Vegas II

Hey!

Have you been keeping up with our January adventures? Ready for the final installment? If you haven’t read the last posts, click here and you can catch up!

So, as the title says, this is all about our very unexpected few days in Vegas, it was our 2nd trip and we both had a really good time. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold & it wasn’t busy at all, so we were able to freely and aimlessly wonder round the strip without walking along like cattle. It was great & I would definitley head back to Vegas this time of year again, but perhaps in a few years time.

In true fashion, here is a a few bits about our trip & hopefully give you some inspiration if you are thinking of heading that way on your travels!

Where did we stay?

As you know we booked last minute for Vegas, it was booked around 7pm Amsterdam time and we flew 10am UK time the following morning. We looked at staying at the Bellagio, but it was just a little bit (when I say little bit I mean like £20) too expensive compared to what deal we could get staying at The Mirage. We have stayed at this hotel before in 2015 (you can read about that here), so we knew what to expect, where it was and we just wanted a bargain and also something we knew wouldn’t let us down. Mind you saying that, all the hotels on the strip are amazing that I dont think you can ever feel disappointed.

I don’t think I took many photos of the hotel this time round, but not a lot has changed in 4 years really, so for us we didn’t need the photos. Our room was on the 14th floor, we had a king-size bed and a gorgeous views of the mountains (and trump tower). We didn’t eat at the Mirage this time round, we just didn’t fancy any of the restaurants they had on offer. Matt did some gambling at the roulette table and each time came away with more money than he started with so its always a win.

So details about the Mirage, its pretty central on the strip, opposite the Venetian & next to Caesars Palace. The casino area is quite large, but they are surrounded by various restaurants and bars as well as the large theatre for the cirque du soleil Beatles show – which I hear is fantastic!

Would we stay there again? Yes, I would have no problem staying there for a 3rd time, but if we went to Vegas again then we would definitely like to try somewhere new, perhaps Bellagio, Paris or Wynn (which is sooo beautiful!)

What did we do?   

Well, as we booked this with less than 24hrs notice, we didn’t really have time to plan what we wanted to do, but with 10hrs on the flight out there we were able to have a rough idea of what we wanted.

So, top of our list was to do bits that we didn’t get round to doing last time, so pictures at the Las Vegas sign was a must, going up the Eiffel Tower and Coyote Ugly!! So we didn’t have a lot on on our to-do list, so we figured we would fill the rest of our time wondering the strip, eating good food, shopping and drinking!

On our first day there, we had to get some dollars and new undies as we were drastically running low, so after dumping our bags we headed straight to Fashion Show Mall, picked up the bits we needed and bits we didn’t need and headed back to the room. After a quick change we decided to just venture out on the strip and go exploring, we were both quite tired so we ended up on the area called Off The Strip, which is part of The Linq hotel in a sports bar having a few drinks and some great food – Matt was even treated by our waiter to a free birthday desert!

Our 2nd day the weather wasn’t on our side, it was spitting with rain in the morning and we weren’t really sure what to do, we knew we didn’t want to do the landmarks in this weather so decided to buy a day pass for the deuce bus and head up to the North Shopping Outlet for a few hours. We ended up there for around 6hrs and the weather brightened up too. We got some really good bargains and spent quite a bit money, the deals were insane, heavily discounted as its an outlet mall but January sales on top were great! That evening we went for a late dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe followed buy a fun few hours in Coyote Ugly dancing, drinking and really letting our hair down.

Our last full day the weather was fantastic, no jackets needed at all and I spent the day in jeans and a cami. After breakfast we headed up the Eiffel Tower, went on the NYNY Rollercoaster for the 2nd time & took some photos at the famous Las Vegas sign. However, after a plea from my brother and Matt’s feeling that he hadn’t bought enough, we ended up back at the outlet getting more goodies! That evening we didn’t stay out too late, we had some good food at Bubba Gumps and enjoyed just walking up and down the strip.

Our last morning was spent getting last minute souvenirs, popping in and out of hotels & spending the last few hours having sweet tea and wings – my perfect combo!

What did we eat?

We sampled some really good food in Vegas, but I wouldn’t say we went out of our way to try new things and restaurants we haven’t been to, we went for things we knew we would love and make the most of the time there.

We hit up Denny’s for breakfast twice (we just needed a big hit of pancakes haha!) and our other stop was HEXX kitchen & bar which is part of Paris. All 3 breakfast’s were amazing, but my favourite and probably Matt’s too was HEXX, the atmosphere was so relaxed and chilled, the food was great and the service was really attentive.

