USA Road Trip – Day 5 – Let the Driving Begin…

We all had mixed feelings about leaving Las Vegas. We had had so much fun over the past few days and had managed to fit so much in, that we didn’t really want to leave. However we also couldn’t wait to start the rest of our trip and explore new places.

We had planned on visiting the Aria Buffet for breakfast as one last Vegas treat, however the wait time for a table was roughly an hour and we just didn’t have the time to wait for that long. So instead we headed to the Aria Cafe for a quick bite to eat and then said our farewells to the strip, as we got a cab to the hire car building to prepare for the next part of the trip.

The car hire guy was so friendly and helpful and actually upgraded our car to something bigger than originally booked when he noticed how many bags we had and how big our suitcases were! So we ended up with what we called The Wagon, a huge Chevrolet Suburban – typically American and very exciting for our trip ahead.

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Suitcase Tetris! 

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Megs excited for the next adventure 

Ready to hit the road, Matt was the first to drive. Our plan was to drive the 4 hours to Palm Springs for lunch and to explore the area and then continue on the further 3 hour drive to San Diego.

We were told to follow this road for 147 miles!!

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It was so fascinating driving from Las Vegas into the middle of nowhere. We would go miles without seeing a thing apart from a few plants or a dusty track leading to somewhere else and then randomly we would see the odd hotel and we even saw a theme park, which just seemed so crazy as we had no idea who would visit.

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After a couple of hours on the road we stopped in a little town called Barstow, to get petrol and stock up on a few road trip snacks! Then Fraser took over the driving to Palm Springs.

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The views upon arriving in Palm Springs were amazing, palm tree upon palm tree and with a hazy sunshine mist it looked like we had stepped into the 1970’s. It was also really quiet, no one seemed to be about and the streets were empty.

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We had a little look around but nothing seemed to be that busy or open it was actually a little eerie. So we decided to find a place for lunch. We stumbled across a little cafe called The Sandwich Shop which as you can imagine had every style of sandwich imaginable and they were happy for you to mix and match creations and they even had all their own secret sauces.

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I opted for The French Open – Marinated Chicken, Hot Sauce and bleu cheese dressing. My favourite! We decided to sit inside and enjoy our spread, the sandwiches were delicious but huge, I could only manage half of mine!

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I’m unsure if it was just a bit out of season (Coachella was happening a few weeks after we left – if only we had planned better!) or if Palm Springs is just sleepy but it looked beautiful and I wish we had spent longer there or even just stayed for 1 night just to find out what it’s really like when it comes alive.

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The Wagon

I decided to drive to San Diego, I was a little nervous to begin with 1. because I had never driven on the wrong side of the road before and 2. because the car was so huge! I quickly got used to it though and we were soon making our way through little towns, watching the ever changing views and eventually watching the sun set.

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Tired after over 7 hours on the road, we finally arrived at Hotel Handlery.

We couldn’t wait to be greeted with a friendly smile, a big comfy bed and a nice restaurant to walk to. Unfortunately this wasn’t quite the case. I won’t go into full details but lets just say they couldn’t find us on their booking system, we had to wait around for a long time in the hotel reception and bar area which was very messy and hadn’t been tidied after a large group of people left, when we finally got keys to our rooms – the rooms were not as advertised and the service overall was just poor.

By this point it was almost 9pm, so all 4 of us went back down to reception to ask where we could walk to for dinner, they told us that nothing was in walking distance and that everything pretty much closed at 9pm! Instead of crying we laughed it off and walked over to the bar/restaurant area which was next to the reception area, only to be told that if we wanted food we needed to order it now as the kitchen closed at 9pm and that the bar would be closing shortly after. We couldn’t understand why everything closed so early but rules are rules, so we quickly ordered a few dishes to share along with 2 bottles of wine and a round of vodkas, well it had been a stressful evening after a very long journey!

We found the cleanest table we could, waited for our food and drinks to arrive, played cards and decided to forget about the events of the evening, hoping that things would look a lot better in the morning!

Love, Chloe xx

 

 

 

USA Road Trip – Day 4 – Final Day in Las Vegas!

After an amazing sleep in the comfiest bed (I swear Vegas hotels all have the best beds and bedding!) We woke up ready to explore more of Vegas, plus the sun was back shining once again, hooray!

We decided to walk to The Bellagio Hotel to check out their buffet breakfast, with a little jay walking along the way oops!

The Bellagio is a stunning hotel, with gorgeous floral displays and grandeur so we were expecting good things from the buffet. Unfortunately this wasn’t quite the case. It is a little old fashioned and even though the food options were good, the quality wasn’t as good as the buffets at The Wynn or Aria. Also the service was pretty slow.

After breakfast Megs and Fraser decided to explore more of the strip, however Matt and I decided to get a cab to downtown Las Vegas as we had never visited before and I really wanted to see the original old school Vegas.

Freemont Street was eerily quiet when we arrived. It was great to see all the original casinos and hotels such as The Golden Nugget and 4 Queens, however it really lacked any atmosphere. I guess it is a place best enjoyed in the evening when it is all lit up and really comes alive.

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We walked around and had a bit of a gamble but it didn’t take too long to explore it all. We wanted to try out the Slotzilla – A zip wire which goes over the casinos but unfortunately it wasn’t open.

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I really do think that we went too early in the day. So we decided to jump in a cab and head to the outlets which we had noticed on our way to downtown. Outlets in America are too good to resist!

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After a little bit of shopping we found Megs and Fraser, as we had booked to do an Escape Room with Countdown Live Escape Games.

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We had the choice of 3 different rooms; one horror, one sci fi and one Sherlock Holmes themed, we decided on the latter. You basically get locked in a themed room and you have 1 hour to look through everything, solve the clues and escape the room. Overall it was a lot of fun, but at times I did get a bit fed up as I found it tricky and not as easy as I thought it would be! However we did end up making it out with 5 minutes to spare!

