27 February 2015

Vegas, Baby!

The America Series

This is part two in the America series, telling the story of mine and my sister's five week trip around the USA.

After our first stop in Los Angeles, we flew to the one and only Las Vegas in Nevada.

We had a bit of trouble with the taxi transportation from the airport to our hotel. If you’ve never been to Vegas, I urge you to be careful with the taxi drivers there. Apparently if your taxi driver asks if it’s your first time in Vegas, you’re supposed to say no (even if that’s a lie). If you admit to them that it’s your first time then they see dollar signs. They will take you to your hotel the longest way possible and might even pretend they’ve got lost to raise the meter figure as high as possible. This happened to us and we had to file an official complaint with the company, so please make sure you watch yourselves!

Anyway after that initial mishap, we could fully relax and start to enjoy our Vegas experience. Upon first impressions, I was pleasantly surprised with the Strip. I’d heard so many people talk about how tacky it is and how it’s not even worth visiting, but I didn’t think that at all. In fact, quite the opposite – it’s so expensive and the clubs are super exclusive to get into to.

We did check out a couple of clubs while we were there after we were lucky enough to be in touch with one of the best promoters – we were given guestlist entry, free drinks and sometimes even VIP access! The clubs were very impressive but just not my scene – there were a ton of pretentious posers in suits throwing money about. Also what is with the price of drinks? $18 for two jagerbombs – are you kidding me?! It was a fun change of scenery but give me a dive bar with friendly, down-to-earth people and $3.50 cider any day!

It’s strange as well because the clubs are part of the hotel resorts. All of the hotels on the Strip exude luxury and glamour, unless you stay in the Travelodge (like us cool kids did)!

I really liked the Bellagio and the famous fountain show. The Venetian was also extraordinary - it has a shopping centre inside of it set out and decorated like the streets of Venice. Then there’s the New York New York hotel which has a rollercoaster running through it (madness)!

My favourite thing that we did though was the day trip to the Hoover Dam followed by the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Now, that was pretty special! The Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, is as spectacular as they say. My sister wasn’t that fussed about going on the day (we’d both been out the night before and were really tired and hungover – plus the pickup time was 6.15am) but she absolutely loved it! We couldn’t recommend it enough, so please go and see it if you have the opportunity.

We only spent three nights in the crazy city of Las Vegas but we really enjoyed our time there. We did think we needed an extra night though, because we lost a full day to the Grand Canyon trip, but that would be enough (unless you want to spend ridiculous amounts of money)!

All in all, it was a great trip and definitely worth the visit!

 (Have you been to Vegas before? What did you think? Thanks so much for reading and please let me know what you think below! Katie-xo)

21 February 2015

LA Magic

The America Series

If you read my blog post from yesterday, you’ll know that I recently spent five weeks travelling the USA with my sister.

The first stop on our trip just had to be Los Angeles.

We’d been there before, a few years previously, with our parents – and fell absolutely, inexplicably, irrevocably in love with the place.

Once we’d stepped foot off our plane at LAX on 5th January, this past love reignited almost immediately. I cannot describe the way that I feel when I’m in LA – all I can say is that there’s some kind of magic in the air. I turn into a five year old kid again and feel more excited than I’ve ever felt before.

There’s nothing better than cruising down Sunset Boulevard with the sunshine on your face and the Hollywood breeze through your hair. (FYI, LA gets sunshine 360 days of the year or something ridiculous.) Or being up in the hills, surrounded by the most beautiful houses you’ve ever seen in your life, looking down on the fast paced life of the city.

There are beaches to explore, there are theme parks, there’s Downtown – I think that’s why I like it so much, because of the variety. I also like the vast scale of the city.

If you ever visit LA, there’s some things that you just have to do or see. My top picks are:

1. The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Yes you will look like a complete tourist, but you have to have your photo taken with at least three different celebrity stars on the Walk of Fame - it’s like some unwritten rule! You also have to spend some time walking up and down the pavements, popping into the shops and visiting the famous theatres (the Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre) whilst trying not to get attacked by tour operators trying to sell you things. Dodging these people is a skill!

