Anastasia on Broadway

Have you heard there’s a rumour in St. Petersburg?

My boyfriend and I recently travelled to New York City from Baltimore for the weekend to check out Times Square and to see Anastasia The Musical on Broadway!Before this trip, my boyfriend and I had never been to NYC and therefore had never before seen a show on Broadway. We were really looking forward to seeing Anastasia The Musical because the animated film had been a favourite for both of us growing up.

Some people I have talked to, and comments I have read from others on the Internet, say they have mixed feelings about the show. But personally, I thought it was fabulous!The acting was well-done and the actors made the characters really come alive. The chemistry between Anya (Christy Altomare) and Dmitry (Derek Klena) left me hopeful! The chemistry between Countess Lily (Caroline O’Connor) and and Vlad (John Bolton) left me swooning.

See a glimpse of Christy and Derek’s chemistry in this music video for the song “In a Crowd of Thousands” – it’s so perfect and my absolute favourite from the musical. Breaks my heart and makes it swell, all at the same time… sigh.

The set design was also unique (for me) and well-executed: screens were used for the various backdrops which allowed for more changes and variety. The screens also lent to the drama and intensity of some of the scenes – you really have to see it in person to truly understand and feel what I mean!

My favourite scene was the performance of Swan Lake – when Anya, Dmitry, and Vlad are at the ballet to meet with the Dowager Empress.Christy Altomare as Anya, Derek Klena as Dmitry, John Bolton as Vlad, and the cast of Anastasia ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC.I also liked the performance of “Land of Yesterday” because the song was great, and also because the scene had some traditional Russian folk dancing. I appreciated that they added new songs (“Land of Yesterday”) and kept the familiar ones, including “Once Upon a December”.

John Bolton as Vlad, Caroline O'Connor as Countess Lily and the cast of Anastasia
John Bolton as “Vlad”, Caroline O’Connor as “Countess Lily” and the cast of Anastasia. – ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC

This particular scene gave me goosebumps and still does when I listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording

Mary Beth Peil as “Dowager Empress” and Nicole Scimeca as “Little Anastasia” – ©2018 Anastasia Musical LLC

I think my most favourite part about stage shows are the costumes! I loved all of the costumes in Anastasia and even from a distance I could tell they were intricate and complex.

The Romanov Family – Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Romanov costume on actor Kyle Brown – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

My favourite costume, by far, was Tsarina Alexandra’s court dress. I love how it glittered in the light – it was breathtaking!

Lauren Blackman as “Tsarina Alexandra” – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

To date, I would say Anastasia The Musical is one of my favourite shows. It’s really between it and Guys and Dolls – but if I had to go to sentimentality and nostalgia, I’m sure you could figure out where Anastasia The Musical would rank.

If you are in New York City and looking for something to do, I highly suggest you make plans to see Anastasia The Musical!

Christy Altomare as “Anya” and the cast of Anastasia – Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, New Mexico

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks are located near Cochiti Pueblo, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometres) southwest of Santa Fe. ‘Kasha Katuwe’ means ‘White Cliffs’ in the Keresan Pueblo language. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks was designated as a national park in 2001, but the area and rock formations themselves are more than 7,000,000 years old.The ‘tent rocks’ get their name from how they look – literal tent-like cones made from layers of soft pumice and tuff that have eroded into this shape over time; the rock is very similar to what you see at Tsankawi. Some of the tent rocks are very short but others can reach upwards of 90 feet!When you walk on the 1.2 mile (1.9 kilometre) trail, you’re eventually led through a slot canyon that opens at the base of a rocky lookout that requires you to climb up a series of stairs. Once you reach the top, you get an magnificent view of the Tent Rocks.When you’re at the top, make sure you look down at the area around you, because you may just find some ‘Apache Tears’ – little round bits of obsidian that were formed during the pyroclastic flow, just like the Tent Rocks themselves. When you walk through the slot canyon you can sometimes see them embedded in the ‘walls’.It was a hot walk the day we went, so make sure you bring water with you and that you wear a hat. It’s a great spot if you’re looking for more intense hiking, as some of the trail through the slot canyon is very steep and rocky – lots of climbing! It is not recommended that you go when it is raining because slot canyons are prone to flash-flooding.

