Seattle & Las Vegas Trip

So me and L did a trip last December where we visited Whistler, Vancouver, Seattle and Las Vegas. I’ve already posted a blog on our time int Whistler and Vancouver (which you can find in the travel pages of my blog), but I’ve just had SO much to write about that it’s taken until now to post about the rest of the trip! Anyway here you go, a (quite big) blog entry about Seattle and Las Vegas -Enjoy!

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Seattle

Another Greyhound bus later and we were in Seattle! I still can’t believe how quick, easy and cheap these buses are, if you have the time to do it and you’re not going ridiculously far, I would defiantly pick traveling this way to getting on a plane.

We were staying at a hotel called the Ace, recommended to us by one of Laurence’s friends, located in the heart of Belltown. It’s kind of like an up-market hostel with shared, private-upon-entry bathrooms however with the option to book deluxe rooms with a private bathroom (which we decided to go for). Belltown is located in downtown Seattle and is walking distance from the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and Seattle waterfront (and of corse close to plenty of amazing restaurants and bars).

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This hotel has some serious well-worn charm with bare brick walls and reclaimed wood floorboards and most furnishes and fixtures were sourced from places such as a demolished nursing home and the old Boeing surplus outlet. Using fixtures and furnishings that have a story and some character behind them really adds something extra to the place. You can tell this isn’t fake and too ‘try hard’ its just raw and real.

After dumping our bags in our room we headed out for a spot of dinner, and it would be rude not to have some form of fish in this city renowned for its fishing ports. We found a great sushi restaurant called Momiji, the atmosphere and style of the restaurant was lovely. Great service and brilliantly priced sushi – two things that make us both VERY happy. We were both blown away by the price of the menu, being from England we’re used to sushi coming at quite a cost or if it’s cheap the quality will be compromised, however that was not the case here! 6 pieces of Sashimi averaged at $14 and 8 rolls cost around $16! BARGIN.

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We love a challenge so after reading on the menu the “Hotter then hell” roll, spicy tuna, yamagobo & cilantro, topped with 7-spice seared tuna, habañero masago, citrus-habañero truffle oil, green onions & sesame seeds, we just had to get this! Now I love a place that delivers on a name and boy did this – it was bloody hot and bloody delicious! To finish the night off we went to Shorty’s, a dive bar that’s well known for it’s room of antique pinball machines – I think Laurence was in heaven. Not only do they serve cocktails but their food is apparently pretty awesome too, nachos and hotdogs… all pretty simple but sometimes it just hits the spot – especially when you’ve been drinking all night.

The next morning we wanted to get out and explore the city and the best way to do it was on a Segway tour – the best laziest form of tourism! We saw the whole city in a couple of hours and it’s SUPER fun too. Our tour guide was great fun also, giving us plenty of facts and points about the city. I would recommend to always do a Segway tour if you get the chance.

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After our Segway tour we thought it was best to get a bit of sight seeing done on foot, so we ventured over to the famous Pike Place Market. Located right on the water front this place is pretty spectacular, with fish throwing, great little boutique stalls, fresh vegetable stands and not forgetting Rachel the pig (Rachel the Piggy Bank is the mascot of Pike Place Market and one of their best public fundraisers. She has been “bringing home the bacon” since 1986 – raising more than $200,000, to support their low-income neighbours who live in and around the market).

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We love the program Man Vs Food and before heading to Seattle we watched the episode where Adam took on challenges in the city, one of them – The Crab Pot. You order your seafood bucket, get a bib and the waiter comes over and tips the bucket of seafood onto your table then you dig in! It was great for lunch as it wasn’t actually as much food as I thought it would be so it was pretty light and kept us going.

