The Nags Head – London

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My last night in London was bittersweet. It meant leaving Europe after 4 months, but at the same time, I was so excited to see my friends and family again. A must for shopaholics is to visit Oxford Street in London. It’s a street just full of shopping, including my personal favourites – Selfriges and Topshop. Selfriges has huge sales after Boxing Day too!

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Since it was my last night, K and E said we might as well get the most out of it. After dropping A and C back at the hotel, we took the Tube back to Covent Garden. Covent Garden is near the Soho area, so there’s a variety of pubs and cafes. It’s also where the huge market and Royal Opera House is located around. We found The Nags Head just a block away from the Tube, so we quickly seated ourselves. We’re not huge drinkers, so K and I just got an Apple Cider which was on tap. Really good and crisp.

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K was also in this total British pie mode after trying Pieminister, so she insisted we needed to get another pie. We went for the Chicken & Ham Pie this time, since she was really looking for something along the lines of a chicken pot pie. This came with peas, carrots and gravy. It was also supposed to come with potatoes, but they ran out, so we were given fries instead. The pie was flaky and fully filled with juicy chicken and a delicious sauce. Very good for pub food!

Overall, The Nags Head was a nice bar with average prices and a very convenient location. The interior was all wooden, giving it a traditional British pub feel. Service was average given that at most bars, you need to seat yourself anyways. The bartenders were pretty nice to us even though we weren’t sure what to order and took the time to explain to us. You’ll also find a mix of both locals and tourists here.

And that ends my posts for Europe. I am so grateful for this experience, and am happy to say that I’ve discovered some new cuisines and dishes that I am now craving for. Until next time! Now back to Vancouver we go!

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Paramount Afternoon Tea – London

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I was only in London for two days, which really isn’t a lot. Everyone stayed an extra day, but I had to make my way back home to Vancouver! So on my last day, we set out to finish all the tourist spots! First was the Buckingham Palace. When we got there, we actually caught these men on the horses. Not exactly sure what the purpose of them were though. I believe it’s something to do with the Queen’s Life Guard.

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The Buckingham Palace is the official residence and workplace of the monarchy of the UK. I actually didn’t think the palace was that impressive. After seeing the ones in France, like the Versailles Palace, the one in London really doesn’t seem as luxurious. I was imagining some fancy, magnificent building!

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If you look closely, you’ll see the guards in grey. Changing of the Guard happens at 11:30 am daily, but from August to April, it occurs on alternate days. Unfortunately, on the day we were here, it was one of the days which the ceremony was not happening.

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We then made our way to Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland is hosted at Hyde Park. It’s basically like a PNE for Vancouver, but at a greater scale. With rides, markets, an ice rink, restaurants, and many other activities. Hyde Park itself is one of the largest parks in London. It’s also a Royal Park!

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They also featured a Magical Ice Kingdom, where there were ice sculptures. We found the admission a little pricey, so we skipped it. Regardless, just walking through the park is lots of fun since it’s really festive and entry to walk around is free! I would imagine that at night, the wonderland is even more amazing with the lights on.

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If you continue walking through Hyde Park, you’ll end up at Kensington Palace. Do keep in mind that Hyde Park is quite big, so you’ll walk for quite some time, but it’s quite relaxing and a nice stroll. The palace was the residence of the British Royal Family beginning in the 17th century and is now the official residence in London for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and many others. Again, you need to pay for admission to visit the state rooms, but we were not too interested in it. I personally would skip this attraction if I was tight on time.

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And then I came upon this window display! Love this picture just because my two favourite British icons are in it – Paddington Bear and Mr. Bean! I used to watch these two on TV as a child!

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For the afternoon, we had made reservations for afternoon tea at Paramount, which is situated at the 37th level of the building. You get a 360 degree view of London. Unfortunately, we weren’t seated by the window. That sort of took away our whole experience. Afternoon tea is pretty pricey in London – much more than Vancouver in fact. Around the holidays, most of them are also fully booked, so you need to reserve well in advance! The inside is pretty fancy, sort of like a hotel restaurant setting. It’d probably be smart not to show up in your gym clothes, but it’s still relatively casual where you can wear jeans. Many people were just having a late lunch or a snack with drinks, so their menu is not just solely for afternoon tea.

