Category: Travel With Ashley


Eeek! Sorry, this is a few days later than I was expecting … I ended up having a bit of a crazy weekend. BUT it’s here now. The first of  ‘Places You Should Go’ and we’re going to start off with Edmonton. It’s a city I know very well and am quite excited for the changes and growth the city is going through right now.

I once read a review of a hotel in Edmonton and the person wrote that the hotel itself was great but don’t ever go to Edmonton unless you absolutely have to. She obviously didn’t take the time to really get to know or see the city. Yes it sucks in the winter when it’s -35 and gets dark at 4 in the afternoon but it could be worse.

No matter what time of year you visit, there is always something to do. Edmonton is known the world over for its festivals including the Street Performers Festival, The Fringe, Heritage Days and the Folk Music Festival. That’s just to name a few. On any given weekend through out the summer and fall there is at least one major event going on and there is something for everyone. There are also several winter festivals that try and get Edmontonians to embrace our winter culture.  To check out some more of Edmonton’s festivals click here.

There are plenty of places to explore as well. Through the heart of the city is the River Valley with the North Saskatchewan River snaking its way through. There are hundreds of kilometres of trails to hike & bike through. Or you can launch your boat and float your way down the river. It really is stunning no matter what time of year and Edmontonians are very luck to have such a beautiful place. For more information on the River Valley they have their own site  Edmonton River Valley 

There are also countless parks and recreation facilities to get out and enjoy. If you still want to be out and about but not necessarily ‘doing’ something – Old Strathcona is a favourite amongst locals and tourists. You can walk down Whyte Avenue and take in the countless shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. It’s a busy place year ’round but especially so when the weather is nice. Another area to check out that’s easily walk-able is the the 124 Street district downtown. It is also lined with boutique shops and fun little restaurants. Another popular place to ‘hang’ is the Legislature Grounds. Alberta’s legislature building is a stunning place inside and out. The grounds are fun to walk around and maybe take a picnic. You’ll also find people dipping their feet in the fountains on hot days. In the winter, the main fountain turns into an outdoor skating rink and the surrounding trees are filling with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights. It’s a beautiful site!

If you prefer to do your shopping inside – Edmonton is home to several fantastic malls, least of which is the famous West Edmonton Mall. There are always new stores coming in and is a fun place to explore at least once. There is also the indoor water park and the amusement park inside. Another fun attraction to check out is Fort Edmonton Park. There are fun activities for the entire family, I always enjoy visiting. You can even stay on site at the Hotel Selkirk.

Edmonton is also home to several professional sporting teams including the Edmonton Oilers (NHL), Edmonton Eskimos (CFL), Edmonton Rush (NLL) and FC Edmonton (NASL) and also hosts the Canadian Finals Rodeo every November. The Edmonton Oilers  and Rush currently play at Rexall Place but work is being down on a new downtown arena, just one of the many projects that is promising to revitalize the downtown core. When Rexall isn’t being used for one of the many sporting events, it’s a concert hub. Edmonton is quickly becoming one of the major concert destinations in North America. Recent shows include Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Tayor Swift & Keith Urban. There is very rarely a show that doesn’t sell out. Actually that’s why I got so busy this weekend! One of my favourite singers had a show and Rexall and it was fantastic!

If you feel like getting away for a few days there are plenty of camp grounds and lakes only a few hours drive from the city limits. Or you can head to Jasper & Banff and visiting the beautiful Rocky Mountain parks.

I think that covers the basics, believe me I could go on… there is the museum and art gallery and the Telus World of Science …  If you’re looking for a short getaway this summer, I encourage you to check out Edmonton. Or if it’s someplace you’ve maybe considered in the past, I hope this gives you a little extra push.

 

 

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Hi everyone! Hope you’re all well and enjoying the spring sunshine.

I’ve been really busy lately with work and haven’t had much time to write… or go anywhere to write about! I’m working on a few little things that I can hopefully get around to posting soon. In the meantime I was looking at my old pictures of my trip to Australia exactly five years ago. I was there for almost a month – and anyone who has been to the land down under knows, that simply isn’t enough time!! I spent about two weeks with a friend on the Sunshine Coast and the rest was in Sydney. I wish I had done more  & had better planned my trip. It was the first time I had ever travelled alone and it was definitely what led me to getting the travel bug. I look back on that trip with so many fond memories. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the country. For now, here is a look back with some of my memorable pictures.

