Joined August 2016 Message
  • Day18


    September 12, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    An early and quick breakfast before dashing up to the USS Midway (aircraft carrier/museum)

    It's an absolute enormous beast of the ship, built in 1945 and decommissioned in 1992 and absolutely fascinating. Again, another audio tour brings the ship to life (even if you have zero interest in this sort of thing.)

    A dash back to the hotel to check out and move our bags to the car before we walked up to the Gaslamp Quarter, home to San Diego's restaurants, bars and nightlife. A detour into Hard Rock Cafe to pick up the last of the shots glasses for Adam's collection before a quick shopping trip to Westfield(!) for trainers for Adam (no such luck!)

    And for our last trip.... Kansas City BBQ. A tiny restaurant/bar situated next to our hotel which features heavily in Top Gun. Adam wore his Maverick t-shirt which was loved by the staff. We're ordered sandwiches and fries and ate quickly so we could have photos taken at the piano - Goose played 'Great Balls of Fire' here in the movie. We purchased a couple of T-shirts and the staff gave us some postcards for our scrapbook. I don't think I've ever seen Adam so happy. Food is mediocre btw!

    Because we didn't manage to get any decent pictures of charlie's house when we arrived, Adam wanted to go back, which we did. Parked up, jumped out and took some photos then back in the car again! An hour's journey each way for 3 mins of photos! Madness!

    A short drive to the car rental drop off before heading to check in. We knew the flight was slightly delayed after getting an alert on our phones. We were really excited about flying back in Club World, a new experience for us! We decided to make the most of the perks and use the lounge, which wasn't anything to write home about except the free alcohol and food!

    We had been allocated seats across the aisle from each other, but a nice guy, travelling alone, offered to swap with me so we could sit closer together!

    A glass of champagne, dinner was good, but made me very sleepy so put the bed flat and fell asleep!! woohoo!! I have no idea what time I went to sleep but I think I must have slept for 4/5 hours because 30 minutes after I woke, they were serving breakfast! I ordered an omelette but couldn't get through it. Overly salty.

    Then that's it, we landed. Passport control and baggage collection done!

    Hometime :)

    What. A. Trip!
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  • Day17

    San Diego

    September 11, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Today was a proper lazy Sunday! A really lengthy, face-stuffing, can't-eat-enough breakfast! Followed by a walk down by the water at the little shops and cafes nearby.

    Still stuffed from breakfast, we dodged lunch and headed to the adult pool and jacuzzi for a few hours relaxing.

    Post showering, we went to the bar on the 40th floor for a drink and good look at the view.
    Unfortunately the sunset was hidden by the clouds but it was lovely to sit in plush surroundings with a glass of prosecco and celebrate our amazing trip. the alcohol had got our tastebuds going and we ordered a portion of frites with shaved truffle and parmesan (OMG, so good!) and a mixed meat/cheese board to share - which went down an absolute treat!

    Back to the room to begin packing for the final time and watched moments from the Miss America 2016 Pageant (american TV is bizarre!)
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  • Day16

    Disney: Day 2

    September 10, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Hopefully a better day today! We headed to the main park early (within the magic hour) and rode the Matterhorn Bobsleds - which was quick and fun!

    Frontierland didn't open until the same time as the main park so after queuing for a few minutes, we dashed to the Pirates of the Carribean ride - which I was disappointed in. Basically you sit in a boat which takes you round various pirate scenes. I felt alot more could have been done with it.

    We then dashed back to the California Adventure park and rode Radiator Springs Racers - which is a fantastic ride for adults and kids alike. It's based on Lightning McQueen from Cars and his time in Radiator Springs, you even get to race another car at the end of the ride - luckily we won!

    We dashed back to the hotel and checked out, taking in the music from the pianist in the foyer. It almost sent me over the edge. It was so lovely and we've had such a good time here, I didn't want to leave!

    But San Diego is calling....