We also ate/drunk at Yard House, Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Cafe, Virgils Real BBQ, Jamba Juice, Starbucks. I really enjoyed our time eating & drinking in the area called Off The Strip which is located at The Linq. The food at Yard House was soo good, the atmosphere with it being full of various different beers, sports on TV and just relaxed atmosphere was such a nice vibe. The same at Virgils, there was no rush the sweet tea was gorgeous, the service was great and the wings, oh my word the wings…..just sooo good! We are really big foodies so we want to make sure we eat good and I definately think we hit a good few spots!

So that’s it for our brief and unexpected trip to Vegas! 2 times we have been now and both times were so different and we experienced such different things and that is what I love about Vegas. Each time you go you can experience such a different holiday each time its brilliant. Just keep an eye out on deals and book your trip – you wont regret it!

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Amsterdam

If you have read my most recent post (if not don’t worry you can catch up here), you will know we recently spent 48hrs in Amsterdam. We had a lovely time and it was the first time we have been away together since my birthday last August, so it was good to just be away together exploring a new city.

I wanted to share with you a few bits about our trip & hopefully give you some inspiration if you are thinking of heading that way on your travels!

Where did we stay?

We spent 2 nights at Hotel Estheréa, which is located on Singel Canal. It is a BEAUTIFUL boutique hotel, the decor is simply stunning and they could not do enough for you. We checked in around 9 am, they took our bags offered us free tea, coffee and little sweet snacks in the butterfly room should we want it at any point, but advised that our room would not be ready until around 1 pm and to head back then. When we returned from our travels, we were a little early so took full advance of the butterfly room, free drinks and gorgeous log fire – it was much needed after spending a good few hours in the Amsterdam cold. We were given our room key and told that when we head out to hand the key back in, they are rather large and heavy so they don’t want them getting lost and to be honest I couldn’t imagine carrying it round all day/evening. Our room was stunning and I am gutted I didn’t get any pictures, but it was a lovely blue with a canal view, the bathroom was massive, it include a his & hers sinks and a full bath! I was in heaven and knew instantly that whilst Matt had a nap that I would take full advantage and have my first bath since we renovated our bathroom at home. What was really great about the hotel and I wish we had taken more notice was the free tablet that they give you in your room. We took a quick glance and it had some hints and tips and a map function, they even allow you to take it out the hotel, but we just didn’t bother – had we have had more time I think it would have been a really useful tool! Breakfast wasn’t included, but it was available as an extra, we didn’t take this up but the reviews on Trip Advisor are really good – so I would say its definitely worth a try!

 

What did we do?   

When I booked this trip, I took lots of advice from friends who had been there recently as well as doing my research online. I like to think that I know Matt pretty well and what he would enjoy, so straight away I knew I wanted to book us on to the Heineken Experience and a Cheese Tasting Experience. I was really interested in booking us on a canal tour, but I had heard and read mixed reviews & I wasn’t sure if it was something he would be interested in doing, so I had some reserve money aside should we wanted to have done that whilst we were there (turns out we didn’t!).

Anyway back to what we did do!

The Heineken experience, I booked us in for the last one of the day so that we could carry on our evening after having some free tasters! Almost classed it as pre-drinks haha! So the experience is completely led by you – you can walk round as fast or as slow as you want, it can be as interactive as you want it to be. If you want to get involved with activities as you walk round you can, but if you would rather just rush round and go straight to the bar then you can do that too. We had a lovely time learning all about how the Heineken brand came to where it is today, my favourite bit has to be when you are made into a pint (I think it was called). Its like a 3d ride, its brilliant, just a video really but you get to see lots of different bits and the room moves and vibrates which is pretty cool! All in all you get 2.5 pints, but you can buy more if you want to AND you can play for more pints in the pint pouring competition (which I have to say I won!)! By the time we left, about 2hrs later I was definitely a bit woozy, Matt can obviously hold his drink better than me.

It was really tough for me to book a cheese tasting experience, I looked at about 3 all in all, but what won me over and really swayed my decision was the trip advisor reviews. So I booked with Reypenaer Cheese, it promised an hour of tasting paired with different wines and other drinks, there were 3 time choices to book into and I chose the one at midday, thinking that would give us the rest of the afternoon to do some sight seeing. However, during our first day there I got an email asking for us to change to 2 pm as there was no-one else booked onto our tasting and that they would rather move us to 2 pm when others are booked in as the experience is much better in a group. After a chat between us, we agreed to be moved and I am glad we did, it wouldn’t have been the same if it was just the 2 of us. We had a just over an hour in a room dedicated to cheese tasting, overall we had 5 or 6 cheeses to taste, all Gouda cheese but some where goats cheese and I am not a massive goats cheese lover. During the tasting experience we were encouraged to note down the flavours we were tasting and smelling, we were taught the best way to cut cheese (thinly if your wondering!) and what to pair it with. I even tried (and loved) a red wine that we tried – I definitely need to give red wine another go and pair it with a few nice cheeses! At the end of the tasting, if you fill out your form and get it signed off your giving a certificate that if you present this each time you shop there you get a discount! That was the only 2 set things we did whilst we were there, obviously we were typical tourists and walked for miles taking in all the sights that Amsterdam had to offer!