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Earl Grey, Sri Lanka

The afternoon tea set it pretty much set and costs £28, which includes a choice of tea. I find that pretty expensive since we can get afternoon tea for CAN$28! For my choice of tea, I chose the Earl Grey, since I was feeling something more classic. It was a really good Earl Grey, with a Ceylon tea base and a hint of citrus flavour. I found it odd how they didn’t offer me any milk or cream though. The pot is also relatively small, so you don’t get a lot in one brew. I also found it annoying how they didn’t ask if we needed more hot water. We were the ones who had to ask for it, and it took forever to come. I wouldn’t say the service was that great.

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Here we have some clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Also in the back, we have some brown and white sugar cubes.

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This was the bottom layer. All savouries, and also a layer I enjoyed the most. It included Smoked Salmon and White Cheese on Rye Pumpernickel, Dry Cured Ham with Piccalilli on Sour Dough, Free Range Boiled Egg with Grain Mustard, Mayonnaise & Cress on Toasted Brioche, Poached Chicken with Spring Onion Mayonnaise on Multi Gran Loaf, and Quiche of the Day. I enjoyed all of them except for the Quiche of the Day. I believe there was goat cheese in it, and it was too strong for my liking.

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The middle layer were the desserts. It included a Baked Cheesecake with Rosemary Infused Blueberry, which was my favourite. It was so light and fluffy! There was also Chocolate Battenberg Cake, a Creme Brulee like dessert with caramel at the bottom, a raspberry cake, and cinnamon donuts.

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At the top of the tier were warm Handmade Raisin & Plain Scones. I’m not a huge fan of scones just because I find they’re too dense. You get pretty full from this set, so I could barely finish my scones by the end of the meal.

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And this was the afternoon tea set. This tray consisted of two sets.

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And here was our table! It was pretty cramped though. They should’ve given us a larger table, knowing that we were here for afternoon tea. I find that their service is just lacking. You don’t really get checked up on unless you wave down your server.

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But near the evening, you get a beautiful view of London. It’s a shame we weren’t seated by the window. I had to get up to take this picture. But regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a must to take some time out of your busy travels to relax and have a traditional afternoon tea in London!

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Pieminister at Borough Market – London

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My last stop in Europe was London. It had always been on top of my list, but I hadn’t had time to visit this famous city. We stayed at Travelodge since it was more affordable. Finding accommodation in London is extremely difficult just because they are extremely pricey! Even a hostel can cost you double of what you would pay in the rest f Europe! Immediately, the first thing I noticed was the iconic red telephone booths. I’m not sure if people still use these today, but I just had to get a picture of it! The red double decker buses are also everywhere. Another famous feature are the underground trains. However, I find that they arem’t exactly trustworthy, just because they constantly have construction or there are accidents, meaning you must take a reroute. It also took almost an hour just from the Heathrow airport to the city center.

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From there, we just did a lot of walking and wandered towards the Tower of London, also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress.  The castle was actually used as a royal residence, but was also used as a prison! When we went, there were huge lineups, but I would assume there are huge lineups at anytime since London is filled with tourists year round. We didn’t have much time, so we did not end up going in. Outside, there is also an outdoor skating rink in place.

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The castle actually houses the Crown Jewels too. This is the entrance to the castle. You can see there is already a huge lineup to enter. There are also two lions at the entrance.

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From the Tower of London, you’ll also get some beautiful views of London since it’s right by the water. One structure that really caught my eyes was The Shard. It’s a glass pyramidal tower and is the tallest building in the EU! It has 87 floors with 72  being habitable, but it seems that not many people have purchased it due to its high price. I believe there are some restaurants in use currently.

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Then we come to the famous Tower Bridge. It’s definitely an icon of London and I even have a 3D model of this structure! It’s a suspension bridge supported by two towers with a higher level walkway at the top. Pretty cool since you can walk on the top there. Contrary to what I had always though, this is not the “London Bridge” that every one talks about. Personally, I think the London Bridge is really not as impressive as the Tower Bridge.

