This past week, we finished the stressful ordeal that is known as midterms. Most of us exerted ourselves to our fullest potential, ending up mentally exhausted. The light at the end of the tunnel was our 10-day break, just around the corner.
Ten-day is the break that Austrian students either spend traveling wherever they want, or on mission in Sweden, Lourdes, or Slovakia. I opted to travel, and my group, after much zig zagging between many options, elected to go to London and then Barcelona.
Personally, I had always wanted to go to London, as I love the culture and the big city. After staying in a flat slightly outside the city, I can say I fell in love. I saw the sights: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and all of the beautiful “tourist” things there. But the crown jewel was on our final day in London: I went to a classy London Tea Time, then saw an off-Broadway production of Les Miserables.
We Americans think we know class, but there’s nothing like an afternoon tea in London to make me think otherwise. We were each given a little sifter so that we could sift our tea into its cup. Then, we were given small cups of jam or preserves and cream, which come with spoons rather than knives, and which you must spread on your scone or crumpet only after you put it on your plate.
And despite what stereotypes may tell you, pinkies do not go up – that is a sign of pettiness and snobbery. When my friends and I went, we felt underdressed, so it would be better not to wear jeans but either trousers or a dress or skirt, because when one goes to afternoon tea it is often in a posh area – and by posh I mean fancy. Tip: when in London, pick up some of their slang. It is so much cooler than the USA’s.
Later in the evening, our group met up to see Les Miserables. We were in the upper circle of a very beautiful old theatre. I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy the musical from that height, but I was willing to give it a chance. After all, Les Mis is arguably one of the best musicals ever written.
As it turns out, every seat was the best in the house, because, as one who has been to several Broadway shows, this particular production was the best show I have ever seen. The actors were incredible, and each embraced his own character.
In my humble opinion, it was almost better than the Oscar-nominated movie. The most beautifully performed piece from the musical was by far “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” for the sheer reason that they had all the barricade boys come and “haunt” Marius in the shadows. I don’t want to give too much away, but it has an effect on virtually everyone, especially if one has experienced the death of a loved one.
I am currently on my way to Barcelona as I write this article, but I now realize that London has my heart now and forever, and I will be back, whether it be as a tourist or as a resident.