Since April I have been mentally planning a California road trip with the hope that at least one person from camp would want to come along. I struck lucky and there are five of us altogether setting off on an adventure (although Rachel is missing the first few days because she transferred to LA for 1.5 weeks with camp).
After some tearful goodbyes (not from me apparently I’m cold hearted) Jenna and I headed off to the airport to pick up our car we had reserved from Alamo. I was super nervous about driving in America, but, after discovering that I shouldn’t use my left foot on the clutch because it was super heavy and caused an emergency stop every time I wanted to brake it turned out it was actually super simple. So off to the University we headed to pick everybody up. That is when disaster struck.
The car we had ordered was supposed to fit 5 people and 4 cases (I figured we then had extra room to squeeze another case and some bags..) but nope, 3 cases were all we could get in to the boot. After a lot of tetris we decided we were going to have to bite the bullet and just head back to the airport to try and get a different car. Luckily, they gave us an SUV upgrade for freeeeeee, yeyyyyy! So off we drove in a sexy BMW X3. (Clearly stole the photo from Antonia’s snapchat).
For years I’ve really wanted to go to Yosemite – it reminds me of the Parent Trap so much even though I’m not even sure whether it was supposed to be there or not. The plan was to make it to Yosemite for around 2-ish and do a 3-5hour hike before heading out to the hotel for the night. However, after the drama of the car swap and the need to stop for food we were rather delayed, oh we also stopped for lots of photo opportunities too. We ended up getting to Yosemite around 3.30pm which clearly wasn’t enough time for a hike that could potentially take up to 5 hours. So after paying our entry fee we happened across a train for a waterfall which sounded perfect.
The trail was literally only 10mins long and because it is summer there was very little waterfall, cue the obvious solution of climbing up the rocks to find the waterfall. It was pretty slippy but I was soooo determined to see some water that we battled up. And I am so glad that we did because it was genuinely beautiful once you got up. I’m such a sucker for a pretty view, potentially the only thing that could have improved how I felt right then was a handsome guy and some fairy lights but hey ho it is what it is!I had such a laugh climbing up with Antonia it took me a while to realise that Alex was climbing up in a minidress, heels and her handbag! Haha! Literally one of a kind, I must say I was pretty impressed she managed it because she did get right to the top!
Although we didn’t spend a huge amount of time in Yosemite it felt like we had accomplished something whilst we were there so we scrambled back in to the car and headed off to our hotel for the night in Mammoth Lakes called the Sierra Nevada Lodge. Luckily, I got on to the right road and managed by myself as I had no signal for Sat Nav and all the girls were asleep so couldn’t read the directions I had printed off. Haha, luck was on our side.
What can I say? The hotel did it’s job, it provided us with some beds for the night. That is to say, there was no a/c, the bar was super expensive and there was a random microwave own the floor in the room, but to be fair all we needed was somewhere to lay our head as they say. For dinner though we did avoid the expensive hotel bar and headed across the road to Roberto’s Cafe for some Mexican (which considering it was Taco Tuesday made me super happy). Wow, the service was bad. The waitress we had literally never uttered a single polite word to us the whole time we were there, my coke had more ice in it than liquid and at one point we were told ‘I’m not your server you’ll have to wait.’ I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything like it, the waitress then even had the nerve to call us back in to the restaurant to complain we hadn’t given her a big enough tip! Jeez! The food was pretty good though to be fair…
I was up bright and early (6.30) trying to sneak into the shower without waking anybody up but it turned out the shower was super noisy so yeyyy everybody was up early! Haha, we aimed to leave the hotel by 8.30am to get back to Yosemite nice and early and to be fair we left only like 15mins later which was fine, but then we also stopped for fuel and food. Never mind it was still pretty early.
The hotel staff had recommended a nice part of Yosemite close to the side we needed to get over to Vegas in the afternoon which was called the something meadow. It was apparently a nice easy hike past a lake. Unfortunately, I spotted a sign that said lake and took that as being where we needed to be. 2.3miles uphill later we found Elizabeth Lake! God, it really was a difficult hike my legs were killing.
When we did eventually get to the top though it was so worth it. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and so calm, yet surprisingly cold. Obviously we had a mini photoshoot at the top, although being with all these young thin girls was pretty devastating haha. I did however encourage Antonia to jump in the lake and climb over to a big rock island thing just because it would be a cool photo, and obviously she obliged.After a quick lunch back at the bottom, we jumped in the car to get ready for the longest stretch of our journey yet, a six hour drive to Vegas. I have never seen such empty roads before it was really strange we literally drove at times for hours without seeing another living being/car. There were some pretty exciting roads too though like one that has ‘bumps’ which was like being on a rollercoaster; at one point I got such a fright I screamed and woke Jenna up from her nap, whoops!
We also crossed our first ever state line which was pretty exciting; even though we almost missed it and I swerved in to the pull over space just in time. It was weird though because we then went back in to California on the same road then back over to Nevada, I really don’t understand how when we were going one direction but never mind.
Eventually we got on to some busy roads and could see the lights of Vegas in the distance. Then came the stressful part, driving through the city to find out hotel. All in all it wasn’t too bad I just had to keep reminding the girls that I know it’s pretty but we need to find where we’re going and focus first! We are staying in the Hard Rock which is pretty unreal our room was pretty beaut, even though we didn’t manage to get a pool view room.
After a quick shower (we literally had muddy legs off the dusty walk) we got dressed and headed out for a late dinner to the Hard Rock Cafe on site. Our server was absolutely amazing, even though we snuck in just before closing time, and we enjoyed a nice relaxed meal which was just what was required.
