If anyone knows Sheryl, you know what a real treat it was to experience her in her natural element in Viva Las Vegas. For a quick backstory, my mom’s perfect night is going to play keno and maybe even end up at the casino *GASP*. Scandalous that one. The best part is, she doesn’t drink and spends at tops $40 a night. She might correct me on this but seriously she plays on $20 for hours at a slot machine. She also thrives on the free pop you receive. Oh, that wild woman.
Anyway, I knew going to Vegas with my mom would be entertaining. She lets me do my own thang (drink *cough*) and she just goes off on her own little adventures. Sheryl ended up at the pool almost every morning before us youngins were even awake. She walked miles up and down the strip searching for her next “lucky slot” and enjoyed grabbing an ice cold Coke from the nearest McDonald’s. Things would be so much simpler if we just did Vegas like Sheryl, I swear. While we felt like near death on the plane ride home she was excited and full of energy.
Her most entertaining evening was at Ellis Island; it was a match made in gamble heaven. Not only did she find her “lucky slot”, she also discovered a CHEAP and delicious steak for dinner. She was on FIRE. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion or what but we about peed our pants laughing at her. To give you some context here, we were finally seated at a table to eat but Sheryl was nowhere to be found so we just waited for about 10 minutes. Finally, I went on the hunt for her and found her right outside of the restaurant on that lucky slot. She wasn’t done playing yet and brushed me away and said order whenever, she’ll be there soon. Ohhh kay, Sheryl, jeez.
Finally, she arrived with guns blazing. I swear, if you didn’t know her, you would have thought she was drunk! But nope, just high on Ellis Island and winning. She couldn’t stop talking about her new Ellis Island rewards card and that slot machine. Then came the steak and omg, you would have thought it was her 21st Birthday. The woman was loving life.
Oh, she also got back to her hotel room at the same time or later than us every night! She was unstoppable!
If Sheryl was to write this post and give you her recommendations on the best places to go, I think this is what she would say…
Ellis Island, DUH
This is actually a total crowd pleaser. We go here every trip. It’s cheap, fun, great food, and… THEY HAVE KARAOKE!!! If you go, tell them that Sheryl sent you. I’m sure they know who she is – she’s one of the top fans for sure.
One of the best places to bet on horses! One thing Sheryl taught me at a tender age was how to box those exactas and win those trifectas!
This is where Sheryl played roulette for the first time and WON! They also have beer pong. It’s located right in the Linq area.
You can also grab a refreshing, cold frozen Bailey’s. Even Sheryl had one!
This was a place Sheryl wanted to take us through (I had never been in) so we HAD TO GO. Then, when we got there the hidden surprise of a real lion was gone. Sheryl was pretty disappointed in that. Here she is asking security where the heck that lion went : joy:
This is where Sheryl stayed (and so did we one night). They have a pretty nice Keno setup and the rooms are pretty nice!!
We love this place! Sheryl did too! Had one of her two alcoholic beverages of the trip there!
Fremont Street / Golden Nugget
I better throw this up on Sheryl’s list because she has stayed here before and really loved it!
I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other gems but maybe if we get lucky enough one day, Sheryl will highlight her Vegas favorites on this blog! Also, feel free to check out my Twitter account for the best of Sheryl in Vegas!
I feel like I’m taking on a lot to even begin writing this post. Once I got back home from our England and Ireland trip I quickly realized that London is probably my favorite city in the whole world. This is no shocker considering I’ve been obsessed with it since I could remember. I used to have aspirations of attending Oxford (get out of your laughs out now…) and I proudly hung the U.K. flag in my bedroom. I also watched What a Girl Wantsreligiously one summer and decided I would live that London life one day.
So it’s not a shocker that I feel like I’m unqualified to even write this post because I barely skimmed the surface of everything you can do in London. I’m already getting ready to book that plane ticket back there so I can go to all the places I didn’t have time for! I’m going to share with you what we did do along with other things we were told about but didn’t have the time to try! I’m also including all of the tips I learned along the way!
The London Tower
This is No. 1 for a reason. It was my favorite stop on our Day Tour of London and now I’m completely obsessed with the Tudor family. I just finished the book Three Sisters, Three Queens and if you’re into scandals (who isn’t?), I highly suggest reading up on this royal family. Everyone is familiar with King Henry VIII…well this is the place where he beheaded a couple of his wives. It’s a pretty spooky place. If it wasn’t a sunny day and full of tourists I’m not sure how long I would’ve lasted on the London Tower grounds.
Tip: Speaking of tourists, the place gets very, very busy. We even went during the off-season of tourism but it was on the weekend of Easter, which we quickly discovered they celebrate hardcore across the pond. Pretty much everyone has a long weekend and spends it with family. I would suggest getting there early (we went right after lunch) and getting in line for the Crown Jewels first. It seems like that is the place that fills up the quickest. We didn’t even get to see them because our tour guide said it would be at least a 45-minute wait, so we just explored all the other places.
But everything that we did see was amazing – the torture chamber, The White Tower, Ravens, it was all extremely interesting. It was hard to believe that the history you have been told happened on the same ground you were standing on.
