Throughout our holiday, my blog was at the back of my mind because I was really looking forward to writing about our trip once we were home. Partly because I love writing, partly because I think my friends, family and fellow bloggers will enjoy reading it and also because it is creating a little online scrapbook of my life that I can look back on in years to come. Now I have been blogging for a few years, I love looking through the archives of my posts to see what I was doing this time last year or the year before. I don’t keep a journal or personal diary so this is my little way of storing up my memories for years to come and this holiday was certainly one to remember!
Now I think I’m a fairly seasoned traveller but I still follow the rule that the holiday begins at the airport! I love a spot of duty-free shopping, spritzing myself with perfumes and treating myself to a tasty breakfast or cake before boarding. We decided to take it one step further and start the holiday the night before at the airport hotel!
Rather than get up at ridiculous o’clock and drive for 3 or 4 hours on the day we had a 10 hour flight, we decided to drive up to Gatwick the night before, check our bags in using Virgin’s ‘Twilight Check-In’ facility and spend the night in a nearby hotel. Ian and I were flying out with my parents and brother and when they arrived at our house we were all so excited that it was finally time to go! We also breathed a sigh of relief when all of our suitcases fitted into our car on the first try!
Although we had to queue for about an hour, which was a pain (as you can probably tell by my face!), I would recommend the Twilight Check-In with Virgin if you find yourself with this option as I personally would much rather spend an hour queuing up the day before when we didn’t really have anything else to do rather than the next morning when I would rather be duty-free shopping! However, as this was the first time we had tried it, I said a silent prayer that the suitcase with my wedding dress in it would be there when we landed in Las Vegas!
After the bags were sorted, it was off to our hotel, which was a plane-spotters dream with a perfect view of the runway, where we had some dinner, a few beers, a quick manicure (me!) and an early night.
My best friend Lu was doing the same thing at Heathrow airport, as she was flying out to LA the next morning, so it was really fun to keep in touch with her and get excited together!
The next morning we were up and off to the airport for breakfast with butterflies in our stomachs. At this point, we were really glad we had dropped off our suitcases the night before as it meant we could just jump on the bus and go straight through to departures bypassing the huge queue at the Virgin desk we walked past!
As soon as we were in the air, I had my signature in-flight drink – a Bloody Mary. I’m not even that keen on them but it has become a bit of an in-joke between me and Ian so I had to keep the tradition up! Apart from some turbulence, it was a pretty standard flight although it felt really long. The food was pretty awful but they did serve afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and a lovely banoffee cupcake which wasn’t too bad. I watched three films on the way over; Silver Lining Playbook (I love Bradley Cooper but this wasn’t my favourite film. I prefer something light hearted, like a rom-com, on a plane so maybe I would have enjoyed this one more at the cinema), This is 40 (the sequel to Knocked Up, I enjoyed this one and laughed out loud in places) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (this was set in Las Vegas so was a perfect comedy to watch on the way!).
We landed in Las Vegas at about 2pm (10pm UK time so we were shattered but determined to stay up and try to get on ‘Vegas Time’!) and were hit by a wall of heat. I knew it was going to be hot but this was literally like being in an oven with the sun blazing and a really warm wind.
We were staying at the Monte Carlo Hotel which is a mid-range hotel on the strip with a glamorous South of France theme. This isn’t one of the all-out themed hotels like New York New York, where you can ride a yellow taxi cab rollercoaster and walk through a Manhattan neighbourhood (!), but it was very classy and centrally located which ticked all the boxes for us as we were only really using the hotel as somewhere to sleep anyway. Ian’s parents had arrived in Las Vegas the day before and were waiting for us when we arrived.
Before we had even got to our room, Ian made sure he had a beer in his hand (priorities!) and here are a few snaps literally taken as we walked through the door. As you can see, the rooms are huge by UK standards and they also threw in an extra double bed for us! We actually got quite used to this, so much so that when we only had one bed in our San Francisco hotel room I actually moaned to Ian that there was only one like that was something terrible!
Our room was lovely; clean, modern and spacious with some nice little luxuries and amazing views. We had a coffee maker in our room and here is me with very tired eyes, having a double espresso to try and keep me awake when I quite easily could have got straight into bed!
After a quick bit of unpacking and a shower, we all met downstairs, picked up my brother from the casino (he got straight in to the gambling!) and went for dinner. We went to a steakhouse over the road that Ian and I had eaten at the last time we were in Vegas and had enjoyed excellent steaks at.
I started with a peach and raspberry mojito and we all toasted the start of our week away together. I did have my heart set on a big steak but I was so exhausted that I didn’t fancy it so just had a king prawn Caesar salad but the boys all indulged in steaks which looked delicious.
This was my view when I opened my eyes on our first full day in Vegas, my 28th birthday. We were staying on the 19th floor so had an amazing view of the neighbouring hotels, with the stunning red mountains in the background – I miss this view every morning!
I requested pancakes for my birthday breakfast so we headed over the road to Denny’s, which is an American diner chain that does an amazing selection of breakfasts including burritos, omelettes, French toast, fry-ups and of course huge stacks of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup!
I couldn’t decide between sweet or savoury and ended up having a bit of each! I also found out that you get your breakfast for free in Denny’s if it is your birthday!
Our main job that day was to sort out our marriage licence so we headed downtown to the Marriage Licence Bureau and were in and out within 5 minutes – it was so easy! I love that our licence has our village name on it instead of the nearest big town.
Pretty much everywhere in Las Vegas is air-conditioned, so much so that it can actually be quite chilly indoors, so we decided to cool off in the hotel pool. We donned our swimming costumes and the factor 50 (sunburn would not have looked good in the wedding photos!) and jumped in. I was pleasantly surprised with the pool area. It wasn’t too loud or crammed with children but had a really fun, party atmosphere with bars serving iced cocktails, beers and snacks. There was a lazy river, a wave pool (with a whole-pool volleyball match going on!) and another quieter pool so we spent a happy few hours here before going back to our rooms to get ready for the night.
As you know, I wanted to go to a couple of shows while we were here and we planned to see the Blue Man Group later in the week so for my birthday I decided on a Country Legends show as I thought it would be really fun and it was also the only thing I could find that all 7 of us would enjoy!
We wandered through the Bellagio on the way and they had the most beautiful display in their conservatory area. I couldn’t resist a few pictures.
The show was actually a real laugh…one of those ‘so bad it’s actually good’ moments and I think we all enjoyed it and joined in with a few “yee-has”!
After the show, we went for dinner at our hotel’s buffet (every hotel in Vegas offers their own buffet) but I have to say I was really unimpressed with the Monte Carlo’s efforts. It may have just been because I felt shattered but nothing really looked that appetising and the stuff I did put on my plate wasn’t that good either – I wouldn’t recommend this one.
Although it was my birthday, we headed up to bed at quite a respectable hour as we were getting married the next day!
Read about our wedding here and Part Two of our Las Vegas holiday tomorrow! x