    A couple of hours drive and we're outside Charlie's House. That's right, you guessed it, Charlie from Top Gun. Except, a local festival being on and the roads being closed, we couldn't stop to take pictures but I promised we'd come back before leaving.

    We arrived at our hotel, both feeling quite tired and drained. The desk staff were really helpful and knowledgeable, and gave us a lovely modern room on the 22nd floor.

    We were both tired but knew we had to eat so headed to the local seafood restaurant on site, ordering the recommendation seabass - which was heavenly! A couple of glasses of wine and then sleep!
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  • Day15

    Disney: Day 1

    September 9, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We had booked character dining with Chip & Dale at 07:15am - admittedly not by choice (only time left) but it turned out to be loads of fun and got us in the Disney spirit!

    We decided to visit Disney's California Adventure park first then head over to the main park later on.

    We had been told at check in, the ride at Hollywood Tower of Tower would be having some changes made to it on the Friday night so to get on it before it changes, so we made a beeline for there first of all.

    We grabbed ourselves a FastPass and had quick wander around before heading back to the ride.

    Now Adam said he hadn't felt right all day and has suffered from vertigo since we arrived, started to feel much worse after the ride. A drink and some shade later, he felt okay enough to ride the wooden-style rollercoaster.

    He wasn't feeling so great afterwards and don't look so great either. I suggested we came back to the hotel and he lay down which he did. I did some research on the NHS website and think it may have been heat exhaustion (it was 29°c by 10am) combined with the vertigo and the rides made for an unhappy Adam.

    A few hours rest later, a sandwich and lots of water later, he seemed to feel okay bit we adjusted our plans slightly by going back to California Adventure.

    We then dashed to the main park in time for the 9:30pm fireworks which were amazing!!!

    The park was open until midnight so we took time to ride Star Tours (a 3D Star Wars motion simulator), Mr Toad's Wide Ride and, my dad's favourite, It's A Small World.

    By now we had serious appetites but it was 1am so headed back to our hotel for a light bite (the only thing going!) in the form of 2 wagyu beef sliders and Adam had mozzarella pizza flat bread before falling into bed about 2am.
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  • Day14


    September 8, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Today was LA tour day and we were ready to see some glamour!!

    Another lovely continental breakfast, a quick repack of the suitcases before checking out before Joshua picked us up in the Yukon SUV.

    What a total legend. Knows everything there is to know about LA. Took us to an amazing vista spot to take some photos of the Hollywood sign! Plus we could see into the valley and over at all the studios. Also took us to some famous celebs houses, the Playboy Mansion and Beyonce's house most notably
    Admittedly Beyonce's house, all you can see is the gates. But it's still cool.

    We decided to get on the road to Disney after the tour,despite the rush hour traffic as we wanted to stop at an outlet centre Joshua had told us about, half way between West Hollywood and Anaheim.

    We arrived at Disney Grand Californian hotel about 8:45pm! So exciting!

    Roy was our registration attendant and was the most amazingly helpful person I have ever met! Even gave us complimentary upgrade on our room so we look out over Downtown Disney!!

    I'm now sat in my big Disney bed, happy as a pig in $h!t.

    Happy days.
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  • Day13

    LA Cool

    September 7, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    After the fun and excitement if last night, we thought we'd do some relaxing by the pool today.

    A lovely continental breakfast in a beautiful art deco room.

    We booked to do a custom tour around Hollywood tomorrow because we are restricted on time and a lot of the tours are either one or two hours or 7 or 8 hours, all of which, don't work for us at all.

    After a wonderful lunch at the rooftop bar, we lazed by the pool for a few hours before getting ready for a cocktail or two on the roof.
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  • Day12

    West Hollywood

    September 6, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Today was a comparatively short drive from one hotel to another with it being only a couple of hours.

    We grabbed a continental breakfast under a foggy Pismo Beach sky from the uber relaxed SeaCrest Ocean hotel before setting off for LA.