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I have no idea why I look like I’ve just gotten out of bed!!

Afterwards we decided to head back to the strip to watch the Bellagio Fountains hourly show. It’s so clever and mesmerising and I love how they have different displays depending on the song. In 2012 Matt and I stayed at the Bellagio hotel and I loved being able to watch the fountains from our bedroom window.

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After a busy day we decided it was time for a cocktail and a bite to eat, so we popped into PBR Rock Bar and Grill, as we kept passing it and thought it looked like fun. It shows a lot of sport but also plays rock music and has a bucking bronco. We sat in the indoor garden area which has fake grass and picnic benches.

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Of course I ordered my usual frozen strawberry daiquiri. Then just look at these fries! Crispy fries topped with oosey cheese, crispy bacon bits and drizzled with buffalo sauce, yum!

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After the days adventures we decided to head back to our hotel to get ready for our last evening in Las Vegas.

Megs and Fraser decided to go for a Sushi dinner and they saw Zumanity which is an amazing Cirque Show.

Matt and I had late dinner reservations at TAO restaurant which is located inside The Venetian hotel. The hotel itself is very grand and luxurious and TAO brings Asia to Italy. The atmosphere is great, and with seats opposite the giant Buddha we were in good company. Our waiter was so enthusiastic and helpful and the food was amazing we shared dishes including satay chicken, tempura shrimp and miso glazed seabass.

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After dinner we decided to go for a look around the Venetian and ended up having a little gamble in their casino before calling it a night.

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Vegas once again you were amazing but it was time to begin the road trip…

Love, Chloe xx

USA Road Trip – Day 3 – It’s all about the food!

All completely wiped out from the day & night before, I think we finally surfaced around midday – hungry, hungover and in need of some fresh air.

We took a stroll along the strip from The Aria towards the New York New York Hotel. We were definitely hit with fresh air as it was a lot windier and a bit cooler than the day before.

We had barely got a start on our walk when we stumbled across Double Barrel Road House. Our bellies took over and insisted we check it out as the smell of BBQ sauce couldn’t be resisted.

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Feeling pretty ravenous, myself and Megs decided to go for American BBQ at its finest –  pulled pork, crispy fried chicken and lots of french fries. The boys on the other hand ordered salads…with a huge side of nachos! The food was delicious and just what we needed.

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Full of delicious food, we strolled along the front of NYNY and then decided to pop inside to take a look around. Since planning the trip, Megs had said that she really wanted to ride the NYNY roller coaster, so we went up to the arcade area to check it out. Me being the complete child I am (If you have read my honeymoon blogs you will know I’m not the biggest fan of big rides) decided that I would wait with all the bags, while the other 3 rode.

I went for a little stroll and then watched the roller coaster from the outside. It’s pretty cool how it goes through the hotel and then all around the outside of it.

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About half an hour went by and I was back in the arcade area where I said I would meet them but they weren’t there. I thought they would have been off it by that time as the queue wasn’t that big but it turns out the roller coaster had stopped running due to the high winds (it stops quite often because of the winds) so you could either wait for it to start again (no one knew how long this would be) or you could get a refund, which is what the guys did, as they didn’t want to waste all day in a queue for something they may or may not get to ride.

We decided to carry on our walk along the strip to Excalibur Hotel and then crossed over to the shops like M&M World and the Nike Store. The weather was getting colder and windier and there was even rain in the air. I didn’t know that Vegas experienced rain!

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We took cover inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops and it would have been rude not to have a look around the shops.

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I also wanted to try the famous Fat Tuesdays frozen cocktails. Everywhere we went I saw people with them and they just looked so delicious and when on holiday you have to indulge with cocktails!

Fat Tuesdays is a simple hole in the wall drinks retailer but they have so many amazing flavours and you can mix and match and get anything from a shot all the way through to a huge super cup. After taking in all the flavours I finally decided on my firm favourite the frozen strawberry daiquiri, in a take away cup so I could enjoy it back in our hotel room, in a bubble bath. Yes seriously!

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We decided to head back to our hotel rooms to warm up and leisurely get ready for the evening ahead, as the weather wasn’t the best and we were pretty tired from the evening before.

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Later on we met Megs and Fraser on the casino floor for a little gamble before dinner. Megs and I were adamant we were going to win the big bucks on the Wheel of Fortune but we never did!

For dinner we had booked a table at Beauty & Essex which is located inside The Cosmopolitan Hotel which is just a quick walk next door from The Aria. Matt and I have visited B&E in New York but never the Vegas one so we were excited to check it out. The decor is amazing, hidden behind a fully functioning antique shop, you would never know that a bar and restaurant sit behind.

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The menu is comprised of lots of sharing dishes so we chose a mixture of things to all try including the grilled cheese dumplings (the most delicious thing ever!) Tomato Tartare, Lobster Tacos and of course we had to finish off with the famous Les NYC doughnuts (insert heart eye emoji here).

We celebrated Megs’ birthday (her actual birthday was a few days before we went away) and it was such a lovely evening. The food and drinks were incredible and I would definitely recommend visiting if you are in Las Vegas or New York. Now if they could just open one in London that would be amazing!

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We popped our heads into the Chandelier Bar, just look at how pretty this is! And then called it a night as we were pretty tired from the full on day before.

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Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 11 – When in Vegas…

After an almost 12 hour sleep, I clearly needed it! We decided to walk next door to the Wynn for their buffet breakfast. Believe me when I say that there is nothing better than a Vegas buffet breakfast. Last time we visited we fell in love with the Caesars Palace buffet. However as we were in walking distance to the Wynn, we thought we would give theirs a try this time.

There was a small wait for a table, but it didn’t matter as you had a lovely view of the whole restaurant which is beautifully decorated with the biggest floral arrangements I have ever seen, it’s stunning.