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Pecos National Historic Park, New Mexico

Pecos National Historic Park was established as a national monument in 1965 and became a national historic park in 1990 following the inclusion of the Forked Lightning Ranch and the Glorieta Battlefield.The Pueblo and Mission Ruins Trail is a 1.25-mile (two kilometre) self-guided trail through the Pecos Pueblo and Mission Church sites. In addition, there is also the 2.25-mile Civil War Battle of Glorieta Hiking Trail, which we did not see during this trip.Pecos holds and preserves more than 12,000 years of history and cultural remains including pueblos and kivas, two Spanish Colonial Missions, part of the Santa Fe Trail, the Civil War battlefield at Glorieta Pass, and the Forked Lightning Ranch that was built in the 20th century.In addition, Pecos was the chosen summer home of E.E. “Buddy” Fogelson, a Texas oil magnate, and his wife, actress Greer Garson. Fogelson bought the Forked Lightning Ranch in 1941, expanded it to 13,000 acres and raised Santa Gertrudis Cattle. He married Garson in 1949, and together they helped to protect the land and actively supported preservation efforts.

Greer sold the ranch to the Conservation Fund in 1991, who then donated to the National Park Service. She and Fogelson received the Department of the Interior’s highest civilian honour – the Conservation Service Award.According to her friend, newspaper columnist Louella Parsons, Garson said, “I am taking to ranch life like a duck to water. I’ve switched from bustles and bows to Levi’s and boots, and I think it’s definitely a change for the better.”

I definitely share that sentiment!
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Galisteo Basin, New Mexico

One of the days of our trip was spent almost entirely at Galisteo Basin, where we wandered around the desert looking at plants and for signs of a by-gone era.We also hiked a lot, clambering our way up on top of some rocky hills and mountains that had spectacular views.Galisteo Basin is approximately 467,200 acres of desert and rugged sandstone with carved arroyos (Spanish for ‘streams’) and vast grasslands that stretch from San Miguel County, across Santa Fe County and into Sandoval County. Its main watercourse is the Galisteo Creek that flows down into the Río Grande.

Galisteo is located between two mountain ranges – in the northeast are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and in the southwest are the Sandia Mountains – and it also connects the Great Plains and the Río Grande Valley. These features made Galisteo a desirable trade route.The earliest known humans to inhabit Galisteo Basin were the Paleo Indians, who arrived in the area early as early as 7500 to 6000 B.C. As time went on, other ancestral peoples and Spanish explorers also made Galisteo their home. Despite its ideal area, much of the Galisteo Basin remained sparsely populated until around the 12th century.

From the late 1200s to about 1600 A.D., several large pueblos were built approximately 12 miles (19km) from the heart of where the Galisteo Basin Preserve land is today. The largest and most well-known pueblo in Galisteo Basin is the San Cristóbal Pueblo which contained five eight or nine-room blocks that were several storeys in height. It also had five ceremonial plazas, the largest of which had a ceremonial Kiva. It is estimated that the San Cristóbal Pueblo had a population ranging between 500 and 1,000 people.

