Saturday, July 05, 2008

Alas! British food, I will not miss you (except for choco muffins!)

Our hotel was Premier Travel Inn at Kings Cross. It’s very near the busy tube station but it was quiet. I loved our hotel (sorry, no pics!) since it was near everything—the tube station, the bus station, pubs, a McDonald’s (though we didn’t eat there but it looked bright and friendly anyway), and a Tesco right at the back!

That little supermarket has really yummy food. I found these incredible chocolate muffins there. Super sarap! Grabe! I even brought home 2 bags of those muffins. Yes, here in Manila! Tinipid ko talagang kainin yung mga muffins na yun pero all good things must come to an end and after a week, I very sadly finished off the last chocolate muffin and Vince thought I was so kawawa kasi pati yung maliliit na crumbs na nahulog sa lamesa, pinulot ko. Yes, I am that pathetic. If there’s anyone out there kind enough to send me these incredibly delicious chocolate muffins, please!

The pastries and desserts in London were great but everything else… okay, like I said before, the food ain’t bad. In fact, I loved everything the first two days haha. English breakfasts are fantastic actually. The croissants and jams and jellies are superb! And the fruit juices? The freshest I've ever had.

Here’s Vince enjoying the famous English dish fish and chips. Fish fillet and potato wedges for a whopping GBP 7. I had lasagna, served also with the ubiquitous chips. And salad. They like their greens. My dish was also a whopping GBP 7. So yung total mga PHP 1,300. Masarap ba? Sabihin na lang natin na matabang yung isda at mas masarap pa ang lasagna ng Greenwich.

While Vince enjoyed the fish and chips, he did not enjoy the strange sandwich at the British Museum (ganda ng ceiling, no!). Look at his face. That sandwich cost us GBP 3.50, so it's around PHP 314!!! Mga friends, I'm not boasting here when I quote the prices of what we ate, ha. I'm just saying that the food is soooo expensive and so we were constantly feeling just a bit hungry because we just can't bring ourselves to shell out lots of cash para sa pagkain na hindi naman masarap! Kahit nga yung mga mahal na food (we tried those eventually, we figured malamang mas masarap yun), hindi talaga natuwa ang taste buds namin. Sigh!

Yung coffee naman sa Camden (I’m drinking something hot kasi maginaw, kahit na maaraw sa picture na eto), yung isang tasa GBP 1. So okay lang kasi mga ninety pesos lang so parang parehas din dito. Well, sabihin na lang natin ulit na mas masarap pa ang instant Nescafe coffee so sobrang hindi siya sulit!

My friend Ianne said that she found the food great but maybe that’s because she ate mostly at Asian restos. Ianne, I dunno where you ate but the curry we had and the lumpiang Shanghai and the sweet and sour pork, pati yung Chinese fried rice that we hunted and eventually found, grabe. Matabang. I mean, c’mon, how can you go wrong with fried rice?! In fact, na-depress ako after a while. Umiyak nga ako nung last day namin dun. Hinahanap-hanap ko talaga ang lutong Pinoy.

Sa totoo lang, the food is good. Not out-of-your-mind-fantabulous but okay. London, after all, is not a destination known for its food (unlike Hong Kong or Thailand, for example). Ang masakit lang kasi sobrang mahal. Yung egg-and-tomato sandwich halos Php200, for example, wala pang mayo o mustard man lang. So you'll think, "Damn, for that kind of money, I could've eaten at a fine dining resto back home!" Grabe, yung isang bote ng tubig dun (see photo), mas mahal pa sa gasolina natin dito! Kaya pati tubig, tinitipid namin inumin. Hahahaha!

So Vince and I, when we got home, we ate at North Park, C2, all these yummy places here. And we kept going, "My golly gulay, we ate enough for four people and that was only, like, GBP 10!"

*continue reading… Contest ahead!

A night at the theater rocked us!

You know what’s the very best thing about London aside from the National Gallery? It’s West End.

The theater culture in London is astonishing. There must have been more than a dozen theaters in the city, each featuring a play or a musical, with performances every day, twice a day. Here in Manila, which I believe is a bigger city, how many plays do we stage in a day? Please, let’s support our theater culture!!!