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The seating area is spotlessly clean and very open and airy, filled with all these amazing flowers, plus they had TV screens showing adverts of the shows to see and things to do, which I enjoyed.

Now for the main event…the food! I think I went up to the buffet 3 times in the end, as there is just so much choice and I wanted to try it all! It is also really good value for money as it will seriously set you up for the day. I started with some granola, yoghurt and mini pastries, then went onto pizza (who doesn’t love pizza for breakfast!?) and finally I ended on some mini desserts such as strawberry cheesecake and mint choc chip cones, which were just delicious! I really wanted to get an ice cream to take away with me, but I had already eaten way too much so went against the idea. Matt stuck to the more traditional breakfast items like toast, bacon, bagels, salmon etc. There is definitely something for everyone, whatever you fancy!

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Opposite the Wynn and Encore Hotels is the Fashion Show Mall, it’s not overwhelmingly big like some American malls, but has all the shops you could want or need, so we decided to head there after breakfast as we needed to walk off all those treats.

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The mall was pretty quiet when we arrived which was great, as it was like we had the place to ourselves! Matt brought a few more bits in American Eagle while I found a new love with the shop Express, which unfortunately we don’t have in the UK. The sales assistants in Express were so helpful. When they saw me carrying around a few items I wanted to try on they took them from me, set up a changing room ready and still allowed me to go around & look at more clothes, before trying everything on. They even picked a few things they thought I might like and added them to my cubicle too! Take note UK High Streets!

I also fell in love with the shop Hot Topic, where I ended up buying a lot of presents for my sister for her Birthday. We didn’t spend too long shopping though as we wanted to head back to the hotel pool for some sunshine before heading out that evening.

Back at our hotel, we did a quick change and then headed down to find a spot by the pool. It was quite busy but The Encore has a few pools to chose from so you should always be able to find a spot by the one you are after. Whether that’s the Encore Beach Club with it’s famous parties, The European Pool Area with casino tables, hot tubs and stage for live music. Or the smaller pool which we always found ourselves at, as it had the perfect mix of relaxation but you could still hear the music from the other areas so it wasn’t too boring. We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the sunshine, enjoying the yummy frozen strawberry daiquiris!

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That evening our hotel concierge had amazingly managed to get us a table at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak Restaurant located inside the Paris Hotel.

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On arrival we spotted the man himself which was really exciting, but we didn’t manage to get a photo with him. We did however get a photo with Chef Christina which if you are a fan of Hell’s Kitchen, like we are was pretty cool. She was so lovely and I think a bit shocked that a British person was asking for her photo!

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The food was absolutely amazing and we were shocked at the large portion sizes considering it’s a fancy place. To start Matt had the Shrimp cocktail, I have never seen shrimp so big they were huge! I went for the pork belly which to be honest could have easily been a main course, but it was super tasty.

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Then for mains Matt had the Wagyu American filet steak which I think is one of the best things he has ever eaten, as he has mentioned it a few times since! I had the fish and chips and was shocked when 2 whole fish arrived, it was delicious but I couldn’t finish it all.

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For dessert I had the sorbet as I fancied something light and refreshing and Matt had the baked Alaska. They brought our desserts out with candles, as a celebration of our honeymoon.

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After dinner we headed over to Omnia nightclub in Caesars Palace to see Calvin Harris’ DJ set. Not your typical honeymoon evening but we had such a fun time and Calvin was amazing.

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The views from the bridge on our walk over to Omnia 

 

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We finally got back to our hotel around 4am and decided to do some gambling, when in Rome Vegas… 

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Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 7 – Disney’s Magic Kingdom!

We had a super early start on what should have been our final full day in Orlando (more on that later!) As we had to get to The Magic Kingdom in time for our breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest Restaurant, inside the park.

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I felt like a kid at Christmas getting ready for the day ahead. Excited to visit the most famous Disney park, plus excited for my favourite meal of the day – breakfast, in the heart of my favourite Disney Film – Beauty and the Beast!

We got the shuttle bus from our hotel to Epcot, as they didn’t have an early enough one for Magic Kingdom, but it didn’t matter, as from Epcot we then got on the free Disney transportation bus to Magic Kingdom instead. Due to the change, we did have to power walk to make our reservation in time, as typically the restaurant is located in the furthest area/land from the entrance in Fantasyland!

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The look of the Be Our Guest Restaurant is amazing, it really does look and feel like the Beast’s castle.

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I had made our reservation online a good few months in advance and a couple of weeks before we went, we were asked to pre-order our meal & drink choices (I believe this is just for breakfast and not for lunch or dinner.) There were quite a lot of options to choose from, but in the end I opted for the waffles and Matt went for the Croque Madame. We also ordered 2 of the Master’s Cupcakes, as I had been told we had to try them! All breakfast items also come with a side of fresh fruit and selection of pastries.

When we arrived our reservation was checked via our Magic Bands (park tickets) and we had to pay up front for our choices. You are then free to sit wherever you like and they will bring your food straight to you. I still have no idea how the waiters/waitresses find you after you have sat down as there are 3 dining rooms to choose from!

The first one being the The Grand Ballroom. This looked stunning in all the pictures I had seen beforehand, however it was carnage when we entered, lots of screaming kids and it felt like a cheap canteen. I was gutted as I really wanted to sit in there.

 

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The Grand Ballroom

 

Instead we went into the second room, The Castle Gallery inspired by Belle’s library. It wasn’t as elaborately decorated as the previous room but it was a lot calmer!

 

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The Castle Gallery

 

You have to get your own cutlery, napkins and soft drinks from the dispensers but the food was delivered quickly. The meals were average, but the pastries were tasty. I didn’t really know what to make of the cupcake though, as it didn’t really taste of anything?

 

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My waffles, could have done with a lot more syrup!