Ahhhh Vegas pool day!!!
I don’t actually know how I survived in the sun today, it was so ridiculously hot. The girls and I chilled in the pool quite a lot and gossiped and caught up on each others lives which was actually really nice.
It was then obviously time for an obligatory cocktail; we couldn’t possibly be chilling by the pool in the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and not have some cocktails that would be terrible! True to form though the heat of the Vegas sun melted my frozen daiquiri pretty quickly so I had to drink up.
After a few hours chilling in the room with Jenna whilst Alex and Antonia went to show their face at the hotel pool party, we all got ready to head out to the strip for some dinner. Antonia and Alex had a few drinks before the pool party so Antonia was her typical happy drunk self, and because she’s a pain in my ass she spat water on me when we were on our way I was soooo mad at her but she thought it was hilarious.
The strip is so unbelievable there really are lights everywhere it’s a little overwhelming.
We ended up eating in P.F.Changs and the food was amazing. I had sesame chicken and it was the first meal I finished in weeks. It was really beautiful. After dinner we crossed over to the Bellagio to see the fountains. We watched two of the short shows, the first one was to the Pink Panther tune which was pretty cool then the second was to Uptown Funk, they were both really good in their own way.
I literally love how warm it is at night here, it’s unreal! The sun definitely takes it out of me though I cannot even remember falling asleep.
Another day in Vegas = another day at the pool. By 9.15 me and Antonia had claimed some poolside beds once again and I had cracked out my kindle. For some reason it felt even hotter than yesterday.
The other girls came and met us just before lunch, which we intended to just have by the pool but we actually ended up splitting back up. Antonia and I ate in a restaurant inside the hotel called Lucky’s where we had fish and chips, you know because we’re british.
After a nice chilled afternoon split between the pool, room and the deepest bath ever. I curled my hair and got ready to head out with my little Jenna for the night.
Woooo!! It’s Rock of Ages night. I saw Rock of Ages years ago in London and wasn’t a huge fan, however, then the film came out and since I’ve fallen in love. Plus Jenna is in love with the film but never seen the musical, so whilst in Vegas it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I have hugely mixed feelings about the show. Some parts were really good like the guy who played Dennis and the narrator guy (I can’t remember what he’s called) were both amazing, however some of the vocals weren’t live and some other actors were pretty average. It always confuses me when you know there are a million people who would love the part and some of them must be amazing yet they cast below standard individuals. Who knows?
It was another early night for us after dinner as it’s an early start in the morning!
With a 5.30am alarm I wasn’t kidding about getting up super early. I even caught the sunrising.
We were up early for a good reason though, we were jumping on a coach trip to the Grand Canyon. We managed to get checked out of the hotel, leave our bags with the bellman and get on the coach all before 6.30am.
We had a few stops along the way to the Grand Canyon for touristy purposes of course. First up was the Hoover Dam.
It wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be, I don’t know why but it just all seemed stone and ugliness to me. In films it always looks a little more glamorous. I did learn an interesting fact though whilst crossing the state line – Arizona and Hawaii are the only places in the US who do not change time due to daylight savings.
The next tourist stop was at historic Route 66. It was a little bit disappointing because there was no big Route 66 sign that is clearly the typical tourist photo to take. There were some little shops though so I got a few postcards (I don’t know why that has become my new thing to do) and took a few pics anyway.
The journey all in all took us to after 1pm, but that was okay because we got fed twice and watched a film; I also napped quite a lot.
The Grand Canyon itself was breathtaking, no wonder it’s a 7th wonder of the world! We were at the South Rim looking out to the north.
Obviously for us girls it was the perfect opportunity for lots of photo shoots. So we spent the majority of the time taking photos and enjoying the view. This is my ultimate favourite of the day. Genuine squad goals kind of photo haha.
After a little bit of a walk in the sweltering heat, Jenna and I headed back ahead of the other girls to ensure we had time for some ice cream. We had been pre-warned by our bus driver that the queue could get pretty long, and it seemed like we struck lucky because once we had ours the queue was crazy long. Obviously, I felt like I deserved a treat after surviving the long coach journey and the heat so I went for two scoops (like all sane individuals would) and got one mint and one cookie dough. I felt a little bit bad when the guy in front of me in the queue commented ‘woahhhh that looks good,’ I potentially did overindulge a little but I don’t regret it in the slightest.
We then had another 5 hour drive back where I finally managed to get my head down and read my book; which I had been planning to do the whole way there but kept snoozing instead. Epic fail. As we were driving back the sun started to set and it was super pretty, and seeing as I got a sunrise picture it was only fitting I also got a sunset picture.
In true form we were the very last drop off on the way back, which in a way was cool because we got to have a little tour of all the other hotels, but at the same time sucked because we had to get our stuff from the Hard Rock and move it to our new hotel for the night.
Originally when we were booking Vegas we intended to camp in the Grand Canyon, however, once we realised that all of the camp sites were either full or you couldn’t reserve we didn’t want to take the risk so opted for the coach trip instead. That meant we had a little panic to book a hotel room when we realised for the hotels we were already staying in it was $600 to add a Saturday night on. In the end I found a place called the Thunderbird Hotel which looked like a motel but it was on the strip and had pretty good reviews.
Oh my god, it was a shambles. Trying to check in the staff just had NO idea. Where hotels usually pre-authorise your card as a security deposit, they insisted on physically taking it saying it would be refunded in a maximum of 25 days, they then told me I hadn’t paid it when my machine had said approved. Literally, 25mins later the guy realised he hadn’t pressed the right button so it hadn’t actually authorised so I had to do it again, when I asked for proof that they hadn’t charged me twice they couldn’t give me anything. Then when I asked what the bed situation was because we had booked one room for five people, I got told I don’t know the rooms only sleep four… Great customer service mate.
