World Travel

USA Rad-venture: Timeshare & the Canyon

This blog has been a long time coming (at least 6 months now) and I know that my mum of all people will be glad to see that I am finishing my USA travel blog. I wrote notes down about each day. Things i didn’t want to forget. So they won’t be as descriptive as the previous USA blogs but I hope this keeps you entertained until I can get the next one up.

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14th July 2016

Tuesday

Today we got suckered into a timeshare breakfast. I’m not going lie it was a nice ride out, we got to see a bit more of Sin City. It was kind of interesting. We (in Australia) see these timeshare things as a bit of a con and they are always all over the TV shows that coming in from the States. To be honest the best part was the $100 gaming credit and the air con. God, it’s hot here. And such a dry heat.

After the morning oh so exciting morning out, we headed for lunch at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen.img_0302 The food was amazing. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich. I have never had such an amazing sandwich in my life. And the chips were amazing. They were all cut differently (you can kind of see them in the photo) and cooked to perfection. As per usual cocktails were to follow.

After lunch we went up the room relaxed for a bit then decided to hit the pool. It was pretty crowded so we had a bit of a swim a drink and then headed back to the room for some more relaxation before dinner.

 Didn’t do much today as tomorrow we have a big one.

 

GRAND CANYON HERE WE COME.

 

15th July 2016

Wednesday

There are no words to describe the sheer enormity and pure beauty of the Canyon. This post will be more photos than dialogue as I have no real words to describe the magnificence.  

Early morning start. We met the bus at the Planet Hollywood sign and drove for a good 4 hours out to the Hover Dam to start with. I have seen it in so many movies but the size of it was mind-blowing. dsc00432-2

The Hoover Dam (once Boulder Dam) took 5 yearsthumb_img_0396_1024-1 to be constructed and was completed in 1936. 

The dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam used to draw power. According to our tour guide if the Dam ever broke over half the lights in Vegas would shut down. An estimated 96 men died during the construction.

 

I have no Idea what to write about the Canyon. I just can’t begin to explain the vast beauty. So here is a bunch of photos.

 

This wonderful day would never have taken place without the love and support from the McIntyre family. This was Andrew’s 30th Birthday present and he loved every moment of it. As you can see. It was hard for him to not smile in every photo, as he spent most of the day smiling. So thank you. We love you guys so much. This post is dedicated to you. 

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World Travel

USA Rad-venture: Exploring Vegas & the Mob

Still catching up. Hope my last post was worth the wait. As I hope you enjoy this one about how we turned our time in Vegas around.screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-8-56-47-pm

12th July 2016 

Tuesday

Ok, so day two of Vegas and things are on their way up. Well, to be honest, we couldn’t have gone any worse. Oh wait, we did miss our trip to the Grand Canyon due to the stress and lack of sleep. But they were amazing and let us reschedule for Friday, at no extra charge. So we took to the streets to explore and wait for Leah to contact the hotel and get it all sorted out. 

We explored the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, and Planet Hollywood. It’s hard to describe how big this place truly is so I have just added a few photos to help you try and imagine it. We finally got in the hotel at 3:00 pm after much rudeness from the screen-shot-2016-08-07-at-4-41-25-pmhotel manager. Couldn’t believe it. Thank god Leah was there to help otherwise, I would have easily lost my cool.

Anyone who needs an amazing travel agent click here, ask for Leah. She has gone above and beyond, not to mention it was her day off work and she seemed as angry if not more than we did. screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-8-54-56-pm

We also found our way to a little cupcake shop called ‘Sprinkles.
The cupcakes were so amazing. We tried the Chocolate Mudcake and the Red Velvet. They were perfect in every way. The one thang that made me love this place the most was the fact that they had a 24hour ‘
CUPCAKE ATM‘. I really could have lost my mind. It was perfection. Nothing better than walking the streets of Vegas after a long day with the sky beginning to be lit up with Neon and finding the perfect pink ATM. No better way to end the day.