The London Eye is sort of one of those things you have to do as a tourist. Now, I will say it’s not easy on your wallet and the entire experience only lasts about 30 minutes, but it’s pretty cool! If you’re trying to budget, I think you could skip it. If you’re going all out, then definitely add this to your list of things to do!
Tip: Book your ticket in advance online and take caution that the place gets extremely busy and it’s a very congested area when it does. It was one of those times that I actually didn’t like all the people. There were SO MANY people it was bit annoying. We ended up going on one of the last rides around 7:30 pm and it cleared out so much that I highly recommend going later if you’re not into crowds of people. See pic below.
One of Her Majesty’s homely abode… Buckingham Palace was so cool to see (even though I did feel like it was a bit smaller than I had anticipated, I for real thought it was Kensington Palace when we rolled up to it). We were supposed to go on the day that they did the Changing of the Guards (this is scheduled and doesn’t happen every day, so plan accordingly), but it ended up getting moved to the next day due to security. You know what, though? I think I liked it better the way that I saw Buckingham Palace because we went early in the morning around 8 am and there was barely anyone there! We could get all of the pics we wanted right up to the gate – which does not happen once the day gets going, that place gets really busy. Now, imagine it with the Changing of the Guards ceremony. Talk about a storm of people!
Tip: My tip here is like above, just get there early if you really want to spectate and maybe plan a different day to come back and watch the Changing of the Guards. I hear they play Katy Perry songs during it (seriously).
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Did you know that this is where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married at?! You can literally walk down the “aisle” like she did! St. Paul’s Cathedral is breathtaking, it’s huge and full of so much art and history. We went on a guided tour that we purchased through Viator, but you can also go by yourself and rent a listening guide and walk through St. Paul’s on your own.
Tip: My only tip for this is if you are interested in going during an actual service, you can! Just check their schedule and join a Sunday service or a special chorus performance, I think they have those often.
I loved Trafalgar Square, there is always so much stuff going on. We were there on Easter weekend and they were doing a free play for everyone. It’s a cool place to walk around and just hang out and admire all of the statues and architecture. If this tells you anything how cool it is; I had no idea we were in Trafalgar Square and I took like 150 pictures then realized where I was. There was so much to look at!
Tip: Grab some food and take it Trafalgar Square for a picnic!
Boat Ride on River Thames
This is an easy way to see a lot of London in a fun way! Pro tips: You can use your Oyster card ( the same card you use for the train system) on some of the boats and I *think* all boats have food and drinks aboard. One we went on even had an option to have afternoon tea!
Tip: Try to go with a tour guide if you can (Viator has options) because then they will be able to point places out to you and tell you more history.
This place completely took my breath away. I seriously felt like I had a spiritual awakening when viewing this masterpiece. It’s the grave to many extremely prominent humans who have graced this earth and it’s also a place where someone like Princess Diana has had her funeral held. I was standing in front of the door that they carried her coffin in and I remember watching that on TV when I was little. We were only able to view the outside, but it’s at the top of my list for the next London visit.
Tip: Go early! This is a busy tourist spot. The doors open at a different time each day, you can find the times here. The day we went, we were there around 8:45 – 9 am and there was hardly anyone around. Right around 9:15 I looked back at where we were and there was a huge line! It fills up quick, so I highly suggest going right when they open. It’s a place not to miss.
The Tower Bridge
This is a place we didn’t get to visit (only saw it from afar) but I hear it’s really cool! You can walk at the top and walk over glass to see below!
Tip: Schedule your visit and book online ahead of time, this was partly why we weren’t able to visit because we couldn’t get in!
Visit London’s Oldest Wine Bar: Gordon’s
This was a place recommended to us by a friend and I’m so glad we were told about this gem! Grabbing a bottle of wine, or half (you can buy half a bottle!) then sitting outside on the large patio or if you’re lucky, find a spot in the inside, it’s an old cave-looking place. You’ll feel like you’re going back in time there. It’s fairly priced too, a glass is around 5 pounds and snacks are reasonable as well.
Tip: It gets pretty busy around 6 pm during the weekdays because of everyone getting off work and grabbing a drink. We went around this time and it was so busy that we had to make a makeshift table out of a lawn chair…
British Museum & National Gallery Art Museum
Sadly, this is one place that we tried to go to but the line was about 2 miles long (okay, that might be exaggerating just a tad) but it was so busy. The next time we’re in London, I’m waking up bright and early and getting my butt in line. This museum holds some of the most fascinating and rare things in the world – including the Rosetta Stone. This place is huge too, you probably won’t be able to see everything so map out your plan ahead of time.
Tip: All museums in London are free – YAY! They do, however, have tours and special events that you can pay to see and are usually still cheap!
Even though we were bummed about not being able to go to the British Museum, we just headed to the next museum we could find. That’s the beauty of them having free admission! You can go to all of them without spending a dime! We ended up walking through the National Gallery art museum, which did NOT disappoint! We saw art by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Leonardo, Monet, among many others.
London Olympic Stadium Tour
For all you Olympic fanatics, this one is for you! You can still visit the grounds of the 2012 Summer Olympics! The stadium is now home to West Ham United soccer team and the tour is a little focused on them but they do a great job of focusing on the Olympics too. The tour was so great, it’s a self-guided tour with a mobile device and headphones to listen to different parts of the stadium to highlight Olympic moments and to explain what it’s used for now.
