Bringing Chicago to Surrey!

I’ve been having Chicago blues, lately.

I miss my friend Christina and I also miss Buffalo sauce. Sad but true.

Unfortunately I can’t fly Christina over 😦 BUT I did find Frank’s Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce in the supermarket recently and that did manage to put a smile on my face.

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It sat in our cupboard for a couple of days and then one night after dancing, Matt kindly made me dinner. But this was no ordinary dinner. He had recreated my favourite Chicago Bar Dish… A Crispy buffalo chicken burger with sweet potato chips. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too excited and hungry and so it got gobbled up pretty quickly! It was delicious and gave me a buffalo fix that I had been craving for weeks!

A few days later we were looking online for house bits and pieces..7 months in and still haven’t changed a thing!

When Matt came across a proper beer pong table on Amazon. Now, not very practical you may think or not exactly what we were looking for. But hey, we both looked at each other with silly grins and knew we had to buy it! After all, we are known to love a drinking game..or 5 πŸ˜‰

It arrived at my work on a Friday afternoon.. I liked this tables thinking.

But then I had the fun task of actually getting it into our car, after a few attempts, I finally drove home like this..

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As soon as Matt got home we excitedly opened it up and set it up in our lounge.

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We sent the above picture to a few of our local friends and said we would have to arrange a beer pong tournament soon, and began to pack it away. But when we looked back at our phones a couple of friends had asked why we weren’t hosting that night.

Good question!

We looked at each other and said It’s Friday, we’ve got beer.. Let’s play beer pong! and believe me you don’t need to ask rugby boys twice!

We quickly replied to our friends to say it was on! Not that Matt and I are competitive in any way!

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And before we knew it Megs, Fraser, Emily and Sam had come over to join us πŸ™‚

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^^ These are the before pictures!

Now I must admit I hate beer, so what to do when you hate beer? Turn it into Prosecco pong! Because of this we decided to do teams of Boys Vs. Girls so the Boys could still have their beer and then it got serious, the game began…

The boys played fast and would bounce their balls (ha) quickly one after the other. Us girls tried to have a strategy and were a lot slower. But that tactic clearly paid off as the girls won the first game! πŸ™‚

We also found our Polaroid Camera so as you can imagine many snaps got taken throughout the night!

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^^ Winners!

Randomly at this point I got a text from Christina, in Chicago, to say she was at a baseball match and to see what I was up to. I first played Beer Pong with her and I know she loves it so I quickly sent her a picture to show her what we were up to. Then Matt found the baseball match she was at on the TV so we tried to spot her in the crowd, no such luck though.

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^^ In our Chicago Bulls tops with the baseball on

And then we got back to game Two..

The TV had been changed back to a music channel and us girls were too busy dancing and singing along to Spice Girls to notice that the boys had gotten a ball in with a bounce shot! Sneaky boys!

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^^ Look how smug and happy they are

This meant they automatically won and we had to down all the drinks…all that prosecco..all the bubbles. Ouch.

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Feeling slightly tipsy by this point the next two games flew by in a blur of bottles. But after four games we were Two All. So we had to play a fifth game as the decider.

It got serious and we were all trying so hard to concentrate. But it happened. The boys managed, yet again to bounce the ball into one of our cups, and so they won the game! and the decider! 😦

After all the excitement, we had a bit of a rest, us girls needed a breather from all the fizz! And decided what to play next. After all the night was still young.

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And this is where things got a little messy. We then decided to play what I think is another American game..Flip or Flippy cup. Again in 2 teams either side of the table (this time long ways) You start with the first player of each team drinking their drink against each other. As soon as they finish they place their cup on the table the right side up and try to flip it to land upside down. As soon as your team member has done that the next person then drinks and flips and so on until you have a winning team. The losing team then has to do a dare, drink, shot whatever the other team decides.

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^^ You can see where the night was going with the blurred pictures!

As us girls were feeling quite tipsy anyway the boys decided that only the last member of our team had to do a shot from our ‘spinner’ basically a 4 bottle optic. Ours contains a bottle each of Vodka, Whisky, Rum and Peach Schnapps. We spin and whatever one it lands on you must drink. It’s a favourite in our house!

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To make it fair the last person of each team would then move up to become the first player for the next round of flip cup. After a few rounds of this we were all pretty tipsy and so decided to stop the drinking games and just chill, dance, sing and gossip instead.