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We then made our way towards Borough Market, which was just a 10 minute walk away. Borough Market is a wholesale and retail market and is one of the largest and oldest in London. It carried a wide variety of food and was very international.

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We love trying the local food, so first thing we thought of in London were pies! Luckily, at the Borough Market, we found a line up at Pieminister. Props for a cute name too. Anyways, Pieminister makes pies and they show up at various farmers markets as well as selling them at restaurants all over the UK. At the market, they sold both hot and cold pies. Cold pies would be perfect to take home and heat up on your own. Those hot pies on the other hand sell out really quickly! We had wanted to try the Moo pie, but it was already sold out! When you see a new batch coming out, you’ve got to beat that line!

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We ended up resorting to the Shamrock, which is a pie filled with tender beef steak and Irish stout. It was super hearty, but so delicious! You could taste that slight hint of beer, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The pie itself was flaky and the crust was thin, so you got a lot of filling! It was perfect on a cold day! Definitely recommend!

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Tibidabo and Santa Anna – Barcelona

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My last day in Barcelona was a beautiful sunny day (even though it was the end of December). One attraction that many of my friends had visited, but I hadn’t, was the famous Tibidabo. Tibidabo is a mountain that provides a spectacular viewpoint of the city. You can reach the mountain by taking a T2B shuttle bus that departs at Pl. Catalunya. Took roughly less than 30 minutes, and it went around and around and up the hill. Up on the mountain is an amusement park, and most notably, a Catholic Church. This is called the Temple de Sagrat Cor.

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The Church is translated to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It took 60 years to construct it. The interior is rather small, but beautifully decorated with stained glass windows and mosaics. Very colourful and filled with details.

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The amusement park is the oldest in Barcelona, and features some pretty cool rides and I would assume you would get some breath-taking views high up on those rides. We didn’t go on any rides, but there are various viewpoints on the mountain and the view is beautiful. I’m so glad I got a chance to come here on my last day as it really wrapped up my 4 months in Barcelona. I cannot wait to be back! It’s like my second home now!

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After a relaxing morning up on the mountain, we decided to grab some lunch. I did some searching on Tripadvisor and we ended up at Santa Anna. It was just tucked into one of the streets along La Ramblas. Santa Anna is a place filled with both locals and tourists. They have an awesome lunch menu for 10,70 euros which includes bread, a drink, and a 3 course meal. You will be super full from the meal! It’s also great for tourists since they have an English menu and can converse in English very well.

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Lemon Fanta

For the choice of drink, I went for the Lemon Fanta. I was always a fan of Fanta, but it’s not super popular in Vancouver. I swear I drank Fanta the most in Spain, other than Sangria. I couldn’t believe that they gave us a huge bottle of Fanta though. It comes in the glass bottles, but this was one size larger than the usual. I was beyond filled up just by the drink and fizz itself.

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Broth Soup with Meat and Vegetables

C got the Broth Soup with Meat and Vegetables. It was filled with corn, meat and pasta. She said it was a nice light soup and wasn’t too salty. For me, it sort of reminded me of chicken noodle soup. You could get semi full just by the soup itself already!

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White Rice with Tomato Sauce, Fried Egg, and Fried Banana

K and I got the White Rice with Tomato Sauce, Fried Egg, and Fried Banana as our appetizer. Yup, rice for an appie! Okay, I sort of laughed when I read this on the menu, but I wanted to try it anyway. It’s such a weird combination, but somehow it didn’t taste too bad! The fried banana are basically like banana chips. You get a good amount of tomato sauce on your rice, and then a sunny side up egg. This would make a pretty good breakfast actually!

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Salt Cod with Tender Garlic Sauce

For the entree, I got the Salt Cod with Tender Garlic Sauce, which is one of their popular dishes. This was so delicious!! The fish was so tender and moist. It came with some lentil beans, which I wasn’t a big fan of, but the garlic sauce was very light and added a bit of flavour without being too overwhelming.