 

13th July 2016 

Wednesday

Today was really great. We were told by a friend of my parents that we should go and have a look at Freemont Street. We took a cab there as it is a fair way off the strip. It claims to be the second most famous street in Las Vegas. Back in the day of mobsters and neon light cowboys, Freemont Street was the heart of Vegas. screen-shot-2016-08-07-at-4-39-37-pm

Freemont dated back to 1905, when Vegas itself was founded in the heart of the Nevada desert. Numerous films had been filmed there from Elvis’s ‘Viva Las Vegas’  to Robert DeNiro’s ‘Last Vegas’. I can only imagine what it would have been like back in the day. Unfortunately, the passing years have not been too friendly. But I would still recommend seeing it.

We found it full of cheap tourist shops and it’s streets full of homeless people. It was really quite confronting. Not at all what I imagined it to be. May have been nicer to see at night when it was all lit up with the numerous Neon Lights. But during the day it was rather dismal. 

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After leaving Freemont we made our way down the street to the Mob Museum. It was rather interesting to find out so much about the Mob’s hand in creating this oasis in the desert. We saw the ‘St Valentines day massacre wall’, that of course, had to be reconstructed. In 1929 seven men from the North Side Irish gang were violently murdered during the Prohibition Era.screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-8-53-46-pm  This massacre was led by Al Capone’s South Side Italian gang in order to take control of crime in Chicago. The wall itself had been moved and reconstructed brick by brick in the museum. 

The day itself was a rather interesting day with a deeper insight to how Vegas became a haven for Mobsters and criminals during the Prohibition. The flamingo hotel (we are finally staying in) had such an important part in the establishment of Las Vegas, as it was one of the first big casino/hotels. Many famous mobsters stayed there over the years. 

screen-shot-2016-08-07-at-4-40-25-pmAfter our day in the old parts of Vegas we headed back to the hotel to get dressed and head to the Rio Hotel for our Penn & Teller show. We had dinner in their hotel lobby and then took our seats and enjoyed the show. It was so funny and so magical. The perfect show for Vegas! Would defiantly love to see it again one day if that is ever possible.

I’m beginning to like Vegas.

 

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World Travel

USA Rad-venture: American Horror Story & our Vegas Horror Story

Ok Ok Ok. I know. I have been nagged by my mother to get on top of this blog. It kind of went down the toilet a bit when we got to Vegas. It started out way too much stress but ended up just being too full on to write anything. We were getting back to the hotel room and just sleeping. This place is way too tiring. But I have been making a few notes in my hand written diary so I don’t forget anything. I’ll post 2 a day until I have caught up.

Let’s start with our last day in New Orleans (Nòrleans I am becoming more local).


10th
 July 2016 screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-8-48-08-pm

Sunday

This morning was chaotic but amazing. We rode the streetcars to the Garden District to see the 

American Horror Story House 

on Jackson Street. Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, I was home at last. It was so big and so beautiful. Exactly like I pictured it from the show. Only a little less Zoe hanging from the top of the gate (fans will know what I mean). They had to take the number off the house, hoping that the tourist would miss it. But I knew what we were looking for. A true fan. We then walked through the district a bit before getting back on the streetcars. It was so beautiful. The houses were so old and well maintained. Some of the most beautiful front garden I have ever seen. It felt like if I was home. Well, could be if I had a spare million or two lying around. 

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Once we got back on the streetcars it was off to the 
French Markets. These markets are so old. Something like 200 years old. As it was located at the mouth of the Mississippi it was on high grounds and therefore a perfect place for the Native American’s to come and trade. It was a bit wet so we were grateful that it was all covered. We bought souvenirs and praline and tried Alligator sausages (really great but big and a bit too greasy). screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-9-39-14-pm

 The streetcars were so old and so beautiful. It was amazing to think that a few decades earlier my mum may have ridden the same car. Maybe even sat in the same seat. It was amazing. I just felt so settled riding the cars around the unknown streets. It was weird and yet felt like it was right out of a book. Those books where the character is so run down from work and life and they reach that part of the book where they just feel a calm run over them. That how I felt. I could easily live there. 

After the markets we went to Cafè Du Mondè, they claim to have the best Beignets in the city. Dunno how I feel about that screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-9-37-47-pmbut they were pretty damn good. 