The room itself was okay but by this point I was furious with them, plus it was pretty damn warm. I also felt a bit guilty about the bed situation so I grabbed the spare blankets and set up on the floor.
We had such a lazy morning, we all woke up slowly and had showers totally not keeping track of the time until at 10.47am somebody asked what time we needed to check out, the answer was 11am; poor Antonia was still in the shower. There was no covered parking so once we had packed the car up we literally all sweated driving down the strip looking for something for breakfast. The plan was IHOP but there was a 45-50min wait that we just couldn’t justify waiting. Something good did come out of it though as we saw a cute little chapel across the street so went and had some true Vegas tourist pictures with it.
It isn’t my idea of a wedding but I can sort of see where the appeal is. It’s crazy the little white chapel that Britney got married in was next door to our hotel last night and it’s had an addition of a drive through wedding, like seriously, do people genuinely get married in Vegas to drunken strangers that often? To me that doesn’t sound like something you’d want to remember with your partner for the rest of your life. But then again I’m a hopeless romantic so I suppose my opinion will be very different from lots.
After humming and harring about what to do in the ridiculous heat we ended up deciding to just try and take out chances with an early check in at our 3rd Vegas hotel of the trip – The Palms Casino.
We struck lucky when both of our rooms were ready to go. Once again like the Hard Rock the rooms are pretty awesome, it’s absolutely huge, and since there are 5 of us we are in 2 rooms so there’s lots of space. We threw our bikinis on and headed down to grab something to eat before heading to the pool. I swear all we moaned about all summer camp was that we couldn’t wait to eat something healthier, then all we’ve eaten since is burgers and crap still. It’s crazy. Today’s lunch choice was McDonalds, obviously.
The pool was pretty small but did us perfectly. There were no sun loungers when we got there so I grabbed my kindle and sat and read in the pool; genuinely my idea of bliss. It was just a few hours of total relaxation before I headed upstairs to relax some more in our jacuzzi bath as I got ready to head out.
For a while I have REALLY wanted to see Ka – Cirque du Soleil in Vegas and tonight was the night I got to do that. I managed to convince Rachel and Antonia that it was something they had to see. Woo.
Rachel had a few errands to run so myself and Antonia headed down to MGM Grand to collect the tickets and have a wander. When we collected the tickets we got an upgrade which is definitely always appreciated. Thanks! It is literally a huge hotel it’s crazy, but we managed to fill our time eating the most amazing crepe ever (although definitely overpriced).
Ooooh apparently that photo is really small… It was beautiful though, strawberries, bananas, nutella, cream and chocolate sauce. Ahhhhh. Fair to say it didn’t last very long. But made us super happy!
We waited a little bit longer for Rachel to meet us; did a round of the gift shop you know as you do. Then she managed to get there about 15mins before the show started! Phewph I was genuinely starting to panic. If you haven’t been to a Cirque Du Soleil show before, it’s really worth getting there early because they do a little pre-show show that is worth seeing.
After a quick photo opportunity, we headed inside. Even in the foyer there was a show happening, there were two people up in the ceiling playing a giant harp type instrument it was crazy. Honestly, I love the spectacle. The show itself was so different to every other Cirque that I’ve seen. It was very specific and focused around martial arts and aerial which I’m not sure whether I loved or was disappointed with. I watched a documentary a while ago about how precarious the planning of the show is and I think that definitely made me appreciate it a bit more but I think others were potentially a little bit better. I was relieved to find that both Rachel and Antonia had loved it though.
There was a plan to head over to the Stratosphere when the show was done, but the other girls changed their mind so we just wandered the strip for a little bit. Rachel wasn’t in Vegas when we saw the Bellagio fountains the other night so we walked down to see those again. We were then going to go to Gordon Ramsey’s Burgr for dinner but the queue was ridiculous which was a little bit gutting as it was recommended to me but hey ho!
In the end we decided to head in to New York New York to see if we could find somewhere to eat and ended up on the rollercoaster instead. $14 was maybe a little steep for just one ride but it was amazing, you got some great views of the strip and it was really fun; although a little uncomfortable.
After some genuine decision making we ended up deciding to head back to the hotel to have a Hooters. Apparently the Hooters in the hotel is the world’s largest, just a random fact for you. The service wasn’t great and took a while but hey ho! It’s Hooters what did we expect?!?
It was then time to crawl into my comfy bed and get some ZzZzZz’s. It’s our last full day in Vegas tomorrow!
This morning everybody was having a lie in but I just couldn’t do it, knowing it was lovely and hot outside and there was a pool waiting for me so I headed out alone. It actually ended up a great time to catch up with my Mam and my friend Laura at home as they had both pretty much just finished work. I don’t think I will ever be able to accept it being 40* at 10am though it’s just sheer craziness. As Jenna would ask ‘why is this desert so hot?!?!’
I must say I really did struggle with the heat today and I was in and out of the hotel to find shade and liquid. It was also soooo windy outside that at one point all of my stuff flew into the pool, I’m talking flip flops, shorts and shirt, my shirt even went missing as I had no idea where it had gone and I found it on a plant pot thing around the pool where somebody had saved it. I don’t understand how it was so randomly windy.
Then me and Antonia decided that whilst in Vegas we should definitely take in a buffet! Oh my goodness we ate so much I thought I was going to be sick, at one point I have half a plate of spinach dip (whoops).
Then it was back to the pool for a few hours with the most expensive cocktail ever! $18 for a frozen daiquiri is a little crazy in my books but it was good in the heat.
