A World Full of Prettiness

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Our First Character Dining Experience & Frozen Ever After!

Our first full day in Disney saw us heading to Epcot for our first ever character dining experience. Me and Mike, with no kids, both not great conversationalists, I was a little worried, but really wanted to do it because.. well, it's Disney, need I say more?!

We arrived at Garden Grill which is a slow rotating restaurant. The food was A-mazing! A gorgeous warm tear-away cinammon bun arrived, with fresh bowls of tropical fruit, then a pan full of bacon, sausages, potato croquettes and mickey waffles followed. SO good! Pluto decided to throw salt sachets all over our table, and we also posed for photos with Mickey and Chip & Dale. Big kids, I know.



These singers sung Christmas carols and they were amazing!
We made our way around The World Showcase, and sampled the Frozen Ever After ride in the process (a fast pass is definitely need for this!). Although I'm not a huge Frozen fan, the design of this ride gave me goosebumps, but I wont spoil it for those that are due to go! It was so nice having a casual stroll through all the 'countries' at a leisurely pace instead of rushing round trying to cram everything in like we had done previous years. I suppose that's one of the advantages of going a few times, the visits get more and more laid back the more times you go. It enabled us to go into little nooks and crannies that I didn't realise existed before.


We had a quick service meal at Lotus Blossom Café in the China pavilion, this is always a good call. Their honey glazed chicken is perfection. We made use of our memory maker and took lots of photos next to all the huge Christmas trees, lit up in the dark. Everywhere looked magical



Tired from our first full day, combined with jet lag, we left Epcot around 8pm and headed back to the hotel for a chilled night.

Stay tuned for day 2!

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Goodbye NYC, Hello Orlando!

Hopefully you're all up to date with my NYC adventures! For those that aren't regular followers on either my twitter or instagram may not know that my trip to America was divided into 3 parts, and the second leg of the journey saw us visiting one of my most favourite places, Florida.
 
Sunday 4th December we packed up our suitcases and was out the hotel by 8am. We jumped on our arranged coach transfer and headed back to JFK. We grabbed some breakfast in a swish restaurant that required us to order our food from an ipad (small things...) and then took the 2.5hr flight down to Orlando. 

Temperatures were a lot hotter in Orlando than NYC, so off came the jumpers and coats, and on went the shorts! We grabbed our hire car and drove the short distance to our Disney hotel, Coronado Springs. Upon arrival I was completely blown away by the hotel and the decor. Everything looked so pretty and festive! Gorgeous Christmas garlands adorned the entrance, whilst a huge twinkling Christmas tree greeted us in reception. We checked in and was given our much-awaited magic bands! We then went on to check into our room which was lovely. The best bit? Everytime you turned the TV on you were presented with Cinderellas castle, complete with Disney music. Ahhhh... take me back. 
Coronado Springs Entrance



We then had a wander round the hotel grounds, admired the huge lake and how it glistened in the sun and discovered that we had our own pool near to our room, on top of the main one across the lake. 

Later that evening we headed to Animal Kingdom Lodge ready for our evening meal at Sanaa. We were quite early so we walked out to the savannah and sat around a fire pit on wooden rocking chairs. We were provided with night-vision binoculars which enabled us to see into the dark savannah to see if we could spot any animals. I spied a few zebra and giraffe! We then wandered round AKL and admired their decor - this is definitely a hotel for animal lovers. Lots of wooden interior, tribal-esque fabrics, people playing the bongos - lots of African vibes going on. 
 
Animal Kingdom Lodge Lobby
We then ate at Sanaa and ordered the famous bread that everyone and their dog talks about. That came with 9 different dips and completely covered our table. Shortly after, our mains arrived. I didn't know where to look - food overload! We must have looked like pigs to onlookers! The meat was so soft and just fell apart in your mouth, its definitely up there with some of the best meat I've ever tasted. After admitting defeat and landing in a food coma, we drove back to our hotel for an early night, ready for a first action-packed day! 
 
Bread starters at Sanaa
 
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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New York Day 4 - Times Square, Chelsea Market & Black Tap

Our last full day in NYC before jetting off to warmer climates!

We got up early and headed straight to Times Square and took some photos on the red stairs (that were previously so busy we didn't even bother trying).
 


I then wanted to go and check Chelsea Market out after doing some instagram stalking and falling in love with their decorations. Unfortunately the decorations had since changed, and although still pretty, wasn't half as impressive as the photos I saw. Still, I loved the markets atmosphere and its quirky features, wooden flooring and unique independent stalls. There were tonnes of international food stalls here and I really wanted to sample some food but we'd planned on going to Black Tap afterwards for lunch, so I didn't want to spoil my dinner!