Tip: For any swimmer fans, you can visit the pool but it’s not part of the stadium tour. The pool is just a short walk from the stadium and it’s now a rec center and gym so you’ll have to pay just 1 pound to get in and see it. They also have little peddling boats outside too! There’s randomly a lot to do around there and there’s a huge outdoor shopping center close by too.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter
First, I just want to say one thing: If you are not a fan of Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter. This is still worth a visit. This tour was everything I thought it would be and MORE! I’ve visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando so I expected it to be similar but a bit on steroids. Well, it is! But even more intense than that! The tour will give you props galore (including major props like the house on Privet Drive, parts of the castle, and more). You will quickly see how much intricate detail the design team put into everything. Even books that will go unnoticed on stage have every detail imaginable. Another cool part: This is the same studio where the movies were actually filmed at too!
You could spend so many hours at this place. Just when you think you’re done with the tour you walk into a brand new section of the place. It’s amazing!
Tip: The Studio Tour is actually in Watford, so it’s about a 30-min train ride outside of London. You can book your train ticket in advance and once you get there, they have a Harry Potter double-decker bus to pick you up for a few pounds and it will bring you back.
This place feels like the Europen Times Square! There’s a ton of shops and places to eat here. We spent an evening walking around here and then ate at Masala Zone, a popular Indian restaurant in London.
It’s been… 23 days since we’ve landed back in the states (did anyone else think I was going here or just me?)
I don’t even have my all of our pictures organized and I have strong ambitions to create one of those Shutterfly photo book things and a video from our adventures. But it’s been almost a month and I don’t even have all of my pictures loaded on Dropbox! Who knew this stuff would be so much work? Kinda reminds me of post-wedding. So many ideas, so much time, but so little motivation (because shows like The Handmaid’s Tale comes out and I can never say no to a happy hour…)
I’m feelin’ pretty ambitious today, though and I really want to share our trip to Europe. I’m going for tons of posts on here because I want to share everything (seriously, I took pictures of every meal I ate and made Brandon real embarrassed almost every time).
So to keep it somewhat short, here’s where we went and what we did in a nutshell and then I’ll go way more in-depth soon to come!
First stop: Minneapolis
No, really. Our layover was here and we boarded the plane to complete decadence. This was my first international flight and man do they treat you good! I was a kid in a candy store – you get food brought to you so many times (YUS), TONS of movie options (including brand new ones and Titanic, ahem), a warm washcloth to wash your face, and complimentary eye masks, earplugs, and headphones. WHAT. A. LUXURY. And we were in the cheapest seats avail. Can you tell it doesn’t take much to impress this princess? (Kidding)
Well, I’ve only waited my entire life to visit!!!!! I’m still shocked that I didn’t cry when we landed because I was so happy. London was incredible and I also need to be on the next flight out of the states to London ASAP. I can’t wait to return someday. The city is amazing and there’s so much to do, it’s the one place I really feel like I didn’t get to do everything – there’s just so much to see!
I will go way more in depth at a later time but I will tell you that The Tower of London was probably my favorite place to visit. I’m addicted to learning about the Royal Tudor family now. I’m reading a book that I’ll probably share later. Talk about scandal! I mean, King Henry VIII, amiright? Wowzas.
Also, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. They took my breath away!
You will quickly find out this turned into a personal Titanic experience… We went here because it’s a such a prominent place for the Titanic. It’s where Rose boards… Okay, so I know she’s not real but it really was where elites like Mr. Andrews boarded and the White Star Line headquarters was here as well. This was a huge docking spot for Titanic and a ton of the workers were from Southampton. We got to stay in the White Star Hotel, a restaurant/hotel that was once where some of the Titanic passengers stayed the night before their fateful journey began. Down the street from our hotel was the hotel where many of the first class passengers stayed (like Mr. Andrews), and across the street is an infamous bar called The Grapes where a couple passengers missed their boarding time from drinking and wasn’t able to board at all (lucky for them).
Back to London… AKA Harry Potter Tour!!
Oh yes, this happened. And it was magical!!!! The whole entire thing was a pinch-me experience.
What’s a trip to Europe without a soccer game?! I’m proudly a newfound Hotspur fan now.
We flew into Cork, rented a car (that was fun), and drove in Cork, to Cobh, then Kinsale where we stayed a couple nights and let me tell you, that is one postcard-perfect-looking town!
Important to note: Cobh was the final boarding stop for Titanic (see the boarding dock below).
Ireland: Blarney Castle, Fanore, Cliffs of Moher, and places in between
The Blarney Castle was one of my favorite places to visit on the entire trip! I kissed the stone!!! We stayed in Fanore which is where I’m going to retire. We also ate at the famous Durty Nelly’s along the way!
Inis Oirr AKA Islands off the west coast of Ireland
Oh do I have a story for YOU! This island was great, about 200-some people reside here so when we got dropped off we found a pub! I had a few Guinnesses and… it didn’t end the best for me. Aparently there’s a lot of iron in a pint of Guinness and I’m pescatarian so iron isn’t really something I’m high in, so I’m blaming that! ; )
There is SO much more from where this came from but I just overdid it on blogging for one day and I’m now pooped.