Fraser and I even made a little routine to Sean Paul! If I could add the video I would but I don’t know how! If someone tells me I promise to add it. It makes me laugh.

The next morning there were a lot of sore heads and I’m not surprised given how much 6 of us went through.

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I’m happy we managed to bring a little bit of Chicago to Surrey, spontaneous nights are always the best!

Love, Chloe xx

Bidding a Fond Farewell to New York!

After the busy few days we had had, Matt and I decided to have a bit of a lie in on Sunday. Some people had agreed to meet for breakfast but we just knew we wouldn’t make it in time, so we decided to do our own thing and would meet up with everyone later.

After lazing in bed for too long, we finally got up and decided to head to out for breakfast. We weren’t really in the mood to be walking around trying to find somewhere, so we decided on Applebee’s before we had even left the room. There was no particular reason for choosing there, only that we had noticed it from our window, I had vaguely heard of it and they had a big sign saying they did breakfast. Sold!

It was really quiet and empty which shocked me however the servers seemed friendly and I loved the decorations they had put up for graduation. I really wish the UK would go all out for celebrations!

I decided to go for waffles (as usual!) with a cup of tea and Matt went for an orange juice and egg and bacon sandwich. When the food arrived, for once we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the portions it was just 1 round waffle and that was perfect for me, it did lack fruit though as you can see by the picture they could use a little more! I don’t know if I would rush back to Applebee’s again though, as the food wasn’t that great.

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Over breakfast, Matt was in contact with Bruce and the rest of the group, and we decided that we were all going to meet up around midday to get a ferry over to Brooklyn for lunch. So once we had finished, we headed outside into the sunshine to find the closest subway station. We had had enough of taxi’s and wanted to try something different, plus we had some time to spare.

The subway is so easy to use and so cheap! So much cheaper and less confusing than London! For a 1 way trip it was $2 each. I believe that was any trip, anywhere but correct me if I’m wrong! We got the number 1 red line from a station in Times Square all the way down to South Ferry, which took roughly 30 minutes maybe quicker. It was air conditioned (another luxury London is slowly getting), clean and we both managed to get a seat. It was just nice to be on the move and not stuck in the traffic!

Once at South Ferry, we took a walk through Battery Park and along the waterfront. The weather was so hot! Which I was a bit unprepared for, jeans were not a good choice! But still, I love being near the water and in the sunshine. The friends we were meant to be meeting were running late as their breakfast/brunch had run over, so we could have actually joined them all along, but oh well! We then realised we were walking the wrong way, so turned around and headed back along the water in search of Pier 11.

Pier 11 is actually on South Street, a bit of a walk and not near Battery Park or the day trip boats. But we finally found it! and our friends! Only to be told that not everyone was here and so we wouldn’t be getting a boat quite yet. So what to do on a Sunny Sunday? Find a bar of course!

We all walked along together chatting about our breakfast experiences and quickly found Nelson Blue a New Zealand Bar and Grill. We grabbed some stalls along the large window which was actually all open so you could still feel the breeze and the sunshine and took a quick scan of the menu. We were only looking for drinks and the friendly waitress happily recommended a wine for us ladies and beers for the guys and I must say the wine she chose was delicious!

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We could have easily stayed there all afternoon, but the rest of the group caught up with us and Erin recommended an outside bar around the corner (I’m really sorry I didn’t get the name) On walking around the corner, we seemed to have stepped into some sort of market or festival day. I don’t know if this is a usual Sunday thing or if something was going on but it was a lot of fun. There were clothes stalls, outdoor bars, dance classes, live music, the list goes on. So we grabbed a picnic bench and settled down to enjoy the atmosphere and more wine πŸ˜‰

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^^ How cute isΒ consuela, Bruce and Erin’s dog!? She was adorable but a bit of a diva πŸ˜‰

It was now around 2pm and a few of the group had to leave as they were flying back to the UK that night! Which was a bit of a shame, so at that point the rest of us decided to head back over to Pier 11 to catch the water taxi over to Brooklyn.

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^^ The View of Brooklyn Bridge from the taxi queue

The queue was quite long and so we waited a while to get onto the taxi, however they are free to use at weekends, so you can understand why a lot of people were using them! Once on the boat, we quickly sped across the water over to Brookyln, taking in the sights of Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty along the way.