The previous day we had trekked up and down Tribeca/China Town (much to Mike's annoyance) to find this famous Black Tap restaurant (where I saw photos of the most awesome milkshakes), however we didn't have any luck, so this day I was determined to track down the one remaining restaurant we were still yet to find (there are 2 Black Taps in NYC). Luckily we found it, however had to queue. Mike wasn't happy that he was queuing for food, but I managed to persuade him to stick with it! Unfortunately, I felt like this restaurant is somewhat over-rated... the milkshakes were brilliant to look at, but the food was pretty average. I'm glad I gave it a shot though.



After this we took a slow walk back to Macy's and I may have made my first ever Macy's purchase.



We then had some chill-out time in the hotel before headed to Carraghers bar (Mike is a Liverpool fan *rollseyes*). We chatted over cocktails (which mine very quickly turned into a lemonade... #toostrong) and reflected over our time in NY.



That's it for my NY diaries! Stay tuned where on Day 5 we move across to Florida for some Disney fun!

Have you read Day's 1-3 of my NY trip?
Day 1 - Lady Lib, Lashing Rain & Lights
Day 2 - Top of the Rock, Grand Central & Ice Skating in Central Park
Day 3 - Central Park, Ghostbusters & Saks 3D Light Show






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Friday, 6 January 2017

New York Day 3 - Central Park, Ghostbusters & Saks 3D Light Show

Our third day in NY we explored what was soon to become my favourite place in NY - Central Park. This place is bigger than any park you could ever imagine. I only wish we had more time to spend there, but unfortunately we had other places that we needed to see.


It really is so strange - you're in a park, which has been plonked in the middle of the busiest city in the world, and yet it really feels like you're a million miles away. We learnt on one of our bus tours that most people who live in NYC don't have gardens, therefore they use Central Park as their garden as a way to chill and get away from the chaos of the city. There are so many nooks and crannies to be explored here. Cute little bridges over streams of water, lakes to view, rocks to climb, tourist spots (i.e. John Lennon's Imagine, Alice in Wonderland etc). I'd love to visit here in the summer and take a picnic along.

In the afternoon we headed to Soho, a place where a lot of celebrities reside. We were advised to keep our eyes peeled! We did a little shopping (and I made my very first Victoria Secrets purchase!). After wandering around trying to hunt down a certain restaurant, we gave up, and headed to Tribeca instead, which is home to Ghostbusters Fire Station. Unfortunately it was full of scaffolding, which obviously didn't make great photos for Mike! We (very briefly) explored China Town before making our way back to Midtown.



We finally saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree at night, lit up in all its glory. Wow, it was impressive! Below we watched people ice-skating, and in the background the famous Home Alone theme tune was playing. It finally felt like Christmas in NY! We headed round the corner to see the most amazing 3D light show on the front of Saks. It was so pretty! This played every 10 minutes so you definitely wouldn't miss it if visiting near Christmas!




We headed back to Times Square and I finally managed to experience my first ever meal at Bubba Gumps! The wait was so worth it!

Stay tuned for our last full day in NYC!!

Have you read what we got up to on day 1 and day 2 ?
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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

December Round - Up - NYC, Walt Disney World & Christmas!

Can I start by saying how gutted I am that I missed my November round-up. I had kept this going all year, however I was in NYC at the back-end of November into December, and my holiday continued from there, so I really didn't get chance. I guess I could do it now, but that would just feel wrong! Safe to say, the majority of it was quiet in the run-up to my USA stint, then it became manic with packing and last minute errands to do before we jetted away!

However today we're here to round up December.. WOW, what a month that was! As November turned into December I was in NYC (hopefully you're keeping up with the posts?!). On 4th December we left NY and jetted off to Florida for 12 nights in Disney. I had the time of my life, but that's self-explanatory really isn't it? Then, after 12 nights we jumped in the car and headed to Clearwater, which is just passed Tampa. We stayed in the most luxurious hotel right on the beach, and we had the perfect ocean view. After 2.5 weeks of chaotic but fun action, this was our down time, a time to recharge our batteries. We had slow days which mainly consisted of eating, sleeping, enjoying the beach with its gorgeous powder white sand (it really does feel like powder over there!), and not forgetting the shopping.

NYC at Christmas!


Universal Studios, Orlando


Room with a view, Clearwater
A few days before Christmas we landed back in the UK, and I finished off the remainder of my Christmas shopping. Our Christmas was really quiet, we spent it at my mums then just slobbed out infront of the TV, just me and Mike cosied up by the fire with food surrounding us. We really needed a quiet one this year after the 3 weeks we had just spent away!
After having a month (yes, one month!) off work, I came crashing back down with a thud when I went in on the in-between days of Christmas & New Year. Luckily it was so quiet and really laid back with only me in the office, so it was a nice way to ease myself back in!