Last week I was in Vegas from Sunday to Wednesday for work. It was a great time, not to mention had a major career moment when I spoke on my very first panel during the conference!! Here’s where it goes from THIS IS AWESOME to WUT. I got sick. I NEVER get sick. Seriously, I really don’t. I can’t tell you the last time I was sick (besides last week). Well anywho, I start feeling a little sluggish on Sunday, but I also got about 4 hours of sleep thanks to a few libations on Saturday night so I figured that was the cause.
Monday morning I wake up with a sore throat but figured it was from all of the smoke in the casinos. After being up for a couple hours I started to get the chills and my head/nose started to hurt. CRAP. It was happening.
I got some DayQuil and slowly began to feel alive again until about 4 hours later when it wore off and I had to slug back a couple more DayQuils as I talked to hundreds of people. It was brutal.
So I went to bed early (in Vegas, who does that?) and hoped I would wake up better. I tossed and turned throughout the night and woke up sweaty then freezing. Basically, the apocalypse was happening inside of me. It was so bad and to make matters worse I knew people were having the time of their lives outside my hotel window. The next morning my fever broke and I was just a sore throat, stuffy nose gal. Much better than the previous day. But through this entire fiasco I learned how to be sick in Vegas and now I’m going to share it with you in case you find yourself in this position some day (I hope you don’t). This is also being created for that one lucky person who someday Googles “what to do when you’re sick in Vegas”. 😉
Look, Vegas is a hard city to be sick in people! It’s full of dry air, smoke, lots of walking, heat, and good food and lots of water is more work to come by then it needs to be. Here are my tips:
1. Get DayQuil.
I can’t stress this one enough. DayQuil is my go-to. It’s the medicine you need to take if you still have to try and function while being sick. You can go for NyQuil too but I usually just stick to DayQuil unless I know I can get a lot of sleep in. You can get it anywhere in the convenience stores within the casinos or at Walgreens or CVS.
Zicam is another winner, this stuff is AWESOME! If you’re havin’ nose problems I feel bad for you son, I got Zicam and… yeah, I got nothing. I thought I had a better line for this.
2. Drink Liquids: The not-fun kind.
Keep drinking water and warm water with honey if possible! I made a horrible mistake of drinking a hardcore cold brew on Monday morning and I swear it escalated my cold times a hundred. Drink tea only if it’s non-caffeinated. It’s so tempting to get drinks there even if it’s not alcoholic because everyone has a drink in their hand. Also, realized how hard free water can be to come by in Vegas. Get a large water bottle somewhere and then just find places to fill it up. This might be a hard task because water fountains are practically non-existant but I found them in the meeting areas of hotels. So look around and go deep into the hallways of the hotels way past the casino part and you might get lucky. Or just keep buying water but you’re already sick so you might as well try to save money.
If you can get your hands on a humidifier go for that too! You need all the hydration you can get in that city!
Look, I know it’s Vegas but if you need to lay down for a couple hours DO IT. I was lucky that I had my own hotel room so I could just go to sleep early but if you’re with a ton of people this might get rough. Try to push through and sleep as much as you can. I also understand if you just want to YOLO and deal with it when you get home…
and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Feel free to get a shake if ice cream helps your throat too 😉 My go-to was Johnny Rockets! I also ate a massive pizza and delicious pasta. And In-and-Out. Not sure if that helped or not…
I’m only about two years late on this post but it’s finally here! A recap of our honeymoon to Aruba! First, let me tell you why you should choose Aruba! Aruba is “The Happy Island” and it really does live up to its slogan, everyone is super nice and it’s one of the few Carribean islands where you don’t have to stay on a resort. It’s extremely safe so you can go all over the island and explore.
Where to Stay
While there are resorts on Aruba, staying on a resort isn’t required in Aruba since it’s so safe. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Hotel and Casino. They have normal rooms but the top floor is reserved as the “Tradewinds Club” that costs extra but gets you amazing views and lots of food and drinks! I felt like it was pretty close to a resort vibe with the upgrade to the Tradewinds Club. We ended up staying there and it was awesome. They had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lunch and dinner were a sample of food from the restaurants at the hotel and this is what we ate every day (minus one night) and it totally fills you up! They also have free cocktails every evening with a fully stocked bar where you can just make your own drinks (this part was the best!!!). They had good booze too, think Grey Goose, Jack Daniels, etc. They also had a stocked fridge with pop and the local beer that you could get throughout the entire day. So if you wanted to drink for free all day, your options would just be the beer and then wait for the hard liquor in the evening.
All the “Chill” beer you want!
The Marriot Stellaris also had an awesome pool, great restaurants, and a casino! We only went to the casino for a bit but it was cool to walk from the beach and into a casino and feel like you’re in Vegas!
If you want another option, there are tons of hotels along the beach all side-by-side and they all seemed pretty similar. Next door to the Marriot was The Ritz-Carlton and holy crap that place was really nice. We walked around the hotel and it was beautiful. Very upscale. If that’s the style you are looking for, I would recommend The Ritz.
We almost stayed at The Renaissance Resortbut the only downside is that it’s not on the beach, however, they do have a private island that you can go on and there are even flamingos on it! Chances are you have seen a video of this on your Facebook timeline, it’s that magical looking paradise with flamingos walking around!