What did we eat?

Firstly, don’t be mad! We probably didn’t really explore what food delights Amsterdam had to offer, but we only really had 3 meals there – but that is part of the reason I want to go back – I want to try more! So, we ate (as we always try to when we are away) at The Hard Rock Cafe, wherever we go we always try to eat there – its become a thing and we love it, even if it is generic! Then during a drunken haze after booking to go to Vegas, we tried to sober up with a late night McDonalds! However, the 1 independent place that we ate breakfast at and was truly amazing was The Happy Pig Pancake Shop, the pancakes were the best I have had in a long time and it was so filling and such a good price. It was just round the corner from our hotel and we both really liked the fact that you could pick your own fillings and see them being made FRESH there was none pre-made, everything was made fresh to order which was really great. Now we do love our sweet tooth and we definitely wanted to try stroopwaffels whilst we were there, so in an emergency purchase after our McDonalds on the way back to our hotel to pack we stopped off at a bakery, picked up a packet of stroopwaffels for us to try and a muffin each that was warmed up and drizzled in a chocolate sauce topping of our choice. I am gutted that I don’t remember eating this, but I am pretty sure from my face that I enjoyed it!

 

Well, that’s our time in Amsterdam in a nutshell really, it feels like a lifetime ago now. I guess one question I always get after our travels is would I go back? YES! 100% would love to go back to Amsterdam, perhaps in warmer weather so we can see the Tulip fields and experience the city in the summer, but I would love to go back with a bit more time so we can properly explore and take full advantage of all the different foods there are on offer!

Crazy Week

Last week Matt & I had the week booked off work, we had 3 days away planned for Matt’s birthday and a few days at home to relax and take it easy. Unbeknownst to Matt we were heading to Amsterdam on the first flight out Monday morning, I had some great things planned and an amazing hotel booked.

We arrived in Amsterdam early Monday morning and after checking in just started exploring, walking everywhere checking out all the neighbourhoods and seeing what this beautiful city had to offer. That evening I had booked us a slot at the Heineken Experience which we really enjoyed (more about that in a dedicated post for Amsterdam) and on the way back into the main part of the city we got to see all the lights that were up for the light festival. There were some amazing light sculptures and it really was cool to see.

The following morning was a bit of a lazy one, we got up late headed for breakfast and walked towards Anne Frank’s house, we weren’t booked in for a tour but I just wanted to see the house. There are so many beautiful places in Amsterdam, we really like just taking a turn and seeing where we end up and it felt like every corner we took there was something to see & nothing is too far from anything.

Early afternoon we did a cheese tasting experience (we are both massive foodies and love nothing more than cheese and chutney!) which was great. We both tried things (cheese & wine) that we wouldn’t have usually and it definitely broadened our horizons as to what we will be getting when we next visit the supermarket.

Once that was over we decided we would do our own little pub crawl and just hit a few pubs and bars for the rest of the day before figuring out where we would eat. In what I think was our 2nd pub, Matt turned to me and said “shall we go to Vegas tomorrow?”. I genuinely thought he was joking, we are never that spontaneous and we still had 1 day of exploring to do in Amsterdam, however I had about 4 pints in me by this point! Out came my phone and opened up my Expedia app and did a search, I was shocked when 3 nights at The Mirage came up for £921 for both of us!!! The only problem was the flight left at 10.10am and our flight home was in the evening, with just £50 to change our flight we did that then booked Vegas, just like that. It was booked and done within 10 minutes.

I must have checked us in and everything as when I woke up the next morning our boarding passes were in my inbox. However what I do remember is my massive strop and leaving the pub in rage, as I remembered that we didn’t have any ESTA Visa’s and we couldn’t get into the website at the pub. Back at the hotel in a calm environment Matt managed to complete his application and get authorisation within about 10 minutes. Me on the other hand, I couldn’t get the picture of my passport to load up, I kept missing things out on the form and after about 45 mins when I was ready to give up the application went through. I kept reloading the page and it kept saying application pending, by this point I was shouting at Matt that we had wasted almost £1,000 on a holiday that wasn’t going to happen and it was a really stupid idea.