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When we arrived at Galisteo, we entered via Highway 285 and travelled down Astral Valley Road until we reached the end of Southern Crescent Drive at Candid Crossing.We spent a few hours walking along and off the trails in that area to take photos of the plants. We also found evidence of ‘cowboys’ that had used once use the area – square nails and shards of glass that were patinated in shades of pink and purple. In fact, I found a chunk that had part of a drug company name that I was able to trace back to at least 1910!Later on in the afternoon we moved on to more hiking. We got back in the car and made our way to the Cowboy Shack trail head where we proceeded to trek the Shepherd’s Trail.Coming to a fork in the road at marker 19, we made a left to continue on to Eliza’s Ridge Trail and then Sophie’s Spur. Here we met a nice family and their dog who was very agile and adventurous!When we got to marker 20, we doubled back and made our way the fork where we decided to go along the trail to marker 39 where Liam’s Lark and Cinque’s Spur meet. We went this way to take a look at the valley, which was very lush and green despite the rest the trails being so sparse and rocky. We did see this neat tree along the way though!I loved Galisteo Basin so much and wanted to spend more time there. I just loved looking at all of the beautiful desert flowers and cacti (especially the cacti!), and also searching for signs and a portal back into a time gone by.There’s just something about the vastness of the desert that makes one feel free – when I close my eyes, I can imagine being there, looking out over the vista. It feels like I’m really there. I can’t wait to go back.∆ ∆ ∆

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Despite its desert connotations, New Mexico has a landscape that ranges from seemingly endless desert to the south and dense forests to the north, to snow-capped mountain peaks and tall mesas. In O’Keeffe Country, the landscape turns to red rock, and at Bandelier National Monument it switches between rocky canyon and lush backcountry.

Its mixed landscape is just one of the reasons why we’ve wanted to go to New Mexico, plus it also provides ample opportunities for hiking – our first of which was to Bandelier.Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBandelier National Monument visitor centreBandelier is located in Los Alamos and protects more than 33,000 acres of beautiful backcountry and more than 70 per cent of the monument is wilderness. backcountry 2, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicobackcountry, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBecause of its varying elevation, ~5,000ft along the Rio Grande, to more than 10,000ft at the peak of Cerro Grande, Bandelier provides an ideal habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna.sign 2 Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign Bandelier National Monument, New Mexicosign 3 Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoFence lizard, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoOn February 11, 1916, Bandelier was designated as a National Monument by then President Woodrow Wilson. It was named after Adolph Bandelier, a Swiss-American anthropologist who researched the different cultures of the area and was a big supporter of site preservation efforts.In addition to backcountry, the Monument protects Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites, such as cave dwellings in the soft rock cliffs of the Frijoles Canyon that date back more than 800 years. Evidence of human history in Bandelier stretches back more than 10,000 years.Bohème and Bourbon beside petroglyphsBandelier National Monument, New MexicoToday, you can walk trails through the canyon, see ancient pueblos, climb ladders up into the cave dwellings and down into a Kiva, a ceremonial chamber. Along the trail are also numbered markers that correspond to information in the trail guide that tell you more about what you’re looking at.Cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoBohème and Bourbon in a cave dwelling, Bandelier National Monument, New MexicoKiva at Bandelier National MonumentA hike around the Main Loop Trail of the Frijoles Canyon can easily be done in an afternoon and is very enjoyable. There is a lot of climbing involved, as the trails are located at elevations of more than 6,000ft, so be prepared with water and proper shoes.

A nice feature of this trail is that is has numbered markers along various points. If you pick up a trail guide for yourself, or borrow one from the visitor centre, you can follow along and learn more about the history of the Frijoles Canyon and Frey Trail.

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La Plazuela, Santa Fe

While on our day trip to Santa Fe my boyfriend and I wanted to go out for lunch somewhere that had a nice atmosphere, and we found just that at La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza.

‘La Plazuela’ is Spanish for ‘the square’ – which makes sense given the restaurant’s location. ‘La Fonda’ is Spanish for a space that is used as an inn, tavern or restaurant. It all makes sense!La Plazuela menu displayed outside of the restaurantThe hotel is located at the historic Santa Fe Plaza, and it’s here where Old World charm and modern life converge. When you walk through the doors into the hotel lobby, you feel transported back in time. Everywhere you look there is authentic New Mexican architecture and history – from the wooden beams, to the furniture and decor, La Fonda’s got the look.La Fonda hotel lobby, outside of La Plazuela restaurantWhen you step into the restaurant, it’s like you are transported into a dream – if you thought the atmosphere of the hotel compelling, that of the restaurant is a whole other story.

