USA Road Trip – Day 6 – A Top Gun Kind of Day…

We awoke to beautiful sunshine and headed down for breakfast inside the hotel. The food was average but we couldn’t complain as it was free! Plus the portions were huge! I had pancakes with berries and the others had the full American.

Over breakfast we discussed what we wanted to do with the day. We had researched a few things we wanted to do in San Diego, however we had no set plan on what days we should do what and after quite a full on time in Vegas, we were hoping to fit in some relaxation at the beaches at some point too.

If you read my Vegas posts you will know our plan regarding 4 places, 4 names picked out of a hat, surprise the group with something. Well I had chosen San Diego. So I decided to put my plans into action. After breakfast we jumped into the wagon and drove down to the Harbour, as our first stop of the day was the USS Midway Museum.

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Now you may think that what I chose as the surprise sounds a bit boring, but actually the main reason I had chosen it was due to it being linked to Top Gun and who doesn’t love Top Gun? It’s one of Matt and I’s favourites!

Whilst researching San Diego back at home I quickly found out that 90% of Top Gun was filmed in the area so I thought it would be fun to visit some of the locations (if we could find them!) I’m still shocked that they don’t do a Top Gun mini bus tour or something to take fans around to all the locations, seriously why hasn’t anyone thought of this?! But I digress back to the ship…

”USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was the largest ship in the world until 1955. She operated for 47 years, during which time she saw action in the Vietnam War and served as the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego.”

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Look at this view from the top of the ship – beautiful!

We spent a couple of hours on the ship, exploring every room and taking in all the stories. Matt and Megs even rode in a fighter jet flight simulator but mine and Fraser’s stomach’s never would have handled it!

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Not wanting to miss anymore of the sunshine, we decided to take a stroll along the harbour, which was so beautiful and picturesque taking a look at the Unconditional Surrender statue along the way.
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We popped into The Fish Market Restaurant for a drink and a cool down. It was such a lovely place and the food, especially the freshly caught seafood looked amazing however I had other ideas for our lunch spot…

Kansas City BBQ A Top Gun location with the added bonus of delicious BBQ food and sunshine.

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A couple of the iconic scenes from the film were shot here, including the Great Balls of Fire Piano and the Jukebox.

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The place was filled with memorabilia however it still had a locals vibe. After looking around inside we decided to eat outside as we wanted to enjoy the incredible weather whilst eating our delicious food.

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There were a few other locations from the film I would have liked to have found however they were quite a way from where we were, so we asked our waitress where the best beach was and she told us Coronado, so off we drove (thank goodness for sat nav!) over the bridge to Coronado Beach.

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Oh Em Gee just look at this place!

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It looked like something out of a movie scene. Picture perfect white sand, barely any other visitors, pure bliss.

We found a spot to settle in for the rest of the afternoon and chilled/napped in the sunshine.

Keen to explore a bit more of the surroundings, we walked along the waves towards the Hotel del Coronado, which was stunning.

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We found a table at the outdoor bar area on the balcony, overlooking the beach, ordered a few drinks and just breathed it all in. Oh how we wished we were staying at this hotel and waking up to this view everyday! We’ve already said numerous times that we want to go back and stay there.

The hotel has also been featured in numerous films dating back to the early 1900’s! But the most iconic is Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe.

We played cards and Megs and I drank local wine before making a leisurely stroll back to the parked car, passing all the amazing houses along the way.

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Don’t you think this looks like Gru’s house from Despicable Me?

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After chilling and changing back at the hotel we decided to get a cab into the city for dinner at a little Italian restaurant. We seemed to be the only ones about, not that we were complaining as the food and service were amazing, but it just seemed a bit odd not seeing anyone else around, however what a great first day in San Diego!

Love, Chloe xx

USA Road Trip – Day 1 – Getting There!

I couldn’t believe that the day had finally arrived to start our 2 week USA Road Trip, along with our friends Megs and Fraser.

