USA Road Trip – Day 11 – San Francisco

It was a bittersweet moment waking up on Monday morning. We were excited to fly to San Francisco and enjoy yet another new place, however we were sad at 1. giving the car back as it had been so much fun driving around and exploring hidden places and 2. It was the last stop of our trip and we felt like our time had just flown by!

I loved staying at The Garland hotel it felt like you were a million World’s away from the craziness of Hollywood even though you were only 10 minutes away and I really wish we could have stayed longer. I think if I were to ever come back to LA I would only want to stay here. We packed up, ate one last breakfast, said goodbye to the pool area and made our way to the car hire shop to begrudgingly give the car back.

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From the car hire building we got on a shuttle bus to the airport. The traffic was crazy (LA traffic is constantly crazy!) and we must of crawled for about an hour to get to our terminal building, I honestly think we could have walked faster! and then once we were finally through and into the terminal building our flight was delayed! Not a great start to our final location however it just adds to the adventure! Or so they say 😉

Luckily the flight from LA to San Francisco is only 50 minutes so by the time we took off it felt like we were ready to land again and I was starting to feel excited about our final adventure.

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We would have loved to have driven this final part of the journey and I know many people who have done this and said it’s amazing but unfortunately we just didn’t have the time. If we were to ever do something like this again I would definitely love to drive this part and explore more of Northern California.

Once we had landed in San Fran, we jumped in a cab to our Hotel – Handlery Union Square which is right in the centre of the city. It was weird to be surrounded by high rise buildings and be back in the craziness of the city when we had spent the last week surrounded by beaches and feeling pretty chilled out.

The hotel was in a perfect location though as we could walk to all the shops and restaurants, so after we had checked in and checked out our rooms we decided to go for a little wander and check out our new neighbourhood.

We ended up in a place called Tap Rooms, a really cool American Sports bar, with all the beers you could imagine and all the American games ready to play such as foosball and shuffleboard. The walls were covered in screens showing all of the sports imaginable. The boys were very happy and myself and Megs enjoyed relaxing over a few drinks. Then we decided to try and beat the boys at shuffleboard!

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We were having so much fun that we hadn’t even noticed the time but the boys were telling us it was time for dinner. Megs and Fraser decided that they fancied sushi and Matt and I fancied pizza, so after numerous meals together we decided to go our separate ways and after having a quick look on google Matt found that Tony’s Pizzas was the place to go.

We jumped in a cab and made our way to Tony’s where we were greeted with a bit of a queue , a queue that went out onto the pavement! It seemed like it was a pretty popular place and we were told that it would be roughly a 45 minute wait but that we could visit the surrounding bars and they would text us when our table was ready. We were happy with that and popped across the road to a bar for a few drinks. It was quite nice to have a bit of a date night just the 2 of us and explore our new surroundings.

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Back at Tony’s we were seated in a cosy corner of the restaurant and couldn’t help but look at all the awards which the chefs had won and the celebrities which had visited, it seemed like we had chosen the right place to go for pizza!

The menu is pretty big but they only make a certain amount of each pizza a day. So the original pizza I chose had already sold out but the waitress happily helped me pick another one and I wasn’t disappointed. I can’t remember the exact pizzas we chose but mine had crispy kale on top which was delicious! The pizzas were so huge though that we couldn’t finish them so we took them back to the hotel in take away boxes. I love that about America how you can get anything boxed up to take away.

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A fun first night in a new city and ready for more adventures tomorrow!

Love Chloe xxx

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

Ed Sheeran at Wembley!

A month ago now, eek, how has it been that long?! Matt and I made our way to Wembley to see the amazing performer that is Ed Sheeran.

Matt had given me the tickets as one of my Christmas presents and I had been waiting a long, nearly 7 months for this day to arrive.

I was so excited as I had never seen Ed perform live before and as we went on the Saturday we had the added bonus of seeing Example and Rudimental too.

Now we live in Surrey, travelling to Wembley in North London, is a bit of a mission. But luckily the weather was on our side, as were the trains and so our journey was actually a fairly quick and pleasant one.

Now I’m not one of these really eager fans who has to stand at the front of the stage and so queues from a ridiculous time in the morning. There is nothing wrong with these people at all and when I was younger I was always keen to get to the front. But nowadays I’m happy to take it at a more chilled pace and not be crushed by the over eager crowds. Oh no, it’s happened, I’m getting old and turning into my mum!

We arrived just before Example started his set. We grabbed a couple of drinks and made our way down onto the pitch standing area.

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I’d seen Example perform a few years back and he always knows how to get a crowd going, plus I always forget how many great songs he has. It was like being at a festival, good music, good weather, good company. Everyone was loving it.

After all that singing or shouting which ever way you want to look at it 😉 and jumping around like a crazy teenager. We had worked up an appetite and so we went on a search for food. There are always soo many options as these types of places and after the tough decision of pulled pork hot dog or pizza. I finally went for the greasier option of pizza and I am so glad I did. A large, cheesy, gooey slice of delicious pizza with the added surprise of a cheese filled crust. Yum!

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Pizza gone and a couple more drinks brought we went back to our spot ready for Rudimental. I was quite excited to see them live, they have such a great buzz around them, and everyone I know who has seen them has said they are amazing. A couple of my friends were going to see Ed on the Sunday and were gutted Rudimental weren’t support for them to. Of course we both know the songs they have released and been in the charts, but we’re not avid fans that we know all the album tracks too and I must admit after a few songs we both got a bit bored and felt like it was just the same song over and over ( see I told you we’re getting old!) All the people at the front were loving it though and I must admit the stadium had a real party atmosphere about it.

They played their final song and then you really felt the excitement build for Ed. The arena got busier, the fans got noisier and a Mexican Wave was constantly going around the higher seats. And then the countdown finally began, with numerous photos and videos of Ed being shown on the screens from baby to now, a bit like the ‘Photograph’ Video. You could barely hear anything from the amount of woops and screams.

And then he appeared, just one man and a guitar.

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I won’t bore you with every single detail and apologies for the poor quality photos, zoomed in on an I phone!

But Ed was absolutely incredible. He is super talented, performing only with his guitar and a machine which I think is called a looper (please correct me if I’m wrong) which basically meant he could produce all his own music & sing all his own songs, live, without the help of a backing track or band. He also constantly talked and interacted with the crowd too. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

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The crowd was a vast mixture of people from young families, to older couples, to hen parties and everything in between. It seems that everyone loves Ed.

He performed all of his songs from old favourites such as ‘Lego House’ and ‘A-Team’ to new favourites such as ‘Photograph’ and the very romantic ‘Thinking Out Loud’, which of course everyone swayed to and got their phone lights out for, it did make a pretty amazing view and photo op!

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He finished with a huge finale of ‘Sing!’ which everyone went crazy for, including us 😉

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What an amazing evening with my favourite person! ❤ Thank you for the tickets!

I must admit I have been to a lot of concerts and I do think that we are getting far too used to seeing choreographed routines, flashy pyrotechnics, auto tune and miming that it was nice to actually see someone stripped back, who doesn’t need all that other stuff and to appreciate just how talented one person can be.

If you ever get the chance to go see Ed, take it! It will be one of the best concerts you ever go to, promise! 🙂

Love Chloe xx

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! 😉 ) 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! 😉 ) 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! 😉

Love, Chloe xx