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Down Post Alley, under Pike Place Market was a more sticky attraction…the Seattle Gum Wall (yes it’s as gross as it sounds and is in fact the most un hygienic attraction in the world!). A very odd attraction that originated in the 1990’s when people, irritated by waiting in line to get their theatre tickets would stick their gum on the wall. I know what you’re thinking – why doesn’t anyway just clean the wall?! Theatre attendants did attempt this for a number of years, however they gave up in 1999 when it became a certified tourist attraction of Seattle. Unfortunately we had no gum to contribute to the wall though.

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It was our last night in Seattle and we ventured slightly further out from Belltown to a great bar called Canon, a whiskey and bitters emporium. This was obviously a spot Laurence had picked out – he loves a good whisky, also constantly having his work head on wanting inspiration and ideas for new bar designs this was the perfect place for him. This place has over 100 unique cocktails and 3000+ labels! You won’t be struggling to find a drink to quench your thirst here. Combined with antique glass wear, a stunning food menu this place is a marvellous pinnacle of Seattle cocktail culture.

After consuming a number of delicious cocktails and half a dozen oysters and talking about the amazing city, we noticed it was nearly midnight and had no dinner. So we asked the bartender where we could get something to eat at this time and they gave us a bunch of places that served greasy burgers until the early hours. We wondered in the direction of the recommended joints, however as we made our way down the list, none of the places really stood out to us – they all seemed kinda touristy… so we got to the last place they recommended which was a cab journey away (and upon recommendation we were told this was the greasiest of places!). However it was a cab journey in the direction of our hotel, so we thought ‘What the hell?’.

The Hurricane Cafe – well they were right, this place was pretty greasy! As we walked in the door, a couple of cops were sat at the bar drinking coffee – this place could not have been further from the “tourist” hotspots, and we LOVED it. Slightly pissed from the extremely strong cocktails, the burgers went down a treat. Its not the cleanest and definitely not the most luxurious of places but it was bloody brilliant.

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Our last day in Seattle and we were pretty sad to be going. This place had made a real impression on us, the people are friendly, the food is awesome and its such a cool city. So we did what we always do when we love a city… and got something that reminded us of the place tattooed on us. We went to a tattoo parlour around the corner from our hotel called “Under the needle” and after thinking about what to get for a while we were pretty set on a design that was actually pretty similar to the parlour’s logo! An umbrella with a raining cloud behind it – the emblem of Seattle as it’s ‘the rainy state’. I have a tattoo of a Russian doll on my forearm ad I thought it would look pretty cut for the umbrella and could to be above her. The tattoo covered a large surface area of the inside crease of my elbow, I’m telling you now – NEVER GET A TATTOO HERE! I have tattoos most places on my body, foot, ribs, back, thigh – the list goes on, but this spot was the worst pain I have ever felt.

It was worth it though, the tattoos looked amazing and they always remind us of an amazing trip and city.

Las Vegas

Touchdown in Las Vegas! I have had this place on my bucket list for years and I was SO excited to be here.

I love traveling with Laurence, he’s such a great planner and always takes us to the best places, however there’s one other man who is an extremely important person in my life, my dad, and although I had loved every moment of our trip so far… I was pretty excited to be meeting up with my dad and his fiancé, Susie.

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We arrived in Vegas at around 8pm and got straight in a taxi to the Wynn, Laurence had researched into all the hotels and after being recommended the Wynn by a number of people we decided to stay in this hotel. There’s no messing around with my dad, touch down and I had a voicemail from him letting us know dinner was booked for 9pm at one of the hotels many restaurants – Allegro. Even though this restaurant was labeled one of the hotels “casual” restaurants, a dress was still required – which suited me and Susie just fine. Classic Italian-American dishes where the atmosphere was perfect for the late supper, just what we needed. We had a lot to catch up on and the perfect place to do this was the carousel bar over a few glasses of champagne.

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The next day we had a lot planned and we started off with breakfast in the Wynn’s breakfast buffet – which was unbelievable! You could have sushi for breakfast if you wanted! I really regret not getting loads of photos of this but I think my excitement for having pizza at 9am was too much. My dad loves a good shooting and it was his idea for me him and Laurence to go to The Range and take the “zombie package” shooting (it seemed quite fitting as we love The Walking Dead).

