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So we got the opportunity to go to Vegas in July. Will was doing a work thing so I obviously had to go to keep him company but we did make a holiday of it. Here are some amazing photos and info to help you plan your trip to vegas or just if you wanna see what we got up to. We were staying at The Palazzo and Will being Will did a bit of research on how to make sure you get a good room with a view and any other little extras. So on arrival at the check-in desk he folded $20 note gave it in with his passport to the receptionist as he had read somewhere this is a good trick. The receptionist was very friendly and knew Will was here for a conference so she kindly gave me free breakfast coupons for the restaurant for the entire 5 mornings we were staying there which easily saved us $15 every morning. Will also asked if there were any rooms with a nice view. Here was the result of the request. Not sure if it was the tipping that helped or if we would of got the free breakfast and good view but will defiantly try it again elsewhere.
The free breakfast was great sausage/bacon/ham with eggs and a huge hash brown that took up half the plate swigged down with a mug of coffee. We just chilled the first morning went for a swim and explored the complex. The Venetian and The Palazzo are a huge resort themed around Venice and all things classy and Italian. Designer shops everywhere, bars and restaurants.
We then couldn’t help ourselves and went shopping to the premium outlets. There are 2 in vegas, 1 to the North of the strip and the other South of the airport. We went to the South but later discovered the North was better after a conversation with a lady in the lift. So went there later on in the week was defiantly better than the South outlet. Costs around $20 in a taxi or there is buses you can get. Worth a visit Will stocked up on loads of work gear shirts/trouser/boxer shorts from Tommy Hilfiger/Timberland/bananarepublic. I on the other hand couldn’t tare myself away from the 50% discount in Kate Spade.
Town square is also another nice outdoor shopping area just 5 mins drive from the south outlets. Not a discount place but quiet, nice shops and places to eat.
We went to Yard House at Town Square which has a huge choice of beers and happy hours 3pm-6pm. There is also another Yard House on the strip at The Linq which is part of Ceasers Palace resort and is home to a huge London Eye style viewing wheel and also lots more shops, bars and restaurants. This one however doesn’t have a happy hour.
Ok so on day 2 was spent some time exploring the casinos. We skipped our free breakfast and went to The Wynn for their breakfast buffet $20. It was really good had a big selection of food all tasted fresh and had great service. After breakfast we had a little go on the slot machines and had a few free drinks which was fun and ended up only $5 down.
Will then headed to his conference and I did more shopping!! This time in The Fashion Show Mall across the road from The Wynn. Great mall had department stores such as Macys, Nordstrom & Neiman Marcus. A huge Forever21, Free People and Kate Spade.
That evening we went to The Mandarin Oriental to their bar on the 23rd floor. A beautiful bar and amazing views of the strip and the best cocktails ive ever had. Cocktails $18 but so worth it and you pay £7 upwards for a decent cocktail in the UK in a bog standard bar so a definite must if you like views and cocktails. We shared the ribs on the menu so tasty.
After our cocktails we walked around the casinos in that area. The Aria, Monet Carlo and The Bellaigo. There is a little monorail that connects them all together which is really handy. Check out the biggest chocolate foundation in the world according to The Bellagio. It does go higher than this but couldn’t fit it onto the frame.
Day 3 we did something a little different and went off the strip checking out another side to Vegas. We went downtown to an area called Paradise. We went to the Neon Museum. This place is basically a graveyard for all the old neon signs of vegas casinos past and present. We booked the 7:30pm slot so had the light early to see the detail of the signs but as the night came in saw some of the restored signs lit up in all their glory. This was 1 of our highlights of the trip. The volunteer tour guide gave us a insight in the history of Vegas, the casinos and the art of neon and sign design. Also had a great gift shop and the reception area is from the La Concha lobby. Cost $20 each. We would recommend pre booking the time slot you want.
We decided to then head on to Fremont Street while we in that area. We had the most amazing steak from Bigons them walked down Fremont Street and soaked up the atmosphere. Totally different vibe to the strip worth experiencing.
Day 4 we went to another museum. The atomic testing museum just 1 mile up Flamingo St from the strip. $30 for both of us and you can get student discount with your student cards. Really informative and interactive museum about the nuclear testing that occurred in the 1960s.
After there we also went up to the top of the Eiffel tower in the Paris casino. It is half the size of the original and you get great 360 degree views of the strip and surrounding areas. Also if you time it so you are at the top on the hour you can see The Bellagio fountain display which is great from that vantage point. We got a 241 coupon in the casino so cost us $17 for both of us to go to the top.