 

This is going to be a bit of a stretch as far as a travel post goes but it does involve me travelling so I figured I can post it! I, like many people are pumped up about the Sochi winter Olympics starting today. I’m a huge sports fan and a huge fan of the Olympics. I’ve made a point to visit different Olympic sites in the cities I’ve visited like Sydney & London.

And while I may not a agree with some ( or all ) of the policies/laws/spending that Russia has done in the lead up to these games, I will stand by my country’s athletes and cheer for them as loud as I can.

I had the wonderful chance to go to the Vancouver Olympics in February 2010. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I’m so glad I had the opportunity. This is a post I wrote for the outlet I was working for at the time.

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Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of going to the Olympics.

The fact I don’t play any sports was the only thing standing in my way.

When Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Winter Games, I was very excited to have the event come back to Canada. I’m too young to remember Calgary in 1988, so this was extra special.

I, like many others, applied to buy tickets when they went on sale. I was shut-out. So, I have up hope of experiencing the Olympics and instead, looked forward to cheering on Canada from my couch.

Last Friday, just before the opening ceremonies a friend mentioned something about a trip to Vancouver. I thought about how much fun that would be — just to be in Vancouver and take on the atmosphere. Less than 24 hours later, our plane tickets were booked and we were ready to go.

We arrived on the west coast Monday afternoon. Vancouver’s new Canada Line, the high speed rail link between downtown and the airport which opened last August, was packed with officials, volunteers, and many people from other countries. It was the Olympic fever I’ve dreamt of, without even taking in one event.

Downtown, in Robson Square, the hub of the Olympic experience, a huge Canadian flag was painted on the side of a building. Thousands of people lined the streets. We walked around, soaking it all in — the free entertainment and events. At one point, we walked past a band, complete with tuba, playing ‘O Canada’.

Our adventure took us past Alberta House in the shadows of B.C. Place Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies, and many medal presentations take place. Thousands had lined up tingest in to see freestyle moguls’ skier Alexander Bilodeau receive his gold medal, Canada’s first ever at an Olympics at home.

Every step you take, it’s hard not to notice the flags hanging in windows and off patios. Most are Canadian, but it’s a sign of how multi-cultureal Vancouver  is and how international this event is, when you see a number of  flags from otheer countries.

Our next goal was to find the Olympic cauldron. I wanted experience the feeling first-hand after forme Oiler Wayne Gretzky lit the flame on the Vancouver waterfront that ignited a nation….and brought me back to my Olympic dreams as a child.

We walked and walked and walked…for hours all over the place.

Ther Olympic experience was shared even over dinner that first night in Vancouver. As we waited for our food, the Bilodeau medal ceremony was on TV. Everyone in the restaurant was cheering — a very happy moment.

After dinner, I was back on Robson where the party was in full swing. Despite the pouring rain, there were still thousands of people in thestreets. They were treated to a lights and fireworks show, seemingly drowned out by the loud chant of,  ‘Go Canada Go!’

What a start to this memorable trip, and it was only the beginning. Off to North Vancouver my friends and I went to call it a night, thinking about the experience and memories this trip would creat the following day.

Bright and early the next morning, we were decked out in our red and white Canada gear (obviously being noticed given the horns that honked as we walked to catch our bus). But one thing I noticed in North Vancouver, there weren’t as many flags hanging from windows; also, not as many people walking around all dressed up in Olympic attire.seem deemed the further you got away from Vancouver, the less you saw.

Time to get back to where all the action is.

Our first goal of the day was to find the Royal Canadian Mint. At the Mint, you can see the Olympic gold medals, a $1 million coin and a really big, albeit fake, quarter.  We got a little sidetracked and ended up at Alberta House. Just outside I saw former Edmonton Oiler Jochen Hecht. Maybe he misses us here, I thought. Anyway, Alberta House is like a big outdoor restaurant and stage — what a perfect setting for a lunch consisting of what else?… Alberta beef of course. As we chowed down, people started to line up for the first Team Canada men’s hockey game.

We eventually made it to the Mint. As we were standing in line a very loud siren went off. was sounded like something you’d hear when a tornado is coming. It was very scary. We had no idea what was going on. Then, a booming voice came across a speaker somewhere above, announcing Vancouver native Maelle Ricker had just won a gold medal in the women’s snowboard cross. The entire street started to cheer. The national anthem was then played over the same speakers. People stood and sang, then burst into another loud cheer. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was a proud and surreal moment.