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Grilled Veal Steak with French Fries and Green Peppers

C and E both got the Grilled Veal Steak with French Fries and Green Peppers. I find it odd, but the steak in Barcelona is often cut very thin. Hence, I find that the meat is a lot more tough since it gets overcooked really quickly. They both agreed it was just average.

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Roast Pork Chop with Honey and Mustard

K got the Roast Pork Chop with Honey and Mustard. You’ve got to get messy eating this one! A nice honey glaze on the meat, but as usual, the pork chops didn’t have too much meat on them. It also came with some potatoes.

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Catalan Creme

For dessert, we wanted the Pineapples with Cream, but they ran out of that. Instead, we got the Catalan Creme, which did not look too appetizing. It was slightly torched so there was a thin layer of caramelized sugar on top. I found it average, and I was too full to finish this.

All in all, Santa Anna has some pretty good deals for lunch. I hear that their regular menu is also really good! Service was also very friendly. And that was it for my stay in Barcelona! I cannot wait to be back! Before returning to Vancouver, we took a trip to London, which will be featured in my next post!

Tapa Tapa (Maremagnum) – Barcelona

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Cheese Cannelloni

Coming back to Barcelona, I was bittersweet since my trip was coming to an end. Two more days and I would be leaving Barcelona to my last destination in London. At the same time, we were in Barcelona at an odd time – on Boxing Day, where everything is basically closed. I needed to do some last minute shopping in Barcelona, since it’s quite a shopping heaven here if you enjoy the Inditex brands. The only mall open was Maremagnum by Port Vell, and everyone seemed to have made their way there. After a day of shopping, we settled at Tapa Tapa at the Maremagnum location. Tapa Tapa is known to be more of a tourist spot, since it’s overpriced and not exactly the most amazing tapas. But we were tired and didn’t want to waste metro tickets going to another location. We started off with the Cheese Cannelloni, which is a popular tapa in Barcelona. It was rich and creamy, with a very thick sauce on top. I did find it a little too salty though.

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Acorn-fed Iberian Ham Croquettes

Next up, K’s favourite Iberian Ham Croquettes. They were soft and cheesy inside with a strong Iberian ham flavour. The outer coating was deep fried to a nice golden brown. If anyone knows where I can buy these frozened to heat up in Vancouver, please let me know. I am already craving them now.

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Assortment of Montaditos

Next, we had the Assorted Montaditos. This was a colourful plate with 5 different montaditos. Starting on the top left was a Melted Camembert and Acorn Ham. The cheese was a stringy texture, but I didn’t really like the taste of it mixed with the ham. Just beneath that was the Spanish Potato Tortilla. Again, a very typical Spanish tapa. You got lots of potatoes within a thick omelette and it was placed on a tomato brushed piece of bread. To the right of the omelette, we had Mini Burger with grilled onions. I’ve had this as the Trio of Hamburgers, and loved the one with onions. The grilled onions just bring so much flavour to the patty. Then we have the Iberian Ham next, which I’ve found that I’m not a huge fan of. I can eat it sometimes, but I can’t have it constantly. I find the ham flavour too strong personally. Last but not least, we have the Crab and Shrimp Salad, which is personally my favourite. It’s so simple, with just imitation crab and chopped up shrimp, mixed with mayo, but it’s absolutely delicious! This is a good deal if you want to try a variety of tapas, since it’s only around 8,75€, whereas if you ordered everything separately, it would cost around 12€.

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Assorted Salads

Since we were sharing our dishes, it made sense to get another large plate, so we got the Assorted Salads. It came in an impressive presentation, almost like a monster! In the front, we have the Classic Russian Salad with Tuna, which is by far my favourite Spanish salad. I’m even trying to make this at home now!  Tons of tuna, some corn, peppers, and loads of mayo. If I remember correctly, the one behind was the Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Vinaigrette Tomato. I didn’t really like this one since I’m not a fan of goat cheese or tomatoes. Next was the Mediterranean Pasta Salad and Prawns. This one was another favourite, although it lacked prawns. In fact, I don’t really remember having any prawns. Regardless, the pasta salad was flavourful. Last but not least, it was the Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon. I found this one a bit bland. Again, a good deal if you want to try the different salads, as it comes to only 8,25€.