We went back to the hotel after Cafè Du Mondè, to relax a bit before our Steamboat ride down Old Mis(Mississippi). We had booked in the previous day to do a dinner and jazz cruise on one of the oldest boats still cruising the Mississippi. It was amazing when we got there I drank Pimms Cups (love me some Pimms) like they would have during the prohibition. It was so surreal. The music was what I had wanted to hear the whole time we were in Nòrleans, yet all we could hear was hip-hop and pop music apart from one busking band on Bourbon street our first night. I will not lie I was disappointed with the music until we got on the boat. It felt fitting that both our first and last night we heard real music. We experienced real culture. I was in love. screen-shot-2016-07-16-at-9-38-22-pm

We got back to the hotel room and just crashed out. It was like 12:30 pm and we had an early flight to Las Vegas, so we needed all the sleep we could get.

 

11th July 2016 

Monday

So today was hell. I am not going to lie. I felt like Vegas just didn’t want me. We arrived so excited and ready to party but Vegas had other plans for us. We reached at the Flamingo Hotel (one of the oldest hotels in Vegas) at around 3:30 p. We checked in at the counter and went up to what was supposed to be our room. We opened the door and walked in on a family in our room. Ok, well that could have been worse I guess. We walked back down to the lobby and told them, they then proceeded to tell us that two Jennifer Richardson’s had booked into the hotel. We waited for another 30 minutes before they told us that our booking had been canceled.

 Ok. What do we do now you ask? Well, Jen being shitty and tired started raising her voice (mum you know the tone). I was not impressed. Andrew, on the other hand, kept calm the whole time, like always. You could tell he was annoyed but he kept his cool. We were then told, by the Manager (he was a rude moron who didn’t even know his own policies) that we should go across to the Linq and book in there for the night. I was too angry to argue so we did. 

I got in touch with my amazing cousin/travel agent who, on her day off, rang around and was as angry as I was. She was amazing. I was upset, wanting to cry and yell and scream and ready to just call it quits and fly home. I had had enough. Leah on the other had had it all sorted by the next day. As soon as they opened she was on top of it. Couldn’t love her, or anyone else, more at that moment.

Needless to say, it was not a good start to our Vegas trip. But We will not let it beat us. We will make Vegas our B*tch. We will enjoy it no matter who tries to ruin it. That I can promise.

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World Travel

USA Rad-venture: Bayou Alligators & the Tremé

I am enjoying this holiday too much and neglecting my blog. So that’s a great thing for me but not the best thing for anyone reading this. So again sorry, but not sorry. I am trying to stay on top

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Mapping out the day.

though so I can look back in the future like I do with my travel diary from Vietnam. As you know I still look back at that all the time. Love remembering all the little things.

 

 Anyone who is going to travel in the future I defiantly recommend writing it down. Love looking back at my memories. It will be amazing in the years to come when the memories begin to fade. I will still have this and my diary to look back on. 

 

8th July 2016

Friday

Not much was done during the day here. Just more exploring. More Hurricanes. More Beignets. A bit of shopping. We walked along the Mississippi. But all in all, we took it pretty easy as we knew we would be having a late night. We came back to the hotel Andrew hit the gym and I swam and 13435682_10154054805581622_1901391958_nsat by the rooftop pool. 

After coming back from the pool we got ready for our swamp tour and headed to a restaurant called ‘Huck Finn’s’ for dinner before being picked up by the bus. I had an amazing Gumbo. Gumbo is a rice dish that originated in southern Louisiana. It is amazingly spicy. 

When we got picked up from the restaurant and drove an hour out to the bayou. Once we got sorted into our groups and got on the boat it was so amazing. The wildlife that surrounded us was so surreal. We watched the bird fly out for the night. We spotted so many alligators. They used marshmallows to draw them closer to the boats. Marshmallows. The funny thing was the gators loved them. Kept coming back for more.

Once the sun set over the bayou we sped further north to murder creek. It was pitch black and so dark when the guide turned the all the lights off. We sat in the pitch black for a few minutes. You couldn’t even see the moon through the trees. Then we started hearing some noises between the trees. When the lights came back on there was a little family of wild pigs right beside the boat. 

It was such an amazing experience. We didn’t get back to the hotel till around midnight. Then it was straight to bed as we had a city tour the next morning.