After the mint we found a pub to watch Canada take on Norway in the first men’s hockey game. It felt very strange to be sitting on a patio in February watching hockey. For some reasonm the TV’s there had a delay. So, when we heard the people next door cheering, we joined in. Funny, we just knew when a goal was coming. Even thoutheir was a ‘nothing’ game, considering Norway’s lack of history in the sport (sorry, Patrick Thorese), it was still exciting to be surrounded by all the Canadian fans cheering on the maple leaf.

Almost immediately after the game, won 8-0 by the good guys, fans spilled into the streets and the high filing and cheering started all over again.

One person not into it like we were was former NHL superstar Peter Forsburg. The Swedish flag-bearerBeas on his way back to the Olympic Village after the game. It was at this point I noticed mo people wearing the colours of other countries — Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden, USA, and Finland just to name a few. The one thing everyone had in common…everyone was  cheering and waving their flags and having a good, friendly time. It made me realize that despite all the terrible things going on in the world, all is not lost. Everyone was happy to be there, sharing the same experience as I. One company slogan for the Olympics is ‘Go World’. I think I now know what that means.

This was a whirlwind trio to say the least, so there was no way I was leaving Vancouver without experiencing some of the nightlife I’ve heard about. Different ‘houses’ are set up by  various countries are scattered about downtown. Athletes hang out there, there is live entertainment and fun stuff. My friends and I decided to give German ‘haus’ a shot.

Boy, or should I say ‘junge’, do the Germans know how to throw a party. They were fantastic — everything from the live entertainment to the food to the hospitality was outstanding. My friends and I were some of the very first on the dance floor.

I was saddened that erely Wednesday morning , we had to catch the ferry back to North Vancouver. It didn’t take long to fall asleep, knowing there wouldn’t be a lot of that considering duty called, and I had to catch a plan later that morning  to take me back home to a job that would pay the bill for this once-in-a-lifetime, or I hope — first, in a life- time experience. Next time I’m going to an event or two.

In Vancouver Interntaional Airport, I helped a little boy down the escalator because his parents hands were full. He was wearing a toque covered in Olympic pins. No doubt, he was very excited about all of them. I thought about how special it must be for him to experience all he did at such a young age. One day he’ll look back at all those pins, and remember the time he had in Vancouver….just the same as I.

As I started this reflection of my trip, I spoke of how ever since I was a little kid I’ve dreamed of going to the Olympics. Technically, without seeing any events that’s still true. But I’ve got the Olympic experience first hand…and it’s two days I will never forget.

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So that was my experience in Vancouver. I need to make a few points though as this post was heavily edited by my boss at the time because it was representing the station. So I’ll add some of the fun stuff now!  I was sitting on my mom’s bed talking to my friend on Facebook when we got the crazy idea to fly to Vancouver. Him, his brother and I flew out two days later, after driving two hours to get a cheaper flight out of a different city. My old friend Karen check with her parents and we stayed in their basement, that’s how we ended up in North Vancouver for the two nights we stayed there.

When we finally got to Vancouver, we really did walk and walk and walk until our feet were going to fall off. This was the first time I had been there so we were just kinda going with the flow, not really knowing what to expect. Karen was meeting us for dinner after work. She called us to see where we were and I told her ‘something’ & East Hastings. I think everyone on the corner heard her shout at us and to tell us to not go any further. For those of you who don’t know, East Hastings is… well not a very nice neighbourhood.

That night we partied in Robson Square and met new friends. We wanted to try one of the ‘houses’ but there were some pretty big lines. And it cost a fortune to get in to Canada House if you hadn’t already bought tickets. It was raining so hard but no one seemed to care. We were all high fiving and bursting into spontaneous rounds of  ‘O Canada’. We were soaked by the time we drove to North Vancouver I spend the night sleeping in a freezing cold basement and by the time we got up the next day, I was so sick! It really sucked but I couldn’t let it put a damper on our fun time.

When that alarm went off outside the Mint, I did briefly think there had been an atack of some sort at first. But as we were standing in the street, signing the national anthem, my heart really did grow 10 sizes. I’ve never felt so much pride and happiness to be Canadian and to be at such a wonderful place with so many really awesome people. I really can’t describe the feelings I had as we walked around and met people from so many countries that had nothing but good things to say about the games and about Vancouver.