That evening we went to see Jurassic 5 perform at The Cosmopolitan pool. Got the tickets in the UK. Great gig atmosphere and hotel/casino nice.
So day 5 Will had finished work at the conference and we left Vegas and headed to the Grand Canyon North Rim. We hired a car from Avis in The Venetian pre booked in the UK at the rate of £77 for pick up Friday am drop off sat pm. We hired just the cheapest car grade you could get as research suggested that the roads where pretty good going to GC. However, the lady at the desk wanted us to upgrade but we were sure we were happy with what we had pre booked. So it turns out she didn’t have the car we booked so she had to upgrade us to a BMW 3 series woohoo!! Worth us being adment as she would of took our money for the upgrade knowing she didn’t have our car in stock. We just paid an extra $6 per day for tyres and as didn’t really want to get stranded in 40+ degrees trying to change a tyre. We saw lots of blown out tyres on the road so think it was worth getting that extra cover.
So our route to GC included a stop at the national park Valley of Fire park fees $10. This national park is the oldest and largest and contains ancient trees and early man are represented throughout the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyphs.
Mouse an Indian outlaw was known to have hidden out in the amazing rock formations similar to where Will is trying to get a break from me moaning about he heat ruining my shoes!!
After spending 1-2 hours driving through and exploring the valley of fire we continued on to north rim grand canyon. Park fees $25 note they don’t take cash for this fee only debit/card. If you want to stay over night the only place you can stay is at the north rim lodge. They also have a campground as well for those of you camping or in an RV. We pre booked about 6-8week before as it gets booked up. We chose this side of the canyon as opposed to the south as it isn’t as busy and touristy. The north rim is only open March-October however due to it being higher altitude and the weather conditions restricting the roads. We arrived in time for the sunset over the canyon.
We ate in restaurant that evening which you can book on checking in. Really good quality reasonable price given its remote location. Also it has a saloon in the lodge with local beers and pizza if you dont want to do the whole sit down meal thing. Our accommodation itself was a wooden log cabin. Compact. Booked through a website called logitravel for £105 as was fully booked on other travel agent sites. We were a bit worried as wehad never heard of the company before but everything was fine. We rang up the day before we left vegas and they had our details and expected our arrival.
Here is a little video of our accommodation.
We got up very early the next day as we wanted to see the canyon as the sun was rising as the colours vary so much it is truly a jaw dropping experience.
Day 6 spent the day driving back to Vegas as our flight was the next day. We took a slightly different route back so we could see Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.
For our last evening we had a walk down the strip went to Yard House at The Linq.
Highlights for us and must dos
Hire a car and go to GC North Rim via the Valley of Fire experince of a life time!!
Jurassic5!!! (The Cosmopolitan has gigs on most nights at the boulevard pool and there is a theatre there also worth checkin before you go who is on while you are there and pre book).
North premium outlets for shopping!!!
Manderin oriental for the best cocktails you will ever taste!!!
We spent a lovely 10 nights camping in Wales this summer. The weather was perfect and we consumed our days on the beach and swimming in the sea.
All packed up and ready to go
Days 1-3 Llyn Peninsula
Camped at Llanbedrog curgan farm , lovely site, clean toilets, freezers to use and 5-10 walk to the beach. Great location to explore the Llyn Peninsula.
Pwllheli beach 10 minutes drive away. Pwllheli also has some lovely shops and places to buy nice produce.
Will on the beer run on Ty Coch beach which is on the other side of the Llyn peninsula around 20 minutes drive from Llanbedrog. It has been voted in the top ten beach bars in the whole world so worth a visit if you are in the area. Note to get to this beach you need to walk either through the golf course nearby or along the neighbouring beach.
Picnic – bread, cheese, pickle, crisps and welsh cakes.
Day 4-6 Aberaeron
About 2-3 hours further down the west coast is this lovely little fishing town with brightly coloured houses. Stopped of at Aberystwyth on the way for a drink and some fish and chips. Ruby cooled down with some doggy ice cream a pub was selling.
The campsite we stayed at in Aberaeron was called camping on the farm. Big site well run just wished there was more toilets and showers. Did get very busy in the mornings and was unable to wash my hands after using the toilet due to the amount of people using up and queuing to use the only 3 sinks to have a wash and brush their teeth. Good job I came prepared with my alcohol hand gel. Lovely location nice walk along the beach to the town and what a sunset from our tent.