 

9th July 2016

Saturday

This morning we went on a city tour. We went to so many different areas. It was great to see. Starting in the French Quarter, then drove out to the Ninth Ward where Hurricane Katrina hit. It must have been a terrifying experience. We learnt that the water not only rose 6 feet but it sat there for over a month. As the majority of New Orleans is well below sea level. 18169871-mmmain

Then we drove to the Tremé. So much of the neighborhood has been so beautifully restored but still, there is so much work to do. We saw some of the X-codes that were used to mark the houses during the aftermath. These searches were completed after the flood water had subsided, so over a month after. The top number is the date the house was searched. The letters on the right ‘NE’ meant that the house was not entered. When the searches were being conducted most of the houses were not entered unless a body/s was spotted through the window. So when several homes were returned to by the owners’ bodies were still found in them months later. The numbers and letters on the left side are the codes of the group that conducted the search. So I’m presuming that you can guess what the number on the bottom meant! The number of dead found on the property, completely heartbreaking. 


Upon leaving the Tremé we went to St Louis cemetery #3. We didn’t spend much time there and we didn’t learn much since we had already completed the cemetery tour a few days prior but it was nice to see another one of the cities of the dead. Then we drove out to the Garden District. My God. The houses out there are so hauntingly beautiful. We saw Anne Rice’s New Orleans home. I could literally picture her sitting on the top porch writing one of her novels being inspired by the old houses surrounded by the beautiful old Oak trees. Creating her new characters based on the people walking down the street. So stunning. 

Then we headed back to the hotel where we spent the afternoon sleeping. We have our last full day tomorrow and there is still so much to do. So it will be full on. Cannot wait for tomorrow. Then after that, it is off to Vegas.b90d20df4d5a4e0169c8f30132184b

World Travel

USA Rad-venture: Mississippi & Cities of the dead

13589037_10154047424601622_1193683037_oOk, again I apologize. I have been enjoying myself too much to write. But even if I only end up doing it every couple of days, I am still writing. Let’s start with yesterday.

6th July 2016

Wednesday

We had to get up early to get the car back to the Rental Company and check-in for our flight. We first flew from Austin to Dallas and then had to get on an airport train to get to our next gate before flying out to New Orleans. We flew in over the 

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Gator PoBoy.

Mississippi. It was such a beautiful sight to fly over (as you can see in the photo). When we arrived we got into a shuttle and headed to the hotel. By the time we got to the Hotel (downtown on the edge of the quarter) my cheeks were so sore. I could not stop smiling. I have been so excited about coming to New Orleans for such a long time now. We dumped our stuff in the room and took to the streets no wanting to waste any time.

We started by finding somewhere to eat at this little restaurant on Bourbon Street called Le BayouWe sat upstairs on the balcony and drank local beer while listening to the bustle on the streets below us.13632888_10154047424276622_1810784149_o

It didn’t take us long to spot the hustlers with their bad joke and attempts at conning the easy to spot tourists with their big cameras and offseason bead collection around their neck (Beads in New Orleans are normally found on the streets just for Madi Gras, but all shops sell them year round for tourists) having done a bit of research I knew all the tricks. But it was awesome to see others experience the local cons. Andrew ordered the Cajan Chicken and Gumbo while I ordered the Alligator Po-boy.  Both dishes were amazing.

 After dinner, we walked the streets a bit before heading back to the hotel for an early night sleep to be ready for our tour the next morning. 

7th July 2016

Thursday

Another early morning today to get to the docks, to go on our Voodoo & Cemetery Tour. We got to screen-shot-2016-07-07-at-1-57-31-pmthe docks, got on the bus and off we went. We learnt so much about the history of voodoo in New Orleans and a bit about the wonders of Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo Priestess. The bus took us to the beautiful St Louise cemetery

We learnt that the people of New Orleans are normally buried in mausoleums above the ground as the city was built on a swamp and when you bury something in a sway they always come back. They call they cemeteries ‘Cities of the Dead as the numerous mausoleums look like little houses. We also learnt that in a single tomb there would be numerous bodies. After 1 year and 1 day, they could remove the rotten body place the remains in a bag and place it either in the bake or the basement of the mausoleum. This way they could fit more family members in the same crypt. 