The night we ran into Peter Forsburg was actually a little funny. After watching the game we just started walking and following the hoards of people… randomly. I was giving people high fives as we walked down the street, all while doing a radio station report live from ‘the scene’ for a station back home. So I guess you could add that to my career accolades — reporting from the Vancouver Olympics. Anyway, we ended up at a liquor store but they said they were closing and only allowed two people in at a time. I was standing by myself outside when Forsburg walked by.. I was just like ‘Hey!!!’ and waved at him with my big, red Team Canada mittens (you know the ones!). I think I scared him pretty good. He’s probably telling stories about the crazy woman with red mittens that accosted him outside a Vancouver liquor store during the Olympics.

Partying with the Germans was a GOOD time. They had just music at first and then a live band and they were awesome. The beer was good, the people were fun, I danced on tables and spoke to people in some language that was half German, half English and a whole lot of hand gestures. I think we left because they closed… or maybe it was because we had to catch the last ferry… either way we stopped at McDonalds and posed with the mascots that were in the restaurant and then just made it on to the boat.

The next morning was rough getting up so early. We almost didn’t make our flight because there was something going on on the main bridge from North Van to Vancouver. I have to admit, the kid with the pins is one of my favourite memories. I wish I had taken his photo. After several hours of travelling, we finally made it back home. I had just enough time for a nap and then off to work. But my Olympic experience was so exhausting that I slept through my alarm, 6 phone calls and 10 texts. I got there… eventually.

A few days later I sat alone at home watching the men’s gold medal final between Canada and the USA. It was the most intense, stressful & fun hockey game I’ve ever watched. I screamed my head off and rang my souvenir cowbell as loud as I could when Sid the kid put that puck in the next. A few months later I went to Toronto and got to go to the Hockey Hall of Game and see that puck.

Those games changed Canada. It wasn’t just the fact we won a record gold medals or beat the US in hockey. It was so many things, so many moments.  Those 16 days in February ignited something in our souls, brought us together as a country. While some of that has worn off I like to think that little nugget of patriotism reigns.

I don’t foresee myself travelling to any games in the near future, the destinations aren’t appealing at this time and frankly I’m a little worried about some security issues. But who knows what may happen!

Anyways.. 

                          Go Canada Go!

 

Hi everyone, hope your Christmas and New Years was great.  I’m sharing with you a blog from my best friend Valerie. Her and I met several years ago and share a love of travelling. She’s been all around England, France, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand.. and well the list goes on! In 2013 she travelled to India with her family, including her baby! I hope you enjoy reading about her adventure…

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Our first family vacation took us to China and India. Travelling with a 12 month baby at the best of times can be a daunting task for most parents, travelling around the world with a baby could land a person being certified insane. Thankfully, my husband and I were travelling with my mom, and my aunt. Looking back now I don’t think our marriage would have survived travelling 30 hours just the three of us. All joking aside, I’m glad we went.

Our flight path took us from Edmonton, to Vancouver, Vancouver to Beijing, and then Beijing to New Delhi. Once we landed in India we still had a 5 hour drive up to northern India, to the city of Chandigarh. Anybody who has even flown with children are probably cringing just reading that last sentence. There could be an entire blog post just related to flying with children, so I will save that for another entry.

We were lucky enough that we had an 8.5 layover in Beijing. Most people hate long layovers, but when you are in Beijing and you have over 5 hour layover you have enough time to go and see some of the sights, and that is just what we did. In January of 2013 the Chinese government allowed certain countries a 72 hour visa to do just that. We decided that we wanted to see the Great Wall of China. We had a few hiccups (due to our own fault) when we were at the airport. Blame it on being tired, hungry, or the fact that our baby only slept 3 hours on an 11 hour flight we never even thought to fill out our VISA card once we got to Chinese Customs area. We stood in line for about 20 minutes got to the front and realized we didn’t fill it out. So there I head back to the stand where the rest of the tourists are filling out their VISA form. We finally get through customs and we are beyond hungry at this point, the only plus is that Peyton is sleeping in her stroller. We then find out that we have to tack a train to leave the airport. By this time 2 hours have gone by since we landed, and all of us half expected our tour guide to have left. As we leave the secured area there is a mass of people holding up name signs, and through the sea of people I see our little tour guiding holding a sign with my name on it.

