both Canterbury Cathedral and Notre Dame.  It is full of monuments to men, so doesn't have the sacred feeling of Canterbury or the divine feeling of Notre Dame.
Gargoyle of Westminster Abbey
Gargoyle of Westminster Abbey



















I love the gargoyles.  They are water spouts to protect the masonry buildings.  The  grotesque forms are designed to scare off evil spirits and provide protection.   It seems that every one is different and more interesting than the previous. 


My Englishman at the Cloisters of Westminster Abbey

After being in England for three weeks, we were in desperate need of a Tex-Mex fix.  We decided to start trying out Mexican spots in London to see if we could find a favorite for our three times a week habit.  

We started our Queso Quest at Cantino Laredo in Covent Garden.  The chips were more Tostitos and less Mission Brand.  The salsa tasted good but not much kick and the queso was pretty cheddary.  It was good but rather bland.  I don't think we've found our spot just yet.   For lunch the next day we tried Chiquitos in Leicester Square.  It was  more casual and had the feel of a good Tex-Mex spot.  It is a UK chain.  We just had a quick lunch and didn't try the queso.  We will definitely try this one again.  



Wicked at The Apollo Victoria Theatre
Next stop, the Apollo Victoria Theater.  I begged and pleaded to see Wicked while in London and Matt begrudgingly agreed.  I assured him that he would LOVE it.  I could tell early on by his body language that he was NOT loving it. He is a master at non-verbal communication!  At intermission he looked at me and said "What twaddle?!"  I thought the Wicked Uberfans around us were going to fetch the flying monkeys!


He did appreciate the production and the music.  He just didn't get the story.  I think he saw the Wizard of Oz once when he was ten.  And he couldn't get past the talking goat professor.  I, however, had a great time.  

I've seen Wicked once before in SA and loved it.  The stage was much smaller this time and we sat closer which I actually found somewhat distracting.   You could tell when someone in the chorus broke character or when spittle was flying.  

Theater going here feels more casual, people were dressed down.  There were coin operated binoculars in some of the seats. We bought a bucket of cotton candy (floss) and the wine was in sealed, pre-measured plastic wine cups.  At intermission, everyone ran for ice cream.   It was a great night out, but Matt gets to pick the next two that we attend.

On Thursday, Matt had interviews and I spent the day exploring on my own.  (More details of that in a future blog).  We then met up at Harrod's for a look around the food court - endless!  We had dinner at Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden.  I loved the atmosphere and the bread was Ah-Ma-Zing!!!  Dinner was okay.   I think we will visit again, but just for wine, starters and dessert.   

After two jam-packed days we caught the train back to our temporary home in Folkestone.   Still waiting for the magic phone call to see where we will be settling.  Hoping that it comes SOON!!  

xoxo
Selena


17 comments:

  1. I'm enjoying each and every one of your blog posts. :) xoxo Love Carol

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Blog, Selena!!! Thank you for keeping us "in the loop" on your adventures...I love reading them.

    It was funny you mentioned the ice cream in the theater. I took Taylor to see Lion's King for her birthday in London in 2002. I remember the "mad dash" for the ice cream, and of course, Taylor and I were in the thick of it!!!!

    Oh! If you make it to Texas Embassy Cantina for the Tex Mex..let me know how it is. I saw it while I was there, but never got a chance to try it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen, when are you planning your visit? Glad you are keeping up with the blog. It's keeping me sane. We had a drink at the Embassy in July but I haven't eaten there yet. It's on the Queso Quest list. Miss you!!!

      Delete
  3. Just to be a pedant, the clock tower is called St Stephens tower. Enjoying your blog though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dave, for your input. But, I did do a little fact checking before I posted and relied on the following:

      http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/palace/big-ben/enquiries/

      I believe that Clock Tower is the official name. Glad you are enjoying the blog.

      Selena

      Delete
  4. When I was at school (many, many years ago) we were taught that it was called St Stephens Tower but I do now see that after some research on the internet that it's also called "the clock tower", well that's progress for you!!
    http://www.artofthestate.co.uk/london_photos/st_stephens_tower.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The internet is double-edged, isn't it? It's terrific to have so much information at our finger tips, but often it's not accurate. I do appreciate your comment! I'd rather get it right, so always feel free to let me know if something isn't. Thanks again!

      Delete
  5. From one transplanted Texan to another, we think Cantina Laredo is the best we've found. If you need a burrito fix, Chipolte is here too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait to get settled in our own place so I can do some home cooking versions. I'm going to have to request some Velveeta and Rotel from Mom.

      Delete
  6. I just found your blog through Happy Homemaker UK. I am also a Texan and have lived in the UK for about 5 months now. You made me laugh with the audio-tour nerd comments...my husband and I also synchronize our audio tours. And I also noticed how much more casual the theater is here. People don't dress up at all for it. We tried Cantina Laredo. It was good, but definitely not Tex-mex. I have heard that Cafe Paciifico in Covent Garden is good. Also, we had a wonderful meal at Jamie's Italian, so you might want to give it another chance. Look forward to following your blog. Tanya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tonya, so glad to have another Texan close by! I'm going to go get caught up on your blog. You are a few months ahead of me, I can't wait to see how you've been dealing with the transition!

      I also hear Crazy Homies is a good Tex-Mex place in London (love the name!) That one is also on the Queso Quest list.

      Delete
  7. Thanks so much for contributing in January Photo Club! Gorgeous photo of Big Ben!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kris! I love the idea of a Photo Club. Thanks for the opportunity to share!

      Delete
  8. Fabulous photos! Hope you're settling in okay and staying warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Melizza! I enjoyed your guest blog on Sarah's page. I appreciated your honesty so much! It's good to admit that it's not all roses and sunshine.

      Looks like snow on the way!! Keep warm!!

      Selena

      Delete

Thanks for commenting. I love to hear from you!