13 January 2017

8 Highlights of Wisconsin

If you read my last blog post, you'll know that I visited Las Vegas AGAIN in November (three times in two years, such a lucky ducky)! I went with my sister and CTB (Chief Travel Buddy) for five days and then we flew onto Chicago as a pitstop.

While she was grabbing her connecting flight back to Manchester, I was hopping on a coach to Wisconsin... to see A BOY *shocked face emoji*!

Said boy is from Green Bay (home of the Packers) and I probably wouldn't even have thought to venture to the state of Wisconsin (home of cheese curds - SO YUM) if it wasn't for him.

I was in Wisconsin for just over two weeks so I had a bit of a whistle stop tour, starting with the coach journey from Chicago O'Hare airport to Milwaukee (where Nathan picked me up).

Here are my 8 highlights from my time in Wisconsin:

1) Eating perch for the first time at a supper club.

Supper clubs are pretty famous in Wisconsin, especially Friday night's all-you-can-eat fish fry. It's a pretty social experience, where diners come to drink alcohol and talk before they eat, and afterwards STUFF THEIR FACES with fish. (Om nom nom!)

I tried perch for the first time in Green Bay at a suppers club called Farrs Grove... and it was LUSH.

2) Wine tasting in Door County from 10am.

Wisconsinites are massive drinkers - this is a well known 'thing' in America. Nathan helped me fit right in by taking me wine tasting one day at 10am to the wineries in and around Door County.

For those of you who don't know, Door County is on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, north of the city, and it's a pretty scenic area with a lot of parks and shorelines where Wisconsinites like to visit. This brings me onto my next highlight nicely...

3) Visiting Fish Creek.

Fish Creek is the cutest little town in Door County, right on the lake. Because we visited in December, out of season, it was really quiet and peaceful.

It looks like something right out of a film set - so charming and understated. It actually reminded me a lot of Wilmington, North Carolina, which Nic and I visited in January 2015.

I fell in love!

4) Going to the cinema to see 'Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them'.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a massive Harry Potter fan, so naturally I had to go to see the latest instalment set in the Harry Potter world. The cinema in Green Bay has a traditional-old-school-cinema-style exterior which made it feel like an even more special experience.

When the film first began, it was quite slow-paced and, in all honesty, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But it soon picked up and, by the time it had finished, I had really enjoyed it!

Of course it doesn't compare to any of the Potters, but I cannot fault anything J.K. Rowling does. That woman is a bloody GENIUS.

5) Spending a snowy weekend away in Madison.

It was really nice to use Green Bay as a base and then venture off to other places in Wisco, like Door County and Madison.

Madison is the capital city of Wisconsin; it's downtown area is situated between two lakes which makes it VERY PRETTY indeed!

The weekend that we chose to go, it had snowed so it looked EVEN MORE GORGEOUS.

It's quite a foodie city, so we spent a lot of time in nice eateries. We also did a wee bit of shopping (one of my favourite past times) and then I had my first experience in a comedy club on the Friday night which was a lot of fun!

On Saturday night, I got a nice little surprise...

6) Going to see The Nutcracker ballet.

We had previously talked about events going on in Madison the weekend that we would be there, and the first thing that came up was Madison Ballet's The Nutcracker at the Overture. However, the tickets were a little on the pricey side, so we had no choice but to skip it.

I was pretty gutted as I wanted to see the ballet ever since I was a little ballerina myself. (Yes, I used to dance! And yes, I used to love it!)

Then Nathan decided to surprise me by getting us tickets as part of my Christmas present which was really, really lovely of him. (That's how you know you've got a keeper, gals!)

The actual show was incredible with unbelievably talented dancers. I remember having this moment where the music was so powerful that it resonated within my soul, and the dancing was so beautiful, that I couldn't help but tear up. YES, I'M A SOFTIE!

Let's just say, it was an amazing experience and worth waiting 26 years for!

7) Watching the Packers play for the first time.

Another first while I was in Wisconsin was going to watch the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

I always wanted to go to an American football game to experience how it compares to Super League rugby here in England.

My Dad took me to countless Wakefield Trinity rugby games growing up, which I never fully got into but enjoyed all the same, so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about with the Packers and if American football lived up to the hype!