On our list of things we wanted to do in Vegas was the rides at the Stratosphere rides so since it was our last night me, Jenna and Antonia headed out. Typically because of the wind one of the three rides was closed which sucked but seriously I have never been so scared of a ride in my life. The little rollercoaster which chucks you off the end of the building, I thought was going to be the end of me. I was thinking, if the breaks failed I would literally plummet to my death. There was also a tower that shoots you up which is apparently the highest thrill ride in the world as it’s right at the top of the tower.
The view was unbelievable too, plus we managed to get there as the sun was still setting so it was pretty beautiful.
I must say though I’m glad we got some discounted ticket online because I think $39.99 is a bit of a rip off to go to the top and ride the rides, but I suppose plenty of people must do it.
The entire time we’ve been in Vegas me and Antonia have been talking about getting piercings so we decided f*** it we were just gonna go and get them. We sat in soooo much traffic on the strip, finally found where to park and got there only to be told they wanted $75 to do it! Definitely wasn’t paying that much so it was a totally wasted trip. It was devastating but hey! We tried!!
Instead of heading straight to Anaheim this morning we decided to enjoy a last few hours in Vegas around a pool; after a little lie in of course. We ventured up to the Palms Place pool which we hadn’t been to yet. It was actually quite a walk to get to it; it even involved a travelator and a few elevators. It was really cool with just a few beds around the edges a fairly small pool and a jacuzzi.
Obviously after a little bit of sunbathing it turned in to a big photo shoot in the jacuzzi, we are totally incapable of going anywhere without one. We stuck the timer on and Jenna pretty much dived in to make it in time, it turned out pretty funny.
Jenna, Antonia and I then had lunch in this really cute cafe attached to the pool. I had a Dr Pepper burger which along with having the world’s biggest mushroom also had a Dr Pepper glaze on it, it was pretty yummy. My favourite thing though was the flowers on the table which I thought were super cute, I’m a weirdo I know.
We had one final stop to make in Vegas before we left and that was to go to the world famous ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign. It was so ridiculously warm but it was a touristy must so we waited in the heat. I was surprised to find a professional photographer there working for tips but hey it saved us a lot of hassle.
Then it was time to hit the road and travel to Anaheim so we could experience a few days at Disneyland. It should’ve been a super simple journey with other 200 miles on one road. However, we had driven for a few hours when we got this super strange sky.
We started wondering whether there was some sort of desert storm or something (my idea of something was that there were aliens coming and we were all gonna die but you know). After driving for literally about 30 more miles, we turned off the freeway and started to realise it wasn’t a storm at all it was a fire. I have literally never seen something so crazy in my life and when we saw flames from the road it was kind of a shock, but the sun was the strangest part of all, because it was hidden by smoke it looked bright red, for once like a genuine ball of fire.
Then the struggle started. For some reason my SatNav couldn’t understand that we weren’t able to drive down the roads it wanted us to because the fire was so bad that they had evacuated whole towns and closed roads. We drove around in circles for literally like 1.5hours until I finally found some people I could ask for directions. The directions were not the best news, essentially we had to drive a few hours in the wrong direction until we could come around and through LA instead of over and direct.
Luckily we actually had such a laugh getting there, Alex and Antonia decided the best dealing strategy was to do shots, whilst Jenna enforced an awkward questions game where we definitely all got to know each other a little bit better. There were also some very funny snapchats going around.
Our 4hour journey turned in to 8hours and we missed our planned night in Downtown Disney but it was definitely an adventure to tell everybody about.
Finally a day at Disney yeyyyy!! Yes okay, as we all know I am a typical girl who definitely doesn’t act her age, so it’s true Disney is one of my favourite places. Plus this was my first time at Disneyland California so I was psyched. However, before we headed to the park I got to do something I’ve been waiting 8 weeks for – got to IHOP!! Woo I love IHOP I can’t help it their chocolate chip pancakes are unreal. I did curb my enthusiasm though and didn’t order my usual omelette too. I seriously don’t know what California has done to me but I literally can never finish a meal so I was really sad when I ate like 1/4 of my pancakes.
Because Rachel only wanted to do the Californian Adventure Park and Claire wanted to do Disney but wasn’t arriving until tomorrow we spent our first day at the Californian Adventure park. Essentially it’s sort of the Californian version of Hollywood Studios in Florida.
First up, getting those all important ears. Last time I came to Disney I got light up ears but they really hurt the back of my ears and I didn’t really wear them much so this year I opted for a cap, essentially ears that also protects my scalp! Yeyyyy. And obviously I rocked them…
They are still on the old fast pass style in California so you essentially go to ride you want and put your ticket in and it gives you a time to come back and skip the queue; why everybody doesn’t use this system I will never know as it saves sooo much time. We did that for the Tower of Terror first thing. Then whilst we waited we went and played on some other rides.
We did Mike & Sully To The Rescue, which is essentially a little story telling of Monsters Inc. which was cute, Radiator Springs Racers which is the ‘big’ cars ride where you race around Radiator Springs, there was quite a line for it but we decided to just do the single riders queue which was cool because we ended up with 2 of us in each car anyway.
We also managed to squeeze in California Screaming which is the big rollercoaster in the park that I loved and the Silly Symphony Swings before we headed back to the Tower of Terror.
The staff working the Tower of Terror were so good like literally did not slip out of character once and cracked lots of scary jokes with a straight face. I think it was a little bit different to the Florida version of the ride but it was still brilliant and hilariously scary. I was naughty and stole a picture of the ride photo, literally the guy in the front has the funniest expression!