    We wanted to stop off at Malibu and Santa Monica on the way but weren't sure about the best places to eat or things to do so drove to the area and had a bit of a wander.

    At Santa Barbara, we walked out along the wharf and soaked up the atmosphere before heading to Moby Dick's restaurant and sharing a fabulous seafood platter! Shrimp, calamari and fish fillets accompanied by fries, coleslaw, tartare sauce and pickles (my beloved gherkins!)

    Bellies full. Back in the car, this time off to Malibu, except we got there and there didn't actually seem to be much to see or do except look at massive houses or sit on the beach. Don't get me wrong, lovely area, but not much to actually 'do'.

    We carried on to Santa Monica and spotted the pier, so came off the freeway in search of ice cream. We all know America does things 'bigger' - Santa Monica Pier is a classic case of 'bigger-but-not-always-better' imagine Blackpool. On steroids. Not fun.

    Anyway, we walked up and down the pier grabbing an ice cream on the way. I had salted caramel (because I'm a grown-up) Adam had "cookie monster" as in the cookie monster from Sesame Street. Vivid blue ice cream with Oreos in it. Looked amazing on the cone. Not so amazing around the chops of a 34-year-old.

    Onto LA, we got stuck in a small traffic jam which delayed us by about 15 minutes (I gather this is light for LA)

    We arrived at our hotel at approximately 8:30pm and jeez, is this hotel nice or what?! Like super fancy! Beautiful 1920s elegance and glamour - absolutely stunning. I am in my element.

    The staff gave us some vouchers for a free drink each as we had to wait a few minutes for our room to be inspected (not sure why,they just said it was to make sure everything was perfect.)

    Room: wow. Really wow.
    The view looks out onto Sunset Blvd and isn't much to write home about but the room is the nuts. Huge bed. Big Tv. The bathroom is enormous and has separate rainforest shower head AND powershower head and a separate tub! All beautiful white marble mosaic. I. Want. This. Bathroom.

    We wanted to check out the view from.the rooftop bar so put our gladrags on and headed up there. Very swish, all the furniture white leather and glass. The barman was making my Blue Eyes (Stoli Blueberry, mint leaves, fresh lime and ice) when this guy leans over the bar and asks the barman for a Red Bull.

    Now, at this point, my brain is in rapid -fire mode. I knew this dude was famous but I couldn't place him. Half Scottish/half American accent. Older. Salt and pepper coloured hair. Adam had been getting some cash from the ATM when this guy walked in, so as soon as he was back I quietly explained and we fired up Google. Good Ol' Google! It was only bloody David OHara!

    Absolutely couldn't believe it. He was in the later Harry Potter films, Braveheart and The Departed (which we only watched a few weeks ago!)

    Needless to say, we were very happy spotting our first celeb! :)
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  • Day11

    Highway 1

    September 5, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    We left SF and we're keen to get on the road. Tonight's stop was Pismo Beach. But first we had Highway 1 and Monterey to visit!

    With it being Labor Day, the roads were busy but free flowing. Lots of people pulling off the road at various vista spots and beaches to make the most of the day off and the lovely weather!

    We arrived at Monterey about 2pm and visited the nearby tourist centre for some recommendations. We only had 2 hours of parking so we made a stop at Tavern Melville for a club sandwich (obviously!) before heading around the corner to Stevenson House!

    This is where Robert Louis Stevenson spent about 3 months waiting for the woman he loved to divorce her husband. He became quite the local figure, telling stories in the taverns and writing newspaper articles.

    A quick few photos here before getting back on the road again. Highway 1 is not for the faint hearted to drive. It's seriously windey. But it's beautiful. Admittedly the sheer cliff drops make for some uncomfortable momenta but the scenery is incredible.

    We also stopped at the aptly-named Elephant Seal Beach!