Sure enough, it was such a fun experience and the atmosphere at Lambeau was on fire! The only downside was that it was -5 degrees celsius when we were watching the game and, for a gal who has a crappy immune system, that wasn't good!

8) Going to Wisconsin single and leaving in a relationship.

Isn't it weird to think that I met Nathan in January 2015 in Nashville as friends whilst we were both on nights out? Afterwards we didn't speak for almost a year whilst I was busy with my ex and then we randomly started speaking again. And, since then, he took me out in Chicago (read about it here), came over to England in the summer and drove us up to Edinburgh (read about it here) and now I've just been over to visit him in his home town to spend 16 days with him *cheesy grin emoji*!

Life is weird. I find it so strange that something that I never expected to be anything, turned out to be everything.

Sure, I have to deal with the fact that I'm in a super long distance relationship now (that distance being 3,700 miles) but I simply cannot envisage myself with anyone else. He is worth the hassle!

All in all, I had the most amazing time with Nathan in Wisconsin and I'm thoroughly looking forward to returning in the near future!

So, what's next I hear you ask?!

My sister and CTB are starting the new year with a BANG and going to Thailand. For a whole month. PINCH ME!

By the time you read this, I will already be there... sunning myself, exploring the paradise islands and making the most of my final travelling trip in this series with Nic! BRING IT ON.

Until next time, dolls...


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3 January 2017

New Year, New Specs with GlassesShop.com

Having been a speccy-four-eyes for a good number of years now, I find myself constantly on the lookout for new glasses to add to my ever-growing collection.

Sometimes I have the patience and time required to reach for the contacts; but, more often than not, it's easier to just throw on a pair of my glasses and I'm good to go! I'm also more inclined to grab my glasses these days because wearing them has become somewhat of a fashion statement in recent years, with people opting to wear frames if they don't even need eye correction and have the perfect eyesight that most of us can only dream of (sister, I'M LOOKING AT YOU)!

Shopping for glasses nowadays is like shopping for a handbag or jewellery or some other kind of outfit accessory, therefore it's important that they look good! People spend a lot of money on the perfect pair and they are seen as more of an investment piece due to the fact that they are fitted with your personalised prescription... and you could have that prescription for years!

Recently I fancied a change and decided it was time to expand my glasseswear range.

The folks at GlassesShop.com kindly sent me the following beauties. They are cat-eye shaped and navy blue with a floral design on the sides and, in all honesty, I AM IN LOVE. I haven't been able to stop wearing these glasses since I received them!

GlassesShop.com provide trendy glasses frames, as well as high quality prescription lenses, because they understand the need for fashion-forward specs in our lives! They also sell prescription sunglasses for those warmer, brighter days.

They are an American-owned online retailer, but ship worldwide. If you provide your prescription requirements when ordering, they will fit customised lenses and send you your new glasses as part of their quick and pain-free service.

I've teamed up with them to offer you lovelies 50% off all full-priced eyeglasses and sunglasses (with free lenses!) when you use the online promo code GSHOT50.

Start your 2017 right by grabbing your own stylish pair of statement specs now! The amount of compliments I receive when I wear mine are never-ending so, trust me, you won't regret it!

Prescription Eyeglasses - GlassesShop.com (*)

(Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

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30 December 2016

Three Things I Loved About Vegas Round Three

As you may have read in my previous post, at the end of November I was about to head to America YET AGAIN for Vegas round three (ding ding)!

Firstly I need to apologise because I said I'd blog while I was out there and unfortunately, due to a number of reasons - jetlag, lingering illness (I had a virus just before I left) and shoddy wifi connections to name a few - I was unable to do so! PLEASE FORGIVE ME?!

Then, when I returned from America a couple of weeks ago, I was busy planning my NEXT trip (more on that later), I got ill AGAIN (chest infections are my bezzie mates these days) and before I knew it, it was CHRISTMAS! (Doesn't it just creep up on you every year?!)

I'm still a bit poorly but I'm well enough to get my laptop out and finally start blogging again! I'm sorry for the delay and I do miss you all when I'm gone!

So let's get right down to it... Vegas round three was awesome.

Vegas is always awesome. Whether you go during the summer, during the winter, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, your birthday, your mate's birthday, your second-cousin-twice-removed's Bar Mitzvah... It's always going to deliver! (I'm guessing, as I haven't personally been on all of those occasions!)

