A few weeks back I purchased a voucher through the Living Social website for Afternoon Tea and the use of the Spa facilties at the Doubletree Hilton in Cambridge for a bargain price of £35.

After a busy week which included saying goodbye to my little sister who flew back to New Zealand (it seems strange that we are no longer on the same time zone), I felt the need for a little bit of TLC.

I love Cambridge and luckily enough its only a 30 minute drive away from our house so when I want to indulge in some shopping I head straight to Cambridge and in the process I get to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.

Unfortunately I am back to not eating gluten, something which is highly annoying when you are out and about and need to grab something to eat in a hurry or when you are also addicted to Afternoon Teas as I am!

The afternoon tea was okay at the Doubletree Hilton, nothing too special and my request for a gluten free Afternoon Tea was not in the booking however the waiting and kitchen staff did find me a gluten free alternative which I am forever grateful for.  Fresh fruit vs cupcakes – G was a darling and gave me his cup cake frosting.

It was the strangest service ever though – after all the food was served, there was no waiting staff in the restaurant, it was the oddest thing ever.  We ended up just leaving as we weren’t sure what was happening and G needed to shop.

We went for walk into Cambridge as G wanted to buy a new pair of shoes (yes G not me! – that would be 5 pairs in 6 weeks!).  He is currently obsessed with Vans and he has pointed out another pair that he wants possibly as a Christmas present.  It’s seriously crazy as I think he might be needing another shelf in the Shoe Room.

Anyway after G’s retail therapy, I bought nothing, we headed to the spa facilities at the hotel to sit in the steam room and the hot tub, pure bliss when its chilly outside.

Walking back to catch the Park and Ride bus it was lovely to see Cambridge at night time, its a truly beautiful city at any time of the year.

xx

The weekend before last, it was Lisa’s last weekend in the Northern Hemisphere before heading back home to New Zealand after a number of months travelling. 

We decided we needed a girly weekend in London before she headed back to New Zealand so I used my very handy free night voucher thanks to my Priority Club Credit Card and booked us into the Intercontinental Park Lane in London.



The most comfortable bed ever!

The view over Green Park on Sunday morning; if only we could wake up to this view every morning.

So this was what our wonderful weekend in London consisted of –

Saturday

Shopping in Covent Garden – Lisa doing a mad dash around H&M as there isn’t one in New Zealand and falling in love with shoes and handbags at the Kate Spade NY store in Covent Garden.

Eating yummy burgers in GBK (the best burgers in the UK and yes I did eat gluten – oops!) and stopping off at the Kiwi shop in Covent Garden to pick up a few chocolate bars.

Ice skating under the fairy lights at the stunning setting of the Natural History Museum

 

Walking back to our lovely hotel via Harrods to check out the incredible Christmas windows which are themed around Disney. 

Sleeping Beauty!

Sunday

Joining the crowds and visiting Columbia Road Flower Market and purchasing a pretty bunch of pink roses for our house.

Riding through Hyde Park on the Boris bikes, admiring the gorgeous autumn colours.  Thank you to the concierge team at the Intercontinental Park Lane who gave us a key fob to use the bikes – its the little things that count!

Visiting the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A Musuem and seeing Dorothy’s little sparkly red shoes that had skipped down the yellow brick road.

xxx

 

OK to be honest I wasn’t fussed about going to Bryce or Zion Canyon in Utah other than it was two ticks in my 1000 places to visit before you die book. This was the part of the itinerary that G had organised as he wanted to visit both canyons.

We picked up a rental car from The Palazzo in Las Vegas and drove to the state of Utah via the Golden Arches for a quick salad and some fries.

We ended up staying in the tiny town called Panguitch on the first night which sits just outside the Bryce Canyon National Park. After staying in big cities this was a huge change for us – we decided on a motel close to the main drag. We had arrived in the dark so the following morning when we visited the local cafe for breakfast it looked like we had arrived in the Wild West, even the sheriff pulled up in his pick up to grab a coffee while we waited for our pancakes. It was like stepping into a very cool movie set. To be honest most people only stay the night on the way to the Canyon however the locals were very friendly, including our motel owner who had come back from hunting to show me how to use the shower! He must have thought dumb foreigner – trust me I was thinking the same thing!

After the pancakes, which were the best I ate in America (and I did eat a few!) we drove into the Canyon.

As it was out of season you didn’t need to take the bus between the vantage points which was great as we were strapped for time.