We spent the day enjoying all the rides and complaining about the heat as us Brits do everywhere. I cannot explain how much the Fast Pass helped with our day, giving it some structure and avoiding wait times. We also discovered that you could get Fast Pass tickets for shows without it interfering with the rides so we grabbed some tickets for the evening water production and Frozen.
In true theme park fashion, somewhere between leaving our last ride and getting to Frozen we got split up and Antonia and Rachel ended up not making it into the show. I’m so glad Jenna and I did though because it was amazing. Essentially it was like a mini broadway production. The show lasted just over an hour and had all the classic songs from the film in, whilst also having Disney’s budget for special effects, the girl playing Anna had a seriously amazing voice and I sat with a smile for pretty much the entire thing.
The timing worked out quite well that when Frozen finished we had time to quickly meet Anna and Elsa before heading over to the ‘World of Colour’ which was earlier described to us as the Bellagio fountains on steroids; sounds pretty damn good to me.
Like most evening Disney shows it was absolutely packed down by the water so we squeezed some space by the railings where we figured at least there would be nobody standing in front of us. World of Colour told the story of how Disneyland came about on a beautiful colourful water canvas. It showcased some of my favourite Disney moment and shared some of Walt Disney’s most popular quotes – everybody knows I love a quote.
The photos don’t really do it justice as I genuinely had goosebumps watching it but it gives an idea of the fact it’s just images projected on to water.
It was a truly exhausting day (especially after the crazy drive last night) so after a quick catch up in Downtown Disney with Claire who we hadn’t seen since leaving camp we headed home to rest our weary little heads on our pillows.
The real day I’ve been waiting for, Disneyland!! I finally got to see the castle!! Yeyyyy! I must say it was a little small but it’s fine it’s the original and it’s perfect; I also love you can actually go inside it and get the story of Sleeping Beauty whilst you’re there.
Although there were still a lot of rides we wanted to go on today was really all about the magic of Disney and meeting the characters and basically letting our inner child out.
The biggest disappointment of the day however, is the fact that Mickey Mouse was a horrible mouse who was rude to the family in front of us, refused to let Jenna and Claire pretend to kiss him in their photo and then tried to refuse to let me and Antonia have our picture. It was genuinely devastating that somebody who is the face of the company is acting in that way. Although there were plenty of other amazing staff who made it up for it – shout out to Kayleigh who was Daisy Duck’s helper and was the loveliest person ever.
As expected I spent wayyyy too much on Disney merchandise, including a really cute drawing of my name in Disney characters which I can’t wait to get framed. Honestly, if you’re in Disney I really recommend it (probably more so for kids than adults but hey ho) you get to pick what characters you want and everything.
Everybody knows that no day at Disneyland is complete without staying to watch the fireworks. Lucky for us, this year is Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary so it was a special firework display to mark the occasion. I have honestly never witnessed anything like it, aside from the usual fireworks around the castle, all of the buildings in main street were used to project images on, and the best bit… IT SNOWED!!
Another day another theme park. After a big (slightly heated) discussion about what time to get up and head to Universal this morning we ended up arriving at about 10am. It was the first feel of LA traffic we witnessed as the freeway moved at around 10mph. Universal was so bizarre, it literally is like a mini Orlando park, you leave the car park and enter CityWalk similar to Orlando, but then you go through security before you get to the iconic Universal Globe.
Our first stop once inside was to meet Shrek as a continuance of yesterdays meet and greet with Disney characters; I actually feel like we’ve been talking about Shrek for weeks so it was pretty fitting.
We then decided to split up because me and Antonia being huuuuuge Harry Potter fans wanted to go and queue for the Forbidden Journey (which had an hour wait) whereas the other guys didn’t want to wait that long and wanted to get on as much as possible I was so excited to take Antonia on the Harry Potter rides as she has never done them before. At the start of the queue was the flying car from the Chamber of Secrets which made us super excited straight away.
I swear, it is the most interesting ride queue ever; mirror of erised, herbology classrooms, house points containers, Dumbledore’s office and the portrait of the fat lady. Literally experiencing a day in Hogwarts before you even get on the ride. Okay, I did warn you I was a fan.
After the Forbidden Journey, we headed straight over to join the queue for the other ride – The Flight of the Hippogriff. My opinion of it is pretty split, I’m glad we went on it as in this park it is the only other Harry Potter ride, but we queued for about 25mins to experience a rollercoaster that lasted maybe 40 seconds, it was super short. It did have Hagrid’s hut in the queue though…
After a quick spot of shopping where I was super good and only bought a post card! We headed to find the others for a spot of lunch.
Once we found everybody it turned out we still had different ideas of how we wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon so we split up once again, Antonia and I to go jump on some more rides before just grabbing some quick food, Jenna, Rachel and Alex to go out into CityWalk to grab something a little more substantial.
Our next port of call was the Mummy ride. We decided to do some single rider lines so we could get on a few more things so we braved them alone. The Mummy was really good; it was a rollercoaster in the dark, except for a really scary part where it felt like bugs were attacking me, I didn’t like that. Then we headed over to Transformers which was a simulator where you acted as part of a battle. Eeeeek. Simulators do always make me feel a little poorly though.
We grabbed some food and headed over to the Waterworld show. Quite a few people recommended the show so true to form me and Antonia grabbed some seats in the soak zone. We were wondering why it was classed as that until about halfway through somebody soaked us with a jetski. The show is general was packed with some good stunts, however it was super cheesy and mimed.
The best part of the day came next though when we all got back together to go on the studio tour. I forget that Universal Hollywood is actually a working studio so it was pretty cool to drive around it and hear some stories and even pass some live sets; although there were no overly exciting things going on. It was something real though which was fun.