With that he made me get my coat and shoes back on and we headed to MacDonalds for a quick bite to eat, as either way we needed to be up at 5am to get the 7am flight home we had changed to! Stood waiting for my burger Matt asked me to refresh my internet page, in the wishful hope that something would have changed. I think my face must have been a picture as it said Application Authorised!! That was it, we were going to Vegas – time to go back to the hotel and pack up our stuff!

Wednesday was around 32hrs long and the first part was reallly stressful! It was full of worry that our flight would be delayed back to Gatwick, we wouldn’t make it to the south terminal to get our Vegas flight. However luck seemed to be on our side, our flight back to London was 45mins rather than the hour and 20 it should have been and the connecting shuttle bus was there waiting for us when we got to connections. We arrived at Gatwick South Terminal with 2hrs to spare, perfect amount of time to get more deodorant and some quick brekkie! However at this point I still didn’t believe we were going, even when we were sat on our flight and taking off it felt very surreal.

Sat in Gatwick waiting to board we had to get travel insurance, extend our parking booking and figure out what we were going to do about dollars – I will share all my tips with you in a separate Vegas post!

We landed in Vegas and headed straight to our hotel, checked in dumped our bags in our beautiful room over looking Trump Tower and the stunning mountains in the background, but there was no time to stop we needed pants and socks we didn’t bring extra’s so needed more to keep us going!

We had such a fun adventure in Vegas, we ate really good food, drunk lots, shopped even more and just really ended our already amazing week off in such a fantastic style!

We are so lucky that Matt is such a good saver otherwise it would never have happened, I am so rubbish with money BUT this has made me want to do better. I want to have a comfortable amount in the bank so that if we want to go off and have a spontaneous adventure we can and I have us covered – nothing like an independent woman!

If this last week has taught me anything its to seize every opportunity you have and make the most of every moment you get!

I can’t wait to see what the other 11 months bring us in 2019, as this first month has been AMAZING!!!

 

It’s Been A While

Last time I posted it was a quick post, just some thoughts I had and things that I wanted to share. That’s pretty much how last year went with my blog, I stopped trying to post regular content that I didn’t care about & started posting when I felt strongly that I had something to share.

2018 was a roller coaster of a year, it was full of so much laughter and so much frustration all in one go! There are a lot of things that I will look back and remember fondly in 2018 including moving into a new decade.

So we are 5 days into 2019, I have been thinking today a lot about what I am going to achieve this year – I have never been someone for setting resolutions, but there are goals that I have for this year. So I thought I would share them with you!

  • Sky Dive – FINALLY!! I booked in to do this in August and it got cancelled due to poor weather, but I am going to re-book for Spring and I will jump out that bloody plane!
  • Go back to Yoga – its been a few years, but I loved it before & it has been proven to help PCOS. So this year, I am going to get back on it and become a master of zen!
  • Get to target – for so many years I have wanted to get to target, my life has been consumed by a number on the scales. 2018 I finally started to like what I saw in the mirror, but this year, this year I am going to hit target when I feel comfortable & not when the scales tell me I should.
  • Save – Save – Save! I ended 2018 with £46 in my savings account – how poor is that. £46 , what a shambles. This year I want to regularly be putting money aside so that I have a back up if I need it, or perhaps a pot so I can book that last minute holiday or buy that pair of jeans.
  • Read – I love to read & I am one of those people where I either read 10 books in 10 days or read nothing for 6 months. So this year I want to read more, I want to read at least 1 book every month. Send me your suggestions!!

So there you have it, things I want to achieve in 2019. I know I wrote a mini bucket list on here a while back, I am going to take a look this evening and see what I can add, perhaps I will do a 40 things before I am 40!

What would you like to achieve in this fresh new year?

Emma xx

It Takes A Village

Recently we celebrated my brothers 21st he had a big party with his nearest and dearest. It was lovely to see our family friends, people that have been there through our whole lives.

I have been reflecting on so many of the nice things people were saying about my brother that night and the kind words they said to me as well. I have taken a step back and when I think of everyone that was there that night and on my 21st, each and every one of them have helped my mum and dad mould my brother & I into the people we are today.

That saying it takes a village to raise a child is so true! My parents have been gifted with some phenomenal life long friends & our wider family is one of the closest I have encountered. All of those people have really helped to shape the people we have become.

I then realised that Matt & I are part of other peoples villages. We could and are shaping youngsters that are around us, impacting their lives, helping build their characters. Completely unknowingly we could be playing a part in what their future will be.

How magical is that!