We were fortunate enough to have a very clear day, which apparently is very unheard of in Beijing. By the time we got to the Great Wall we had about 45minutes before it closed. Yes, I would have liked to spend more time there, however, there was nobody around. It was a very calming and serene to be up there watching the sun start to set.

The reason why we decided to go to India is because husband is from India, and his cousin was getting married. Most of his family still lives there and was unable to make it for our wedding, and none of them had seen Peyton.  The wedding was spectacular.  There were three full days of festivities for us to attend, and I can honestly say I have never seen such an elaborate and more beautiful wedding.

We were there long enough that we were able to do some touring. We had hired a personal driver to take us to the places I wanted to see. Our first day trip was further north in India to the city of Amritsar.  The Golden Temple is located there. It was breathtaking to see.  There were thousands upon thousands of people there, most of them being Sikh and paying their respects.

We spent most of our time in Chandigarh and took in local sites like the Rose Garden, and the Rock Garden. I know what you are thinking, a rock garden, that sounds dull.  Before you turn up your nose the Rock Garden consists of man made interlinked waterfalls and many other sculptures that have been made out of recycled material like: bottles, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, you name it. They have all been placed in a walled area.

On journey back home, is when we made the pilgrimage to the Taj Mahal. We paid and got ourselves a tour guide, and if you are planning a trip to India, and you go to the Taj Mahal, I highly recommend you pay the little bit extra and get the tour guide. Not only do you get to skip the queue to get in, but you get more history of the building, and a personal tour guide to take pictures for you. We got to sit on the famous bench that many celebrities and world leaders have sat on.  The building was stunning and breathtaking.

Looking back now, I realize just how much we saw in a matter of two weeks. The time difference was way to much for a one year old, and even with all the sleep she got, her little body was unable to adjust to 12.5 hour time difference.  We will be going back, but not anytime soon. Next time we plan on going when Peyton is at least 5 and can understand things a little bit more.

~ Valerie

Those crazy tourists!

Hi all, hope you’re doing well and busy planning some winter getaways!   I came across a news article today that I had to share… it’s from the Huffington Post and it’s all about some ridiculous traveller complaints. You have to read it, I’m sure it will make you laugh. I think we’ve all come across one or two of those people on our travels that are like this.

Crazy Tourists!

Do you have any of these stories to share? Have you heard anyone making some ridiculous comment or complaint while on holiday? Let me know, I’d love to hear them 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians!

I woke up just after 9 and much to my surprise, felt fantastic albeit extremely hungry. I didn’t want to take my chances downstairs in one of the restaurants so I ordered some room service toast – do you know how much toast costs?! Ridiculous! Much to my delight, room service also carried Powerade.  It was one of my most expensive room service meals ever. Toast and Powerade. I took the mini jam as compensation. 

The newbies were already on their way home but the rest of us had all day to do whatever before heading to the airport in the evening. While two of our six decided to spend the day in their room – party poopers – the rest of us set out to enjoy our last day. We sat around the casino in Aria for awhile. I reluctantly took out a bit more cash from the machine but I did get a free piece of pizza at  5/50. If you like gourmet style pizza, this is the place to go. They offer a couple different flavours and they are big slices. Cooked in authentic open face, wood stove. And you really can’t beat the price – even if I hadn’t had my free coupon, I would have been willing to spend money in there.

After deciding we had given Aria enough of our money, we walked next door to the Cosmopolitan. On our last day, last year we were in this casino and were playing a group game. We were doing so well and winning so much – we almost missed our flight! Anyway, we didn’t have quite as much luck this time but we did have some fun. I was at one machine, complaining how stupid it was and I don’t want to play any more. That’s when the entire screen went to the ‘wild’ icons. I was happy after that.

The waitress brought me a hot chocolate because she said I looked so cold. It was delicious. Who knew a Las Vegas casino would have such good hot chocolate? I watched a wedding party gather in one of the lounges. All the men were in kilts, it was fun.  Two of us went off to find a quick something to eat – my ‘partner in crime’ nearly fell over when she was charged $13 for a coffee and a muffin.  It was kind of a casual, lazy day. Although it would have been nice to be outside a bit more – just not at the pool. In typical fashion, the weather was the nicest it had been the day we were leaving.