I now totally understand the big debate over guns, they are SCARY, like REALLY scary. So much power and so loud! It straight away got me frustrated at all the films were a small cute woman shoots too handguns and hits a perfect shot. I had to really engage my muscles and keep so focused to even get within a foot of the target. We shot a number of different guns, none of which I remember the names off but I know we shot a hand gun, shot gun and machine gun. It was pretty cool but I don’t think I would do it again as it did put me on edge and scare me.

Shooting guns wasn’t really Susie’s kinda thing so we meet back up with her at the Wynn and we went for a walk down the strip and ended up grabbing some lunch in the Paris hotel. Sat outside watching everyone go by and the fountains at the Bellagio, it really hit home where we were and how lucky we were, it had been an amazing trip so far. I was amazed at the quality of the food at Paris. You’re thousands of miles from France, and yet the food really was as good as you would get in the fashion capital. Laurence and I shared a dozen oysters which despite us being in the desert, were unbelievably fresh and delicious.

We had to check out all of the other hotels, the Venison was beautiful and New York New York was like toy land, and the roller coaster in New York New York was amazing fun – the fact it went outside and you got a spectacular view of the strip was jaw dropping.

We had tickets to go see the Blue Man group that night, I’ve been before in London, but only when I was around 13, Laurence had never been so it was great to see his reaction as he wasn’t really sure what to expect. It was a crazy and mental as I remembered, quite a few things were the same though which was a little disappointing. I would have thought in nearly 10 years they would have changed things up – especially when you’re seeing it on the other side of the world – but hey, it was still funny and entertaining. A great see if you have kids (although I don’t understand anyone that brings kids to Las Vegas – whats the point?!).

Bartolotta was the restaurant of choice for dinner that evening, another italian cuisine restaurant with house-made pastas and over forty varieties of fresh fish and shellfish flown in daily from Italian waters. Stunning food, really delicious and an amazing fine dining atmosphere.

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No Las Vegas trip would be complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon and this was Laurence’s treat to me, a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon with lunch. We booked with Grand Canyon Tours who were brilliant. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to the helicopter location then flown out over the Grand Canyon. You can hardly believe it when you’re flying over, it’s so beautiful it looks like a painting. There’s only a handful of companies that are allowed to set down in the Canyon, their tours obviously cost slightly more but my advice would be to do it, it really hits home where you are when you get out of the helicopter. Lunch was lovely, a cute little picnic with champagne and softs for the kids. We were with a small group, a family of 4 Australians, and it was great to be there with other people so you can share the experience.

Another evening and another amazing meal at the Wynn… This time at SW Steakhouse. I couldn’t believe we were eating in our restaurant every night as I normally hate doing that, but the places were all such amazing quality and every other place in different hotels would have been exactly the same – so it made sense to keep close to home. SW Steakhouse did exactly what it said on the tin, I love a good steak and this was pretty damn special. Amazing quality meat washed down with great red wine.

Following dinner we attempted to walk off some of of steak (and failed may I add) and wondered over to Cesar’s Palace. One of Susie’s requests when planning Vegas was to see Matt Goss while we were there, who is her teen crush. After a few cocktails in the bar and dad having a little Matt Goss’s bodyguard, we sat in front row seats of the show. The area was pretty intimate, I would say it only held around 80 people or so, which made the experience even better. You get used to seeing so many big shows in Vegas that it’s quite rare to be at a show where you could actually touch the performer.

Matt Goss was incredible, I fell in love with him 100% and now completely get Susie’s obsession, what charm and charisma! His performance was brilliant, an amazing singer with a great atmosphere about him and his band. We even got a chance to meet him after the show and have a few photos with him – even though I had only just found out who he was, I was totally star struck and besotted.