 

 

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Matt’s Croque Madame & the pastries

 

 

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The Master’s Cupcake

 

Afterwards we ventured into the third and final dining room which is The West Wing, this looked amazing exactly like the film, including the enchanted rose!

 

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The West Wing

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The Enchanted Rose!

 

I may have a few moans about the restaurant but I’m still glad we visited, however next time I definitely want to go for dinner, as I feel the whole experience would be a lot better then!

 

After breakfast we took a stroll through Fantasyland to Story Book Circus. This may be a toddler friendly area but I really wanted to go on the Dumbo ride as it’s a classic!

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Afterwards we made our way down to Tomorrowland as we had fast passes for Space Mountain followed by Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

Space Mountain was so much fun. As it’s in the dark you can’t see what’s coming next and there are a few sharp turns and drops, don’t think I have ever screamed so much on a ride!

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Buzz Lightyear was a bit boring and nowhere near as good as the Toy Story ride in Hollywood Studios.

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We then jumped onto Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress as it had no queue and is one of Walt’s original rides, great to see how it all started and features a very catchy song which we found ourselves singing at random times of the day!

The last attraction we decided on, in Tomorrowland was Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor. It’s a comedy show and is pretty funny for both kids and adults, especially if you enjoy the films, like we do! 😉

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We then walked through to Adventureland, but we just couldn’t get over how busy it was and the wait times for all the rides were roughly an hour each!

In the end we decided to join the queue for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I feel like they could make the queue a little more exciting as it’s quite boring, especially when you are waiting that long. The ride is fun though and I loved the new addition of Captain Jack Sparrow at the end!

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By the time we had left the ride, it was time to find a spot for the parade at 3pm. Some people had already waited for an hour to secure the perfect spot! But we grabbed a couple of snacks and found a space in Liberty Square to sit and wait ready for the parade to start.

We worked out pretty quickly though why the spot we had chosen was still free, it was in the direct sunlight and even just sitting down, we were melting. We stuck it out though as we had a great view for the parade and ice lollies definitely helped!

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I loved the parade, the songs are so catchy and seeing as we didn’t meet any characters (apart from Mickey of course!) it’s a great way to see them all. If you aren’t interested in watching the parade this is a great time to go on the more popular rides as the queues are much quieter!

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After the parade finished we made a quick dash to ride The Haunted Mansion. We still had about a 25 minute wait but was much quicker than the hour wait it had been all day! I loved this ride although a lot of it did make me jump! I love that Disneyland in California turns theirs into a Nightmare before Christmas theme for Halloween, I wish Orlando did the same, as that’s one of my favourite films!

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Finally we had a fastpass for Splash Mountain which was great, as we pretty much just walked straight on. Water rides are Matts favourite so he was very glad I managed to get a fastpass for this one! It’s a fun log flume ride with lots of drops along the way and a cute story with yet more catchy songs! Plus it cooled us down as we were so hot from walking around all day in the sunshine.

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Having rushed around for most of the day, trying to ride as many rides as possible, we decided to have a couple of hours chill time. We had a look in some of the shops, we met Mickey Mouse and then we ate an early dinner at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. The food isn’t the most amazing but the pizzas were pretty tasty and huge!

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Before we left for honeymoon, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was one of the rides I really wanted to go on, however I was unable to get fastpasses for it, as it is new and very popular! All day we kept an eye on the queue but it was always around the 2 hour mark which we agreed was too long a wait. So after dinner we made our way back over to Fantasyland with everything crossed to try to ride it, thinking lots of people might be at dinner! But unfortunately we had no luck, the wait time was still 2 hours, so it’s still on the list, along with the Frozen ride at Epcot!

Instead, I dragged Matt onto the Winnie the Pooh ride ha. It’s so cute and I think you have to act a big kid at Disney as when else can you?

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The weather had taken a turn for the worse when we exited the ride, it was very dark, overcast and about to chuck it down with rain, so Disney ponchos on we walked back around to Liberty Square to find a spot for the evening Electrical Parade. Again people wait for ages to get a good spot but we managed to squeeze in just before it began. Sadly they have now stopped this evening parade, so will be interesting to see what replaces it!

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We then made a dash to ride It’s a Small World before the fireworks started, again Matt wasn’t thrilled about this one, but I told him it’s a classic and he had to ride it at least once in his life! 🙂

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Still raining and now singing its a small world constantly! (Why are Disney songs so catchy?!) We found a spot by the castle ready for the fireworks.

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Disney sure know how to put on a fireworks display. They are just stunning and the songs and stories that go with it always get to me. I always start tearing up when ‘wish upon a star’ starts. There is just something so magical and special about it all. Sad but true!

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Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 6 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

After our super relaxing day the day before, I was shocked when I woke up feeling a bit run down. I guess the build up to the wedding and then a few busy days at the parks had finally caught up with me. Nothing a little lie in and sunshine couldn’t help fix though.

 

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The view from our room

 

We drove to Animal Kingdom with the roof down enjoying the morning’s weather.

As we weren’t planning on staying all day at the park and with me not feeling 100% we decided it was easier if we drove ourselves.

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We arrived about 10.30am and after grabbing a map and taking an obligatory picture with The Tree of Life we decided to head straight to Festival of the Lion King – a 30 minute musical extravaganza showcasing the best songs from the film, we loved it.

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The Tree of Life

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The Festival of The Lion King

 

As we had fast passes booked for the bigger rides after lunch, we went back to The Tree Of Life to watch It’s Tough To Be A Bug as this had barely any wait time, it’s meant for kids but I jumped a couple of times from the creepy crawlies under my chair!

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Such big kids!

We decided to keep walking anti clockwise (away from the crowds) and ended up in DinoLand U.S.A. which wasn’t too busy, probably due to the fact that Dinosaur the ride was closed for refurbishment.

