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!!!

 

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Budapest 2018

We recently spent a lovely 4 days in Budapest, it was a trip to celebrate Matt’s birthday earlier in the month and it was nice to have a few days away together and explore a new city.

Although I booked the trip, I didn’t really set us with an itinerary and we just went with the flow, as soon as we arrived and checked into our hotel we started to explore straight away. Not wasting a minute of our time there we did most of our exploring on foot, that way you get to see so much more and often things you wouldn’t expect. I wont lie, the weather was bitterly cold, but dry at least apart from our last day where we were lucky to experience the wonderful European city in the snow!

I love sharing our little trips with you all, especially our photo’s however, first up is some little things that we did in Budapest that we wanted to share with you all!

  • Don’t take the Budacastle tour by the Buda Hill Funiclar, on our first day we were spoken to by a lovely tour guide that for just an extra 1,000 ft you can get a tour up that will take you all round and you can get on an off wherever you want. However, we soon realised that actually everything at the top (this doesnt include the Citadella), is within walking distance, so if you dont mind a walk and exploring on your own the just get a return trip on the Funiclar and enjoy the walk!
  • When you go to the Central Market Hall, go upstairs first hunt for some souvenirs to take home and have some real Hungarian street food. We did downstairs first, which was great we had some pastries and Duck scratchings (not pork!) before heading upstairs and deeply regretted it. We wished we had gone up there and stuffed our faces before going down to see all the meat, fruit, pastry and cheese stalls!
  • Buy yourself a hop on, hop off ticket for a bus tour – more so in the winter. Its a great way to get around town and with city sightseeing we got a 48hr ticket, including boat tours cheaper than the budacard! We just wanted it for a trip to the Citadella and up to Heroes Square and Szechenyi Bath rather than rely on taxis and walking in the cold weather.
  • Don’t forget your towel & flip flops when visiting a thermal bath! We ended up buying flip flops, which ate into our spending money, but it was so worth it! We paid for a 1 person with a locker and 1 person with a cabin, the cabins are pretty small but we took turns to get changed and it did us fine. We were really lucky, there was no cue and the baths weren’t busy at all, we visited on Saturday morning around 10 am so we were really surprised that it wasn’t full and busy!
  • Head to Szimpla Kert for drinks late afternoon, the best ruin bar in all of Budapest just enjoy the atmosphere and once your done, just walk around the Jewish Quarter there are plenty of places to eat and drink that you cant go wrong – there is something for everyone!
  • Drinks – if your drinking beer and are happy to drink the local stuff (we drank Dreher) then your fine, its around £2 a pint, less if its happy hour. However if your drinking long drinks (vodka/rum), or wine its a bit more expensive. I dont usually drink beer, but in a bid to keep our costs low I decided to give it a go and actually it wasn’t too bad!
  • Food – now, I am not sure if we have expensive taste and we like to eat in nicer places, but we didn’t find food to be much cheaper than we would pay at home which was surprising as everyone said it was really cheap. It didn’t bother us too much, we tried Goulash which we both wanted to do, ate at Beef Heaven which Matt wanted to try and had Breakfast at Circusz which was my choice!

We had a really nice time in Budapest, the history and architecture is amazing, food and drinks were good too! Would we return to Budapest? Possibly not, but that’s purely because we felt we did everything we wanted to do, however I hear the Christmas markets there are amazing so perhaps a return visit just for that?

Love

Emma

Where We Stayed: K+K Hotel Opera – great location!

Where We Drank: Szimpla Kert, Ellato Kert, For Sale Pub, The Pointer Pub

Where We Ate: Beef Heaven by Tuning, Circusz, Spinoza, For Sale Pub, Bazilika Cafe & Restaurant, Hard Rock Cafe (we always eat at one its tradition!), Pizza Me

Cuba

It was a normal Tuesday morning, I checked my “memories” on Facebook and noticed back in 2012 I had uploaded our photos from our trip to Cuba. Looking back at them made me sad, we loved Cuba. It was our first visit to the caribbean, my first long haul all inclusive holiday, our 3rd holiday together. We ate great food, drunk great booze, snorkeled, swam with dolphins and learnt about the beautiful country and met just a handful of amazing people.

We came home promising to return one day, fast forwarding to 2017 and we still haven’t gone back.

Whilst we dabble in holidays and often will look at the deals, recently Cuba has been coming up cheap but we just overlooked it, trying to find cheap deals to Vancouver or Vietnam. Before residing ourselves (hence my comments in a previous post), that due to stuff needing to be done with the house we just wouldn’t be holidaying in 2018.

Then, that Tuesday morning I was talking about above, I get into work getting stuck in to getting stuff done before going on Annual Leave & I get a call. Its Matt. I panic, whats happened, is he ok? He tells me to check my emails……

The content just says whoops and there is an attachment, its confirming a booking…..to Cuba in 168 days.

Shut The Front Door!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I get off the phone and am dumbfounded. I am going on holiday, to Cuba. Where we stayed all those years ago. I literally cannot wait and am super excited.