IMHO, it always delivers because there's just so much variety. There's a lot of stuff to do. It just keeps on giving! You could go as a couple and have a completely different experience to if you went with friends (but still just as great)!

The first time my sister, and CTB (Chief Travelling Buddy), headed to Vegas was January 2015 (read about it here) in the middle of winter (even though the weather was still pretty mild). Then the last time we went was June of this year during the EDC weekend (read about it here).

Both times we partied, we shopped, we had a laugh... So much so, that we were ready to do it all again a mere matter of months later!

Even though we'd already spent six nights in total in the Vegas previously, there were still things we could do this time around that we'd never done before.

Here's three things I loved about Vegas round three!

1) We stayed at a three star hotel as apposed to a one star. 

Goodbye, Travelodge... HELLO, EXCALIBUR! That's right, kids - we've gone up in the world.

One good thing about going to Vegas during the low season is that all the fancy hotels are literally half the price. 

Not only does Excalibur look pretty badass (it's the mother on the strip that looks like a castle FYI) but it has literally errrrrythang you need in one place. Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, the multitude of bars and eateries... I'M LOOKING AT CHU!

Our room was spacious and clean, the location on the strip is excellent, the atmosphere in the casino was poppin'... What more could us gals want?!

Oh I know, for the pool to still be open in November. Yes that's right, Excalibur... I SAID IT. Just because it's off season doesn't mean we don't still want to go for a wee dip in the pool. SORT IT ARRRT.

But that's literally only the one complaint I have. Well done Excalibur, you babe you.

2) We were there for Thanksgiving.

The fact that we booked this trip over Thanksgiving was a happy accident. For those of you who don't know, Thanksgiving is a massive holiday in the US. It's almost as massive as Christmas (but not quite)!

Being a big fan of America, I've always wanted to spend a Thanksgiving there. Well, at 26 years young, I finally got my wish! 

Nic (my sister) and I found the most incredible buffet Thanksgiving dinner in our hotel which we spent a good few hours at! We gorged our faces and had such a feast and embraced every moment.

The meal is similar to what us Brits have at Christmas - turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing - with a few tweaks! For instance, can you imagine having a sweet potato and marshmallow combination with your turkey?! Well I couldn't either, but trust me - it's YUM! And I'm converted.

It was so nice to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with one of my fave people not only IN AMERICA but IN VEGAS and we absolutely loved every minute of it!

3) We went to some new places...

...Including the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street, which you've probably read about! They're known for their multiple-layer burgers - the most shocking being the Octuple Bypass Burger which is eight layers of burger. Yes, you read that right... EIGHT *shocked face emoji*!

Anyway, it's good to go to once as it's a bit of a laugh... They say the burgers are so fatty they will give you a heart attack, hence the name. All of the customers are known as 'patients' and have to wear hospital gowns to enter, and the servers are dressed up as nurses and doctors. Plus, if you don't finish your meal, you will be spanked. Literally spanked. In front of a restaurant full of people. (I wish I was joking...)

As well as the Heart Attack Grill, we also went to a couple of new clubs including Hakkasan. One of the things I love about partying in Vegas is the abundance of hotspots. It means it never gets boring!

Also, because the clubs are so exclusive, you can dress up as much as you like. Glamour is everything in Vegas, baby! 

It's so fun to put on a new dress, do dramatic hair and make-up and basically pretend like you're a celebrity for one night (or four, in this case)!

We had the best time.

All in all, I adored Vegas round three just as much as round one and two. I could just keep going every year and I will never tire of it - I LOVE THE VEGAS!

I probably won't get to go again anytime soon so it was nice to have one last hurrah with my CTB. We always have a blast when we're together. (It's the sisterly bond, yo!)

But after five days together, it was time to fly onto Chicago and then go our separate ways as she flew home to Manchester and I hopped on a coach to Wisconsin.


(Have you been to Vegas before? What did you think? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)


22 November 2016

Preparing for Winter in Wisconsin

As I hinted at the end of my previous post, my travels aren't quite done yet! 

I'm on the verge of heading to America - AGAIN! I know, I might as well live there, right?! (If only I could get the visa!)

Nic and I had a personal scare in our family back in October when we returned from our last lot of travelling (read about said travelling here, here, here and here) so we recently decided YOLO, let's milk it good and proper and ended up booking an impromptu trip to Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend at the end of November. (You know, casually, AS YOU DO!)

