My husband and I got married at the end of July this year and two days later headed off on our honeymoon to the West Coast of the big old USA. Neither of us had visited the West Coast before, although we have travelled to the East Coast a few times, so it was all very new and exciting. I spent a couple of months meticulously planning our honeymoon adventure. We had decided on the destinations that we wanted to visit – Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. I had quite a few ideas regarding how we would get from one place to the other and spent a considerable amount of my existence in 2015 researching each place in grave detail in order to maximise our stay. The first thing that I needed to do was book our flights from London. As we were travelling in the height of summer and in the school holidays, we were looking at around £2500 for a return flight in economy. I looked in to each destination that we would like to visit and found that Vegas was coming in cheapest, so we decided to start and end our wonderful honeymoon there. The fact that my friend’s Mum worked for BA and managed to get us a couple hundred of squid off sealed the deal and before we knew it we were booked onto our flight before you could say ‘Viva Las Vegas’. We were both a bit apprehensive about travelling to Vegas. We both wanted to go, but as we weren’t really going to party or gamble, would it really be exciting enough for our post wedding adventure?! Yes, there’s the glitz and the glamour, but would spending our first few weeks as newlyweds in the middle of a desert with a few hotels cut it?! With this in mind, I began researching activities to do in Vegas. I decided that we needed to experience it all, so I planned where we needed to go and on which days, beginning to discover more to Vegas than heat and concrete until I was super excited about heading to Nevada.
Our flight from London resembled nothing less than the constitutions of the depths of hell. Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly, but it was remarkably unpleasant. With British Airways you can check in online twenty four hours before your flight. Unfortunately I was at the hospital with my Uncle at this time with NO INTERNET SIGNAL (also resembling the depths of hell), so by the time we left (we were there for hours), all of the window seats were taken and there were only two seats left, two rows from the back of the plane (tailies). I resided myself to the fact that this was probably going to be okay because I’ve flown with BA a few times and always had a delightful experience. Flash forward twenty four hours and I’m on (probably) the worlds’ oldest plane with a screen the size of my phone, crammed in like cattle with no leg room and sat next to a guy who I felt I vaguely recognised who was knocking back gin like we were flying into oblivion. He also had a freakish inhuman ability to remain in the exact same position for the entire flight. Not even a pee break. Oh and the darkest moment of that flight? When they ran out of food. And drink. Yep, five hours into our eleven hour flight all of the alcohol and most of the soft drinks had been consumed. I hate to sound melodramatic, but I honestly despised my time on that flight more than I could ever have imagined. Anyway, once we landed, equilibrium was restored and we could continue our jolly honeymoon. We picked up our hire car from Dollar rental (longest queues EVER) and off we went to find our hotel.
Phil really enjoyed this car and after selling my convertible two years ago in favour of a more practical car (sob), it felt great to be cruising along with the wind in my hair. Aah, how I love a spin with the roof down.
We were staying in The Stratosphere for the first part of our trip, it was quite handy as it was in the middle of both the old and new strip. I hadn’t realised that this meant it was mostly in the middle of nothing, but we have legs and a car, so it was all good.
I quite enjoyed our time at The Stratosphere. A perk of staying there is free entry to the top, where you can enjoy amazing views of Vegas. It’s also always alive, which is incredibly convenient when you have jet lag. They have a gorgeous, authentic Italian restaurant too, which I would highly recommend. I also very much enjoyed getting a Pain au Chocolat (or chocolate croissant if you’re American!) from Starbucks and rolling around the bed whilst stuffing my face. This lead to us being in an awkward situation when I left chocolate crumbs… Oops!
We then decided to hit up the strip and for some completely insane reason we thought it would be a great idea to walk from The Stratosphere to Mandalay Bay in forty three degree heat. This resulted in us walking over twenty miles on our first day because we also walked around all of the hotels and around the shopping mall. We then walked back to The Stratosphere after we were satisfied that we had seen the whole strip and collapsed on our king sized bed in a heap. We were out for the whole day and it was great. I simply adored cooling off and noseying around each unique hotel. I recognised a few from the movies (particularly The Hangover series!).
As we walked around the heat was incredible, really thick warm air kissing my skin. It felt like I was constantly under a fan heater. Although it may sound odd, I loved it. I can take heat quite well and it was nice to prance around in a sun dress and flip flops.
We were very lucky to be gifted an incredible helicopter experience as a wedding gift. So on our second day in Vegas we were greeted by a limo that took us to the airport for our incredible tour of the Grand Canyon.
I really love flying around by helicopter, so was really excited for our trip. They choose where to sit you based on weight distribution and luckily for us we were placed next to the pilot. It was forty seven degrees that day which felt crazy hot to us English folk. There wasn’t any air con in the helicopter, so it was super mega hot. I think I was the hottest I’ve ever been on that flight. It really was incredible though, flying across Nevada into Arizona. We flew past the Hoover Dam before being consumed by the desert and almighty Grand Canyon. We were lucky enough to land inside the Grand Canyon for a champagne lunch. It was blissful and blisteringly hot! My foot touched a rock and scalded me. We saw tiny birds and chipmunks scampering around searching for food and relief from the scorching sun and I couldn’t help but feel compassion towards them – desert life is visibly tough on the little creatures.
Whilst researching things to do in Sin City, I stumbled across the idea of firing a gun at a shooting range. I have never even held a real gun and thought that this would be a unique experience, so I booked us in to Machine Guns Vegas before you could say ‘aim and fire’. This I thought was a great idea until we were actually at the range. After signing the disclaimer, my heart was pounding and I could hear the fiercest of guns being fired. Soon we were escorted in and my gosh I was terrified. I quickly decided that it wasn’t for me and readily shoved poor Phil towards the raging war weapons whilst backing out of the room. After a couple of minutes I mustered up the courage to watch Phil fire a hand gun. He’s got quite a good shot!
We also visited Ethel M’s chocolate factory and cactus garden, which was a welcome change to the lights of the strip and hit up an outlet mall. There’s actually so much to do in Vegas, we wet never bored.
No trip to Vegas is complete without a photograph with the iconic sign. It’s such a popular spot with constant queues, but so worth it.
Channelling his inner Iron Man!
We adored our first stay in Vegas, falling head over heels in love with this dessert city. Everything about it was wonderful and I would jump back in a heartbeat. If you haven’t already been, you simply have to go. Embrace it, feel it and fall in love.