    We arrived at our hotel is Pismo Beach about 9pm before finding a pool hall with freshly made pizzas, a few beers and a decent soundtrack (read: Adam happy)
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  • Day10

    San Francisco

    September 4, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    I'd really been looking forward to today. We had a combo ticket to Alcatraz and Angel Island because Alcatraz-only tickets were sold out months ago.

    We began the tour at Pier 33 and took about 40 minutes to get to Angel Island. It's a large island off the SF coast and is a California State Park. As part of our ticket cost, we got a 45 minute tour on a noddy train around th island telling us about the history of the island. It's been dubbed the "Ellis Island of the West" as it was used as an immigration centre. But whereas Ellis Island was a welcoming symbol of freedom and liberty, Angel Island was designed to keep people away - primarily the Chinese - after the 'Chinese Exclusion' programme was inacted by the government. Hundreds of Chinese immigrants were held on this island and the tour details the angry and desperate poetry carved into the walls.

    Eventually it was used as a military area before finally being turned over to California to be used as a state park. It's an absolutely stunning place to visit for some time away from the city. We had a quick lunch here before boarding the boat to Alcatraz.

    There's a couple of things the Americans do really really well - one of them are tours. Audio tours, guided tours, whatever, I've never been on an American tour that I didn't enjoy. Alcatraz is no exception. The island is closed off in various sections and various buildings have been bulldozed, but the main cell house is home to the audio tour and is fantastic.

    The tour doesn't lead you around the building in a traditional fashion, it's designed to tell you the story of Alcatraz, the important bits, but the narration from the former officers who worked there, make it the most amazing story. One of the points made whilst on the tour is that, it's only a mile and a quarter from Alcatraz to the city - freedom is so near but so far away and if the wind was blowing the right way on New Year's Eve, prisoners could hear laughter coming from the bay - which was another stark reminder.

    We got took the boat back to Pier 33 and wandered down to Pier 39. It was heaving with people. Admittedly it was Labor Day weekend so we knew it would be busy but it was nuts. A quick look around the shops and a 'Steak 'n'Shrimp' bowl later, we headed back to the hotel.

    On the top floor of our hotel there's a bar called Top of The Mark. We decided to try it. Gladrags on! A small wait later, we were window-side of a lovely 1930s bar!

    A couple of cocktails each and $60 later, we left!
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  • Day9

    Yosemite National Park

    September 3, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    A lovely relaxed morning start to Saturday, checking out at the hotel at 10:30am and working out way up to Yosemite National Park. Sat Nav estimated over 2 yours to get there but that doesn't include stopping to take in the scenery!

    We finally got to the park and it was very busy (as expected!) but everyone was friendly and the weather was great.

    Our original plan was to see Yosemite Falls and perhaps even Bridal Veil Falls (I visited 20 years ago!) but due to the sheer volume of people in the park, it took us a few hours to do a couple of miles. We finally parked and walked to the falls, to be greeted with fools rather than falls. No water. No water at all.

    Needless to say, we felt quite silly but we're pleased we went. You can't imagine the sheer scale of these rock formations and the cliffs they create but there's something very raw and real about Yosemite. The smell of pine trees, the sun glistening on Tenaya Lake, it's just stunning.

    For someone who's not keen on walking, this place makes me want to book a lodge and spend 5 days hiking.

    We finally headed out of the park and began our drive to San Francisco. On the way, we passed fields and fields of white peach trees, all uniform and setting the landscape. For miles, all we could see were mountains and lush grasses. It felt very 'green' compared to arid Vegas and Death Valley.

    Adam wanted to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge so we had to take a little detour to Sausalito. It was dark by the time we made it to the bridge but it's lit beautifully, bathing the cars (and us) in a warm terracotta glow.

    I had forgot to warn Adam how steep SF is. It's very steep.

    We received a very warm welcome from the staff at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins on California St. We were ravenous having not stopped for lunch (because of the park queues) so we treated ourselves to room service! A Turkey Club with side salad for me, a proper beef burger and salad for him.

    Alcatraz and SF sightseeing tomorrow.
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