Then a couple of hours later, I start to worry…..how am I gonna afford it……I will be officially skint until we return in May especially as I have Matt’s surprise birthday trip in January!

Anyway, to get you guys as excited as me, here are a few pics from last time!

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Tips For The Best Vegas Trip

April 2015 Matt, I & another couple headed to Las Vegas for a week! 1 week in Vegas!

We LOVED every second of it, from the shopping, the food, the nights out, the attractions it was just fantastic. It is somewhere that we feel that we would love to return to one day as there is still so much we didn’t do that we would have loved to have done! Plus its constantly changing, there are new shows all the time and new exhibitions and hotels are changing so why not go back!

BUT this isn’t about my time there (although you will some of my snaps)! Its 10 things that not just myself, but friends and family would recommend for a trip to Vegas!

  • See A Show! We saw a Cirque Du Soleil show when we were out there and we both really enjoyed it. I also saw Britney Spears and I know a few people who have seen Rod Stewart as well as countless other shows and loved all of them. Quite often fantastic artists have residencies in Las Vegas hotels, so if you want the last chance to see your favourite artist Vegas is the place to go! 
  • Go To The Grand Canyon! Every single person I have spoken to about Las Vegas has said you cannot go and not go to the grand canyon. We went on a sunset helicopter tour which included a champagne picnic in the canyon, but there are so many different options and there is a suspended walk too that you can do which looks awesome!
  • See The Bellagio Fountains! Fantastic fountains that perform to music and they are spectacular, nothing can really prepare you for them at all! We saw them several times over the week were there but my favourite place to watch them was on the High Roller at The Linq. If you time it right, you can be at the top of the High Roller at the right time to see them in all their glory and it truly is a great sight!
  • Eat At A Buffet! Even if you do it just once, go crazy! We went for a breakfast buffet and had about 10 platefuls of breakfast each! You can could get everything from contiential cheese and hams to breakfast burritos! It was crazy but a good way to fill up until a late night dinner!
  • Downtown Vegas! For me it was probably the tackiest part of Vegas BUT you can’t got to Vegas and not experience it. Its the birth place and where it all began, go and eat at Heart Attack Grill OR Zip Wire through Freemont Street, place a bet in one of the oldest hotels. Honestly, its an experience you wont forget!
  • The Stratosphere! As a base its quite far out from the main strip for my liking, but as an oppertunity to get a 360 view of everything (a side from the high roller), it is the best place to go! Until I went up there I don’t think I truly understood just how much we were in the desert! Now, if you are a bit of a thrill seeker then there are rides you can go on at the top of the tower providing the wind isn’t too bad. It’s not my idea of fun, but it was a giggle to watch some of the rides.

 

  • The Hotels! It goes without saying that the hotels are truly amazing in Vegas, but the fact that your senses are catapulted into a completely different world in every hotel is just beyond belief. I loved the feel of the Bellagio but I also really liked The Venetian AND of course our hotel The Mirage. The fact that at every entrance there was a coconut smell, just tropical really set the scene for me! You could spend days just exploring what every hotel has to offer without doing anything else.
  • Have A Bet! Even if its just one, have a bet! I didn’t win anything, but Matt did a few times and we found a $100 dollar chip. You can do so much in Vegas and not place 1 bet, but I personally dont think you have had a true Vegas experience if you haven’t placed a bet! After all, its what Vegas is known for!
  • The Restaurants! Ok, I have already spoken about buffet’s but the amount of restaurants you can pick from is incredible! I reckon there must be well over 1,000 restaurants in Vegas to choose from so NOBODY and I mean NOBODY can say they didn’t find at least 1 place they liked! Here is just a selection of what we ate during our week there!
  • SHOP! If you are anything like me you love any opportunity you have to do a spot of shopping. If your man is busy in the casino’s and you have a girlfriend with you go and hit the shops, on the strip alone there are 3 malls I can think of straight away for you to spend hours in. But a short taxi ride away you have the choice of 2 outlet malls to explore and spend your money (or his winnings) in!

Well, there you have it, my personal 10 things to make your Vegas trip great! As with every holiday its your personal choice and some of these wont suit everyone, but isn’t that the beauty of getting recommendations? You can pick and choose what is right for you, or maybe even try something different and you might be surprised!

Love

Emma x

Why Am I So Indecisive…..

18. Be In the Audience Of A TV Show
21. Take My Godchildren Out For The Day By Myself

Both of these are being replaced, number 18, because its soo hard to get in the audience – you can get tickets but it’s a case of turn up and see if you can get in to the show – so it’s never guaranteed. Number 21, my godchildren were never my godchildren, I was a honorary godparent to one my friends 2 children. Unfortunately that friendship hasn’t stood the test of time and we now no longer speak or see each other, so 21 is never going to happen.

