30 December 2016

3 Things I Loved About Vegas Round 3

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 (find them on Amazon HERE)

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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12 November 2016

4 Reasons Sydney Take Two Was Better Than Sydney Take One

The Asia/Australia Travelling Series

After five nights in Singapore and one week in Melbourne (which you can read about here and here), it was time to mosey onto Sydney.

I'd visited Sydney before in 2014 and, even though I enjoyed it, I thought it was quite overrated. I found once I'd been to Circular Quay and seen the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, it was just like any other city. You can read the full extent of my initial thoughts here.

Looking back, I actually think I was rather harsh on Sydney; it definitely has a lot more going for it than I initially realised.

Here are the reasons why Sydney take two was better than Sydney take one:

1) I discovered the Opera Bar.

Yes, of course I walked past the Opera Bar upon my last visit to Sydney. It's hard not to - it's right in front of the Opera House where there are prime opportunities for photos!

However, last time around, my ex and I didn't actually get a drink in there. We took one look at the menu, saw the mammoth prices and (being budget backpackers) ran off screaming in the other direction.

This time around, I thought my sister and I should treat ourselves. #YOLO! We picked the cheapest drink on the menu, a sparkling rose wine called Innocent Bystander, expecting it to taste of piss but it was actually SUPER NICE. So nice, in fact, that we went back to the Opera Bar for a second time later on in the week so we could have another! (Cheeky!)

Excellent views of the Opera House where we could take photos, sit out in the sunshine and sip our lovely, cheap Innocent Bystanders?! Opera Bar, you are a WINNER!

2) I experienced Coogee Beach as well as Bondi Beach.

Last time around, I just went to Bondi. With its fine, white sand and deep blue waters, it was - and still remains - awesome!

But, this time around, we were also told about Coogee (which is a little bit further down the coast) that I thought would be cool to check out.

It's smaller with less tourists so it is quieter. Plus the actual town is quite quaint.

It was good to experience two beaches this time instead of just the one that every man and his dog goes to. Coogee, you are so cute and I LIKE YOU!

3) I went to Taronga Zoo.

Don't ask me what I was thinking the first time around, skipping the zoo. Was I on something?! It's a well known fact that Katie Davies loves the zoo. I've always enjoyed the zoo and believe you're never too old to go to the zoo.

Anyway, I came to my senses this time around and made Nic come with me to Taronga. Not only is the zoo pretty awesome with some of my favourite animals (GIRAFFES, I'm looking at you), but it also has spectacular views of the city skyline including the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

It's GREAT and I've no idea why we didn't go to Taronga back in 2014. But it doesn't matter now because MISTAKE = RECTIFIED.

4) I was with my sister...

...and, most importantly, I didn't have a giant stick up my arse.

This is not at all meant as a big 'F YOU' to my ex, but I genuinely believe who you travel with affects your general experience.

In 2014, my ex and I visited Sydney for a week at the end of a three month backpacking trip. By this point, I was tired, I was smelly and I was ready for home.

It's no secret that my relationship was already breaking down at that point, and we stopped 'doing the fun stuff' like going out drinking on a night together. We popped in our hostel bar a couple of times, but we didn't manage a big night out in Sydney - which I always regretted.

Travelling with my sister, who is currently in the same position as me with the same wants and wishes, meant that we could go out in Sydney this time around and let our hair down like I always wanted to.

There was one night where we spent a good few hours bar-hopping around Darling Harbour, drinking bucket-loads and causing chaos with our English accents - and it was honestly one of the best nights out I've ever had.

All in all, I genuinely feel I had a much better experience in Sydney during round two. I said at the end of round one that I wouldn't feel the need to return to Sydney as I'd covered it all, but I was clearly lying to myself because I found new things to do during round two!

It was a fantastic week in a great city and, even though I wouldn't be interested in returning, I would never say never.

Next and final stop: Bali.

(Have you been to Sydney? What did you think? Thanks so much for reading! Katie-xo)

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