The 4 of us had talked about going on a trip together for a while, but then one Sunday afternoon we started joking about how fun it would be to go to the Rugby Sevens in Las Vegas. Well it started off as a joke but then we may have started looking into it in some detail and realised that due to the Sevens being in March (which is very early season for Vegas) the costs weren’t actually that bad. Then the next thing you know we’re looking into a complete West Coast Road Trip and a week later we booked it! Sometimes the most spontaneous trips are the best.

The plan? Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles and finally San Francisco.

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We flew from Gatwick to Las Vegas on a dreary March morning, excited to begin our trip and hopefully enjoy some warmer weather!

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Our friend took this photo of our plane taking off as she works at Gatwick!

Surprisingly the 11 hour flight went by really quickly. We ate a lot of food, we chatted about the fun things we had planned and we watched as many films as we possibly could, finally landing at 1pm Vegas time to pure blue skies and beautiful sunshine.

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I love coming into land in Vegas as you get to see the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and you get a great view of the strip which makes me so excited.

We stayed at the Aria Hotel which is one of the newest hotels on the strip. It sits in the centre opposite The Planet Hollywood Hotel. I had wanted to stay here for a while as it just looked so modern and had a great location and it really didn’t disappoint. On arrival the hotel reception was immaculate, the staff were friendly and check in was a relatively quick process for Vegas standards.

We had 2 standard rooms known as Deluxe King Rooms (they were incredible so don’t be mistaken they will be basic) The receptionist managed to get us rooms next to each other on the 15th floor with a view of Planet Hollywood opposite.

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But enough about the rooms we wanted to get out and explore, so we quickly freshened up and went for a walk in the sunshine along the strip.

Taking in all the new sights we pointed out shops, bars and restaurants we wanted to visit while we were there. Then we decided to find somewhere for cocktails that was still outside and we ended up at Bubba Gumps. To be honest this wouldn’t have been our first choice but it had the perfect location with a balcony terrace overlooking the strip, directly in the sunshine and had tables available. We ordered cocktails in light up glasses (when in Vegas!) and toasted to an amazing 2 weeks ahead.

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We were enjoying our drinks and the view when Matt told us we would have to make our way back to the hotel shortly for the first surprise of the trip – It had been an idea when planning the trip that as there were 4 of us and we were visiting 4 locations (Las Vegas, San Diego, LA & San Francisco) that we should each pick a location out of the hat and then plan something in secret for that place to surprise the others with.

So first up was Matt as he had chosen Las Vegas and he didn’t disappoint with his surprise. We were being collected from our hotel and taken to Las Vegas Strip Terminal ready for a helicopter ride over the strip at night. Excited was an understatement and an amazing way to kick off the first night of the trip!

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I must admit I was a little nervous at first. I’m not scared of flying or of heights but I really don’t like sudden drops and as I was sat next to the door and all I could see was the strip below I did have a little freak out thinking we would drop out of the sky! But after I got over that thought and decided to really take in the view of the strip, it was just incredible. Completely lit up and twinkling all around you, it was just stunning.

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On the ride back to the hotel we all became really tired, I guess jet lag had finally kicked in. So we decided to grab a bite to eat at one of our favourites Blondies and then called it a night ready for tomorrows adventures!

Love, Chloe x

 

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 10 – Unusual Utah & Viva Las Vegas!

A 3am wake up call is never fun but we were both excited for the next adventure and exploring somewhere new.

It was dark driving to the airport, but we managed to drop the hire car off with no issues and made it through security in good time – considering how busy the airport already was, with everyone trying to escape the hurricane. We bought a couple of hot drinks and boarded the plane to Utah, ready for our 6am departure.

It was roughly a 4.5 hour flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, but as we were both pretty tired we decided to try and sleep the best we could and actually the time flew by.

Utah are 2 hours behind Orlando so when we landed we had a couple of hours free before our connection flight to Las Vegas. We found a nice restaurant for breakfast and then had a look in a few of the gift shops.