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Personally, I don’t feel that DinoLand is that exciting and it looks a bit tacky with the funfair style games and big brightly coloured rides. But it’s great for kids who love dinosaurs as they have the huge boneyard play area and then TriceraTop spin which is basically a dinosaur themed Dumbo ride.

The only other attraction in this area is Primeval Whirl. A spinning family friendly roller coaster. This had a 40 minute wait time but we decided to join the queue as I think Matt was ready for something a bit bigger then It’s Tough To Be A Bug 😉

I’m not going to lie I felt a bit scared queuing for this ride, as you know I hate roller coasters and even though this one wasn’t actually that big, the thought of drops and spinning made me fear I might be sick. Also doesn’t help that you are just watching the ride go round and round while queuing which made me more anxious!

The line moved quickly though and soon enough it was our turn. Matt used the GoPro on this ride and I really wish I knew how to upload the video as it makes me laugh so much. I am constantly screaming but actually I really enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun and the spinning weirdly made it better.

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We had fast passes for Finding Nemo the Musical so that was next on our list, it came at the right time too as we were absolutely melting from the humidity, so an air conditioned theatre was just what we needed! This show was amazing, all done with puppetry it was visually stunning and had some really catchy songs too.

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I was starting to flag a bit by this point and as I hadn’t fancied eating breakfast I was starting to feel quite hungry. We hadn’t booked anywhere for lunch as most places in Animal Kingdom seemed to be quick service, so we made our way around to Africa to Harambe Market. It was pretty busy as it was right in the middle of lunchtime but I managed to grab us a table in the corner, next to a fan hooray, while Matt kindly stood in the long queue, in the heat to get our lunch. Thanks Matt!

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The food options are a bit random but Matt went for the corndog and I had the vegetarian stack which was roasted peppers, aubergine, courgette and onions with coleslaw. It was nice to have a rest in the shade and refuel, as it was just so hot.

We had fast passes for the Kilimanjaro Safaris after lunch, and we were lucky enough to see quite a few animals on our journey including rhinos, lions, giraffes and even elephants to name a few.

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Afterwards we made our way over to Asia, as we had fast passes for the Kali River Rapids.

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Unfortunately though we still ended up in a pretty long queue, clearly a popular time for them! We felt that the actual rapids themselves were pretty boring and over really quickly, which was such a shame, as we love water rides, but these are nothing like the Popeye rapids at Universal which are so much fun. Even though we got pretty wet and had a much needed cool down, we were a bit disappointed with them, especially after queuing for so long too!

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The only ride left to do, which I had been debating over all day was Expedition Everest. A very big roller coaster, and we all know how I feel about those! I kept seeing it from a distance thinking no way it’s too high and then I would have a talk with myself and say no you have to do this, you have to face your fears. Matt also really wanted to go on it and didn’t want to ride alone, so he kept asking me to go on it with him. But I just didn’t know. In the end I stood watching it from the viewing point for ages and decided I just couldn’t do it. The drop, the going backwards in the dark, none of it sounded appealing and it just terrified me. I felt bad for Matt and he still tried to persuade me to get on it but in the end he rode alone. Sorry Matt! The only positive of that was he didn’t have to join the 45 minute normal queue, instead he joined the much shorter single rider line and he was back again within 10 minutes! I also managed to get some great pictures of him on the main drop and he was happy having gone on all the rides available, that day.

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Expedition Everest in the very distance!

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Spot Matt in the blue T-Shirt!

As the park was really busy and we had done all the rides and shows available (the only things we missed were all the animal encounters you could walk around and the train which I believe goes around the park) we decided to call it a day and drove back to the hotel, eating some delicious Mickey Mouse Ice Creams along the way!

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That evening we decided to drive to Disney Springs as we hadn’t ventured there yet. The weather had once again taken a turn for the worse (it seemed to be an afternoon/evening thing!) so was a mixture of rain and thunder and lightening, yet still very hot.

We had tried and failed to get a dinner reservation for The Boathouse, which looked absolutely stunning on the water. Make sure you book way in advance for popular dining options! However we did manage to secure a reservation at The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe.

It’s quite a small restaurant located above the Wolfgang express cafe, overlooking Lake Buena Vista where we had a great display of the lightening.

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Matt went for the sashimi starter which he said was amazing and I chose the crab cakes which were so tasty. For mains I had the crispy pork schnitzel which was enormous and came with potato salad, tomatoes and a really yummy sauce, I didn’t manage to finish it all though. Matt went for the roasted duck breast which unfortunately he said was pretty bland, so wasn’t too impressed and said he wished he had stuck to the sushi which was delicious. For dessert we shared Wolfgangs famous apple strudel with cinnamon ice cream which was so comforting. In the end I was totally stuffed.

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It was so big!

We spent the rest of the evening leisurely walking around all the shops that Disney Springs had to offer, and there are a lot! Including a huge LEGO Store and World of Disney – The World’s largest Disney store!

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I would love to build this!

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 5 – Spa Day & Sunshine!

Now I may love Disney & Universal and the craziness that comes with visiting all the parks, but for me there is nothing better than a spa day!

After a much needed sleep in the World’s comfiest beds and full from a buffet breakfast, it was time to head over to the 40,000 sq ft on site spa. Yes it really is that big!

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Matt and I have been to a few spa’s together now but this was definitely the largest. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share with you from the spa day, as we left all phones and cameras back in the room, as we wanted to spend the day relaxing. Sorry!

The staff were welcoming and friendly and there were lots of healthy drinks and snacks dotted around the place to help yourselves to, during the day.

We were shown around the amenities, which included saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, before changing into the fluffiest robes and slippers ready for our treatments.

We waited for our treatments in the calming lounge area, on comfy sofas, whilst listening to the soothing music. It was nice to just relax and have some time away from the theme parks for a while.