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Moorish Pintxos

Moorish Pintxos are essentially Meat Kebabs. I think we were eating pork here if I’m not mistaken. It’s basically rubbed with a spice before it’s grilled. It was lightly topped with salt, and it was definitely a nice kick to our meal. Not too spicy, but very flavourful for sure. Everyone enjoyed this dish.

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Squid Ink Paella (Regular size)

Last but not least, my mom wanted to try what Spanish Paella really was, so I suggested we get the Squid Ink Paella. They have a tapa size and a regular size. We chose the regular size, but couldn’t end up finishing it all. I’ve found that I enjoy the Squid Ink sauce more than the Valencian style. I just enjoy the taste of seafood more, and I find the squid ink very flavourful. I found this paella a bit more dry than La Fonda and it also didn’t have as much cuttlefish. Regardless, still decent.

And of course we ended our night with some Sangria. I would suggest Tapa Tapa only if you aren’t able to make it to other local restaurants. You get a taste of what Spanish cuisine is like, but by no means, is this the anywhere close to the best. Oh, how I miss Spanish food already!

Cafe Sacher – Vienna

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When in Vienna, you’re told to visit Cafe Sacher at the Hotel Sacher. Hotel Sacher is a 5 star hotel and is next to the Vienna State Opera. Luckily, it’s also open on Christmas Day, so a perfect place to visit since basically nothing is open that day. The hotel was founded in 1876 and is known to be one of the best hotels in the world, especially known to be the place where the upper class stayed.

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The inside of the cafe makes you feel like royalty, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, comfy couches, and paintings hung all around. Red velvet is everywhere in the room. Your servers are also dressed in maid outfits, so you can really believe that you’re a royalty at that moment.

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So what’s so special about Cafe Sacher, other than the royal decor? The Sachertorte! It’s a type of chocolate cake that was invented by Franz Sacher for the Prince. Cafe Sacher is famous because this Sachertorte was first served here. It’s known to be the Original Sacher Torte. This cake has basically become a significant icon in culinary for Vienna. You’ll find various variations of this sacher torte at many other places in Vienna. The menu also has other items, including actual entrees, but obviously people come here for the cake! I thought it was funny how the menu came on this little handle too.

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We were here basically for breakfast, so we got some hot drinks to begin. Yes, we eat dessert for breakfast! K had the Cappuccino, while I chose the Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream. K said her Cappuccino was very good, but not amazing or the best she’s had. For myself, I found the Hot Chocolate to be too milky. It wasn’t strong in chocolate, and instead had an almond milk flavour to it. It was okay, but I probably wouldn’t pay that price for it. What’s interesting is that your drinks will also come with a small glass of water. I guess you’re supposed to cleanse your mouth and such? I have no idea…

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And then came the famous Original Sacher Torte. You will see the chocolate seal stating it’s from Hotel Sacher on your cake. I should have gotten a side view of the cake, but it’s essentially a chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam. The top is coated with dark chocolate icing and is served with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream. To be brutally honest, I think this cake is way overrated. It was good, but I don’t think it was amazing and it wouldn’t be something I would crave to eat. I agree it was pretty moist, but I’ve had chocolate cakes that are much more moist. I found it rather dense, and there was a strange chocolate taste to it. Perhaps it was the apricot filling, but I didn’t really enjoy that taste. The icing is also sort of hard, which I didn’t like. I honestly think that it’s just too expensive for what is is. I can now say I’ve tried the original recipe for the Sacher Torte, but I doubt I would visit again.

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We also tried the Viennese Apple Strudel, because Vienna is also famous for their apple strudels! Man… I really wanted to take that apple strudel class for kids at the Schonnbrun Palace… Anyways, this was again just average. It wasn’t bad, but for what I paid for, I could be having some really good strudel. It had an abundant of apples, but the whip cream cost extra. Seriously… it’s just whip cream.