What to Do
Safe to say there are lots to do on the 19.6-mile long island of Aruba. Here’s what we did below!
The waters are crystal blue and amazing! Neither of us had snorkeled before which a pro tip on this one; if you have never snorkeled before, try practicing before you go! I ended up swallowing so much salt water that my stomach did not feel so hot.
We went on the Mi Dushi snorkel tour (they also offer other boat rides, but we did the “Taste of Aruba”) and it was a great experience! We went to 3 different locations, the first one was an easy one for beginners and the other one was easy too then we did one hard snorkel dive in the deep waters where there was a shipwreck! If you’re an experienced snorkeler, you could’ve dove down and saw it since it’s not too far from the surface. On our tour we got lunch and I think it was my favorite meal there. My mouth is watering thinking about it. It was fish, rice, and I think veggies with a dessert. They also had alcoholic beverages for all you could drink, but not going to lie, I barely had any it didn’t seem like the others were really drinking either. You’re in the water most of the time.
The Mi Dushi tour was also a great deal for 4 hours of snorkeling and lunch! They also stop and let you jump off the boat and have some fun.
There I go!
Again, one of the great things about Aruba is how safe it is! You can rent a car and go off and explore the island on your own! As fun as it was, we got super lost and it made my pretty car sick thanks to all of the small, winding turns up hills and the road signs are not the same as in the states… But it was still great! Might be the highlight of the trip actually because it was just us two navigating our way around this island. The island is barely 20 miles long so you can go to both ends and stop numerous times in one day. We found ourselves in a lot of places… like a random baseball game, the cliffs by the ocean, even PIZZA HUT! Side note: They have Pizza Hut and Taco Bell so we ate at both to taste test it. Spoiler alert: It tastes exactly as it does in America. Lol
Also, are you ready for one of the best parts of this mini road trip? The car. And it’s even better if you know Brandon and I (we’re both small people, and this car was perfect for us).
Just look at that beaut!
We did drive to my favorite place in all of Aruba, rock wish gardens next to the coolest cliff I’ve ever seen.
Now here’s something you HAVE to do if you visit Aruba. Leave your “wish rocks” on the beach. There were piles of rocks all over the place, and they are left from others who have visited. You are supposed to pick flat rocks (as many as you want), and then start your “tower of devotion” they can contain a wish each.
We also stopped at a couple of other beaches and even went snorkeling again (by this point we were practically pros)!
For all my history buffs out there! It’s a small museum and free of charge. It’s close to downtown so I would suggest getting dropped off there by a taxi then walking around to the shops. You shouldn’t have to plan a ton of time at this museum since it is smaller, but it’s fun to see everything and learn more about the history of this island. It’s definitely a place they don’t teach you about in school!
The outside of it is beautiful too. Just look at the colors of these buildings!
They have a mall and the downtown area (aka Oranjestad) that is perfect for shopping and getting street food! I even got a coconut drink that a guy cut with a machete and even let me have a whack at it! The shops are great and something for everyone. They have typical souvenir stores, beach stores (think: like Pacsun), grocery stores, and basically everything. It’s a cruise ship stop so you’ll probably see a lot of people purchasing things they need. I actually bought a straightener at one of the electronic stores because I forgot mine at home #FirstWorldProblems.
The Kukookunuko Party Bus
Saving the best for last on this one. YOU GUYS THIS IS SO MUCH FUN! The Kukoo Kanuku is a party bus that takes you around to bars of Aruba and they have a tour that includes a dinner as well. We did the dinner one and it was awesome, it’s a great opportunity to make friends on your trip. We made a few friends that we saw throughout the trip (a couple even gave us their snorkel gear because they didn’t want to take it on the plane – and now we own snorkeling gear! BOOM)
But for real, please go on this if you like to have a good time. They start off by picking up everyone at their hotels. Then, we went to the beach for a kick-off champagne toast and then to our first bar.
Next up, we ate dinner at some random place (if you do this option, don’t be afraid when they take some backroads to a dark place…) The food was awesome and it gave you the chance to meet everyone on the bus. Keep in mind, if you aren’t interested in meeting new people and you’re just hanging with your sig. other, that’s okay! You won’t feel pressured to talk to other people. But once the drinks get flowing you might think otherwise…
They have a special deal where you can purchase a small water bottle from them for like $10 and then when you go to the bars, you can get really cheap drinks in your water bottle (think $3 and under) – this also brings up an important point: They will accept American money and debit cards at some places.
Highly suggest purchasing the water bottle, though, it’s a great deal!
I would love to flood this post with pics from this night, it was EPIC. Please promise me you will consider this if you visit Aruba!
Ah, Harry Potter. One of the greatest things on earth. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much breathe everything Harry Potter. I’m constantly reading the series, watching one of the movies at least a couple (or few) times a month, scroll through multiple Harry Potter Facebook groups, you get the idea… So when Brandon agreed to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during our quick stop in Orlando before heading to Aruba for a honeymoon, I was pretty much in heaven.
Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter did NOT disappoint. We only made it to Diagon Alley for lack of time, but still worth every penny galleon. We even waiting in line for almost 3 hours to board the ride “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts”. You guys, I almost cried after this ride because it was like a childhood dream coming true! (More on that below).
So first, I would plan on at least one entire day or two just to be safe that you cover all grounds at both parks! There are two parks connected by the Hogwarts Express. Diagon Alley is inside the park and Hogsmeade is out on the island. Since we only had a limited time we opted for just Diagon Alley so we could explore it with the rest of the park. If you have to choose, I would suggest Diagon Alley because you have to pay for the Hogwarts Express as well, so it’s definitely the cheaper option.
You enter Diagon Alley from the streets of London feeling like a true muggle turning eleven and discovering that “yer a wizard ‘Arry”! It’s SO COOL! Here’s what it looks like on the outside:
Next thing you know, you’re in Diagon Alley! Now go get yourself a wand ya wizard! Stop at Ollivanders Wand shop and choose a famous wizard’s wand or opt for the interactive one!
This is something I wish I would’ve planned ahead of time. Here’s why: I thought that if you were buying a wand that you could do the whole “the wand chooses the wizard” thing. But it’s actually chosen at random sometimes for a quick show while everyone is in the shop. The other thing is you can only buy wands from other famous witches and wizards, where I thought it would be all kinds of wands you could choose from. So I went for Harry’s wand and to this day I still wish I would’ve gone for Dumbledore’s wand (the Elder Wand). That’s okay, though, looks like I will just have to start collecting them all… 😉
The wand isn’t cheap, I believe it was $40 and not interactive. You can buy an interactive wand which is SUPER cool! Basically, it comes with a map to interact with things around the park. For example, there might be a feather in a shop window that you can make levitate. I would suggest this if you’re planning on spending a lot of time there to give you optimal time to explore all the secret wand places. Oh, and I suggest getting your wand early on to start your wizarding experience right!
One of the best parts! Bring an appetite and empty belly because there are a LOT of food and drink options everywhere you look. They have lots of little pop-up shops for drinks and candy that are so much fun to check out! I of course, snagged a butter beer with an upgrade to a collector’s cup! Gotta be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of it but I still drank it because I just wanted to sip out of that cup! We also had lunch at The Leaky Cauldron which was one of the coolest experiences. The entire place is so realistic, it’s incredible what they did to build that entire park. So many details and it just feels like everything you’ve watched and read is right in front of you.
Expect The Leaky Cauldron to be pretty busy all the time, but they actually move quick and get you in fast. It helps that there was just two of us so we could squeeze in. So if you’re in a larger group, you might need to save a little extra time for it. I had fish and chips and they were DELICIOUS!
Bahaha! That meme will never get old. Diagon Alley is one heck of a place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The shops, food, everything. It’s just pure perfection! They do have one ride, “Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringotts” and holy crap it’s so awesome. You will most likely wait awhile in line to get in but it’s worth the wait. They use holograms and… I don’t want to give away anymore! But let’s just say you will feel like you are in the movie. It’s amazing. I almost shed a tear after it.
I don’t really have much more to say other than YOU NEED TO GO IF YOU HAVEN’T YET! I would be sure to plan lots of time if you can (it’s a busy place) and save money so you don’t have to hold back on anything like an interactive wand and trying all the foods you see 🙂
I want to hear! Have you visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What was your favorite part?! Any tips?
Flashback to last Wednesday around 2pm. Brandon messages me that he has something to discuss and that he’s coming up to my office (I work on the floor above him) and here I’m thinkin’ dangit, what’s he up to and what’s happening?
He comes upstairs and proposes that we hit the road to Chicago Friday afternoon and go to both Cubs games on the weekend. WHOA. WHAT? OKAY!
So I was in. Plus, ROOOOAD TRIP! I’ve never driven to or from Chicago before (and gotta say, it’s actually not as bad as I thought)!
We left around 3pm Friday, stopped at Chipotle in Des Moines (of course) and landed in Chi City around 11:30pm. I got the vibe that the hotel we were staying at was in a business district so we were striking out left and right trying to find a place to get a drink around midnight, but we were on a mission.
We ended up finding our way to CityScape Bar in a randomly really fancy Holiday Inn. I was impressed.
Also: I really think you get buzzed up there because you’re so high up. I was only a few sips in and felt a little somethin’. Maybe it was just that Chicago feeling 😉
Makin’ our way to Kirkwood for the Husker game! For those unfamiliar, Kirkwood is one of the Husker alumni bars in Chicago, also happens to be the Indiana basketball alumni bar… awkwarddd
Next up, the first quarter. Um, can I just say that was some of the best minutes of my life? Can we always play like the first quarter?!! I was so amped up I bought a boot. Couldn’t resist. (I also did not drink most of this).
YOU GUYS WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
So here we are just completely lovin’ life, with a boot filled with beer, what more could we possibly want? Uh, I DNK – how about TIM MILES WALKING INTO THE BAR.
No joke. Tim and his wife came into the bar. I knew in that moment that this would be one of the most special days of my life. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Sadly, I do not have a pic, but we did chat with him and his wife. I just wanted to feel cool and not ask for a pic, ya know what I mean? Also, he told Brandon and I that he has this picture of us from when Brandon proposed to me with a ball signed by him. WE HAVE OFFICIALLY MADE LIFE SUCCESSFUL, MY FRIENDS!!