Built in the 1920s, the restaurant is a lofty space with high beams, lush foliage and an expansive skylight that bathes the entire dining room in natural light. At its centre is a fountain and a wrought iron chandelier with yellow glass shades. I can only imagine how romantic La Plazuela looks at night.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 2La Plazuela, Santa Fe 3The dining room itself is surrounded by large wooden pillars with sconces that match the chandelier, and a series of hand-painted windows.La Plazuela, Santa Fe 1Sconces and windows at La Plazuela, Santa FeIn addition to its looks, we chose La Plazuela as our destination for a special lunch in celebration of our anniversary that was at the end of April. Since our trip to Santa Fe was so close, we thought it would be best to go out for lunch, or dinner, there instead.La Plazuela MenuLooking at the La Plazuela MenuIn true Santa Fe fashion, our waiter brought us complimentary tortilla chips and house-made salsa while we read through the menu – delicious!Tortilla Chips and Salta, La PlazeulaAt this time we also ordered drinks. We both chose the Nut Brown Ale from Santa Fe Brewing Company – also delicious!Chips and salsa, and beers - La PlazuelaWhen it was time to order, we chose to share the ‘Local Heirloom Tomato Salad’, which consisted of brightly coloured tomatoes, sliced and served with extra virgin olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, roasted garlic cloves, local feta cheese and fresh basil, with a side of crunchy croustades. It was so fresh and flavourful! I just love a good balsamic reduction, especially on tomatoes.Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaClose up of tomato in Local Heirloom Tomato Salad, La PlazuelaFor our main, we chose to split the ‘Torta de Borrego’ sandwich, which had the most tender braised lamb shoulder I’ve ever had, served on toasted telera bread and topped with sliced seasonal tomatoes, sliced avocado, caramelized onion, arugula, local feta cheese, and lemon-cilantro aioli. We also got a side of seasoned French fries.Torta de Borrego sandwich, La PlazuelaThe service was perfect; our meal was filling, flavourful and delicious. We couldn’t have asked for a better dining experience.

The only thing I would have done differently was saving some room for dessert! (And maybe going for dinner, just to take in the romantic atmosphere at night *wistful sigh*)

More information about La Fonda and La Plazuela, as well as historic photos, can be viewed in the La Fonda history book From Every Window a Glimpse of the Past. If you’re in Santa Fe, I highly recommend La Plazuela if you’re looking for a relaxing and romantic dining destination.  Reservations for dinner are highly recommended, as La Plazuela is very popular at this time.

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The City Different – Santa Fe

San Fran/Santa Fe street signsEstablished in 1610 by Governor Don Pedro de Peralta, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S. at 407 years old. Downtown Santa Fe has numerous unique shopping opportunities, and boasts more than 250 galleries making it the third largest art market in the country.

The Palace of the Governors is the oldest continuously used building in the U.S. Built in 1610, it is both a National Historic Landmark and an American treasure. The Palace of the Governors completes one side of the Santa Fe Plaza, built in 1609, which has been the heart of the downtown area for more than 400 years.The Plaza, Santa Fe, New MexicoMy boyfriend and I visited the downtown on three occasions: the first time was a short trip with his Oma when we first arrived in New Mexico. The second was also with his Oma to see the Canyon Road galleries.

The third was a day trip for just the two of us, where we explored the downtown, checked out the galleries and shops, took in the scenery and hunted for souvenirs.Boyfriend and I, Santa Fe, New MexicoHere we are at the visitor centre in front of a vintage Ford Falcon in light blue. I had to share this photo because 1) the vintage car, and 2) we were well coordinated!
Adobe House, Santa Fe
Just off of the Plaza is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It contrasts dramatically with the surrounding adobe structures – its stone façade, bell towers and stained glass windows it looks like it has been transported from the Old World in Europe.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe(Boyfriend for scale!)