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And here was my breakfast. Definitely an expensive breakfast. To add on, you have to pay I believe 1 euro for your coat check, and they sort of FORCE you to coat check. They set the temperature really high in the room, and advise you it’ll be warm inside. And obviously, when you dine at these fancy places, you’re pretty much obligated to pay a decent tip. But seriously, the maids here who serve give the worst attitude ever. If you don’t want to serve people, why do you even work here? Perhaps we didn’t dress like aristocrats, hence the poor service, but I don’t believe there should ever be a reason like that. People here need to be trained about what good customer service is.

Pizzeria Venezia – Venice

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Vienna for me again! It’s sort of weird going back to these places within the same month, but at the same time, it’s almost like you know the place so well now. Anyways, we took a train to Vienna this time, which obviously cost more than a bus, but was much more comfortable and time-saving. Flying in and out of Vienna is just way too expensive! Anyways, you take a train from the Keleti station in Budapest, and you arrive at Westbahnhof in Vienna in less than 3 hours. I would suggest to pay a bit more to get assigned seats, since many tourists seemed confused when they bought cheaper tickets without seats. You basically have to look around for empty seats, although their train system is super high tech, and you can tell where people are getting off for each seat! Anyways, we didn’t even bother dropping off our bags and headed to the Schonbrunn Palace. It was Christmas Eve and the last day for the market! I got the Baked Potato with Ham and Cheese, and it was so delicious! Tons of sour cream, and the potatoes were so soft! We then took our bags and arrived at Meininger Hotel, which is really a hostel. It was super clean though, and we found many families staying here. It’s bunk bed style, but we had our own private washroom. Our location was the one in Downtown Franz, so I did find that it was not as convenient as the previous hostel I stayed at, but definitely much cleaner. I believe they also have another location that is more central.

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Our Vienna trip was pretty much similar to my previous one, as I just took my family around to see those must-see tourist spots. You can read about it here: Traveling in Vienna. The only exception was visiting the Mozarthaus, which K was pretty excited about since she’s a piano player. I, on the other hand didn’t really know what was going on, but we got a pretty good family deal somehow. Be sure to ask about it if you’re in a group! I don’t have a picture of the house, but it’s where Mozart stayed from 1784 to 1787 and is the only Viennese residence left today. You basically get an audio guide and just click on the numbers as you walk through the rooms. You’ll hear tons of music and understand a bit more about Mozart’s life. Worth it if you’re a Mozart fan. In the afternoon, we walked around the Christmas markets, before they closed for the holidays. You need to be careful when coming around Christmas time, as everything basically begins to shut down. We ended up strolling around the streets near Stephenplatz and ended up at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. They had lights shining against the building and they were having some sort of mass for Christmas Eve.

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On Christmas Eve, basically everything is closed, including restaurants. We had Tripadvisored some restaurants, and in the end, found them to be closed. We wandered the streets of Stephenplatz and finally came across Pizzeria Venezia. We were starving and it was going to be Italian food or McDonalds. McDonalds for Christmas Eve dinner? Nope. Pizzeria Venezia it was. The restaurant was actually packed since it was probably the only few restaurants open and tourists were just piling in. The lower level is for smoking, and the upper level is smoke free. A got the Seafood Linguine which she said was really good. A light olive oil sauce and tons of seafood.

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K and I shared two dishes. First, we had the Black and White Seafood Risotto. This was actually really good! The black risotto was squid ink  based, while the white risotto was a creamy Parmesan. Both sides had an abundant of cuttlefish, so definitely lots of chewiness and texture going on.

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Our second dish was the Schnitzel. Probably not something they’re famous for here since it’s Italian food, but I wanted to try some Viennese Schnitzels! It wasn’t too bad actually, with a thin layer of coating and the pork being tender. A huge portion, but I did find myself feeling like I was eating fast food, since it was a lot of deep fried food on my dish.

Overall, I wouldn’t suggest going to Pizzeria Venezia if the other restaurants are open and you have other choices. It’s average Italian food, but nothing too special. Service was also a bit slow for us.