Even though we were in Vegas with my dad, that did not stop us from having a crazy night out clubbing – if anything Susie was a big part in it and was extremely encouraging! We went back to the Wynn to XS night club which I have heard a lot of people talk about before. In true Vegas celebration style we got a table in the club and ended up putting away a bottle of Vodka and JD (along with some help from some friends we made on the dance floor).

I think the next morning was one of the worst hangovers of my life to date, and I know it was my dads too… He had planned for us to all get up and have breakfast then go and explore old vegas. However that plan soon turned to dust as he couldn’t peal himself out of bed all day! Laurence, Susie and I went down and had some much needed brunch at the Wynn’s Terrace Pointe Cafe, a lovely casual poolside sunny cafe with views of the gardens and pool. Even though it was only weeks from Christmas, the weather was beautiful, we even needed suncream while sat by the pool.

That evening we were all supposed to go to Treasure Island to see Cirque De Soleil, Mystere, combining the powerful athleticism, high-energy acrobatics and inspiring imagery that has become the company’s hallmark and I have to say it was inspiring! We originally wanted to go see Love, the show based around the Beatles songs, however the only time it wasn’t showing was when we were there! Gutting.

Another evening, another meal in the Wynn – you’d think we’d be getting bored by now but no way, these restaurants are just insane, you don’t ever need to leave your hotel! We went to a lovely more casual restaurant called Wazuzu, a thai restaurant which was of corse amazing.

I couldn’t believe that we were now at the end of our trip! I always find it really odd when you go away for a long time and don’t get home sick. With the US I just can’t stand to leave – I love it so much, so the last day was pretty depressing to say the least. Before we left we wanted to check out the old town and go see old casinos like the Golden Nugget. The old town still had the same charm that I can imagine it once had… but it was looking pretty tired and sorry for itself. Still worth going and checking out though, I kinda wish we went there at night as the lights would have been amazing to see.

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We wondered past a restaurant called ‘The Heart Attach Cafe’ and stood staring for a while, not quite believing it as it said on the outside if you weigh over 350 pounds – you eat for free! We obviously had a terrified look on our faces as a man walked past us and said “only in America”, that kinda sums it up! We were so intrigued so we thought we’d go in and get some lunch. You get greeted by a waitress in a (pretty sexy) nurse outfit and you’re made to put on a hospital gown and have a hospital style wrist band – all good fun. We didn’t have the guts to go for the ridiculous sized pattys, so we just ordered a single patty and chilli dog – how bad could it be? Pretty bad it turns out… the food was pretty bad, I didn’t know you could get a bad burger but this place won the prize. I wasn’t massively annoyed as it was good fun, the service was great and the concept (despite it being horrible and disgusting) was pretty cool. I also liked that this place had no boundaries – there was a spanking station! Handle bars to hold and a camera in front of you to record your reaction as the waitresses take a paddle to your ass! It didn’t look like they held back either – it looked like it hurt! So maybe go in there to have a side of fries and have the experience, but don’t miss breakfast or lunch for it.

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We took a stroll back to the hotel to walk off the greasy burgers and walked down Las Vegas Blvd which was really cool. We walked past so many little white chapels, cool old motels and found a few thrift stores to pop into. It seems like a pretty quiet road as we didn’t walk past many people, or maybe its because people get taxis everywhere. But walking down the blvd was a great way to see the city and those slightly less touristy places so much better.

It seems like a pretty odd thing to do as your last stop in Las Vegas but we were desperate to go to a Walmart. In the UK, a tub of Skippy peanut butter is around £8 which is sill, but in the US its about $3 so we used our last few hours to stock up on all our US treats we love. I think we brought back around 10KG of sweets, chocolates, cereals and pickles!

A pretty damn amazing trip and I’m so grateful that my dad and Susie were so generous with everything we did.

If you got this far – I’m pretty impressed! Thank you for reading and I hope this gives you some food for thought if you’re planning on going to Las Vegas or Seattle.

x H

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