Designed in 1886 by Archbishop Lamy, the cathedral was built on the site of two former churches, the first of which had been destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. A statue of the Virgin Mary, now called La Conquistadora, was removed from the church during the revolt and returned to her place of honour in 1693. Today, she presides over a side chapel.Cathedral Basilica St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New MexicoCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeCathedral stained glass, St. Francis of Assisi, Santa FeOne of my goals while in Santa Fe was to find some turquoise jewelry that really caught my eye. I was very successful at Wind River Trading Company, the largest Native American jewelry store in Santa Fe. It is famous for its selection and size – the store is one block long, and is located between the Plaza and the Cathedral.

I was also successful on finding other souvenirs. I visited many shops, but found success at The Original Trading Post and Sunwest on the Plaza. We were also fortunate enough to take in an art show put on by the Santa Fe Society of Artists where I found an art print for my Mom by Sondra Wampler.Sondra Wampler ArtIf you’re looking for art shows and galleries, Santa Fe is the place. The show I mentioned above is held on weekends from the end of April until mid-October.

Down the street from the Cathedral is the Loretto Chapel, the one with the famed staircase that was built without nails!
Loretto Chapel, Santa FeWe wanted to see it for ourselves, but unfortunately the church was closed to the public for a special event. I think someone was getting married, because a couple of hours later, we could hear a bell tower chiming for a long period of time.

We loved the beauty and simplicity of walking around downtown Santa Fe. It was a very enjoyable day, especially when you have your best friend by your side ♡
If I could have spent more time here, I would have. There is so much to see and do!Sculpture, Santa Fe, New MexicoOld Santa Fe Trail signmailbox 234, Santa Fe, New MexicoFlower, Santa Fe, New MexicoCarpet, Santa Fe, New MexicoAnother plus to Santa Fe is that you can see nature in pretty much all directions.
For example, if you look out to the east, you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New MexicoIf you travel just outside of the city, you will find 1.5 million acres of national forest, several national parks and monuments, as well as northern Native American pueblos and historic sites.Bohème and Bourbon - StephWe can see why Santa Fe’s motto is “The City Different” – it is a place unlike any other.

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The Land of Enchantment

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged because my boyfriend and I were away on a wonderful week-long trip to the Land of Enchantment – aka: New Mexico, USA.New Mexico True/Guest Life Magazines 2017We flew in to Albuquerque and made out way to a beautiful house in the countryside just outside of Santa Fe.

When you travel around New Mexico, you’ll be immediately impressed with its varying landscape, mesas and deeply rooted culture. It’s easy to see how the 47th state got it’s moniker. Native art, Madrid, New Mexico Native art, Madrid, New MexicoNew Mexico has Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage. It joined the Union on January 6, 1912. It has 33 counties. Santa Fe is the nation’s highest state capital at 7,000 feet above sea level. New Mexico is 121,589 square miles, making it the fifth largest state!Scenery, New MexicoSanta Fean Harry P. Mera designed the state flag in 1920 to highlight New Mexico’s Native American Pueblo and Nuevo México Hispano roots. It features the ancient sun symbol of the Zia people in red, in the centre of a field of yellow.The New Mexico state flag flies under the national flag of the United States From its centre, the sun symbol has four rays pointing out from the circle in four different directions. The number four is sacred to the Zia and symbolized the four points of the compass, the four seasons, the four stages of life and the four times of day.

The circle binds these elements together. The flag’s colours evoke the red and yellow of old Spain: the flags of Habsburg (the Cross of Burgundy) and the Crown of Aragon brought by the conquistadors. The flag was officially introduced in 1925 and has been used ever since.

New Mexico at a glance:
Capital: Santa Fe, founded 1610
Largest City: Albuquerque, founded 1706
State Animal: Black bear
State Bird: Roadrunner
State Flower: Yucca
State Tree: Piñon
State Vegetable: Chile and Pinto Beans (Frijoles)
State Fossil: Coelophysis
State Gem: Turquoise
State Nickname: Land of Enchantment

I’m looking forward to sharing my New Mexico adventure with you – stay tuned for more!