Next thing we knew, it was time to leave. The six of us – some whom were no longer speaking to others – loaded in to two cabs off to the airport. It was time to leave. I knew the trip would end this way. 

At the airport we all indulged in some greasy Carl’s Jr., another Las Vegas tradition. We did a little duty free shopping and grabbed a few plane snacks and loaded ourselves on to the plane. I wanted to punch the man in front of us in the head. He was so loud and rude! I’ve never, ever heard a man speak to his wife that way. It was appalling. But I snuggled myself into my chair and watched a movie, the flight was quick and uneventful, it was good to back home. 

Not gonna lie, really didn’t have that much fun. It was ok but nothing particularly great. Oh well, there’s always next year. 

I met the newbies down at the buffet bright and early. The buffet at Aria is really nice, it has everything you could possibly want but isn’t really spread out like some of the others. I remember being in a buffet last year and just couldn’t be bothered to walk from one side to the other, it was just too big.  This one is a much nicer size. The food was great too but I didn’t quite understand why there were bottles of soy sauce on the tables. They looked like bottles of syrup and a lot of people thought that’s what they were, I noticed quite a few]people eating salty waffles for breakfast. I knew this was the only meal I was going to eat all day until dinner, I was SO excited to go to the Mexican restaurant in Planet Hollywood and enjoy some fantastic tacos and salsa!

We grabbed a cab over to Fashion Show Mall. It wasn’t quite as good as I remembered and one of the stores I went for specifically wasn’t even there any more despite it being listed on their website. It took me about an hour to wheel around the mall and then I waited for the other two. I think they bought something in just about every store! We walked over the the Mirage because other than the restaurant and theatre from the other night, they hadn’t really seen it. We then went our separate ways, them to do some more sightseeing and shopping, me back to Aria to take advantage of the super stunning day.

My first stop was at Julian Serrano in Aria – I had a coupon for some sangria and was running out of time to use it. There were three options to pick from so the bartender gave me a small glass of each so I could decide. I picked the sparkling version, it was so good! The menu also looked quite good and I could have stayed for another drink but why pay ten bucks for one  when I can go to CVS and get a beer for a dollar? So that’s just what I did. As I walked back to the hotel with my tall boy of Coors Light, I was happy. I was alone and enjoying myself and it was a hot, sunny day.

A quick change in to my pool attire and I was on my way, beer still in hand. When I got to the pool I was given a ‘pass’ in to the Liquid Day Lounge, the adult pool. Perfect. Today there will be no screaming kids. The man checking key cards at the front handed me a plastic glass for my beer and then made some joke about Canadians and beer. I laughed and went on my merry little way. When I got to the entrance of Liquid, I had to get rid of my beer. So I gulped the rest down and threw the cup out. Then they took my water, claiming they had free water inside. THEN they told me despite my pass it was a $50 food and drink minimum. I recall having a brief moment of thinking to myself, forget this I’m just going to sit in the regular area. Looking back now, probably should have listened to that voice. Always listen to the voice.  I was given a bed beside the pool and ordered a jug of sangria. I quickly made friends with the Brits beside me and some Canadians in the pool. We were having a grand ol’ time, laughing, playing volley ball and taking pictures. I laid in the hot sun, thinking that this was the life, it really doesn’t get much better than this.  I recall being in the pool… and then in the bathroom. And then some lady asking if I was ok and then having to sign off on my bill. Lets just say I was then helped back to my room and spent the next little while on the floor. I could hear someone knocking but I couldn’t get up. Then I heard the gang come in and start yelling.  They were none-too-happy with my little afternoon pool party and I don’t blame them, what I did was dumb but I really didn’t need to be yelled at.  I think it was just a little too much, too fast and too much sun.

I was eventually put in to bed where I was told to ‘stay’. Where the hell was I going to go? I couldn’t stand up. They all went out to enjoy that fantastic Mexican restaurant I had been craving since I ate there last year. Someone came and checked on me and I cried haha. I’m not a lightweight by any stretch of the imagination, ask my friends, but I felt so bad that it happened and was so upset that everyone was angry with me. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. Oh and there is no ‘free’ water in Liquid. Upon checking my bill when I sobered up – it was ten dollars.