We had booked the honeymoon package, so first up was an hour couples massage. Matt and I were in the same treatment room, filled with music and candles and after picking our choice of oils (we both chose differently – Matt’s was a relaxing scent, mine a pick me up) we finally got to relax while having all the stresses and tensions massaged out of us. Pure bliss.

An hour always goes too quickly when you are being pampered. However after the massages we were ushered into our own room, with private Jacuzzi which was filled with rose petals, so romantic and what honeymoons should be about!

When the treatments were over, we were given a private area back in the lounge and enjoyed glasses of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries, yum!

As the weather was so good we decided to take a dip in the spa’s outdoor pool. Again this was lovely and chilled and we made the most of soaking up the sunshine. We were still so stuffed from breakfast, champagne and strawberries that we forgot all about lunch.

That evening we had a dinner reservation at Norman’s which was located inside our hotel. It had been highly recommended and the menu looked delicious.

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After plenty of fried foods we finally got a few vegetables back into our diet 😉

To start we shared the beef tartare and the duo of empanadas – 2 Pork Picadillo and 2 Beef Guisado. My favourite was the pork.

For main course I opted for the pan cooked fillet of Florida Snapper with asparagus spears, Citrus Butter Sauce and “Belly” Of Garlicky Mashed Potatoes, it was so delicious! Matt went for the chef recommended Pork ‘Havana’ with Smokey Plantain Crema, 21 Century Mole, Black Beans-Sweet Corn Salsa and Golden Grits which he said was like nothing he had tasted before, in a good way!

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To celebrate our honeymoon our waiter gave us a couple of glasses of complimentary bubbles which was very lovely of them.

Then finally for desserts we opted for the white chocolate cheesecake with strawberry espuma and blood peach meringue and the trio of sorbet – mango, coconut and pomegranate. I think these are the prettiest desserts I have ever eaten and they were super tasty too!

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A lovely end to a super relaxing, romantic, indulgent day.

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 4 – Disney’s Epcot & Hollywood Studio’s!

A mega early start but no sore heads from the night before, must have been the excitement of heading to Disney!

We got the shuttle bus from our hotel to Epcot at 8am, meaning we got there for opening, but as you can see, the queues were already pretty big!

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Epcot is split into two sections. Future World which opens with the park and World Showcase which opens at 11am. So we began the day at Future World.

First priorities were buying the biggest Minnie Mouse ears I could find and then joining the queue for Test Track. It’s quite fun designing your car whilst in the queue and within 10 minutes we were on the ride. Perks of getting to the parks early!

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When in Disney!

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We spent the rest of the morning trying to go on as many rides as possible before the queues got crazy busy. Only stopping once for a quick sit down & snack as we hadn’t eaten breakfast.

We enjoyed The Seas with Nemo & Friends as we love the film but it is best suited to the little ones. We had a leisurely look around the aquarium afterwards but didn’t bother waiting for Turtle Talk with Crush, which seems very popular with the kids.

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Space Ship Earth (located in the giant Epcot Ball) is another slow-moving ride through the history of Earth. Starting with cave men through to modern-day. A little dated but iconic, looking up at the stars at the end is my favourite bit.

Journey into Imagination with Figment, in my opinion was terrible. It is just so dated and boring. No wonder there was no queue, not even the children wanted to ride it. Hopefully they turn this into something new soon!

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Another Higgins! 😉 

I really enjoyed Living with the Land – A boat ride through all the laboratories and green houses in Epcot, finding out how Disney produce their own food. Matt however found it boring. To be honest I never realised how educational Epcot was and Matt was starting to get a bit fed up with it all. Luckily best was yet to come. As finally it was time for Soarin’ and this ride was truly amazing. You sit in what feels like a real hang glider and are raised 40 feet in the air, where you then ‘fly’ over the World’s most iconic attractions and locations. I would have loved to have gone on again, as I felt like I didn’t take it all in on the first go. But the queue was an hour-long and there was much more of Epcot to explore!

As we had done everything we wanted to do in Future World and it was nearing lunch time, we decided to head over to World Showcase. Grabbing some buffalo blue cheese popcorn for the walk, deliciously weird!

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The Epcot Food and Wine Festival was taking place while we were there, which made the park even busier than usual. Especially the World Showcase area, as this is where all the food and wine stalls are located.

I was excited to be visiting during this time as it’s quite an iconic festival and I had heard so many great things about it, but to be honest I couldn’t deal with how busy it was and adding the heat to the amount of people, I started to get a bit grouchy!

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It doesn’t look busy here (or hot!) but if I had taken a photo of either side of me, you would have seen we barely had space to walk!

We gradually made our way around half of the showcase countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy & The American Adventure) popping into a few shops along the way and then finally taking a break in Japan where we had lunch reservations at Teppan Edo. It was also nice and quiet again in Japan!

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Teppan Edo was great, sitting around a Teppanyaki table the traditional waitresses took our orders and then we waited for our personal chef to arrive, to cook our dishes right in front of us.

To start we decided to share the assorted tempura and edamame and then for mains I went for Ueno which is chicken and shrimp stir fry and Matt went for the Asakusa which is steak and shrimp stir fry. All washed down with orange mojitos! Yum!

It was mesmerizing just watching the chef at work, his knife skills were incredible and the food was delicious! For dessert they kindly presented us with a slice of mango mousse cake, with a candle in and sang us a traditional Japanese song to wish us luck and happiness for our honeymoon/married life. A lovely gesture!

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I could have easily stayed here all afternoon, yummy cocktails, tasty food, great atmosphere, wonderful staff  but we had so much more to see!

Originally the plan was to spend the afternoon leisurely walking around the rest of World showcase, seeing what the festival had to offer – drinking cocktails, trying new foods, mooching around the shops and trying to get onto the new Frozen ride in Norway (the queue was always 2+ hours long!)