Once off the boat, it was only a couple minutes walk to Brooklyn Crab, where we would be spending the rest of the afternoon.

iBtvkm5tPrmI^^ Don’t you just love the look of this place? You could smell the seafood straight away, I had salt in my hair and the sun was shining brightly. It was bliss and I felt like I was on an Island in the middle of nowhere.

We had to wait for a table as there were so many of us, but jugs of beer and all the arcade games, kept us happy, along with friendly competitions of basketball hoops and air hockey! If we had to wait longer, we most definitely would of had a game of mini golf!

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We were seated upstairs so had a lovely view of the sea and New York skyline. Now let’s take a look at that menu..

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We decided to get a few starters to share which included the oysters, fried calamari and popcorn shrimp, all of which were delicious. For mains, I won’t go through everyone’s, but Matt got the Blue crab roll and I got the shrimp basket. I love shrimp! We all received so much food so it was well worth the money, I couldn’t even finish all mine and it was so yummy.

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^^ Phil and Jess

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^^ Dan and Sarah

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^^ Group Shot!

It was such a lovely afternoon spent with friends, that I was sad our trip was coming to an end. I would love a place like this, near to home, that I could visit every weekend in the sunshine. Shame the UK weather is so unpredictable!

As usual the time had flown by and it was now early evening, so we headed back to the taxi.

11009945_10155576995750092_6614511406053429241_n^^ The boys enjoying the ferry back

11140749_10155576994995092_6226463662456738064_n^^ The ladies enjoying the ferry back

Day turned into dusk and Erin took us to a cute little wine bar, which literally looked like someone’s house and we sat outside, drinking cocktails, watching the sun go down. What a perfect last night in the city.

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We got a taxi back to Times Square around 11pm and I just stood taking in all the atmosphere and buzz for the last time.

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Monday morning we packed, had breakfast at the hotel (I had pancakes for a change ha) and then we headed out for one last look of Times Square.

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^^ Matt and I on the Red Steps

We popped into a few shops like The Disney Store, Hershey’s World, Levi and Forever 21 and also grabbed a few last minute gifts for friends and family back home. We decided to have lunch at Planet Hollywood, before getting a taxi to JFK, for our flight home.

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^^ Final buffalo wings of the trip

Sat at the airport I was so sad to be coming home. We had had such a great trip, done so many things and met so many lovely people that I just wanted it to continue. In all honesty it felt like we had been away months not 11 days! It was also nice to experience New York in Summer, as many people including us only really visit in Winter.

But as they say all good things must come to an end, so thank you New York, until next time.

And here’s to the next trip……. Dubai in October hehe.

Love, Chloe xx

P.S. If any of you have any good recommendations for Dubai please let me know, I’m so excited, I’m researching already! πŸ˜‰

Chicago Part 2! Food, Fishes and Fun

Oh the joys of jet lag!

Having gone to bed so early the night before, Matt and I woke up at 4.30am on Sunday morning! Not fun, but being 6 hours behind the UK meant I got to have a bit of a catch up and gossip with home. We tried and failed to go back to sleep, so in the end Matt got up at 6am for a swim! After a couple more hours of snoozing on/off and lazing around, we decided to get up and head out for breakfast.

Christina had recommended Wildberry to us, she explained there would be a bit of a queue but that it was absolutely worth the wait. So we set off into the wet weather, in search of Pancakes and Waffles, taking in all the fun sights and smells of The Theatre District along the way. We eventually found Wildberry due the mass of people and long queue that surrounded it! Is this really what she meant?! We managed to squeeze through the people and found out there was a nearly 2 hour waiting time for a table! Eek! and then we found out why..it was Mothers Day! (Mother’s Day is in March in the UK) We didn’t want to wait that long and so we walked back into the hub bub of the city and found a cute cafe instead. Refuelled and ready to go we made a quick stop at Target (Why is everything so cheap in the US, it’s not fair, I wanted to buy everything!) to get some supplies for our apartment, before heading back to meet up with Christina and Jason.