 

 

So the party people didn’t get back in until 3:30. That left me the only one awake at a ‘normal’ time. I went down to the cafe in Aria for breakfast – some eggs, bacon, hash-browns and a lovely breakfast mimosa. It was $40 for just little ol’ me! I mean $5 for a cup of tea? Did they go out and pick the leaves themselves. Knowing that the rest of the gang would still be awhile I sat around in the casino for awhile and then went upstairs to see if anyone was awake. No such luck. So I went down to the pool and sat in the hot tub for a bit and then laid on a lounger. It was a great morning, really warm and sunny, hardly anyone there. But I left my sunscreen up in the room so I wasn’t able to stay down there for too long. Baaack up at the room, again no one is up yet. I finally wrangled my mother up and we went back down to the pool. It had kind of clouded over at this point but it was still warm. Please explain to be though, why would you bring your small child to Vegas and then proceed to give them swimming lessons in the pool? I wanted to relax and enjoy myself, not listen to screaming kids. Then on the other side, a very loud group of older adults indulging in their buckets of beer. I could honestly tell you everything they said because they needed to shout it at each other. It was so annoying. I managed to crank my iPod up just loud enough that I could drown them out a bit and still manage to fall asleep for a bit.

After my poolside nap it was time to go get ready for our second night out. This time we were headed to old Las Vegas and Fremont Street. We warned the newbies that if they thought there were some odd people on the strip, they’d be in for a bigger shock tonight. We had dinner at Grotto in the Golden Nugget. If you like Italian food, this place is a must. The food is outstanding, from appetizers to dessert. There wasn’t a plate on the table that had food left on it at the end of the meal. I had fettuccine with garlic and butter and prawns. You really can’t go wrong. Oh and the crusty bread on the table with the seasoned olive oil for dipping. It was hard not to fill up on that before our food even came out. This is a restaurant you must add to your list of places to eat at in Vegas.

After we shoved our faces with our delicious meal, it was time to head upstairs to see world renowned impersonator Gordie Brown. I didn’t want to to go the show but everyone was so it was either go or sit in the casino alone for two hours. It’s just not something that I personally like but I will say this, Gordie Brown is exceptional at what he does. He puts on a great show and had the crowd in stitches. My aunt laughed so hard that the people in front of us actually turned around to look at her. I recommend you Google him and some of his performances – the tickets are very reasonably priced and makes for a good night out in Las Vegas. Plus then you have an even better excuse to go eat at Grotto.

After the show we walked up and down the street, checking out the little shops and buying some 2 for 5 tall boys. We watched the light show, it was Queen, always a crowd pleaser. We even went in to Binions and met Priscilla. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – there was a show on here in Canada about the staff that work at this Binions Hotel and Casino. Prisciilla is a waitress that has been there for more than 20 years. The only thing bigger than her hair is her personalilty. Half of the group wanted to stay there and gamble, the other half including me wanted to go back and change.

After a quick break in our rooms, I took the newbies out on the strip. They hadn’t been into Planet Hollywood yet and it is one of my favourite hotels. I love the decore and casino, we always have fun there. The only disappointing part was it was so late so all the shops along the Miracle Mile were closed. Surprisingly we found ourselves getting hungry. It was kind of disgusting given how much we had eaten earlier. We wanted to go to Pinks Hot Dogs but literally as we got there, they closed. Why?! Don’t you think that’s the type of place that would stay open like 24 hours – what’s better when you’re drunk then a big, greasy hot dog? We went to the PBR Rock Bar right beside it. It was my kind of place, country music and a mechanical bull. No dance floor though. I ordered a margarita and some potato skins, while newbie 1 got nachos that we’d share. I’d never had a margarita that wasn’t slushy … it was just lime and tequila. It was not good. I forced myself to drink most of it but my lips kept puckering every time I took a sip. The potato skins weren’t too bad… lots of cheese and bacon bits but no onions or anything like that. And the nachos… barf. You’d think I would have learned my lesson not to order nachos while on holiday. Instead of tortilla chips, they were made with potato chips. WTF? And it wasn’t real melted cheese, it was like gooey, dipping cheese that you’d get at like a stadium with nachos. The fresh jalapeños on top were fabulous though. I made myself eat as many of them as I could stomach.

We decided to head back to the hotel after that, I could have stayed up and partied – making up for the night before that I missed out on. They however were ready for bed and I’m not going to lie, I was looking forward to that big fluffy mattress. Little did I know, I’d soon be confined to that mattress unable to go anywhere.