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The airport was really busy. Clearly a popular connection stop and we were shocked to learn that the temperature was only 3 degrees outside. Crazy when Orlando had been so hot and then Las Vegas would be hot too. By 11am it was time to board our final flight of the day.

The last time Matt and I visited Vegas was in 2012, over Thanksgiving weekend. We met up with a few of Matt’s friends and partied every night, which was a lot of fun but quite crazy. So during our flight Matt asked me how we wanted to do Vegas this time around. Should we relax, go to the spa and try to bring The Bahamas to Vegas? Or should we just embrace Vegas, go with the flow and find some fun things to do to make it memorable?

I think you can guess which option we chose seeing as we started drinking at 11am…

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A bit sleepy but a couple of vodka’s soon woke us up!

The views from the plane were stunning and I got a bit snap happy, especially when I spotted the Hoover Dam! But the flight was over so quickly as it was just less than an hour from Utah!

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Salt Lake City, Utah

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The Hoover Dam

It was so nice to be greeted with pure blue skies and sunshine and once off the plane we headed straight to The Encore Hotel which is where we would be staying for the next 5 nights.

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As usual, check in in Vegas is always super busy but we were just so happy we were there and couldn’t wait to see our room and go and explore.

The receptionist was very excited that we were on our honeymoon and actually bumped us up to a suite on the 63rd floor, which was just incredible. We had a full view of the strip from our floor to ceiling windows and we could open the curtains from a button by our beds, so we could enjoy that view each morning and night.

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The view of the Strip from our room 

We quickly freshened up and then headed down the strip to Planet Hollywood Hotel, as we remembered from last time that they had the miracle mile shops and a vast range of bars and restaurants to choose from.

I love the relaxed but party vibe of Vegas, it just makes me so happy. I always feel like you can do whatever you like and no one will mind. It’s most definitely my happy place (this was my 3rd visit and we actually went back again in March of this year as part of our US West Coast Road Trip!)

I always say to Matt if I had to live anywhere else in the World it would be Vegas, but I don’t think that will ever happen!

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So amazing all lit up at night!

After a little bit of gambling and window shopping, we ended up in one of my favourite places. Blondies. It’s basically just like Hooters but the girls wear cheer leading outfits and there are way more screens around the place showing all the sports imaginable.

We noticed that they had an all you can drink for $20 offer on and were shocked when the waitress said the drinks included spirits as well as beers. So as Matt wanted to watch the football (American) we decided to find a spot to settle into for the rest of the evening.

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We decided to share the Blondies Sampler which included all of our usual American favourites – chicken tenders, buffalo chicken wings, onion rings and jalapeno poppers with a large basket of curly fries on the side.

In the end a mixture of lack of sleep and booze hit me and I was sound asleep in our huge bed by 9pm!

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 9 – Preparing for a Hurricane!

It was nice waking up leisurely, knowing that we had no plans and could just take the day as we pleased. So we had a lazy morning watching TV (mostly sport or keeping track of the hurricane or presidential debates!) whilst enjoying breakfast in our room.

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We couldn’t spend the whole day lazing around inside though and as it was lovely and sunny, we decided to head to the hotel pool area. We found a couple of sunbeds, ordered a few drinks and enjoyed soaking up the sun.

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We spent the afternoon chilling on the comfy sunbeds, relaxing in the Jacuzzi and floating around the huge pool. It was very calm as it was mostly couples with only a handful of children.

As usual though with the Floridian weather grey clouds started making an appearance by late afternoon and as the staff were already trying to pack up as many sunbeds as possible in preparation for the hurricane, we decided to head back to our room and look into options for the evening. With just a quick pit stop along the way for a game of Shuffleboard…

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Walking back to our room, we received a call from Virgin Holidays. They explained that they had tried to book us onto trips to Mexico and LA but neither had worked out with our dates and so the only other option they could offer us, apart from staying in Orlando, was to fly to Las Vegas.