Originally our plan was to go to a baseball game that afternoon, but as the weather was so miserable and we didn’t fancy sitting out in the rain, the boys decided to stay in and watch the Bulls game instead. And what did us girls do? Shop of course!! Christina took me along Michigan Avenue which is home to the Magnificent Mile and we shopped until we dropped. My favourites included Express and Bath and Body Works (neither of which we have in the UK) Bath and Body Works I have been obsessed with for a long time and always make sure I stock up on soaps and hand sanitizers whenever I’m in the US, they smell incredible and feel so nice on your skin too. I am so gutted they don’t ship to the UK, please open a shop soon!! We also visited a huge Victoria’s Secret which I managed to spend a small fortune in but hey it’s cheaper than the UK so that makes up for it OK πŸ˜‰ As we were having such a good time catching up and shopping we didn’t even realise the time (it was nearly 6pm!) So we headed back to the apartment, dropped our bags off and picked up the guys and headed to a local bar for a few drinks.

A few hours and cocktails later, my tummy was rumbling and in need of some good food, so we walked to Hard Rock which was at the end of the road. I know some people don’t like chain restaurants but I really love Hard Rock, I love the memorabilia and the good music they play, and I knew that being in the US we would get some good BBQ food too! And I was not disappointed, check out the pulled pork burger below! Excuse the hair though, I had been walking in the wind and rain all day!

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Nom Nom Nom.

When Matt and I woke up on Monday morning, we were so hoping for some better weather! I know we are used to it being from the UK but we were on holiday and needed some sunshine! So when I opened the curtains and saw that the weather was even worse than the day before I wasn’t too happy. What could we do today that was inside? We looked online during breakfast and found the Chicago City Pass, it seemed like a good deal and included some of the attractions we had talked about visiting, so we brought 2 passes and jumped into a taxi to The Shedd Aquarium.

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We have been to quite a few Aquariums before including London and Sydney but we enjoy them and wanted to see what The Shedd had to offer. Check out some of the animals we found cute, funny, strange:

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We did take a looottt of pictures of fish so I don’t want to bore you with all of them!

There are so many different areas to see and explore and all are very interesting. Unfortunately though we didn’t spot the dolphins and we just missed out on the opening of Stingray Touch but everything else more than made up for it!

Included in our City Pass was a ticket to see the 4D experience film. As we are big kids we went for the Ice Age film version rather than the educational one! πŸ˜‰ but it was still funny whether you’re a kid or an adult, promise! On the way out, we popped into the gift shop, where Matt thought I looked like one of the toy turtles, thoughts? haha.

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I would say Matt and I spent around 3 hours at The Shedd Aquarium, but I’m sure if you had kids with you, or wanted to visit all the live talks and shows you could easily spend a whole day there!

It was now around late lunchtime (I swear I always think about food!) and so we headed back into the city to check out The Cheesecake Factory. But not before having a selfie and quick snap with a school bus! (The Magic School Bus, was one of my favourite TV programmes growing up, so I had to take a pic! Our buses aren’t yellow 😦 )

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Now where’s that Cheesecake?

Having been to America quite a few times before I had yet to experience a Cheesecake Factory! I know I know, what have I been doing my whole life!? and so I was super excited for my first experience!

Look at all the cheesecakes…..

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But first onto the ‘proper’ food. And where to start? The menu had something like 26 pages, crazy. Luckily we had an amazing waiter who knew from the looks on our faces that it was our first time. He explained the portion sizes, asked us what we liked/didn’t like and told us what he did and didn’t recommend, he was super friendly and honest and we liked that. and so what did we go for? A salad and sandwich to share, he told us this was a good choice. So we sat back, relaxed and waited for our food to arrive… and then it landed on our table…OMG good job we got this to share!! Check it out……

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I don’t think we had ever seen such a big salad before, but do you know what? The food was soo good and tasty, full of flavour and was definitely hitting a rather large hole! πŸ˜‰ I did feel a little like Adam Richman though tucking into that salad haha. We tried our best to finish it all, but we HAD to keep room for cheesecake! I don’t think we did too badly though….

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So now what to choose for dessert? I LOVE dessert it is my favourite part of the meal, but there was just SO MUCH CHOICE!

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In the end we decided on the Oreo Cheesecake to share, it’s making me hungry just looking at it all over again..

11226543_10155576959580092_4205804691805415388_nJust look how happy I am! It’s as big as my head and sooo delicious! I was tempted to buy another slice to take home for later but my eyes caught up with my belly and I went against it! πŸ˜‰

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Thank you Cheesecake Factory for a delicious lunch and please come to the UK soon!

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the shops, trying to burn off that big lunch! Before meeting up with Jason and Christina at Beercade for evening drinks. If you love Beer and Arcade Games this is your place to go! Luckily they had a large selection of cocktails for me to chose from too! A good, fun evening had by all!