We visited Marie Laveau grave where we learned that she use to be a hairdresser as well as a voodoo priestess. People would leave bobby pins at her tomb as a gift. The rumor states that if you 13569854_10154047424246622_236535092_oplace 3 ‘X’s on her tomb she will appear to you. The church had gone to so much effort to keep the graffiti at bay and maintain such a beautiful site. There are many rumors about Madam Laveau and her current resting place, as there are many faux mausoleums dedicated to her that are covered in much graffiti. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking. 

After our tour, we took to the streets to find some Beignets. We found the infamous ‘Café Beignet; they are reported to have the best in the city. They were amazing. So light, so fluffy, so sweet. Will screen-shot-2016-07-07-at-1-57-08-pmneed to find a good receipt to attempt to make them at home. 

We are about to go down to the concierge and book a few more tours for our time here. Maybe a night-time swamp tour and a steamboat cocktail cruise. There are so many options. We just have to narrow it down to what we want to do in the short time we have here. Well, to be honest, it’s
nearly a week but I feel we won’t even see half of the city still. So big and so much history to take it. Currently reading a book called ‘Mad Madame Lalaurie’. It’s pretty interesting. About this crazy screen-shot-2016-07-07-at-1-57-19-pmwoman who use to torture her slaves until the townspeople found out and drove her from the city. I love reading a good book about places I am visiting.

Tonight we will probably just have dinner at the ‘Clarinet’ the hotel restaurant.  We hear it has pretty good food, and then just a few drinks at the bar. Might even go for a late night swim in the pool.

Sorry, I have been a bit slack on writing. This one is a bit long and I understand if you are just here to look at the pictures. To be honest, who could blame you for not wanting to listen to my ramblings and opinions. Until next time my faithful readers and travel lovers.

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World Travel

USA Rad-venture: 4th of July and Austin

4th July 2016

Tuesday

I am currently sitting on the most comfortable bed of my life. I never want to leave it. We are presently in Austin Texas, and it is beautiful. We won’t get a chance to see much of it but what we 13582450_10154047425246622_561862661_ohave seen is really pretty. 

I know I didn’t write yesterday but to be honest we didn’t do much. Just chilled around the hotel all morning before going for a bit of a drive around, Round Rock to see a bit more. In the afternoon we went to Old Settlers Park to watch the fireworks. It was pretty but not as pretty as the Mooloolaba Christmas Fireworks. They will always be my favorite. 

Today we drove 40mins down the road to Austin. We went to an 13644310_10154047425006622_10325746_nAmerican mall and wandered around for a bit before checking into the hotel.  It was massive. Australia has nothing on American Malls.

Then for dinner, we went for Dinner at the hotel. The food was beautiful. We waited for about 2 hours for the bats with no luck. Apparently, they have been a bit on and off the past month so we missed out but still had a beautiful dinner and I think I should have stopped after the wine. But oh well. I should head to bed now as we have an early morning tomorrow with a flight to New Orleans.

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World Travel

USA Rad-venture: Gun shows & Donuts

3rd July 2016

Monday

Today we didn’t do too much. We both had a pretty restless night last night so wanted to keep it nice and simple today. 13570283_10154040301456622_737420537_o

We started by driving out to a small town called Belton about 30 minutes north of Round Rock. Why Belton you ask? Well, Belton was having their annual Gun Show. It was crazy. So many different types of guns. Big guns, little guns, Knives, Tasers, stun guns. There was so much. It was a real eye opener. We met some really interesting people too.

After the show, we took to the road to drive back in the direction of Round Rock. We stopped at the Round Rock shopping mall for a bit of spending. Before heading back to the hotel room we took a few back streets to find the 13575664_10154040301526622_1739417236_oinfamous Round Rock Donuts. They were amazing. Can not even begin to explain. So light, so fluffy, so perfect.

The rest of the afternoon has been extremely uneventful. I caught up on some washing and we had a few drinks in the hotel room before heading to the bar and grill beside the hotel for dinner. Relaxing in bed now, getting ready for the fourth.

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My first walmart haul.