When I think about raising a child, I look around who Matt & I have in our lives and who will be part of our village. I know that we have some of the most wonderful friends and family that we adore & I am confident our village will be the loudest, happiest, funniest & full of love – I cant wait.

But most of all, I hope our village when we need it, will be just like the one that has helped raise me. Because without every single member of the village that has surrounded me with love, I would not be who I am today.

I dont say it enough, but Thank-you!

Emma xxxx

New Beginnings

Wow, can you believe its November?! It is the 11th Month of the year and for those of us that wanted to achieve great things this year, time is quickly running away from you!

I am super excited that its November, we are closer to being able to play Christmas music, the weather is getting colder (FINALLY) and its even more acceptable to close the door when you get in and not leave the house again until you have to go to work the next day. However, there are a lot more exciting things happening in November & it has dawned on me recently, that its a month of new beginnings!

For me, I have a new start coming at work, I step into a new role for maternity cover. Its still a management position but will give me a new challenges and the opportunity to learn more about the industry that I work in, whilst one of my lovely friends has her first baby and starts a new life as a family of 3 (or 5 if you include the doggies!).

One of my closest friends is starting a new chapter in her life as a married woman, after a whirlwind romance and finally finding her soulmate she is walking down the aisle mid November to the love of her life. I cannot wait to spend the day with them, celebrate their love and wish them well as they step forward together into married life.

For the first time EVER, I am going to have all my Christmas shopping finished and completed by 30th November. I refuse to go into December with presents still to buy. I want everyone crossed off my list so that I can spend December wrapping, writing cards & making the most out of the Christmas month and not being one of those people rushing round at the last minute.

After feeling like I haven’t seen the past few months, I am going to make sure that I take the time to really slow down and enjoy myself this month & make the most of everything that we have planned. I dont want to look back at the end of year and feel like I wasted half of my year on feeling negative.

So November, lets kick start the last part of the year with nothing but happiness and positivity.

Emma x

This post has been really hard to write, mainly because I just dont have much energy at the moment just feel exhausted to make the effort to do anything. Most days I just want to be in my PJs watching re-runs of friends and just not using my brain. But today, when I was hanging out my washing I realised it was October and that the past 2.5 months of my life have just gone by in a massive blur and I feel like I have just been carried along and not really living it.

Do you ever feel like that, where you are just watching your life go by but aren’t really in it?

I have had a difficult couple of months at work, I wont go in depth as I cant, but its been tough and really pushed me to my limit, tested my strength and I have got to the point where I have been generally just worn down. Initially I was solidering on and found it easy to let work end at 5pm and leave everything at the door, but over the past month I have found my attitude and approach at work has got to a place where I am constantly negative, stressed and exhausted. I like to think that I am the type of manager that can keep a game face on, but even that has slipped recently and I have noticed that whilst at work I am not the person I know I am normally & I have morphed into someone who I never wanted to become. What makes it even worse is that I have noticed this is seeping into my personal life & whilst I still think I am putting a good face on things, I am just going through the motions.

So whilst there has been a truck load of stuff going on at work, there has been a truck load of stuff going on in my personal life that I dont even think I have had chance to process. I turned 30 in August and whilst I know I had a good time at that point, I cant say I made memories which hurts, a lot. When I truly ask myself why I didn’t make any memories, I feel its because I think I have got myself to a point where I dont want to feel anything anymore because everything I have been feeling recently is negativity and I just dont want to feel that way any more.

I wanted to start taking care of myself more, but its just not happening, I am not looking after me & putting me first. I want to get some positive space back in my life, I want to actually start to feel something other than exhausted, sad, angry, tired, stressed. I want to enjoy food again and eat because I enjoy it not because I need it to survive.

So what am I going to do – I genuinely dont know, but something needs to adjust in my life and I feel if I can get myself back on track personally then I hope that will start to seep through to my work life and I will start to get that work/life balance again. I am going to try removing myself from technology when I am in our bedroom, I want to start writing again more and reading more, I enjoy doing that and its a release for me & perhaps is a reason why I haven’t been able to get control lately. I have started to look at affirmations and giving myself things to remind myself of every morning, switch up my routine to include doing things I enjoy just generally start enjoying myself again.

I feel like this has been a complete ramble and that is a very accurate display of how my brain is working at the moment, just a mash of a lot of things and nothing really is getting completed.

I have so many great things coming up over the next couple of months and my favourite time of year is just round the corner and I feel like if I dont do something now then nothing its going to get better. So although tonight I am alone as Matt is working late, I am going to for the first time, leave my phone outside of the bedroom, I am going to write down 5 affirmations to read every night before bed and every morning when I wake up.

I will beat this funk that I have got myself in and I will get back to me.