It was an early start to the day, I went down to The Roasted Bean in Aria for a muffin and tea for breakfast. We all had to meet in the lobby to head to the outlet mall. I of course was the first one there and waiting for everyone else. I was looking forward to shopping, I love shopping and I love the outlet mall! Before I could get everyone organized and pick a meeting time and place – the gang dispersed.
Several hours and several hundred dollars later, we all found ourselves at the food court. I was done and ready to go back to the hotel but others were not. Me and my partner in crime for the trip we loaded up with everyone else’s shopping bags and went back.

It was finally time to hit the pool! The pools at Aria a great, instead of one big one, there are a couple smaller ones and there was never a problem getting a chair. We sat there for hours in the sun, me with one gigantic cup of sangria. This is all I wanted, in a lounger, hot sun, with a drink in my hand. Our poolside fun came to an abrupt end when got a message from home about some serious stuff happening at work. I suppose it was for the best anyways because it was time to go get ready for our night out.

We hopped a cab and just as we turned the corner onto the strip, it started pouring. People were running for cover as gigantic rain drops beat down on them. We laughed.
Dinner was at BLT Burger in The Mirage, that’s where I had stayed last year but I never ate at this place. In fact I don’t remember it at all but it was so good!! I was the only one who ate absolutely everything on my plate. I felt like such a cow as we walked down to the theatre to see ‘Love’ the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show. I have never been to one but I love the Beatles so I was looking forward to it. Our seats were really good, I thought it would be a little more … Spectacular… But I enjoyed it. I met up with a friend from home who was also at the show and we all walked over to Casino Royale. If you like cheap beer and don’t mind a smaller, crowded casino, this is a good place. We downed our dollar beers and played the slots. I felt so totally disgusting though that I left and went back to the hotel. I hung out alone for the rest of the evening and was super bored. I sat in the casino for awhile, I wanted a ginger ale and it was cheaper to get one down there. However I waited nearly and hour for the waitress to come back with it. I told the rest of them to let me know where they were and I’d come meet them later. That never happened and they ended up having a really super fun night, I’m so pissed that I missed it. Thanks guys.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I travel alone. I love traveling alone. So you can understand my trepidation when the annual getaway to Las Vegas suddenly became a 8 person contingent. Everyone said no, no it will be fine. Well… I’m sure glad they all had fun.

We got in to the land of Sun, fun, sex and sin mid-morning. The super stretch limo pulled up in front of Aria as we pointed things out to the two first timers who were with us. The line up to check in was forever and as we quickly learned at this hotel, nothing moves quickly. Only one of our rooms was ready so we hauled all our luggage there and then went on our way for lunch. Again – it took forever to get our food but it was really good. Really expensive as well. If you stay at Aria, go to the CVS next door and buy a box of cereal and some milk I steady of paying $9 for one bowl in the hotel. I found that a bit ridiculous even for LV.

To be quite honest, I was already in a grumpy mood but was really hoping to make the best of it. I mean it’s hot out, I have a great tan and I’m on holiday! We walked around the hotel, checked out the pool and the different stores. We eventually ended up in the casino and stayed there until the rest of our rooms were ready. It was now time to hit the strip and of course being with first timers, we had to stop everywhere and look at things, go into all the hotels and take a look around. I found my self walking ahead of everyone, waiting for them to catch up. We eventually found ourselves in Caesars Palace – I was hungry, my poor foot had a huge blister from the stupid sandals i had one and I was tired of waiting for everyone. I asked three times if we could stop and eat some place and you know what? I was ignored. When I travel alone I don’t ask if I can stop to eat… I stop! This was ridiculous already and we went even 12 hours into the trip.

Thankfully they sorta gave in and we walked back to our hotel, briefly stopping to watch the Fountains at Bellagio, which did make me happy…they ‘danced’ to Singing In The Rain.

At the hotel I took my time changing my shoes, I really just needed a few minutes to be totally alone. When I finally came down, my father looked at my and said ‘and those are better?’ with his always welcome condescending attitude. Awesome. Now it was over to the Monte Carlo. Why? Oh because other people decided they were hungry now and it was thought the food court with 4 options was where we would go. I paid $10 for a greasy piece of pizza that I really didn’t want and then we left.

I was so happy to crawl into the big, fluffy, cozy bed. Seriously, hands down the bed I’ve ever slept in. Maybe a good night’s sleep would help change things around a bit.

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