The game started to get a little crummy but my spirits were still as high as the Signature Lounge on the 95th. So we made our way towards Wrigley Field and watched the rest of the Husker game at the other Husker alumni bar, Rockwood Place.
Tensions were starting to run high. Nebraska was not looking so hot, but I was doing juuuust fine. Had a drink in my hand and was in Chicago. Plus, the Cubs hadn’t even played yet! But then, the miracle happened. WE WON.
So we took our pride with us down to the Cubby Bear for one last drank before heading into Wrigley, then life waved its wand and made magic happen again…
A Jimmy John’s promoter was handing out free JJ’s and HATS! HATS YOU GUYS! Like legit Jimmy John’s hats. We were so happy, you have no idea. Also, they were quality New Era hats! WHAT? So… we have a Husker win, talked to Tim Miles, and now this? OKAY!
(Yes, we were actually this pumped up about JJ…)
First Cubs game of the weekend. LEGGO!
What a fun game! Thoroughly enjoyed this one – and that Grand Slam in the 8th. AMAZING.
SNAP CHAT FILTERS DESERVE A “W” TOO!
While I struggled through the day a bit (thanks ‘skers and Cubs), we still had a good time IN A BOAT!
You can rent little electric boats on the hour at Chicago Boat Rental! It up to holds 10 peeps and I hear you can usually find a 50% discount during the weekdays!
Look at how small that little thing was! haha! This wasn’t our boat, but someone else renting the same one:
Bub City brunch. I sustained from the booze and ordered mac n’ cheese instead. My body just couldn’t handle.
Afterward, we were all feeling the wrath that Chicago gave us and took a quick nap at the hotel. No. Shame.
Made our way to the Cubs game and got ourselves Giordano’s pizza. P.S. Did you know that all food is 25% off an hour before the game starts? Boom!
The game didn’t quite end as good as we hoped. 🙁
Next up: Drive back to Lincoln. I slept the entire way, landed in Lincoln around 7am, got ready for work and was back in the office within the hour.
Full of booze, fun, fish, bikes, and a couple wins.
Safe to say I’m exhausted. Good news is this Monday back at work we spent half the day playing “tiny golf” aka mini golf. So that was awesome!
This Chicago trip was one of the tops for me. I don’t know if it was all the Husker fans taking over the city or that we were able to pack so much greatness in a couple days. Let’s begin where it all went down…
Highly recommend staying at this sick Airbnb that is 3 APTS AWAY FROM WRIGLEY FIELD! I couldn’t believe it – def the way to stay in Chicago. Just a few blocks away from the Red Line and beach. Here’s what we did during the weekend (and what you should plan on doing when you visit Chicago next!!)
Wrigley Field Tour
Quick pro tip: Do the tour when there’s not a game that day because then you get on the field! We need to do this again, though because we couldn’t visit the opponent’s locker room since the Cards had already arrived. That locker room is one of the most historic places in the ballpark because so many famous athletes have been in there. Think Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, you name it!
What we really wanted was karaoke and boy did we find it! THIS PLACE WAS AWESOME! It reminded me or a Margaritaville meets Nashville. If you’re ever near this place, be sure to visit Trader Todd’s.
Because, duh! Also made sure to get my brew, peanuts, and Giordano’s personal pizza.
Ride Bikes Along the Beach
This was so much fun (and so much work). We should’ve known that after drinking two days straight your muscles don’t work quite the same as usual. It was still awesome, though. We rented a bike for $10 then rode it along the beach from Wrigleyville to the Navy Pier. It’s a great ride that took about 30-40 minutes but for sure grabbed an Uber on the way back 😉
NE vs. Northwestern Football Game
Okay, so you can’t always do this but it was great! Always a good time there, it’s just straight up Husker fans all around. That stadium was FILLED with red – such a beautiful sight! BONUS: They had veggie burgers!!! Seriously, I love you Memorial Stadium but you NEED to get some veggie-friendly selections. It’s so not fun not having decent food to fill my booze-filled stomach with!
THIS is getting its own post soon – OMGSH you guys, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. When I woke up Sunday morning I had very rare end-of-the-weekend energy. I was determined to make it to Museum Campus to check out a place I haven’t been yet even if I went alone. So I did. The place was so cool and so worth a visit. I even found a book about Lake Michigan shipwrecks that I’m now currently reading and holy crap it’s fascinating. Will have to share my finds later on here 😉
We have all witnessed one of these fans at some point of our Husker fan career…
*Please note: These might be dramatized and stereotypical arranged for one’s humor. 😉
1. The Heavy Shopper
This person is usually toting around a couple bags of new Husker merchandise. They are also about 98.5% likely to purchase a program at the game and upgrade to the souvenir cup at the concession stand.
2. The First Timer
Usually a kid under the age of 10. They look around in awe and have a red First National balloon in hand. They will remember the game for weeks to come and become a life-long Husker football fan. Witnessing “The First Timer” is a great fan site for any Husker.