At the first vantage point which I must admit took my breathe away as it was stunning, G informed me that he had been to Bryce Canyon on his Trek America tour years ago and had forgotten hmm, no surprise there as he forgets my birthday regularly even though its only two days after his own.

Bryce Canyon is very unique and consists of spires called hoodoos caused by the erosion in the limestone. While in most Canyons you need to look up to appreciate the beauty, at Bryce you have the best vantage point looking down over the Canyon – it’s truly amazing and if you are visiting Las Vegas I would recommend taking a trip out to visit.

Our next stop was the whistle stop tour of Zion Canyon, G informed me he hasn’t been to this Canyon and it was really this one that he wanted to visit.

The drive into Zion Canyon is breath taking – something you really can’t appreciate if you are driving as there are so many hair pin turns, the sat nav looked like it had been attacked by a worm!

Zion Canyon seems to be more popular than Bryce hence there is a bus you need to take between the vantage points all year round not just in the high season like Bryce Canyon.

G decided we needed to take a little walk into the Canyon so in my new Minnetonka Moccasins we walked the shortest trial there was which everyone else seemed to be doing also.

There were cute little Bambi’s (deer’s) and a man eating squirrel that looked highly unpredictable – I am seriously thinking of adding squirrels to my list of animals that scare me – birds especially pigeons, rats, mice and sheep!  Look at the eyes!!!

Back safely onto the bus – the squirrel was playing / attacking some Americans who were trying to feed it, we stopped a few times at a few of the other vantage points to look up, which after a while hurts your neck.

For me Bryce Canyon was the best while G thought Zion Canyon was the best. We never agree on anything!

We had to have the rental car back by 1pm the following day and we had a five hour drive ahead of us so we decided to try to do a majority that evening and only have a short hop back to Las Vegas in the morning as G wanted to shot a few rounds off at one of the gun ranges – boys!!!

On the way, I managed to convince G to take me into Walmart – got myself an awesome Halloween pumpkin donut, so totally worth a visit.

We found another dodgy motel room with a dodgy shower that confused me for the second morning running however I didn’t have to ring reception thank goodness especially after getting a speech about God when checking in.

So it was a short hour drive back to Las Vegas, our sat nav had the special feature of telling us when there was a traffic jam so we took the exit and followed the sat nav at which point G said we needed fuel so we pulled over at the next petrol station.

You have to prepay in America, fill up and then go back in and get a refund for the difference. However I think the sat nav had taken us to a rough part of Vegas as they wouldn’t accept credit card and the men were giving me a once over and the women gave me the hiss and the roll of the eyes (I am not lying). Went back to the car as G had all the cash and said I don’t think we are in the best part of town! Yip he agreed! We paid and drove very fast to the gun range!

Phew!

Xxx

Our next stop after San Francisco was to be Las Vegas which I was pretty excited about visiting; if we ever got there thanks to President Obama and Virgin America.

When G was booking our tickets between San Francisco and Las Vegas it was cheaper for us to book first class seats than economy as first class came with two free bags while you had to pay for your bags in economy class on Virgin America – G had two bags by this point of the trip from all his shopping! It was my first time flying first class and it was a lovely experience sitting there watching all the economy passengers get onto the plane while the cabin crew are serving you a drink.

For some reason Virgin America flights never seem to take off on time ever when we flew them and this flight was going to be no different.

We realised there was a problem when the mechanical staff spent a lot of time in the cock pit (something you get to see and hear about when sitting in first class). When they finally signed off the paper work and gave the pilot the go ahead to leave we then had to wait as President Obama was flying in on Air Force one for his big San Francisco party we had heard about on the news earlier in the day.  We like Obama so we had no problems waiting.  We were just about to take off when the plane developed a mechanical fault while waiting on the run way – better to happen there than up in the air so we had to go back to the terminal. So sitting there waiting for the plane to get fixed we actually saw Air Force One which was pretty exciting and G took numerous photos with his iPad.

 Finally our plane was deemed not fit to fly so we had to disembark and then re-board onto a new plane – thank goodness for sitting in first class (so I could watch all the economy passengers get on again – I did get value for money!)

Luckily for me I managed to purchased my second frozen yogurt for the day due to the delay – every dark cloud has a silver lining.

Finally we made it to Las Vegas and managed to get a taxi driver with a death wish or as G said – he seemed to think he was still running from rebels from his home country.

We had arrived at the craziest place on earth – Las Vegas!

xxx