But after such a nice lunch (and rest!) neither of us really fancied battling the crowds again and we were so stuffed from lunch that we couldn’t even think about eating anymore food! So instead we decided to take the free Disney boat from the International Gateway in Epcot over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was nice to have a bit of a breeze and nose at Disney’s Boardwalk and other fancy hotels along the way.

When we arrived it was a lot quieter than Epcot had been which was a nice surprise. It also felt a lot smaller than all the other parks, but in a good way!

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On the boat over I had managed to get us a couple of fast passes for a few of the attractions, so to begin we made our way over to Toy Story Mania! This ride was so much fun, you travel around Andy’s Room playing carnival games all in 3D. Probably one of our favourites of the whole trip and we did get a bit competitive (Matt won this one!) Just like Soarin’ we would have loved to have gone on this one again, but the normal queue was out the door and I’m shocked I even managed to get a fast pass the first time around!

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We then watched the India Jones Stunt show, it was quite fun and interesting to see all the stunts and there was a lot of audience participation, however it started raining heavily half way through so they had to finish the show a little earlier than expected, but understandable as safety should come first.

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After the show, we found ourselves outside of Star Tours – The Adventure Continues. Matt and I aren’t Star Wars fans (if you are, you need to visit Hollywood Studios as it’s Star Wars crazy!) but as it only had a very tiny wait time, we thought we may as well give it a go. Even though it’s only a motion simulator ride it was pretty full on and a lot of fun, shocked to say I really enjoyed it. Just a shame it’s Star Wars themed 😉

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Now Matt and I love The Muppets…like really love The Muppets. So we couldn’t wait to see Muppet Vision 3D, however we needn’t have bothered with fast passes as there was no queue at all!

I’m sad to say though that I was pretty disappointed by the whole thing. The waiting room video is way too long and then the actual film itself has an annoying non Muppet character the whole way through, which doesn’t really make any sense. I loved the actual Muppets theatre though, but I feel like they need to redo the whole thing. Online I’ve seen lots of people saying similar things and not enjoying this attraction either and I’m worried that Disney will get rid of it altogether as it doesn’t seem very popular. I really hope that isn’t the case, I think it just needs some love and attention and a bit of a rethink!

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We had a look in a couple of shops including the Disney Christmas shop, where we brought some lovely ornaments for our tree!

Then finally we joined the queue for The Great Movie Ride, in the rain! I think this was probably the longest queue we joined all week, but I really wanted to experience the ride.

I enjoyed the cinema area, which is the last section you queue in before the ride begins and they show a film of great moments in movie history and all the different genres, through the years, we spent a long time watching this film as we queued for so long, but meant we learnt quite a bit!

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However we were both a little confused as to why all the film clips and things we had just watched and been told about were exactly the same things on the ride. Seemed a bit weird/silly to listen to and watch the same thing twice! I’m glad we did the ride though as it is well done, I just don’t think it would be one I would rush back to and certainly not one to queue over an hour for!

By the time we finished the ride we couldn’t believe it was dark and gone 7pm! So we made a quick dash to the boat to get back over to Epcot and were treated to Hollywood Studio’s Star Wars themed fireworks while sailing back which was a nice little bonus!

Back in Epcot and feeling a bit peckish, we found a quick service pizza window in Italy. So fuelled on a deliciously gooey pizza slice as big as my head, we walked back around World Showcase to Mexico, as we had pre-booked tickets for The Epcot Dessert Fireworks party.

(You’re allowed to eat all the yummy but naughty foods in Disney as you end up walking so much every day!)

We were pretty exhausted by now so we couldn’t wait to sit, enjoy some yummy desserts, toast our honeymoon and watch the fireworks which started at 10pm.

We had a prime viewing spot for the fireworks, overlooking the lake, with a beautiful table set up for us. But the only thing I have to moan about is the fact that they offer no seating options. We both just found this really odd, especially as they know how many people will be there as you have to pre book tickets and there wasn’t hundreds of us. Chairs or bar stools would really be welcomed and we could hear we weren’t the only ones mentioning it. After a long day at the parks everyone just wants to sit down and chill, so it was a bit annoying having to stand or sit on the floor (which I did end up doing!)

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Excuse the curly hair, I had been rained on a lot!

We couldn’t fault the party though. We made our way through the mini desserts selection which were all delicious, but my favourite was the Baklava, so yummy! And we made the most of the free drinks, not just sparkling wine, but spirits and cocktails too. The fireworks were amazing, focusing on the World Showcase they weren’t Disney themed but still just as magical and the rain managed to hold off right until the very end.

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A tiring but amazing, Disney filled day!

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 3 – Shopping, Storms & Sports!

After a much deserved lie in, we decided to jump in the car and find a good spot for breakfast. Told you, food is always the first thing I think of!

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Our hire car

We drove with the roof down, making the most of the gorgeous Florida sunshine and after a quick online search, we ended up at Keke’s – a restaurant specialising in breakfast.

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KeKe’s seemed a popular spot which made us happy with our choice and we couldn’t believe how much was on offer with the large and varied menu.

In the end I decided on a large chocolate chip waffle with a side of banana and strawberries which was absolutely delicious and Matt went for the chocolate chip pancakes. Just check out the pancakes though, it was like a Man Vs Food challenge and our waitress found it hilarious watching to see if he could finish them all, but unfortunately he couldn’t quite.

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Keke’s is next door to The Mall at Millenia, which is huge and filled with every shop imaginable but after breakfast we decided to drive a little further to the outlets instead.

I love American Outlets as you can get such great bargains. We didn’t visit every shop as we would have been there all day, but we just checked the map to find the ones we really wanted.

I honestly couldn’t believe how cheap things were though. For example in Victoria’s Secret they were selling lip glosses for $1 each! One Dollar! In our UK stores they are currently £9 each madness!