Again, NYE was very quiet, but I'm old now, and I've grown out of all that partying business. Me & Mike drove to another town for an Indian meal, which was so good. We then got back home at 11, saw the New Year in, then I was taxi service for my mum and her partner who went to a NYE ball - Yes, a daughter picking her mum up from a NYE party. How does that work?! I think I need to reassess my life.

Keep your eyes peeled for blog posts that will walk you through my recent holiday to America! NY posts have already begun!
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Monday, 2 January 2017

New York Day 2 - Top of The Rock, Grand Central & Ice Skating in Central Park!

After a rainy first day, a new day brought sunny clear skies which enabled us to do plenty more sightseeing!
We headed down to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree which had been turned on the night before. It was huge, although admittedly didn't look as pretty in the day. We watched people ice-skating before making our way up Rockefeller Center to see the famous skyline. You could see for miles (and miles!) and viewing this famous scene that I've seen on so many photos and films really didn't seem real. We went as high as we could and took lots of photos, obviously! Such perfect weather for viewing too! Next time I'd love to see this at night.


We then headed to the NY Public Library. This was mainly for Mike as he's a Ghostbusters fan, and it's where a few shots were filmed. Honestly, this place is beautiful. The architecture was so grand and the ceilings were works of Art. The whole place was just full of history. I'd love it to be my local library! It was strange seeing people actually studying in there (I didn't actually realise it was still a working library, even though the clue is in the name!).

Entrance to NY public library

 
Library ceilings
After this we walked round the corner and checked out Grand Central Station. Again, it was like I was in the movies because I'd seen this place so many times in so many movies. There's a huge concourse of cafes and little shops on the ground level so we grabbed some lunch there and sampled the famous Magnolia Bakery!


After lunch we headed back to the hotel to rest our weary feet for a few hours. In the evening we jumped on the bus and headed to Central Park and did some ice-skating at The Woolman Ice Rink. Mike was really worried about ice-skating because he hadn't done it in about 20 years, however he loved it (gutted I didn't get the falls on camera though!). Keep your eyes peeled for some ice-skating footage that will be coming soon!



That brings us to the end of Day 2! Stay tuned for more glorious NY sights in day 3!
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Friday, 23 December 2016

New York Day 1 - Lady Lib, Lashing rain & Lights

I'm back from my 3 week stint in the US!

For the next few weeks I'll be posting daily diaries on what I got up to on my travels, so stay tuned for some good ol' holiday spam!

After a smooth flight from Manchester airport direct to JFK we jumped on our arranged transport and drove into Midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately I was super tired and travel sick so I didn't appreciate or absorb my surroundings as much as I really should have done. We got stuck in lots of traffic so what should have taken us 45 minutes took us almost 2 hours. One thing I did learn whilst being in NY - they really do know how to use their horns! NYC noise consists of sirens and horn honking - at all hours! They sure know how to portray chaos!

We arrived at our hotel (Row NYC, review to come!), freshened up and then took a sleepy walk into Times Square, which was a stones throw away from the hotel. Wow, just wow. It's not often something takes my breath away but it really is like the photos suggest. So bright and alive. After soaking up some of the atmosphere, we dived into a trusty favourite of ours, Olive Garden, right in the heart of Times Square for tea. Jet lag getting the better of me, I deliriously ate my way through a portion of tasty lasagne before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

The next day (and several annoying days after) I woke up at 5am. Damn you body clock. I got myself ready then gave Mike his 8am wake-up call. We made the short walk to Cosmic Diner for breakfast which was up the road from us. This is a fine example to not always trust Tripadvisor, although I'll keep my opinions to myself on this one!

We got our tickets for our hop on hop off bus, and jumped on to experience some topless bus tourist views! We then departed at Battery Park and got on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side, and my god did it rain. We tried to take selfies next to the queen herself but it was pouring that hard that we could barely look up. Wet and uncomfortable, we jumped on the next ferry back and ended up walking the entire length of Broadway, dodging the rain by occasionally diving into a Starbucks or some shops, and later stopping for tea. I think my tracker informed me that we had walked 13 miles that day. Unfortunately we had planned to visit the 9/11 memorial but due to weather conditions, we had to hold off.



After walking for miles down Broadway, we arrived back at the hotel. Had a quick freshen up moment before heading back out to see the Christmas light turn on at The Rockefeller Center. Luckily the rain had eased off at this point! Unfortunately we were fairly late to the ceremony, instead being faced with a live screen of what was happening just around the corner because we couldn't get close enough because of the crowds. They had some famous singers (names escape me) who sung some beautiful Christmas carols before lighting up the tree. The atmosphere was fantastic and I'm glad I did it.


Stay tuned for day 2!
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