Matt and I love Las Vegas and have been a few times before and even though it wasn’t the relaxing second week we thought we would be having, we just wanted to get away from the bad weather and relax for a few days, without the stress of a looming hurricane! So we told them to go ahead with the new plan and they said they would email us with all the details but that the flight was 6am the next morning!

We got changed and decided to head back to Disney Springs for our last night in Orlando.

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We drove there in a huge storm. It was so bad that we could barely see the road or cars in front of us, which was quite scary, but we made it and decided to go to the House of Blues for an early dinner.

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Trying to escape the rain ha!

We’ve been to a few States which have a House of Blues but we had never visited one, so I was excited to check out it’s offerings. I loved the decor and music and we were told that Sum 41 had a concert there that evening if we wanted to get tickets. I was tempted as growing up I loved Sum 41! But looking at the horrific weather and knowing we had to be up at 3am we decided against it!

To start Matt and I shared the Voodoo Shrimp, which was recommended and it was delicious. The shrimp were huge and the flavour was incredible, we both thoroughly enjoyed that dish, although I wasn’t too keen on the cornbread. I’m not a big bread fan anyway but that was just an odd one for me, Matt loved it though. For mains Matt had the tacos and I had the pulled pork sandwich which was yummy but huge and as ever I couldn’t finish it all. I don’t think I finished one meal the whole honeymoon!

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We declined dessert as we were just so stuffed and as the weather had cleared, we walked off dinner by looking in a few shops and visiting the World of Disney one last time!

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Sad to say goodbye to Florida but excited for the next adventure on our honeymoon!

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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

Lauren’s Parisian Hen Weekend – Part 2

We began the day with a delicious breakfast at the hotel, where the croissants were fresh from the patisserie next door! Yum!

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Then made our way to the banks of the River Seine, as we had booked an hour-long sightseeing cruise. It may have been freezing, but we kept ourselves warm with hot drinks and it was a great way of seeing all the sights when short on time.

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After the tour we made our way to The Eiffel Tower ready for our trip to the top. We had pre-booked our tickets with an allocated time slot, which I would highly recommend doing, otherwise you are stuck waiting in a very long queue!

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We went up by lift but you can walk it if you are feeling fit and brave! As you can see it was a bit breezy, but such a good way of taking in the whole city and the views were amazing. At the top they also have a few souvenir shops and a macaron shop, my favourite!

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We grabbed a late snack/lunch on our walk back to the hotel. Where we then had some time to leisurely get ready for the evening.

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We started the night with drinks at the hotel and then jumped into taxis to Le Sanglier Bleu restaurant where we had dinner reservations.

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We gave Lauren some presents and a memory book with photos and notes from all the hen’s and played a few games whilst enjoying a delicious dinner of sea bass and traditional tart tatin and Crème brûlée’s. Yum!

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Finally finishing off with some traditional drinks!

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We then had a short walk to the infamous Moulin Rouge, where we had tickets for the evening show, which we were all so excited for. The queue to get in was a bit crazy even though we had tickets but once inside it was pretty iconic and magical.

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We had a private table and were given so many bottles of champagne. Apparently it came included with the tickets!

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The show was a mixture of burlesque, circus acts, singing and dancing. Some acts were really good but unfortunately some were quite dated and not as slick as we all imagined it would be. I’m glad I can say I visited though as it had been on the bucket list for a long time but I wouldn’t rush to go back. Fun night out with the girls though!

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The next morning we couldn’t believe how quickly the trip had flown by and that it was our last day in the beautiful city. So we had yet another leisurely breakfast at the hotel, had a little look around the local shops and eventually got the train back to the airport.

Such a lovely girls weekend away and hopefully a trip Lauren will never forget!

Love, Chloe xx

Lauren’s Parisian Hen Weekend – Part 1

When Lauren asked me to be one of her bridesmaids I was so happy and excited. Even though we had a whole year to plan the wedding, the first thing that came into my mind was hen do!