There is also a gorgeous National Trust property 10 minutes drive away. It is an example of John Nash’s early work and sat within a working organic farm. A real gem.
Wills birthday breakfast and tipple
Day 7-10 The Gower
Due to the weather forecast predicting further glorious sunshine and neither of us back in work until the following week we decided to continue our tour of Wales and drive another 1.5-2hrs south to The Gower. We stopped in Swansea on the way which I must say is super friendly. Living in Liverpool for the last 12 years and seeing how it has developed, Swansea reminded me of Liverpool 10 years ago with its rough around the edges bulidings and city centre but with all the charm and atmosphere that money cant buy. Amazing food market which I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of but will be engrained in my memory forever.
In The Gower we stayed at the campsite Nicholaston Farm. We had mixed feelings about this place. It didnt help that it was the first week of the kids summer holidays and it was jammed packed in the tent fields. Upon arrival we were told not to camp on the right where the electric hook ups where but other than that there was no organisation as to positioning of tents. We found a nice spot and went to the beach to return to 2 huge tents pitched up on either side of us with nowhere to park our car. Now im a happy camper and like to make friends with my fellow tent neighbour but this was a little too close for comfort. It wasnt really their fault as there was nowhere to go and we did feed this back to the owners and we did end up moving in the end when an electric hook up pitch came available. It was a lot of hassle and we probably not go there again. Great for families in groups though as can spread out and isnt restricted for groups like in other campsites. But I would be worried if a fire broke out with tents being so close together!!
So here are some of the amazing beaches and scenery of the gower. It is really a spectualer place that everyone should visit. The beaches we visited all require some form of hike or walk to so not great for people with restricted mobility.
We also visited the Mumbles we didnt bump into Catherine Zeta Jones but did stuff our faces again!
And thats about it packed up and headed home
The dreaded unpacking
Here’s just a quick post to try out a move of hosting our images on Flickr instead of directly on this site – our monthly bandwidth has been getting bashed with users and uncompressed images to boot! Here’s the embed code taken from one of my images in Flickr: I went to the image in Flickr, clicked the Share button at bottom right of the image, chose HTML for the embed code, and Medium 640×429. Clicking on the image should take you to the image on Flickr.
It’s of the Milky Way as seen over the Grand Canyon July 2014. Will
If you are looking for an alternative getaway to the usual European package holiday then Lebanon has that Mediterranean escape vibe with a Middle Eastern twist. It has a wonderful climate, tasty food and breathtaking scenery. We were fortunate enough to be invited to attend our friends wedding and jumped at the chance to be there. We had week to fit in sightseeing, relaxation, a hen & stag do and most importantly a wedding. This is part of what is wonderful about Lebanon. It is roughly the size of Greater Manchester so you are really not far from the main attractions. We are all aware of the civil war that devastated the country and many lives from (1975-1990) and subsequent conflicts and fragility ever since, and even when we were there. However, not once did we ever feel unsafe or at risk. I think that is mainly down to the well natured, resilient temperament, enjoying life attitude of the Lebanese people we met whilst we were there! So here are some pictures, info and recommendations of what we did in Lebanon. Note we flew into Beirut but chose not to stay and sightsee there, as we wanted to explore the coast and due to having wedding commitments didn’t have the time. Always worth saving something back, so a future trip is essential. So after a relatively easy trip 7 hours including change in Paris flying Air France (£400 return) we landed in Beirut. 15km drive north we checked in to our hotel in Jounieh. Jounieh is a charming little town with lots of cafes, restaurants, pubs and boutiques. We stayed at Queens Land Hotel. Basic, clean and friendly staff for around £50 per night inc breakfast and 5 mins walk to the 1st attraction that was on our must do list. The Teleferique up to the Harrisaa mountain where Our Lady of Lebanon towers over the bay. I would recommend going at sunset as you have wonderful views of the sun going down over the bay. http://www.teleferiquelb.com/ Another must see when you are in Lebanon is the Jeita Grottos, 20km north of Beirut and 10 km from Jounieh. You are not aloud to take cameras into the caves but visit these website to get a glimse of the jaw dropping limestone caves. If you only do 1 thing in Lebanon this has to be this!! http://www.jeitagrotto.com/ http://world.new7wonders.com/the-new7wonders-of-nature/jeita-grotto-lebanon/ So after 2 nights in Jounieh we headed a further 18 km to Byblos where the rest of the wedding party were staying. We all stayed in Aleph Boutique Hotel. http://www.alephboutiquehotel.com/ Individual themed rooms, lovely comfortable beds, modern bathroom, friendly attentive staff and 5 mins walk to the beach, cafes, bars and restaurants. The city of Byblos dates back to Neolithic times and any archaeology/history enthusiasts will love walking around The Crusader Castle. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/295 Byblos provided a wonderful mix for everyone in the wedding party. The brides family from the UK of all ages had chance to do things that suited everyone. If its chilling on the beach or going to a beach club or enjoying the more traditional side of Byblos on the fishing harbour and walking around the souks, there really is something for everyone. Some excellent restaurants we ate at were Feniqia & Bab El-Mina. Both great value for money but there is penalty of places to try with a great variety of Lebanese, Middle Eastern, European and Mediterranean cuisine. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g298264-d2019823-Reviews-Feniqia-Byblos_Mount_Lebanon_Governorate.html For a 7 day trip in Lebanon I would recommend maybe to do 2-3 night exploring Beirut then go straight to Byblos for 4-5 nights for a more beachy holiday vibe. Stopping off at the Teleferique in Jounieh then on to the Grottos for a fews hours or you could arrange a day trip out there once you get to Byblos. Lebanon really does have a great mix of everything you could possibly want in a holiday. Oozing with culture, history, amazing food, nightlife, beaches, walks and most importantly really welcoming friendly people. Overall our trip to Lebanon was possibly one of the best experiences of our lives and can not wait to go back to explore more of this fascinating country.
Ok so we have been so busy the last year and not had chance to update the blog with all the stuff we have been upto. We’ve had holidays/essays to write/food to eat/dogs to walk etc etc but will get to uploading our pictures of places we’ve been and seen. Also, Will has been buying lots of camera/telescope equipment so stay tuned for detailed reviews/pics if you into that kind of thing.
Here is a little taste of things to come…..
Lebanon – byblos
It’s taken a year to get round to this but we now have a final version of our wedding video (at least as good as it will get). Here is is:
We got this through eBay but were pretty unimpressed by how it fixed to our bike, certainly not wanting to put our little yorkie Ruby at risk with! So back it goes. See the flaws in this video. I think we’re going to try a Topeak basket from Evans cycles next
Just a short(ish) video review we took of this great campsite a couple of miles out of Prestatyn. Giving a bit of a guided tour and description of the facilities. Also giving some ideas on a couple of places/things to do locally on foot with directions. I had some things to say at the end so I used a bit of footage of our Yorkie Ruby enjoying the large dog walking field.
This is a great campsite. Mix of touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. Very friendly (including for well behaved dogs), well laid out, clean, but not too mega formal. Walking distance from the sea and dunes where there is tons of wildlife, but also backed up by easy access into the countryside. I only hinted at it, but we rode our bikes one day from the campsite to Prestatyn and then took the Prestatyn to Dyserth Way (http://goo.gl/bDRa7) which is a disused railway line that they converted to a cycle path between the two towns. Great route up into the hills to Dyserth which has a great pub and an impressive waterfall. Even if you don’t have bikes you can walk it.
We’d also highly recommend a tour around Prestatyn town for lots of individual shops, a wealth of charity shops, but also this new shopping area they built also in centre of town which is pretty good (including Next, M&S (food too), Next, River Island, Tesco etc. free parking.
It took about an hour from Liverpool via Runcorn. I hope you enjoy – We want to move there!
We have been changing the lighting in our communal rooms from the tacky Ikea halogens (which bulbs seemed to go continuously) to light fittings that take standard bulbs (read: energy efficiency drive). We could have gone with your standard pendant set from b&q such as this but instead opted for a fashionable Plumen pendant set. I was not impressed I’m afraid as can be seen in this video:
- No instructions included
- No inside to the ceiling rose so a very unsatisfactory quality of fitting – you will either have a gap between rose and ceiling or be in fear of it falling down with your valuable glass lamp shade
- The wire is far from the fabric wire as advertised – it’s a black plastic wire with faux fish net covering.
- Instead make your own set for peanuts out of black wire, a black lamp holder and painted black ceiling rose, or look around for something higher quality like this remade 1940’s bakerlite set