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Love, Chloe xx

P.S I want that sign in our house!

Chicago Part 1- It’s all about the Deep Dish!

After a pleasant and slightly boozy 9 hour flight (well we did have to make the most of the bar area! πŸ˜‰ ) we had finally arrived in Chicago! But wait what was that we could see?… clouds, wind, grey skies! We thought we were on holiday, where was the sunshine?

We hopped in a cab and travelled to our apartment, taking in all the sights along the way. The skies were eerily foggy and you could barely see the top of most buildings. But it made Chicago that bit more intriguing. (Sorry no photos were taken, we were still in a bit of a plane daze!)

We were staying in a new build apartment block, called One Eleven. See below – This picture was taken on a day when we had sunshine! The building was only completed in Summer 2014.

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Most residents live here permanently but a few apartments are rented out to visitors like us and I would highly recommend staying here! The doormen are so friendly and soon remember your names so you instantly feel like you live there! It is right in the centre of Chicago, so within walking distance to the main tourist attractions and you also have full use of all the onsite amenities, such as swimming pool, gym, games room and numerous lounges with places to chill and take in the views, which include the river, Lake Michigan and Trump Tower. (See pics below)

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After a quick tour, we found our room on the 24th floor, unpacked, jumped in the shower, changed and then made our way up to see Jason and Christina and I was soo excited. After 9 months apart I could not wait for a big, long hug and then gossiping over a large glass of wine and that is exactly what happened! The boys were easily entertained with beers and sports on the TV.

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^^ I had missed this one! ❀ (please excuse the pale face – a mixture of jet lag and wine was kicking in!)

After quite a few hours, chilling, drinking and catching up, we decided to pop out for an early dinner. Christina decided that we should experience a true Chicago Deep Dish and so we headed off to Gino’s East, to see what all the fuss… about this famous pizza… was about!

I’m not actually a fan of deep dish pizza’s (Sorry people of Chicago) but to me pizza’s should be thin and crispy, but hey while I’m here, I’m certainly going to give it a go! I also don’t drink beer. Much to the Whole of America’s disgust I’m sure, as you guy’s seem to love the stuff! So again I think the waiter thought I was a little odd when I asked for bubbles haha. Now back to that pizza…

The waiter said that 1 medium deep dish would be enough for the 4 of us. But Jason also insisted that we try the Buffalo wings to start and I also noticed pulled pork sliders on the menu too (anything pulled pork I must have! πŸ˜‰ ) so we had quite the feast to be getting on with.

The Buffalo wings arrived first, sticky and bright orange I had to dive in immediately, the sauce had a slight kick but not crazy hot and I fell in love with the flavour straight away. Needless to say that for the rest of the week if buffalo wings were on the menu, Matt knew I was going to have them! If anyone knows of a good place in London or Surrey that does Buffalo wings, please let me know as I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

Next up were the pulled pork sliders, one each and gone within 2 bites, but these were tasty and full of flavour, melt in your mouth pork and sticky, smoky BBQ sauce, always a winner.

I was already feeling full! But here comes the main event…The Deep Dish and WOW was it deep!!

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I don’t know if these photos really do it justice or if you can tell just how big/thick it really is. But believe me it’s big! One slice each was more than enough for us 2 ladies and although Matt went in for a second slice he struggled to finish it! It was nothing like any pizza I had tasted before and it felt more like a pizza pie.

Rather than dough, I do believe the base is made of shortcrust pastry. The crusts were so thick you couldn’t cut them and Christina recommended breaking bits off and dipping it into the ample tomato sauce you get! Another difference you may notice is they put the cheese on the base before the tomato sauce and not the other way around. As you can see this gives the pizza a very gooey, stringy texture that can only be eaten by knife and fork.

If I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t rush back for another one, personally for me it was a bit rich and big and I think I will stick to my thin crust in future. However having said that I’m glad I got to sample a Chicago tradition and these 3 certainly enjoyed it!!

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We were all so stuffed that we couldn’t fit in desert but after a breather we decided to walk onto a bar for another round of drinks, but unfortunately jet lag had caught up with Matt and I and we were nearly falling asleep on our bar stools, so after a very quick last drink, we all decided to walk back to the apartments and Matt and I were sound asleep by 9pm!

What a great way to start our trip – Pals, Pizza and Pints! πŸ˜‰

Love, Chloe xx