It was then back in the car to head across town to stay in our first ever Air BnB. The neighbourhood looked pretty scary but the house was really cute. We were so sleepy so we jumped online and ordered some Pizza Hut, 3 pizzas and a pasta for 5 girls was maybe a little excessive but to be fair I don’t think anything went to waste.
We were definitely all due a lie in, yet we were all awake by 7.30. It was definitely nice to just laze in bed for a few hours though. Around 10.30 we went on a mission to 7/11 to find some breakfast, but other than that we didn’t leave the house until 1.30. Literally the laziest morning we’ve had all road trip so far.
The plan for today though was to take a hike up the Hollywood hills, something we’ve been talking about doing since the start of camp. Online I found a 3mile trail that seemed perfect; although a little scary judging by the amount of rattlesnake warnings online, eeeeek. We drove out and parked on a super posh street hoping our BMW would fit in (luckily it must’ve because nobody towed it away).
As precedent would suggest, Antonia and I hiked in front of everybody else, oh my goodness it was a tough hike that required stopping frequently.
It was super hot and dusty making me a huge whinge, bless Antonia having to put up with it. We ended up getting to the top maybe 30-40mins before the others; Jenna was having a really hard time with the height so they took it a little slower. There is always that moment of disappointment when you remember you’re at the back of the sign and not the front but it was still pretty cool with some brilliant views across LA.
When we were up the top we also got a call from Claire to let us know that Coldplay were playing close by and there were still tickets left so she was going did we want to? Of course the answer was yes, however, the show started at 7pm and it was 4pm and we were up a mountain absolutely filthy. We made an agreement with the other girls that me and Antonia would head down the mountain to get the car and pick them up so that Jenna didn’t have to go down the same way she came up.
It worked really well, we got down the mountain in a record breaking 33mins with only one serious fall which gave me a lovely blue bruise on my arm. Then disaster struck when I realised yup we were down by the car, however, the car key was still at the top of the mountain in Alex’s bag. God I was so mad at the world. The others had about an hour walk ahead of them, then it was going to be about 30mins in an Uber to get back to us. So, we got comfy on the kerb and kept ourselves occupied on snapchat for what ended up 2 hours. What was the most infuriating part was that just inside the car were cookies, alcohol and warmer clothing, bloody typical. I just couldn’t believe how filthy I was.
The shower was an absolute blessing. Alcohol was definitely in order for the night too, so we left the car and jumped in an Uber to close by LA Live where we went to a cool restaurant called Rock N Fish. It was a little on the expensive side but I think that is just typical LA. We definitely needed some cocktails before we could even consider food so me and Antonia ordered some Hurricanes which were beautiful.
There was a lot of choice on the menu and for once we actually all got something totally different. I decided to go all out and try swordfish for the first time, even though I was a little nervous about it. I subbed my asparagus for some green beans which feel like possible the only veg I’ve eaten all summer, but it was all super super yummy; I’m glad I got the sauce on the side though because it wasn’t very nice.
Even though we didn’t get to see Coldplay I still had such a good day, climbing the Hollywood Sign trail felt like a total accomplishment and it finished off well with good company and food.
Today is a sad day, it’s the end of an era. Antonia and Rachel’s last day in California. We spent our last day in San Jose at the beach so we thought it only fitting to also spend their last day in LA at the beach too. We headed out to the world famous Santa Monica beach. Rachel decided not to come with us, so just the four of us headed out. Parking seemed like it was gonna be super expensive but we just bit the bullet and dealt with it.
On our walk down to the beach I spotted a Barnes and Nobel which anybody who knows me would appreciate I cannot pass without going in. I’m so glad I did too because I managed to get another Disney Villain book to add to my collection – Poor Unfortunate Soul – the story of Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
Santa Monica beach is huge, like the distance from the promenade to the actual water is a lot of lot of sand. Now it was on my wishlist for the summer to ride the ferris wheel on Santa Monica pier but to be perfectly honest it didn’t look that exciting, sleeping on the beach seemed much more appealing! So that is literally what we did, oh I also bought an ice lolly from a man too; the ‘lucky lucky’ men in America make so much more sense, no I don’t want to buy a fake designer handbag but I would love an ice lolly or cold drink right now!
Due to the lack of a washing machine for the past 13 days we also had a quick stop at Victoria’s Secret to get some clean underwear; yeah okay it was sort of just an excuse but it’s okay it doesn’t matter!
It was then back to the car to prepare a shower schedule to ensure we were all ready to go out in time. Tonight was a night I was excited for – we were meeting up with Miss Amy for dinner!!
Amy was definitely my person the last few weeks of camp, she kept me sane and gave me somebody to moan to, when she left camp a week before the end I was devastated, but it’s fine I forgave her. Since she lived in LA we decided to get everybody together for dinner before they went home, what was even better was that she picked one of my favourite places to go – Yard House.
A spinach dip, onion ring tower, burger and peace martini late, time was pressing. Antonia, Rachel and I had managed to bag some tickets for Coldplay since we didn’t get there in time yesterday. I was literally so excited I didn’t even mind leaving dinner a little bit early.
The show was out in Pasadena and the traffic was crazy even though we were pretty much late. So many roads were closed; I assume due to the expected traffic, we ended up getting there just in time to pay out $40 parking fee!!! Crazy isn’t it. I can remember years ago seeing Coldplay perform on XFactor and everybody had bracelets that lit up different colours with the music so when I found out they had them again I was even more excited, until we didn’t get them on our way in and we discovered they had ran out. I was definitely on a mission to find some and find some I did, yeyyyyy.