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Downtown and the Harbor, Baltimore

After lunch, we made our way Downtown to walk around and check out the area. It was a beautiful day to go out exploring and walking, especially after the previous day had been so grey and windy. I was surprised to learn that “downtown” and the Harbor were one and the same; I didn’t realize how close Baltimore was to the coast.
While walking around, we found a HUGE Barnes & Noble to get some coffee – a must for many of our adventures!There were also a lot of other people who had the same idea of going to the Harbor to enjoy the gorgeous day.We walked all along the Inner Harbor waterfront and checked out the shops around The National Katyń Memorial, including some of my favourites– Free People and Anthropologie ♡After exploring for a few hours, we decided to get dinner. Since it was our last day in Baltimore, we thought we would treat ourselves to somewhere nice, and decided on Gordon Biersch.I decided to have the CBLT sandwich, which was the BEST choice. I also got a side of Gordon Biersch’s signature garlic fries. Yum!I love a good craft beer, especially when they are brewed on-site, so I was excited when I saw the beer menu. I decided on the “Dragon of the East” Saison which was delightfully fruity and spicy. It features Jasmine White Tea made by the Baltimore Coffee & Tea Co.After dinner it was time to head back to our Air BnB for the night to get a good sleep for the long drive home.

When we got out of the restaurant, the crowd at the Inner Harbor was even bigger that earlier in the day because of a special event called Light City – a free festival that features more than 50 attractions, like large-scale light installations, including illuminated sculptures and projections, as well as music and concerts, food vendors and interactive areas. According to locals, people come from all over the U.S. and world to participate in the Light City festivities.All-in-all, our trip to Baltimore was pretty great – which is good because I will be spending a lot of time here once my boyfriend starts school at Johns Hopkins University in September!

Thanks for following me along on my adventure to the Charm City!

R. House, Baltimore

Once we finished our visit to the Baltimore Museum of Art (you can see some of my favourite pieces here), we headed out in search of lunch.

While at his Johns Hopkins University visit day, my boyfriend met some of the people who would be in his program and some of the faculty who suggested some restaurants that were a ‘must’ including R. HouseR. House is a food hall in the former Anderson Body Shop warehouse that has 10 counters featuring a variety of local cuisine. From arepas and sushi, to tacos and poké, there were so many tasty and flavourful options to choose from!Food counters at R. House‘Good Times Ahead’ were promised upon entering the eating hall. Given that it was lunchtime, the place was packed! But it didn’t take us long to find a seat, which is good because it took us (or at least me) a while to decide what to eat.

We decided on getting something from ARBA, a food stall specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. ‘Arba’ means ‘four’ in Arabic and Hebrew, and according to owner Farid Salloum the word also “represents food, family, friends, and community,” as well as the four main dishes on ARBA’s menu.I got the Chicken Kabobs served over rice, and my boyfriend got the Beef Shawarma served over rice.

We both got a pint at the R. Bar – ‘Anthem’ golden ale by Union Craft Brewing for me (because of it’s decidedly American name and because it was created in honour of the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s penning of The Star Spangled Banner just outside of Fort McHenry, Baltimore!); ‘Calvert Cream Ale’ by Calvert Brewing Company for my boyfriend.Chicken Kabob served over rice from ARBA Mediterranean @ R. House, Baltimore, with an 'Anthem' golden ale by Union Craft BrewingBeef Shawarma served over rice from ARBA Mediterranean @ R. House, Baltimore, with a 'Calvert Cream Ale' by Calvert Brewing CompanyMmm – Everything was so delicious! It’s a good thing my boyfriend will be going to Johns Hopkins University for the next four years because there’s a lot of food at R. House that I NEED to try! After we finished our food and drinks, we headed back to our Air BnB for a much needed rest before hitting the Downtown and Harbour Front for the rest of the day.

Have you been to R. House? If so, which stall is your favourite? Let me know what I should be trying next!