Budapest Round 2

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Little did I know, I would be heading to Budapest within a month again! The rest of them wanted to check it out, so I was basically their tour guide this time. We stayed at All-4U again, but I later realized that they actually own a bunch of different apartments. For this trip, we stayed at a different apartment which was only a few minutes walk away. This one was huge! It could fit 6 people comfortably on the beds. 2 queen sizes and 2 twins. A kitchen, enormous bathroom, and just tons of space everywhere to walk around or even dance. Highly recommend the apartments from All-4U. For this post, I’m not going to go into the details of some of the places I already visited on the past trip. I’ll focus more on some new activities we did, and you are welcome to read about my previous visit here: 1/2 Day Trip in Budapest

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Once we settled down, K, E, and I went to Budapest Ice Rink at the City Park. It’s the largest outdoor skating rink in Europe! In the summer, it’s a lake, but is transformed into a skate rink for the winter. Admission for skating is HUF1200 on weekdays and HUF1400 on weekends, allowing you a full of skating. However, skate rentals are charged by hour, so unless you brought your skates over, you’re likely to need to purchase these. We skated for an hour and had plenty of fun. People here are also pretty good skaters, so you won’t be finding those pulley chairs around to learn how to skate. Your admission also includes use of lockers, and they have a really cool tech system for the lockers. No keys, just a tap of your card and your locker will open. Pretty cool!

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You’ll find the iconic Budapest signage on the rink as well as some hot food and drinks on the side of the rink. In the back, you will see the Vajdahunyad Castle, so you get some pretty impressive scenery while you skate.

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The next day, we went to Matthias Church, and you could really see the details in the daylight. The previous time I went, it was dark, so difficult to see architecture details. However, I find it much more beautiful at night, since it gives you that castle-like feel.

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Early evening, E, K and I went to the Szechenyi Medicinal Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in Europe! It’s found just inside the City Park, and is a unisex bath. You wear swimsuits here, so it’s not like the ones in Japan. They also have really cool technology again, with wristbands that give you access to your lockers, and you can even check which locker number you used by beeping it on a machine. It’s also waterproof! Anyways, there are a variety of indoor pools with varying temperatures. Apparently, you’re supposed to go into a cold bath, then jump into the warmer ones. Yea, I dipped my legs in the cold one and already came back out… Too cold!

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The interior design is really cool though! It has a Neo-baroque style and was built back in 1881 when it was an Artesian Bath. There are around 12 indoor thermal baths, with 3 outdoor ones. One of the outdoor pools is actually a swimming pool and requires swimming caps.

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This is the outdoor thermal pool, which we spent most of our time at. It was so relaxing. It’s like freezing cold outside (probably at 0 degrees) and we’re in a bath at around 32 degrees. That cold and hot feeling is so good! Even when you have half your body up, you don’t feel cold. You’ll find men playing chess on the side, which we found funny, but also many other tourists who have found their way here. The beautiful yellow building makes you feel like a royalty here. Also, one of the pools has a spinning tidal pressure concept, which pushes you around in a circle. It’s pretty fun! There are also many massaging beams around the sides as well as sculptures spitting out water. Super cool!

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For food, we didn’t eat much at restaurants, since there were so many Christmas markets with food around. We pretty much stuffed ourselves full from that. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of those. It was freezing cold and I just wanted to eat! One of our last nights, we ate in the tourist area of Vorosmarty Square. The reatuarant was called Planet Cafe and I advise everyone to STAY AWAY. 100% tourist trap. I only have this picture of Goulash, but it is much smaller than what the menu showed. Okay, fine.  A lot of places do this type of false advertising. But what happened was immediately after we placed our orders, I peeked into the kitchen and saw three microwaves spinning. They were reheating our food. Also, we ordered a Steak dish, which on the menu showed fries. When our bill came, we saw they had added another HUF400 and we were told they were for the fries. We never even asked for them! Seriously? Okay, that’s fine too since it wasn’t a lot. The other issue was the 15% service charge automatically added on when we had no service. This place is just a complete scam. The food wasn’t inedible, but they were just microwaved and we just felt completely scammed. Avoid at all cost!