3. The Drunk Guy
You knew this one was coming, huh? He might be screaming “GOOO BIIIIG REEED” in anticipation for a GBR chant from the crowd following or he could just be shouting words. Who knows. He may get angry at bad calls and stupid plays during the game, even drop profanities here and there, but he could also just fall right asleep sitting up. You never really know what to expect with “The Drunk Guy”.
4. The Drunk Girl
Ah yes, this beautiful fan. She might stumble in the game, drop a shooter or two in the bathroom stall on accident, and may need help walking up the stadium stairs. This one I like to call “The Drunk Girl”. We’ve all been her a time or two. I mean, Nebraska is known to tailgate and tailgate hard. Can we really blame her? She might also be fast asleep in her seat by the third quarter.
5. The Fancy Season Ticket Holder
Usually found near the Champions Club or on the west side of Memorial tailgating in the horseshoe with a badge (of honor) around their neck. They may pregame with fellow ticket holders and discuss business every once in awhile or schedule the next tee time.
6. The Husker Football Historian
Knows everything there is to know about everything Husker football. They might’ve even come from the Volleyball game before kick-off. This person misses nothing. They can spew off every former player’s name and what their stats were. They also have a Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne shrine at home. Might also bring binoculars and a radio headset to every game.
7. The Small Town Nebraska Fan
One of my personal favorites because nothin’ says Husker football like a small town Nebraskan. This person might stick out with their overalls, game jerseys, farmer hats, and boots. They enjoy being in the “big city” on game day. They’ll probably have a beer in hand and might get down to party. In fact, I’ve found there’s two types of these fans: those that are here to party hard and those who are just here to enjoy the game then head back to their town. Both equally great fans.
8. The Past Husker Football Player
This fan might still wear their letterman jacket (I’m lookin’ at you, Johnny Rodgers), but most just sit back and blend in with the rest of the crowd or give on-air commentary to local radio stations. Sometimes, you might even find them at The Bar The Bar, which is always refreshing to see other alumni reppin’ the college bars.
9. The Negative Fan
Ugh, the worst. The only thing that will please this fan is a National title every single year, and I bet they even still find something to criticize. Every once in a while, you might be placed by one of these fans in a game and I’m so sorry for that. They might make you feel uncomfortable as they shout mean things to our own team, but never give into their satire unless you want to yell positive chants nonchalantly when the team does great things.
10. The Person Who Has No Idea What’s Going On Fan
“Oh, we lost?”
Yeah, that fan. I like to envision this fan as a mom who is just happy to be out with her family at a game. This fan might accidently cheer for the wrong team every once in a while and ask what happened when a touchdown is scored. They will also most likely remain positive throughout the game, making you appreciate them more if you end up next to the negative fan.
11. The Wave Starter
You can love ’em or hate ’em. This person is probably a student and one of the first people in line to get into East or South stadium. They wear the red and white striped overalls, oversized corn head or foam cowboy hat, makeshift signs, face painted, you name it. Their main intention is to get the crowd “riled” up (see what I did there?)
12. The Question Asker
This fan might have a little “Has No Idea What’s Going On Fan” in them. Side note: Never watch a movie with this fan. Will ask play questions, ref call questions, who’s that player questions, you name it, they have a question for it.
13. The Worrier
On the edge of their seat the entire game. Doesn’t know if we can pull it off. Will squeal when we have to make a play to score a touchdown or kick a field goal. Every game is a playoff game in their eyes.
14. The Phone Checker
Only at the game to get a good Instagram pic. Snapchats are also a must for this fan and most of the game is spent checking social media. There’s two types of fans that can fall in this category: The one who legitmetaly doesn’t care or the one who needs to check Twitter for what other fans are saying while they watch the game. This may also get frustrated when service in Memorial gets shady.
15. The Unsportman-like Fan
Better known as the rude fan. Luckily, Nebraska doesn’t have many of them, but there’s always a bad apple in a sea of red. This fan might make snide remarks to opposing team fans and will most likely get belligerent at some point of game day. Be cautious of these fans, they aren’t worth talking to.
16. The Nostalgia Fan
Won’t stop talking about the good ole’ championship years. Is probably sporting swag from the 70’s or 90’s. Probably has a tailgate spot with a tricked our RV sporting a Husker football mural and stickers on the outside. Push the horn and you might even get the school fight song!
Anyone from Omaha or Nebraska for that matter will tell you that the Henry Doorly Zoo is AWEEEESOMEEE!!! Fellow Nebraskans, you can ignore this post (unless you want to reminisce on the world’s best zoo) – because you already know how great it is.
For those who think Nebraska is a giant cornfield, shame on you first of all, but secondly, you should book your ticket to Omaha STAT! These pictures don’t even do the zoo justice. I’m just trying to work on my photog skills and thought this was the perfect opportunity. Also, it was 100 degrees on this day, so a lot of the animals were sleeping in the shade. Enjoy what I have! I tried getting 20 good photos, but then my camera died a little over half way through my zoo adventure.
Side note: The new African Grasslands is going to be super cool. You can tell it’s not 100% ready yet, but it’s going to be a game changer. I got the closest to a lion I’ve ever been!! Also, I think the Jungle still has my heart. It hasn’t changed one bit since I was little. I love it!
Was your fave pic the sloth? 😉 Or the Jungle rope that everyone and their mom has walked on.