Lauren had 2 other bridesmaids, her friend Lucie and her sister Cathy and they all live near each other in Southampton. But living a couple of hours away, I felt like I wasn’t a lot of help to begin with, when it came to the wedding. However when it came to the hen do, I knew distance wouldn’t matter and that I could put a lot of effort into the planning process.

Lauren is a pretty classy lady so we knew she wouldn’t want anything too full on or tacky, so after a bit of research we decided on a weekend in Paris at the beginning of December.

Paris offered a mixture of Christmas festivities, culture, good food and fun and we all managed to keep it a secret from Lauren, along with the rest of the hens.

Lucie made Lauren a beautiful goodie box filled with lots of Parisian/French themed items to help her work out where she was going. Shocked and excited after eventually working out where she was going 😉 Lauren couldn’t wait to celebrate with everyone.

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I flew out from Gatwick a few hours earlier than the rest of the group, who were flying from Bournemouth. But that gave me time to decorate Lauren’s hotel room! We tried to keep the theme Parisian Chic and tried to match colours as best as possible to Lauren’s wedding theme of golds, creams and neutral/wood tones. So pretty. I think she liked it.

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After settling into the hotel, we headed out into the local area for a spot of late lunch, finding a place big enough to fit us all in. I think almost all of us chose croque-monsieur’s and tea to help us warm up, Paris was pretty chilly!

It was nice to have no set plan for this first day. We just walked and talked, passing through the Louvre and eventually ending up at the main Christmas Market also known as Village de Noel des Champs Elysees. You can’t miss it, it is stunning!

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It was so pretty all lit up with the twinkly lights and had a bit of something for everyone. Little market stalls for browsing, mulled wine for drinking and crazy fun fair rides for riding.

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You can’t take us anywhere!

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A few of us ended up on the ice skating rink, whilst the others took great pleasure in watching us slowly making our way around and sometimes falling over! All while enjoying their hot drinks. I’m a terrible ice skater and ended up coming off within about 15 minutes!

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We decided to end the night by buying some wine and snacks on the walk back to the hotel and enjoyed a girls night in.

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Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 2 – Universal Studios!

Even though I had an amazing sleep my body still decided to wake me up at 6am! So I decided to go for a little explore. I wanted to check out the breakfast options, always my main priority when staying at a hotel and I also wanted to book us onto the free shuttle bus which dropped hotel guests off at some of the parks. Although we had the car, some days we decided it would be easier to use the free transportation on offer, especially if we wanted to stay at the parks all day and would be tired or wanted to have a couple of drinks.

The staff were more than happy to help me, even at that time of day! I found a couple of options for breakfast and was told we were welcome to visit the neighbouring Marriott Hotel to use their facilities and restaurants too, which was good to know.

We decided to try out Highball & Harvest for breakfast, which was a restaurant and bar area in our hotel. It offered an à la carte menu as well as the all you could eat breakfast buffet. It was pretty pricey but I guess that’s to be expected in the type of hotel we were staying at, but the food was super fresh and delicious so made up for it. Matt even finished off his breakfast with an American frosted doughnut! When in Rome….

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Even at 9am the mixture of heat and humidity was fierce! Waiting outside for the shuttle bus to collect us, I was already melting and the day hadn’t even begun.

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Such a tourist with my backpack!

We arrived at Universal Studios ready and raring to go, map in hand, our plan was to visit both parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) in one day. Some people might think we were crazy but we just didn’t have enough time to do it any other way. Due to this we upgraded our tickets to the Express tickets, which meant we could skip the queue once at each ride or show. This was actually really useful and worth the money as it meant we could do all the rides we wanted to without getting stressed or rushing around. The only attractions these tickets didn’t work for though were the Harry Potter rides.

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Phew I’m tall enough!

Now, I could easily talk about all the attractions in great detail and go through step by step every single thing we did, which is what I originally started doing when first writing this post, but it was going on forever and I just thought you would get a bit bored! So I’m going to try to condense it all as best I can and just show you a lot of photos instead!