A lot of people probably won't understand our decision, but we figure it is very rare in life where we are both in the exact same position, living in our parents' home with no commitments after both coming out of long term relationships, therefore why the heck not have some more fun together in one of the top partying cities in the world?! The money we saved from our previous jobs hasn't yet run out and we are honestly having the time of our lives, so why ON EARTH would we want that to end?! 

It's no secret that after Christmas, early next year, the travelling period of my life will be over. I intend to travel in the future but only one week away here and there in between working and building my career. Basically I have to make the most of this travelling period while I can... And this is exactly why, after spending 5 nights in Vegas, I have decided to head solo to Wisconsin for 2 weeks to visit Nathan. (For more details on who the bloody hell Nathan is, read this post about when he visited the UK at the end of the summer.)

Nathan and I have become very close over the last few months and I'm looking forward to being in a brand new state, one that I probably wouldn't have thought to visit otherwise, playing tourist around his hometown and getting to the core of what it's like to temporarily live with a Wisconsinite in America (SQUEEL)!

Of course, Wisconsin is known for its brutally cold winters; being closer to the east coast of America, they get a lot of ice and snow.

It dawned on me the other day that I'm nowhere near prepared for this kind of cold in December. I desperately needed to get a padded, insulating coat and winter walking boots - and FAST - and that's exactly what I did.

This dark navy puffer jacket with faux fur lined hood is so snugly and it fits like a glove. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and I knew it was perfect for the freezing temperatures I would have to endure in Wisco. I chose the dark navy colour as it looks practically black and will go with E'RYTHANG!

Dark Navy Puffer Coat - Topshop - £70

Then my dear Uncle John helped me find these kick-ass women's walking boots; their full leather exterior means that they are extreme water and weather proof. They have sturdy grips on the bottom as well as an insulating internal lining which means my tootsies will be kept nice and TOASTY outdoors.

Karrimor Ladies Walking Boots - Sports Direct - £89.99 reduced to £39 

Now that I'm all kitted out with a new coat boots, I just need to make sure I pack lots of layers and comfy knits!

This is totally going to contradict my packing for Vegas, which will consist of lighter layers, as it's currently late teens/early twenties temperature-wise over thurrr. (Wahoo! Bring back the summer!)

But y'know what, I feel like I'm a packing pro now! I have mad skillz, yo - so LET'S DO THIS!

I'm very much looking forward to this trip as it's a little bit different than usual. I also have to do TWO solo flights which is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. But, wish me luck, I will undoubtedly have a blast and will be blogging about my journey every step of the way! 

Stay tuned, my lovelies!

(Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)


17 November 2016

8 Must Do's When In Bali

The Asia/Australia Travelling Series

Following Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney, it was time for my sister and I to head to our fourth and final destination: Bali.

This was the place I'd been waiting for, having already visited Singapore and Australia previously. When I went on my first travelling trip back in 2014, Bali was all anyone could talk to me about during the South East Asia leg. It was 'Bali this' and 'Bali that' - so much so that I vowed there and then that I would someday venture to Bali in my lifetime.

WELL, it turns out I ended up venturing to Bali a little sooner than I thought... And, trust me when I say, it's worth the hype!

Bali is beautiful, no matter which area you visit and which way you look at it. I was lucky enough to be there for six nights/seven days so I got to see different parts of the island.

These are my 8 must do's when in Bali:

1) Walk along Kuta Beach.

One thing I love about beaches in Asia is just how different they are compared to anywhere else in the world. Instead of thick stretches of fine, white sand, you get the complete opposite (that's thin stretches of heavy, golden sand for anyone who needs it spelling out to them)! :)

You head through the trees and greenery from the road, see a tiny bit of sand and then it's like BOOM hello there, sea! It just kind of sneaks up on you.

But, just because the beaches are different, doesn't mean they're any less GORGEOUS! *Hearts in the eyes emoji*

2) Stay in a cool hotel in Kuta.

As mentioned previously in my Singapore post, your money goes a long way in Asia. You can splash out on a nice three star hotel in Bali that would only pay for you a dorm bed in a hostel in England.