We got to ours seats at around 8.50 with Coldplay due on stage at 9. The Rose Bowl where it was held was pretty damn big, and the atmosphere was buzzing. I’m not a die hard Coldplay fan but I know a lot of their songs just from general life. So there was a lot of dancing, singing and screaming involved in the show. It had a few highlights – when Chris Martin was just about to sing Everglow which is a dramatic acoustic piano ballad and some guy shouted he wanted to have his babies and Chris literally had to stop and reply that it wasn’t scientifically possible, the onslaught of fireworks that were used and OBVIOUSLY when James Corden turned up on stage as the missing 5th member to sing Nothing Compares To You. The fact it has now went viral is actually even more exciting as I get to tell everybody I was there!
We had such a good night and I hope it was a great way for Rachel and Antonia to spend their final night in California. It wasn’t even marred by getting back to the apartment like we expected because we actually got home in such good time despite the amount of cars all trying to escape at once.
I was up nice and early to do my first airport trip of the day – taking Rachel. What we had been told was a 20minute journey each way turned in to a 2 hour round trip for me, I love LA traffic. When I got back I was so devastated that everybody else’s 9am alarms were just going off, but I desperately needed to pack so I couldn’t even contemplate going back to bed if I wanted to make the 11am check out time.
Next airport drop off was Antonia, I was really gutted to depart from my partner in crime but apparently she had important things to do…. going to Reading festival etc. Inconsiderate if you ask me!
So then there were 3… Jenna, Alex and I. We decided to head to a posh little shopping place called The Grove to grab some lunch and do a little shopping – i.e Sephora because that’s pretty much all we could afford.
We were just chilling checking out some places we could potentially eat when Alex starts talking to this girl and getting a photo with her. Me and Jenna were both really confused trying to work out what was going on… It turns out it was Chris Brown’s ex who is now a model and Alex loves her Karrueche or something, I felt old as I literally didn’t have a clue, it made Alex’s day though.
After her starstruck moment had passed we sat to have some lunch in a place called Buca (De Peppo or something maybe), it was pretty average the server clearly wasn’t bothered by us and at one point I waited 15mins for my cesar salad.
The Grove was a pretty cute place though I definitely understand why people like it and why it is apparently a celebrity hotspot. I was literally so tired though from my airport runs and stressed about finding our next Air BnB which had turned in to a checking in nightmare all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep.
Luckily (or unluckily it depends how you look at it) because I was designated driver I couldn’t stay in and mope. So we headed to one of LA’s most famous landmarks, the walk of fame.
It’s fair to say the walk of fame is a little underwhelming it really is just a street with some stars on the ground, but it is quite fun finding your favourite ones.
Also the Chinese Theatre was pretty cool, although I’m not sure how I feel about it now being an IMAX cinema I feel like it takes away a bit of the charm I was expecting but it is really cool.
All of the handprints outside of it are cool too, although I get concerned that people are walking on them and some of the older ones are starting to deteriorate and I find that a little bit sad, I’m such a geek I know. I think Robin Williams’ was one of my favourite, he was just such a cool guy!
Tonight wasn’t just about discovering the Hollywood Walk of Fame though, it was also the night we FINALLY had In and Out Burger, somewhere we have been talking about going to since the first day we all met back in June. I must say, I was a little bit disappointed it didn’t live up to it’s expectations but it was super busy so I obviously have a different opinion than others. The burger was good but it’s the fries everybody goes on about, and although I didn’t have animal fries because I’m not a fan of onion, I did get the cheese fries and I just didn’t think they were all that great. Whoops!!
After dinner we popped in to say our goodbyes to Claire as she’s heading to Vegas tomorrow and we’re staying in LA. It was pretty sad because she’s so funny and optimistic about everything she’s a good person to have around. I will definitely be staying in touch with Claire!
When we got back it was time to conquer the washing machine! Haha, that sounds like a simple feat, but believe me it wasn’t. First of all I don’t do washing at home that’s something that the fairies do, secondly the machines in the US are totally different from at home. At one point Alex and I had all the clothes in and the soap and got confused when the water started pouring in to the other machine, until we realised we had everything in the dryer and nothing in the washer. Whoops! We succeeded though!
Well, we meant to get up early and do lots of different things but unfortunately we left the apartment at about 1pm, whoops! However, we were really excited about spending the day at Venice beach and hiring bikes as other people we know had done it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
We had a quick stop at Burger King (mmmm cheesy chicken) and then hit the road. It actually took quite a while to get there but for once we had preplanned where we were going to park; which actually backfired because the actual seafront parking was cheaper damn it! We did manage to hire bikes pretty cheap though, we went to Ride Venice or something along those lines.
It was really fun but also pretty tiring, haha it’s crazy that when you’re a kid you literally cycle for hours and don’t even think of it as exercise. It was a beautiful place to do it though, I understand why people work out at muscle beach, what more encouragement do you need than the beach and the sea?
We had the bikes for 2 hours then went to watch some people skateboard, or attempt to kill themselves it depends how you look at it. It was really funny though some guy was talking to Alex and Jenna, somehow the conversation ended up with Alex convincing him that Jenna was a really good skater and him offering her a turn on his board. I swear I wish it had happened it would’ve been so funny!
The next aim was to head to Marina Del Rey which Rachel had told me was beautiful, plus they have a cheesecake factory. It turned out it was really pretty far to walk and we ended up rushing in to the Cheesecake Factory just so we could grab some cake to take to the beach to watch the sunset.
I power walked like crazy to make it back in time to see the sunset; it was on my wishlist so I really wanted it to happen. It was beautiful! And totally worth it.