We started the day at Universal Studios which consists of 7 themed areas. Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. We made our way around all these areas apart from the kidzone and went on the rides, looked in the shops and just enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement of being there. I must admit though I hate big rollercoasters which is annoying for Matt who loves all rides, so he did have to go on a few alone 😦 Sorry Matt!

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One of Matt’s favourite films – Back To The Future

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This ride was so good!

One of my favourite rides in this Park was probably Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, it’s really well done and quite funny, plus Matt and I are such big kids who love anything Minions! I also loved the Simpsons ride and the whole Simpsons area. It was pretty cool to be able to go into Moe’s for a drink, Krusty Burger for food or to the Kwik-E-Mart for gifts!

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A couple of the areas didn’t have much going on, as they were either working on new rides or had just demolished old ones. I get that they constantly need to be working on new ideas and attractions but I’m not sure how I feel about the new, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ride which opens in 2017. I appreciate he’s a big deal in America but just sounds weird to me and I don’t see how it relates to Universal, also I think it’s going to be yet another 3D or 4D Ride! Personally I really miss the old school rides like Twister, Earthquake and Jaws. I really wish they would bring some of those kind of attractions back!

Now this may offend some people haha, but I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have never read the books and have only seen tiny snippets of the films if my sister, dad or Matt have had them on, I just don’t get the hype. So before we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I must admit I wasn’t really bothered or excited about it. In all honestly I was actually annoyed when they started building the areas as I just couldn’t understand why they had to take over the Universal Parks. Why couldn’t they just build a whole new Harry Potter theme park of its own?

Vent over I promise.

As when I actually stepped foot inside HP World it really did look pretty impressive, even though I had no idea of what shops, streets, people I was looking at, I could still enjoy it and embrace the wizarding experience. Plus the rides are really good too!

 

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Trying Butter Beer – Matt was very disappointed when he realised it wasn’t real beer!

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As we had been on everything we wanted to go on and seen everything we wanted to see, we decided to take the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station over to Hogsmeade Station, located in Islands of Adventure.

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Universal’s Islands of Adventure is also split into 7 sections. Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

We were flagging a bit by the time we made it over to this park, so we decided that our first stop would be lunch at Mythos Restaurant. We needed time out of the heat and we just needed a sit down after all the walking! We opted for a light lunch which arrived quickly and was tasty.

Fuelled and raring to go again, we went out to explore what this park had to offer. Starting with HP Hogsmeade. Again this area was visually stunning and the main ride was full on. Not at all what I was expecting!

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Sorry Matt for making you ride alone!

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The newest attraction at I.O.A which is pretty impressive

Our favourite rides more often than not are the water rides. So by the time it got to late afternoon and we were absolutely sweltering from the heat, we decided it was time to cool off and Toon Lagoon seemed the place to go. Starting with Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls which I was quite scared to go on, the reason I don’t like roller coasters is due to the drops, so when I saw the height of this log flume I panicked but Matt basically forced me to go on and I’m glad he did as I loved it, even though my face tells a different story…

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This photo will forever make me laugh!

Then we found  Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges which is a rapids ride. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much on a ride before. We got absolutely drenched through, but this was by far my favourite ride of the whole day. We even went on for a second time which we filmed on the GoPro.

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Drenched from the water rides!

We made The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man our last ride of the day as it was about 6pm and we were uncomfortable in our wet clothes. We ended up getting changed in the toilets ha, but I was just happy I was dry! I’m so glad we brought a change of clothes and shoes which we kept in our backpacks inside lockers when we were on the rides, as this meant we could then carry on the evening without having to head back to the hotel.

We then spent the evening at Universal CityWalk which is located just outside the entrances of both parks. We mooched around the shops, brought some amazing macaroons at The chocolate Emporium and then finally treated ourselves to cocktails and burgers at Hard Rock Cafe.

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The Texan: Hickory-smoked pulled pork, chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, crispy fried jalapenos & onions all on a toasted brioche bun. Yummmm!

An amazingly fun but long day!

Love, Chloe xx