Some of the accommodation is quite quirky too, like where we stayed in Kuta. Ida Hotel is made up of a series of bungalows, which meant we got our very own bungalow complete with a porch for thirty quid a night. #BARGAIN #TOTESADORBS

3) Visit Tegenungan Waterfall.

My sister and I had read about this waterfall before we actually arrived in Bali. It's supposed to be one of the most beautiful on the island therefore, naturally, we had to see it. Nic was exceptionally excited as she'd never seen a waterfall IRL before, whereas I had already visited some in Thailand and New Zealand.

Tegenungan didn't disappoint! We got some pretty cool photos; however, the struggle to get them was REAL. Why don't YOU try walking on slippery, sharp rocks to get to the centre of a waterfall pool - where the current is so strong it's pulling you in different directions - and then, when you attempt to stand still and pose for your photographer, it feels like your legs might buckle any moment! IT'S A SKILL, I TELL THEE. (Totally worth it though.)

4) Travel to Ubud.

We actually did a day tour to Tegenungan Waterfall that finished up in Ubud so we could visit the Royal Palace and the famous markets. Ubud is just as charming as Kuta, but perhaps slightly less touristy.

It's good to have a walk around in Ubud, pop in and out of the cafes and grab yourself some bargains (and it probs won't cost you more than a tenner)!

5) Eat plenty of Nasi Goreng.

Ah, Nasi Goreng... The Indonesian meal of champions! Admittedly, I hadn't tried Indonesian food prior to visiting Bali, so I was a bit of a beginner in that sense. However, by the end of our week there, I was fully converted with a particular addiction to Nasi Goreng (Indonesia's version of chicken fried rice or noodles). OM NOM NOM.

6) Go to Sky Garden's All You Can Eat buffet.

Speaking of food, Nic and I were looking for a place online where we could grab a bite and a few drinks when Sky Garden popped up. According the website, we could go to an All You Can Eat buffet with an All You Can Drink bar from 5-9pm for around £6. Yes, you read that right - SIX POUNDS!

So went there, we did... And eat ourselves silly, we did... And drink ourselves into a stupor, we did. (Have I turned into Yoda with this sudden paraphrasing?!)

After the buffet, Sky Garden turns into a club; put it this way, it was that AWESOME that we went back there two nights later. #YOLO

7) Stay in a luxury villa in Seminyak.

Kuta is the well known backpacker bit of Bali, whereas Seminyak is known for its luxury. I suggested to Nic that we stay in both Kuta and Seminyak during our time in Bali, so we could experience both sides of the coin.

In Seminyak, we stayed at the most amazing place I think I've ever stayed in. It was a luxurious one-bedroom villa with our own private pool, kitchen and lounge area, as well as bedroom and ensuite. There was a pond feature at the bottom of the stairs complete with FISH - yes, actual FISH - and our own sunbeds for lounging around on ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.

It was truly FABULOUS and, at £100 a night, a complete BARGAIN! Alam Warna villas, we absolutely love you!

8) Watch the sunset from Ku De Ta.

Ku De Ta is an upmarket restaurant and bar which was down the road from our villa. It's right on the beach and has it's own pool and sunbeds facing out to sea, which makes it an ideal spot to watch the sun go down.

The cocktails are lush and I bet if we'd had the chance to eat there, I think the food would be too! (It certainly looked amazing!)

Ku De Ta = a must do! It's also great for people watching as a lot of rich folk tend to go there. Well, a lot of rich folk and nosy backpackers I guess, like us!

All in all, Bali was incredible. The whole travelling trip was incredible. I have some unbelievable memories that I will treasure forever and ever, and my sister and I share a special bond because of said memories.

Anyone who's thinking about backpacking and hasn't done it yet, I urge you to travel. Just go. Just do it. Yes, it's expensive but the experiences are invaluable. Between you and me, I have now spent thousands of pounds on my four trips (Asia/New Zealand/Australia 2014, America 2015, America 2016 and Asia/Australia 2016) but I have no regrets. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

In a few months time, my travels will be over and I will have to come back down to reality with an almighty big THUD.

But, for now, I am having the time of my life. If I had all of the money in the world, I would travel forever. It's so fulfilling. Jobs fill your pocket, adventures fill your soul.

Writing this, I have the post-travelling blues so my sister and I had better hurry up and book our next trip!

Stay tuned...

(Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

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