So there we were on our last night in the city and Vince and I decided to spend our money on a musical. I wanted to watch Lion King, always have, always will. But the husband is not a fan of the Disney movie so he was positively sure he won’t like the musical. We both liked Les Miserables but the ticket lady said, “Look, it’s your last night in London. You’ve had fun so don’t watch something that is sad and heavy, okay? Here, watch We Will Rock You. Everybody says it is the best. I got good seats and for you, I’ll give them for only GBP 35 instead of GBP 55.” So, since Vince and I love a good bargain and since Vince has been bugging me about watching We Will Rock You, we watched that.

The ticket lady wasn’t kidding. We did indeed get very good seats (near the stage, center!) and the theater was filled to the rafters with an excited buzz. In all my theater experiences here in Manila, I have never felt the electricity of anticipation that filled a theater like that. The audience was so eager to watch the play, it was disconcerting, and their excitement really rubbed off on Vince and me. This musical must be good!

And it was!

We Will Rock You is a rock musical written by Queen and Ben Elton. Honestly, the story line was a bit thin; it felt like they just needed something to string along Queen’s songs. But since the music was really really fantastic and the actors were really really good singers, it was so worth the GBP 70! The audience sang along, we danced, we clapped, we screamed and shouted, we gave them a standing ovation.

Next time we go to London, I’m just watching the theater. It was truly magnificent!

*continue reading… Contest ahead!

Guess the book with this famous landmark…

... and two readers will win a Body Shop Sun Lustre Bronzer from Body Shop's newest makeup collection, the Sun-Kissed Makeup Line.

I'm a big fan of this book series, which is, by the way, very very British. Being in London made me understand and appreciate the book way better--the night bus, wizarding money, kids sent off to boarding school, etc. Anyway, about this time last year, I was looking forward to and dreading the arrival of the very last book in this series. When I finally got to the last page, I felt bereft. No more adventures from this wizard I've grown to love for the past seven or so years.

So when I was booking our hotel a couple of months ago, I was so giddy when I found out that our hotel sat right beside Kings Cross station. And if you’re a fan of this book, you know that a special kind of train sits waiting there for its special kind of students!

Kings Cross is a huge train station but I dragged Vince there anyway, looking for Platform 9 and ¾. I just had to have a picture! Then I can pretend that I’m on my way to Hogwarts! Vince thought I was being silly. After two attempts and getting lost in the process, we finally found it. I really squealed like a kid when I found Platform 9 and ¾. I ran up to the wall, took hold of the luggage trolley and very excitedly (and stupidly) pushed and pushed that trolley into the wall. I mean, it was already halfway in! Alas, there must be no magic in me whatsoever because the wall refused to let my Muggle self through

Nevertheless, Muggle or not, our London honeymoon was pure magic. We had so much fun (yep, despite the cold, the bland food and getting left behind by our plane because the train got into trouble and we were stuck underground for 2 hours and 50 minutes). Though Vince and I had known each other for 9 years, this week-long honeymoon made us discover more about ourselves and that it’s possible to fall even more in love with each other. London was wonderful because we are in love and nothing can be more magical than that!

So let me share that fun by holding my second blog contest! Just answer this unbelievably easy question:

What famous book series about a boy wizard and his adventures prominently featured Platform 9 and ¾ of Kings Cross station?

Two readers who will leave a comment on this post with the correct answer will win a Body Shop Sun Lustre Bronzer, which will add an enchanting glow to your skin that’s sure to bewitch all the men out there! I have two kinds: the Bronze Gleam (for morena) and the Radiant Blush (for maputi), each worth $25 or Php1,135. So tell me which one you want!

*How to win: 

1. Winner will be randomly picked by me. Please don't contest the results. I have different qualifications depending on my mood!

2. Winner must have a Philippine address since shipping outside the country is expensive. 3. Please comment in this format: your answer, the bronzer variant you want (just one!), your first name, city where you're from, and email address. 4. Please do not put your full name and delivery address in the comment box since this blog is not secure. If you put your personal info, I will not be responsible for any identity theft and other problems that may arise from your actions. 5. I will announce the winner in a blog entry on July 15. I will also publish all entries then. So join lang nang join, mga friends! Baka manalo ka na!

*product photo from Body Shop website.