Sunday, April 30, 2017

Part 9 - Las Vegas & LA (better late than never)

So I'm not really sure what happened, and why I didn't finish the blog after we got home in early September 2016!  But it's now almost May 2017!  I guess better late than never!  Hopefully I remember everything.

Our flight from Orlando arrived in the early evening and we headed over to the car rental centre to pick up our car.  After not getting our Chevy Tahoe in the earlier part of the trip, Wade decided to upgrade our car here so we could get it here for the last part of the holiday and our drive back to LA. The only problem was that when we got upstairs to select the car - there were no Tahoes available.  We ended up having to take a Ford Expedition which Wade was not pleased about!

We made our way to our hotel (via Walmart to pick up drinks and snacks).  This trip we decided to stay at the Cosmpolitan for the first time - and now that we have stayed there I don't think we would ever stay anywhere else!  Our room was amazing.  It had a separate bedroom and living area, kitchen and best of all - a balcony that overlooked the Bellagio Fountain.

Our first full day in Vegas we had a late start and decided to hit the Bellagio Buffet for lunch (instead of our usual dinner).  It ended up being a lot quieter (ie. we didn't have to wait as long in the line), and meant that we got the tail end of the breakfast food, as well as the start of the lunch/dinner food.  After this we decided to take a walk through Caesars to do some shopping.  However, Wade - who can't let go of anything when it comes to cars - was still not over the fact that he didn't get the car he wanted, so he decided to contact the rental car company to see if he could swap the car!  It appeared that he should be able to so at this point we split up and he went to deal with the car and I kept on shopping and met back at the hotel later in the afternoon!  And yes - he did succeed and got the Chevy Tahoe in the end!

Later that afternoon we decided to hit the hotel pool.  There were two towers to our hotel and the pool in our tower was considered the party pool (as opposed to the swimming pool!!).  I must say it was a very strange experience!  We arrived, eventually found some lounges on the poolside and grabbed a few drinks from the bar.  The pool itself was pointless - there was one small section that was waist deep, and the rest of the pool was basically ankle deep, with chairs & lounges in it.  We took a dip (that's about all you could call it) and hung out on the lounge chairs for a while and had a few drinks.  It all just felt super awkward to me - clearly we aren't "party pool" people! We eventually found some foosball tables so played that for a while which was fun (I think I may have even beaten Wade on one occasion), and had a few more drinks, before calling it quits.  For dinner we grabbed a few pizzas and hung out on the balcony for ages watching the fountain.

One of the things Wade has always wanted to do on our trips, but never has before, is go to a gun range.  We had no major plans for our time in Vegas, so had plenty of time and on our second full day, we ventured down to the gun range and Wade got to have a go at using a range of different guns, while I watched on.  He really enjoyed it (although you probably can't tell from the photos and the serious face - apparently you don't smile when having your photo taken with a gun!!!).

The rest of our time in Vegas was spent either shopping in different locations (mall, outlets, casinos) or relaxing on the balcony, with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory on our final night in Vegas!

Our final day of our holiday was spent driving from Las Vegas to LA.  There is always so much time to fill on the final day before heading to the airport for the late night flight home.  So we decided to do the Warner Brothers backlot tour again (we had done it a few years before as well) to kill some time.  Every tour is always a bit different, so we saw and heard about alot of stuff that we hadn't previously.  After that it was a final (usual) stop at the Westfield Culver City to kill a bit more time and pick up a few last minute things, before heading to the airport and checking in for our flight home.  Thankfully as we were flying business class we got to use the lounge again, so were able to have showers, and grab something to eat while waiting out the rest of our time.

It really was a great trip (even though we had done alot of it before), and was a much needed change of scenery for us after what had been a pretty awful year to date.

Here are some photos from our last few days:

Views from our room

Night shots along the strip

Terrible photo but this is our hotel

Wade at the gun range

Backlot Tour

Me holding a real Oscar!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Part 8 - Orlando (Disney World)

After finishing our morning at Universal Studios, we checked into our Disney World hotel.  Once this was sorted, it was then over to Epcot - the first of many parks we would visit over the next few days.  Epcot has two parts to it - Future World and World Showcase and World Showcase has sections themed for different countries.  One of the things Wade had been wanting to do here was the Epcot Bar Crawl (ie. drink your way around the world)!  Our first stop was Mexico, where Wade got his first beer and I got a frozen margarita!  I didn't know it at the time, but this was actually my first and last drink on the drinking tour (not sure if it was the volume of alcohol in the drink, the fact that it was stinking hot or just that I am really weak)!  While I was still struggling with the margarita, Wade moved onto Norway and another beer.  When we got to Germany we decided some food (ie. a pretzel) and another beer for Wade was in order.  It was here that we made friends with Dave the duck (pretty sure he was using us because we were feeding him pretzel, but I'm ok with that)!  Next stop was Japan and another beer for Wade and a bottle of water for me (very sad I know)!  The final stop for the drinking tour was the UK where Wade managed another beer and me....nothing!