We also popped into The Disney Store, Ralph Lauren, Sunglasses Hut, Levi, American Eagle and my absolute favourite Bath & Body Works. Seriously when is the UK going to get one of these stores? I have been obsessed with them for years and on this trip alone I managed to bring back about 10 soaps and numerous other bits and bobs, everything just smells amazing! I brought a cherry ‘Vampire Blood’ soap for Halloween which all our visitors loved and Sparkling Snow has been out since Christmas and looks and smells so lovely.

 

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Inside Bath & Body Works

 

We had just left Bath and Body Works and only had one shop left to visit when a huge thunderstorm began. We had to take cover under a shop awning as there wasn’t enough time to run back into a store without getting drenched, plus I had leather flip-flops on, not the most practical footwear to run in!

It’s crazy how quickly the weather escalated and how heavy the rain was coming down. The thunder and lightning were directly above us and was so loud! The weird thing though was it was still so hot so even though we were getting rained on we didn’t feel cold.

 

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Just a little windswept!

 

We watched some people make a run for it, either to a shop or their cars but then the rain would come down even heavier. In the end we decided to make a run for it ourselves as we had no idea how long we would be waiting there for otherwise. However running to the last shop we had a bit of a nightmare when my Bath and Body Works bag broke – silly paper bags! So we were scrambling around in the pouring rain trying to collect all the goods that had spilled everywhere. Kindly, a stranger gave us one of his bags to use after seeing us struggle. Thanks again kind man! 🙂

Shopped out and soggy we made our way back to the hotel.

We didn’t have any plans for the evening so after having a little look at our options, we decided to head back to Universal’s CityWalk. We felt like the night before we had been too tired to take it all in properly, plus Matt wanted to watch the Miami Dolphins game, so we decided to head back and find a place to eat, drink and watch the game.

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Our hotel lobby bar

Universal was a lot busier than the day before but we realised it was the start of their Halloween Horror Nights so everyone was making their way into the parks. The Horror nights look amazing if you are into that sort of thing but I think I would be super scared! I can’t even watch horror films let alone walk around feeling like I was in the middle of one! So we left them to it and made our way to NBC Sports Grill & Brew. This place is huge and has screens everywhere showing all the sport imaginable. Matt was clearly in his element! They also played amazing classic rock music which is my favourite so wasn’t all bad 😉

We got a couple of drinks and decided to order a load of sides and starters to share rather than a proper meal, as we just wanted to relax, snack, drink and watch the game. Again a lot of fried foods oops, but they are so yummy! I think in the end we went for the cheese curds, onion rings, fries, southern fried sliders and buffalo wings – always buffalo wings they are my absolute favourite!

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It was a lovely chilled evening, but I couldn’t even tell you who won the game!

More fun tomorrow.

Love, Chloe xx

Shoes, Champagne & Cheese

Last September – I cannot believe it was a whole year ago!! Megs and I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum to view their, Shoes:Pleasure and Pain exhibition.

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Unfortunately you weren’t allowed to take photos inside the exhibition and even though lots of people were, we respected their wishes. So the photos you’ll see of shoes are all taken from Google!

The exhibition was great but pretty busy. Even though tickets were booked in advance and we had an allocated time slot, the first area with the glass displays of shoes were pretty crowded.

The displays were visually enticing but also informative and as a massive shoe lover I found it all very interesting and wanted to take a lot of the shoes home with me!

The shoes displayed ranged from the first pair of Greek Sandals, to 16th Century Venice, to 1940’s London Ladies shoes, to 1960’s Mary Quant boots all the way through to modern day Jimmy Choo’s.

They also had a display dedicated to famous shoes in history, such as David Beckham’s football boots, the infamous white Salvatore Ferragamo pumps, well worn by Marilyn Monroe and even Cinderella’s glass slipper, which I really wanted to sneak home, but don’t think it would have fitted some how and obviously Cinderella still has the other one!

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Now you’ve seen all the shoes, which for me are a pleasure. I guess you’re wondering where the pain was? Well along with the Chinese bound slippers which looked like absolute torture! There was a whole area dedicated to Christian Louboutin and his Fetish shoes. I guess you could say this was a pleasure/pain area. I love the look of these shoes though and would love to try a pair.

The ballerina/pointe shoes are designed to be worn while crawling to your partner, so no fears of falling over in them!

 

After looking around all the shoe displays we watched a video of iconic shoe moments in film, advert and TV history, including Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City’s Blue Manolo Blahnik’s, John Travolta’s walk in Saturday Night Fever, Marilyn Monroe’s strut and Michael J Fox’s white Nikes in Back to the Future 2. We then made our way upstairs to a much airier, brighter and more modern environment to watch videos and displays on how shoes are intricately made.

It was a really fun morning and even though this exhibition has now finished, I would definitely recommend visiting the V&A for their exhibitions as well as their usual collections. Below are their current offerings:

  • Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear – On until 12th March 2017
  • Engineering the World – Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design – On until 6th November 2016
  • You Say You Want a Revolution? Record and Rebels 1966-1970 – On until 26th February 2017

From the V&A we made our way over to Covent Garden for a spot of lunch at Champagne and Fromage.

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Champagne and Fromage is a tiny shop and bistro selling an array of champagnes, French cheeses and charcuterie – all the best C’s!

Megs and I found our spot and settled in for the afternoon, sharing a bottle of deliciously cold champagne along with a selection of foods including baked Camembert with nuts, dried apricots and figs along with a selection of breads and salads.

We thought we were too full for dessert until we saw what was on offer! Macarons, Champagne or Mojito sorbets, Apple tart with champagne cream or how does a champagne and raspberry tiramisu sound? Delicious!

C&F is great for a cosy afternoon full of treats and indulgence and I would definitely recommend booking a table, especially if you fancy visiting at peak times.

On our stroll back to the station we noticed that Be At One had a 2 for 1 offer on cocktails so we popped in for 1 which turned into 2, which turned into… you get the picture!

A very indulgent and fun girls day out 🙂

Love, Chloe xxx