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

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 😉

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^^ How cute is consuela, Bruce and Erin’s dog!? She was adorable but a bit of a diva 😉

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!

Below Deck Bar, Brooklyn Crab

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! 😉

Chicago Part 3! Waffles, Walking and Willis Tower!

Matt and I very rarely do set itineraries for our trips away. Sure we make a list of places we would like to visit or that people have recommended but we never make a set plan or day that we must do things. More often than not we will wake up, see what the weather is like and then wait and see where the day takes us and this is exactly what happened on Tuesday…

Having woken up relatively early for a change, we decided to have breakfast out and headed straight back to Wildberry, we had to see what all the fuss was about!

As you can see the weather was still a bit overcast but it had stopped raining yay!

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I love the photo with the yellow taxi in. Matt took this on his I Phone as we were walking along and I just love how it captures everything American, the theatre, the big Chicago sign, the yellow taxi and of course the American Flags. I can still remember the smell of popcorn in the air when I look at this picture 🙂 and that makes me happy!

We made it to Wildberry and there wasn’t a queue hooray!

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Then came the hard decision..waffles or pancakes, waffles or pancakes.

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Waffles won and look how delicious they were! Lots of fresh berries and drizzled with maple syrup, this is what dreams are made of. I love having dessert type food for breakfast, it’s my favourite! 😉 Matt went for a Skillet as he wanted to try something different as we don’t really have these in the UK, but I don’t have a picture of this sorry! It was pretty big though and came with a choice of toast or pancakes. Oh and before I forget take a look at the way my English Breakfast tea arrived, I’m loving the hot water filled light bulb!

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After breakfast we decided we would walk to The Arts Institute of Chicago, not realising that we would walk through Millennium Park to get there! It’s so pretty and relaxing and we loved all the sculptures and fountains, so much to take in! Below are some photos of just a few things we passed along the way:

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It was nice just having a leisurely stroll after breakfast and then before we knew it we were at The Arts Institute. We used our City Passes again here, so we got to skip the queues and we got free headset guides included too. Matt and I both enjoy art but we are in no way art buffs so these guides were super helpful.

I really wanted to see American Gothic and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. So we headed to those first. I didn’t realise just how big A Sunday Afternoon is and it took George Seurat 3 years to complete! (Painting below)

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We didn’t realise either how many famous artists were displayed at The Arts Institute. Below are just a few of our favourites:

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^^ Claude Monet

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^^ American Gothic by Grant Wood

10383096_10155576961385092_7657807459786228528_n^^ The Red Armchair by Pablo Picasso

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^^ Visions of Eternity by Salvador Dali

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^^ Matt liked the black one and I liked the white one, don’t you find it strange that we like the opposite of each other? Unfortunately and very bad of me, I didn’t take down what these we’re called or who they were by, but we really liked them!

After exploring all the different areas of The Arts Institute and discussing which pieces were our favourites and what we would like in our house 😉 we decided to head to The Willis Tower. Breakfast was definitely filling as we didn’t even stop for lunch and for once I wasn’t thinking about food!! ha.

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This was one of the things I had added to the ‘list’. For some reason wherever we go in the World I have to visit Madame Tussauds (if there is one) lol lame for some people I know, and I also have to do a skydeck or viewing tower of some sort. I just like being high up and seeing the overall view of the place we are visiting.

So up we went 103 floors to check out the views:

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I love how Chicago has the mixture of the calmness of the lake with the crazy built up city right next door.

But then I spotted it.. the queue for The Ledge, this is what I had really been wanting to do!

The Ledge is a fully enclosed large glass box that extends 4 feet out of the side of the Willis Tower, 103 floors up. You’re meant to see never before seen views of the city..look down if you dare!

Matt isn’t really a fan of heights and so didn’t want to do this, so he sat and waited for me, while I joined the queue. It took a while as so many groups of people wanted to do group photos, single photos, you get the idea. Personally I feel they could run this a bit better with proper roped off queues and maybe staff manning it but I guess it wasn’t too bad a wait.11152686_10155576949460092_4821356471886446434_n

Then it was my turn, the initial step out is weird you really do feel like your about to step off the side of the building, but once that first rush of adrenaline is over you quickly take it all in, it’s a really cool idea and I even managed to take a photo sat down.

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Excitement over, we headed back down to the ground and slowly walked back to the apartment, stopping to pop in a few shops along the way and picking up some snacks and alcohol for the evening, as we had decided to stay in and watch the basketball.

We got back to the apartment and crashed on the sofa together, not realising just how much walking we had done or how long we had been out for! But it was such a good day sightseeing.

That evening we met up with Jason and Christina in the games room of the building. It was nice to just chill after a busy day and fill them in on our adventures. We played pool, we watched the basketball and we ordered in Ribs from Carson’s which were delicious. Why don’t people offer take away ribs here yet?

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Just check out those bibs!

Love, Chloe xx