London: Month of March
March in London was a short one due to spring break in Barcelona + Morocco, as well as prepping for midterms, so this will be a shorter post than last month's!
BOOK OF MORMON MUSICAL
A very hilarious musical and quite raunchy. Despite the show being satirical of Mormon's and their religion, this play does it in a sensible manner that is not likely to offend anyone. Don't take things too seriously, and it'll be a good time!
LEEDS UNITED VS FULHAM FOOTBALL MATCH
Our program took us to a soccer match, and being in the Leeds section, everyone around us (basically all men) was very pumped for the game. They had a lot of fan chants that were fun to learn, a lot of creative swearing, and the game itself went by quicker than American football for sure. Although not a lot happened this game with the final score being 1-1, it reminded me of tailgating at USC with a lot of team spirit and energy.
OXFORD + BLEMHEIM PALACE DAY TRIP
On a sunny Friday, our program took us to Oxford and we had a lovely tour guide that led us around campus to show us some of the individual colleges, and told us about some of the traditions as well. When it comes to applying, one can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge to prevent double the number of applications (and pride reasons), but if shortlisted, the other university send an invite for an interview. The application process is very intense; if rejected, some choose to take a gap year and reapply the next year.
Left: Divinity School, used in many Harry Potter scenes.
There is an annual tortoise fair in Oxford where a group of tortoises -- each representing a different college -- race against each other, and whoever has the speediest tortoise wins bragging rights for the rest of the year. For those intrigued, more info can be found here. Oxford also had a "one word" exam where those applying would have to write about a random word (that they give you) for 3 hours. However, this essay tradition ended in 2010.
During the tour we also passed by the inspiration for C.S. Lewis's wardrobe door in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (right photo below):
Others inspired by Oxford's surroundings were Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), and J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings). Carroll actually studied mathematics at Christ Church where he read his stories to Alice Liddell (daughter of the dean), who later became the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
After Oxford we went to Blemheim Palace, and as we were arriving we were all stunned by a huge lake with rolling green hills in the distance. In the gardens and surrounding area, there were so many daffodils along with pheasants roaming around, and with the sun shining, I wanted to stay here all day. It is what you would imagine a picture perfect English countryside, but it was all purposely designed by the landscape architect Achille Duchêne to make it look natural (the lake was shaped as well)!
CLARIDGE'S AFTERNOON TEA
For my 21st birthday, my flatmates and I celebrated with afternoon tea! If coming here, please get the rare earl grey as I've never had a more delightful and aromatic earl grey than this one -- I only wish I could take it home with me!
Although the sandwiches were pretty average, the pastries are to die for. They served a vanilla and pear tart, hazelnut cream puffs, giant mango macarons, cherry and chocolate cake, and a very light and airy cheesecake. I almost felt like the desserts were made for me given the fact that I'm obsessed with pear lately, love hazelnut, and you can't go wrong with a giant macaroon, chocolate cake, or cheesecake!
The classic scones and clotted cream with jam were provided, and for those with any allergies or food restrictions, they will give substitutions from their main menu.
There was a lot of food, so be prepared to stop halfway to digest; afterwards they will give you fudge to take home. All in all, the tea, live piano music, and friendly staff makes this place perfect for a celebration!
TOWER OF LONDON
As a historic castle and now a tourist attraction on the north bank of the Thames, the Tower of London is officially Her Majesty's fortress today, and was used as a base for royal power in the medieval times.
Along with seeing the ravens and exploring the prison cells, here we also saw the breathtaking Crown Jewels and the film of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation at the Crown Jewels Exhibition. In it also showcases the largest colorless cut diamond in the world at 530.2 carats on the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross.
12TH NIGHT - ROYAL NATIONAL THEATRE
With a modern backdrop, this play utilized a rotating floor with panels folding and unfolding to jump from scene to scene, as well as a working fountain and pool. The highlight of this play was definitely Tamsen Greig as Malvolia, who had the ability to make us laugh with her absurd yellow stockings despite her initial puritanical character.
For their Ruby Chicken and Malai kulfi on a stick (if you love the denseness and creaminess of gelato, you will LOVE kulfi!).
For their rosemary chips. They also have a student deal: £15 for 2 burgers + chips + drinks.
YUMCHAA (TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD)
For their Regent's Park, Wanderlust, or Apple Spice/Pear tea, and a nice place to read or get work done (the Camden and Brick Lane cafes are smaller but still offer their extensive selection of teas).
Karina's parents and sister visited London for ~week, and it was very nice of them to treat us out! Favorites: Kelp Salad, Yellowtail Sashimi w/ Jalepeno, and Black Cod Miso (good thing they have locations worldwide)!
For their duck confit from Le Marché du Quartier, and coconut pancakes (Khanom Krok booth on the outskirts of the market).
For their Tonkotsu X.
For their very rich flavours (try the bitter chocolate and you'll see what I mean)!
And that's it for March!