There was a really cute photoshoot happening too, I think the couple were announcing their engagement or wedding or something it was so cute and they were typically beautiful on the Californian beach during sunset. It’s a tough life! However, I sat and enjoyed my cheesecake whilst watching them – cake by the ocean indeed.
I’m a sucker for a beautiful place so I would fully recommend a trip to Venice Beach to anybody heading to California as I really enjoyed it. LA so far has proven to not be what I expected, it isn’t glamorous and beautiful, but today was.
What other way do you finish a great day in the USA though than to go to Walmart!! Whoop!! So the main purpose for the visit was that during the road trip I have whittled away at my luggage until it was all just in one suitcase, however, realistically that suitcase was going to be too heavy to take on a plane, so I needed to reinvest in a carry on case. Boy did we get a good deal! A cute hard carry on case for just $20. Alex and Jenna both decided to invest whilst they were there too, it just made perfect sense. I am a Walmart fan it’s great.
Today marked Alex’s last full day in LA with us before she went back to San Francisco to see family. I had been super excited about going on a dolphin boat cruise whilst we were out in California so today was finally the day we planned to do that. But first was a trip to the world famous Rodeo Drive.
To me Beverly Hill is the LA I was expecting, clean, pretty and classy, so I was happy to be back amongst that. We headed right up the street to the Beverly Hills sign so we could have a little photo opportunity.
I; in true fashion, grabbed an ice lolly pot thing from the ice cream van on the side too because I’m a cool kid like that. I had then decided I was going to treat myself, back in March I went to New York and was going to buy myself a new Tiffany & Co. necklace but thought I should save for coming here in the summer, however, now it seems more acceptable to treat myself, plus I was on Rodeo Drive where better to treat yourself?
So I did, whoops! I love it though no regrets!
I couldn’t decide between a standard Tiffany key necklace or a Paloma Picasso ‘Love’ necklace. So I was persuaded by the amazing lady who served me that the Paloma necklace was harder to find so that would be the better purchase. Sold! I did it. It really is super cute, well I think so anyway.
Somewhere along Rodeo Drive Jenna had lost a bracelet so her and Alex had went to see if they could find it. True to form, we were running super late. Luckily I rang the dolphin cruise people and they were able to move us to a later cruise.
It turned out the cruise place was much further away than I thought, for some reason I thought it was in Long Beach, but it was actually in Newport Beach. That made me pretty excited though as I could pretend I was in the O.C! Haha I’m such a geek it’s embarrassing.
When we got on the cruise we were next to these cute little old people who were amazed by our polaroid cameras, they were so lovely, and offered to take some pictures of us. For such a long time it felt like we weren’t going to see any dolphins or whales at all, we were like chasing something that wasn’t there and it was sort of disappointing. But all of a sudden we were surrounded by Common dolphins diving all over the place and showing off. Dolphins are literally my favourite animal so I was definitely in my element. Then it got even better, we saw a whale! It was huge. Apparently called a Brydes whale and they said it was really rare for them to see one. Super exciting! I took a few videos but photos were impossible because they moved so quick. Definitely recommend doing it though if you’re ever in California!
Saying as it was Alex’s last night we let her pick where to eat for dinner and she wanted to go back to Yard House. Yeyyyyy. I got a healthy option but still mixed it up with an onion ring tower and a cocktail, you know just to keep my body from getting too confused by the sudden healthy option.
We dropped Alex off at the greyhound station pretty early, it was like the last drop off and felt so strange. Down from 5 to 2 on the road trip.
I had been saying to the girls for days we should go to the outlet mall so they could get some bargains before they left but it ended up just me and Jenna going. We genuinely did get some good bargains too!! I got a pair of perfectly fitting jeans for like $20 and then a Kate Spade watch for like $60 reduced from $225! Jenna got herself a Marc Jacobs bargain too. Honestly, I love a good outlet mall I think they’re amazing.
After grabbing a quick subway for lunch we darted across town for the time we’ve been waiting for! A recording of the Late Late Show with James Corden. It was really random I applied for tickets for us at the start of camp and on the last day of camp we found out we had been successful getting tickets so it was really exciting.
I love the show I think it’s really funny so the fact we got to attend a recording was so much fun. I was fully prepared to be able to spot myself on camera too with a bright shirt and super bright lipstick.
The shows guests were Kate Mara (from Fantastic Four) and Michael Kelly (from House of Cards). My favourite bit of the show though was the fact that we got to see the Britney Spears carpool karaoke. The show was aired the same night too which I wasn’t expecting, and I’m proud to say I’m there getting my high 5 at the end of the show. Rocked it obviously.
Jenna and I were super lucky that Miss Amy (my favourite teacher from camp) and her husband allowed us to stay at their house for our last night in California. Even luckier when Cal had made us a real home cooked meal; chicken with boiled potatoes and veg; he thought it was really funny how excited I was about boiled potatoes. It was such a lovely day to end my summer in California.
I’m not sure this really counts as a day as such but hey ho. We got up early to take our car back to the airport, it was pretty sad to see it go. I think we must’ve driven about 2000miles in the past few weeks on our road trip and we’ve seen a lot!
I had that typical heart sinking moment when I weight my case in the airport and it weighed too much, a little rearranging into my cabin case saved the day though. I felt pretty bad though because my flight was about 11am whereas Jenna’s wasn’t until 7pm so it sucked that she was stuck in the airport.
It did feel right that it was down to just me and Jenna in the airport though, we had literally shared a room for 8.5 weeks living in each others pockets haha. I’m definitely going to miss my personal hairdresser too!
I think it was definitely time for me to leave California though and head off to my home away from home – Texas!