What I am going to replace these with is really difficult, I have been mulling this over for the last few days and here are the contenders:

Celebrate My Birthday Abroad
Throw A Massive 30th Birthday Party
Go To The Mall Of America
Be A Big Kid At Disneyland

So they are all a bit different, but I need to pick 2 of them! Each have their pro’s and con’s and I have done some research and based on going away in March 2015 (I’m not planning on going away that soon!) it would cost me + 1 other the same price to go to Disneyland Paris for 3 nights (not including park tickets just travel and hotel costs) as it would to go to the Mall of America and my Godparents in Indiana for 10 nights (that includes flight and hotel costs in Minnesota). How does that work?! I would love to go to Disney and just let go and have fun and enjoy myself, but it’s not something that I feel strongly about, but then how can you feel strongly about going to a shopping Mall! Haaahahaha!!!! How about throw a massive 30th Birthday Party – this could cost A LOT or cost a little, I could theme it, invite lots of friends and family and really have a great time. It doesn’t need to be in hall/marquee it could be held in a back garden or a pub etc. It can become a celebration of completing my bucket list! The other one is to celebrate my birthday abroad; it could come in so many different forms, a day in France, a week away or even mix it up with another item on the list!

Although it shouldn’t, it does come down to the cost element. At the point of writing this, I am due to attend an appointment with a Financial Advisor to help me to budget and start saving, as I am trying to save up for the most expensive thing I will ever buy – a home. So whilst my bucket list has to be about things I wouldn’t normally do or things I really want to do before I have to “grow up” it does come down to can I afford it?

I am swaying more towards a party and celebrate my birthday abroad, but then I want to go to the Mall of America……aaah decisions decisions. I can only pick 2, but what 2 will I look back on in 15 years’ time and say “I can’t believe I did that, that was such a great time”. I did have a 18th & 21st Birthday party so do I really need a 30th birthday party?!

Oh what to pick!! Ok, I can’t make the decision now, I am going to sleep on it and think about it later…..

So its now 2 days later, I have written off Disney….here are some Pro’s & Con’s to the rest:

Celebrate My Birthday Abroad
IDEA: Day Trip To France/Week Away All Inclusive Last Minute Holiday
PRO: somewhere new to see/experience a different culture/only needs to be a day or long weekend/could do it for my 30th
CON: who would I go with/is it going to be expensive for a short time
Throw A Massive 30th Birthday Party

IDEA: Garden Party/Could Be On A Cheap Budget – Start Preparing Now/Could Go All Out And Hire Caterers etc
PRO: big celebration/all friends and family together/ good fun
CON: cost/time to organise/had 18th & 21st party – do I need at 30th?
Go To The Mall Of America

IDEA: Girls Trip/Teamed Up With Somewhere Else In US/Possibly Then Onto Uncle Martins
PRO: somewhere new to see/wanted to go for a while/not just a mall there is a theme park too/can team up with somewhere else in the states
CON: cost (approx. £800 for 2 weeks 3nts @ MOA then onto IND inc car hire – based March 2015)/who would come with me

However, this still doesn’t help me as I don’t know what 2 to choose!!!! AHHHHHH!!! Ok, lets regain some composure, I have 4 more birthdays left (including my 30th!) to celebrate my birthday abroad, that means 4 years to plan and pay for a birthday bash – both of these are do-able. Mall of America, if the prices stay the same and say I took £800 spending money, thats £1,600 total – I am sat here thinking

THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY

but I am also thinking that I am only going to live once and a birthday party could actually cost that amount by the end of it. Life is so short why shouldn’t I do the things I wanna do – I cant do it when I’m gone & do I really want to sit when I am 60 and say “I wish I did that?” not really, I want to be telling my grandchildren “I did all these amazing things”.

New York Or Texas??

Since I have come back from holiday, I have been thinking about New York and if I really want to go again just to see some Christmas Lights and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, now I know some of you will be screaming at your screens saying “yes, go!” and others will be thinking “new York – again?!” and I have to say I am one of the latter….

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE New York, every time I have been I have seen different things, but I feel like I am done and need to explore else where. On bucket list is number 20 is Experience Christmas In New York I am thinking about changing it to:

Have Fun In Texas

I have been wanting to go to Texas sometime now and several times I have written up a list of things to do and even blogged about it in my Sunday Wunderlust blogs earlier this year….. https://butterflybucketlist.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/sunday-wanderlust-part-ii/ Its just getting there and doing it that seems to be a problem. Realistically I need to start saving properly to move out, and with the next 3 holidays booked and paid for, I am thinking about celebrating my 30th in Texas?

What do you think?? Why not cast your vote in a comment below:

New York Or Texas???

Em xxx

Sunday Wanderlust Part V

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? So many people bounce that question around and if you are anything like me you will struggle to answer it as there are so many places in the world you want to see…..

National Park

Ok, so I am not a big camper or a massive hiker BUT over the past few months when I am googling America and romantic weekend breaks in the UK a relaxing weekend with nature is just claiming me! I would love to stay in a cabin for a long weekend and just explore nature and just have peace and quiet

Where Would I Stay? I have no clue! I would love to stay in a log cabin, I’m not a tent lover so definitely either a cabin/chalet.

What Would I Do There Relax, Hike, Cycle & just chill out!

Who Would I Take maybe get a group of people to come along, Matt could take his kayak if there was water and we could all have a nice relaxed weekend!