Part of our package at Disney World was a dining package where we got a snack, a quick service meal and a table service meal each per day.  We took the opportunity to try a bunch of the different themed restaurants for dinner each night.  Our first at Epcot was the Coral Reef Restaurant, where you ate surrounded by a very large aquarium.  We got lucky with a table right at the aquarium, where we saw lots of fish, stingray, sharks and a sea turtle while we ate.

We had a sleep in the next morning, and then drove over to Disney Springs (which used to be known as the Downtown Disney area) where they have lots of shops and restaurants.  It has changed alot since the last time we were there so we took some time to wander around and have some lunch.  That afternoon we headed over to the Hollywood Studios park, where we hit some of our favourite rides - Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock 'n Rollercoaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  Our dinner that night was at a restaurant themed as an old drive in theatre, called Sci-Fi Dine-in Theatre Restaurant, which was a fun experience.  We finished dinner just in time to catch the night time show, which was a Star Wars themed show.

The next day we hit Animal Kingdom.  I love this park because of all the animals, but it also has a great rollercoaster, Expedition Everest.  We did the animal safari ride twice, and both times saw different things.  After we had finished at the park, we went back to our hotel for a swim and a break.  That night our dinner was at one of the other resorts, Disney's Beach Club Resort, where we went to the Cape May Cafe - a New England themed buffet.  The resort here was really nice (we kind of wished we were staying there) and the buffet was pretty good too!

The next day we had no plans to go to any parks in the morning, so decided to have a sleep in and then take a drive out to Daytona Beach, which was about an hour and a half a way.  We didn't really have any expectations about what it would be like, which was lucky because the main part of Daytona Beach was pretty awful!  We had to laugh when we saw the sign stating it was the most famous beach in the world!  As we drove further away from the main section, it got a bit nicer, and we pulled in at one section and took a walk on the beach and put our feet in the water.  One interesting thing about the beach here is that you could drive on it (we didn't) and park your car in the spot you wanted to hang out for the day!

After we arrived back in Orlando from Daytona Beach, it was off to Animal Kingdom again for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, and also to do the animal safari at night (which is a fairly new thing here).  As different animals are active at different times of the day it meant that we saw different things again, than we had on the day time safari.  We also rode the Expedition Everest rollercoaster again in the dark, which I think was even better than riding it during the day.

One of the things we hadn't yet done at Epcot was the Frozen ride (which we mostly wanted to do because we know how much Milly loves Frozen)!  Unfortunately, there aren't many rides at Epcot, and because this is a relatively new ride and such a popular movie, everytime we tried to go the wait time was over an hour and there was no way we were lining up for that long!  So Sunday morning, we checked the wait times and saw it was only 30 minutes - which we could handle - so quickly got our stuff together and headed over to Epcot.  By the time we got there though, the wait time was 70 minutes.... so we gave it a miss and grabbed some lunch instead!!  Sunday afternoon, we went across to Magic Kingdom and in between thunderstorms, we went on all the rides that we wanted to!

Sunday night our dinner reservation was at a restaurant at Disney Springs - Bongo's Cuban Cafe.  This was a very lively restaurant with lots of music and dancing happening.  While all our night time meal experiences were good at Disney, this was definitely the best (both our main meal and desserts were amazing)!  And after a bit of post dinner shopping, we called it quits and headed back to the hotel.

It was time to check out of our Disney hotel on Monday morning, but our flight to Las Vegas wasn't until late afternoon.  So after checking out we made our way back to Hollywood Studios to go on our favourite rides one last time.

Here are some pictures from our time at Disney World!

Epcot (drink your way around the world!)

Our new friend - Dave the Duck!

Me drinking the hard stuff!

Dinner at the Coral Reef Restaurant

Wandering around Disney Springs

Hollywood Studios (and our favourite ride)

Star Wars stuff!

I definitely got my duck fix at Disney World!

Dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre

Star Wars night show at Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom

Disney's Beach Club Resort (where we had our dinner at Cape May's buffet)

Daytona Beach (apparently the most famous beach in the world........)

More ducks!

Magic Kingdom

Wade gets great pleasure in trying to make me vomit on this ride!

Finishing off our time at Disney with a duck photo!