2. Santa Monica Beach and Pier.

Santa Monica is actually one of my favourite spots in LA (if not my absolute favourite)! The beach stretches on for miles and it’s incredibly stunning. There are always some really talented buskers on the Pier as well, so it’s just nice to grab a coffee, find a bench and absorb the music and atmosphere whilst overlooking one of the prettiest sights of the city.

3. Universal Studios in Hollywood.

Universal Studios is a great day out made easily accessible by the Metro system. There are some awesome rides to explore; these include new ventures in the form of Transformers and Despicable Me, as well as the classics such as Jurassic Park and The Mummy Returns. Then you have to go on the traditional Studio Tour, of course, where you get a sneak peek of past and current film sets.

4. Beverly Hills Celebrity Homes Tour and Rodeo Drive.

There are a few different companies that provide this type of tour, but the best one to do it with is most definitely Starline. With Starline you can be reassured that you’re seeing real, authentic celebrity houses and not being fed some cock-and-bull story. This is a fabulous tour where you get to see some unbelievably amazing houses (and sometimes the celebrities themselves)! You also get to drive down the seriously impressive Rodeo Drive, where all the designer shops are (if only I could afford to shop there!)

5. Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is just down the coast from Santa Monica Beach and is often a bit less crowded as the sand stretch is vaster. However, it has more characters as it’s known as the ‘hipster’ beach. There are a lot of skaters and people selling on stalls - you can pick up quite a few quirky bargains on a good day. People come to Venice mostly to shop and check out a completely different vibe to Santa Monica.

6. Disneyland in Anaheim.

It doesn’t matter if you’re four, or twenty four (!), Disneyland is still a must do for all the family when you come to LA. It’s a little bit out of the way though, so easier to get to if you rent a car. We actually rode the bus - it took over a couple of hours each way, which was fairly exhausting! We don’t regret it though as Disneyland is magical and worth all of the time, money and effort.

7. Malibu.

Malibu is another part of the city, in addition to Beverly Hills, where the celebrities like to set up shop! After visiting there, it’s easy to see why. We actually went on another Celebrity Homes Tour with Starline – but you can drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica and do it yourself, if you’d prefer, as it’s not too far away. The Malibu beaches are gorgeous and it just seems like such a pleasant place to live as most of the houses are on the sea front! It’s definitely worth a visit.

8. The Hollywood Sign.

Whether you just view it from the shopping centre on the Walk of Fame, or make the trip to the Griffith Observatory, you have to take a photo of the famous Hollywood sign. We went to Griffith the last time we were in LA with our parents, but we really wanted to go again - unfortunately we ran out of time though. It’s definitely worth it if you have time because, not only are you able to get a bit more up close and personal with the sign, but you also get a great view of the city.

There were other things my sister and I did on our trip that we thought were must-do’s – but the main majority of people may not agree. A few examples include: go to a Lakers basketball game, visit Madame Tussauds on the Walk of Fame and celeb spot at the Golden Globes.

You have to tailor your trip based on the time of year that you visit and the goings-on, whilst also taking into consideration your time and budgetary limits.

Since the last time I went, I’ve always said that LA is one of my favourite places in the world. I stand by that. I would love to live there at some point in my life, for a temporary period, to be able to explore it even further. Here’s to someday!

(Have you been to LA before? Did you do any of the things mentioned in this post? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

20 February 2015

Welcome Back

Happy New Year, all!

You may be wondering why on earth I'm wishing you a Happy New Year in February. Well, the reason is simple: I haven't blogged since 2014 (which feels extremely strange to say).

This is because I spent my January and half of February in the wonderful country that is the USA, on a five week travelling trip with my sister.

I chose not to blog while I was out there because I wanted to focus my time on making memories rather than documenting them. However I am back in England now and ready to share my experiences with you once more!

I apologise for being a bit MIA this year so far but I'm hoping to get cracking on the series of America posts as from today.

I really hope you enjoy reading them!

Thank you for being patient with me and God Bless America! 

(Have you had a good 2015 so far? What's been your favourite part so far? Katie-xo)

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