Slight (or not so slight.. sort of major) break in blogs due to life things, but G’day, I’m back. Again.
I’ve been home from my trip for literally 8 months now. The realisation of this fact was just horrendous and I’m not handling it all that well, thanks for asking. Despite the serious denial, I’ve decided it’s never too late to finish writing about a great trip as far as I’m concerned.
Right now it’s like 2 degrees and pouring rain in miserable Melbourne and I’m due to wake up at 5am tomorrow for work, so I’m taking this opportunity while being stuck inside and dreading my early wake up to go back in time and talk about warmer, sunnier and much more carefree places.
I’ve deemed it unnecessary to do a post for each and every city I went to in America after leaving New York, where my last blog ended, considering it was so long ago, so I’m going to try and condense the remaining two weeks we had in the US of A right here.
To start this baby off, let’s take it back to Orlando, Florida.
Anyone here a Harry Potter fan?
Great, me too.
If you’ve lived under an actual rock for the last 8 or so years, you wouldn’t have heard there is this incredible edition to planet Earth in the form of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Originally built in Orlando, it’s now at Hollywood Universal Studios also. I’ve now been to Universal Studios in Orlando twice, which I think is a good effort for someone who lives very VERY far away (as in, over 20 hours of flying away) and it is MY FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD. I’M NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY JOKING. Disneyland has got NOTHING on this place.
I first visited Universal Studio’s in 2015 when one of my besties Eleana and I travelled the states together. I lost my mind then and had a sore face from smiling so much, and the exact same thing happened when Nick and I visited this time around.
Obviously there’s a lot more to Universal than Harry Potter, but HP is definitely the most important and an obvious highlight. There are two seperate Wizarding worlds – one is in Universal Studios and is made up of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. The second park, Islands of Adventure, has Diagon Alley – complete with Gringotts and Knockturn Alley. If you purchase a park-to-park pass, you can ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks and go through Platform 9 & 3/4. If that doesn’t sell the ticket that lets you visits both parks in one day, then I don’t know what will.
There is Harry Potter music playing constantly throughout the park, interactive wands make you feel like you’re not a mere muggle, and the Butterbeer on tap – frozen, regular, or hot- is so DAMN delicious you could have 6 a day if the high sugar content & hectic rides wouldn’t cause a spew and/or diabetes.
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are theme parks built for small and big kids alike, and with worlds and rides also devoted to Jurassic Park, King Kong, Marvel Superheroes (whaddup Spidey), Shrek, Minions, The Simpsons, Dr. Seuss, The Tonight Show, Transformers, The Mummy and so so much more, there is literally something for everyone. Could not recommend enough and I 110% plan on going back there again one day.
From Orlando we flew into the very dirty but kind of incredibly enticing world of Los Angeles, were we were due to start a 10 day Contiki tour the very next day.
I suggested the Contiki tour, as I had actually already done it and LOVED it, and Contiki is a fantastic way to see parts of America, as it’s huge and harder to get around and know where to go and what to do and see. A contiki tour simply means everything is organised and suggested for you, and you’re driven around in a big comfy coach full of new friends. Win.
Our Contiki tour, La to the Bay, looked like this:
> Los Angeles (LAX region, Santa Monica, Hollywood)
> San Diego (Gas Lamp, Mission Beach, Old Town – right down the bottom, very close to Mexico so great Mexican food was included)
> Mesa (small town in Arizona, cowboys, boot scooting and cactuses)
> Sedona (lots of red rocks and Jeep tours, visually STUNNING, think Radiator Springs from the movie Cars where Lightning McQueen gets stuck)
> Grand Canyon (you know the one, it’s the REALLY big hole in the ground that has to be seen to understand it’s size, top 10 moments from my whole entire trip, and it was my second time seeing it)
> LAS VEGAS (honestly, just as good as it sounds)
We ended our tour in Vegas after making some fantastic memories and friends over the 10 days, and we spent a few extra nights enjoying everything and anything in the city where there really don’t seem to be any real rules. I don’t know that I’d recommend more than three nights in Vegas, and I think your liver will thank me for saying that. We drank on the street, gambled in window-less casinos where smoking inside is still allowed (gross, but you get used to it and not many people do it anymore), walked from casino to casino enjoying the different themes – my personal favourites are Paris and the Venetian – watched the Bellagio light show several times, took the monorail, went shopping, people watched, and generally felt like we were in neon-sign-wonderland.
Vegas is wonderful, the Contiki was wonderful, America is wonderful.
We did spend a few extra days back in LA before flying to the next country, but we were pretty spent from the tour and Vegas, so these days were spent relaxing down in Santa Monica – which smelt kind of funny and was v expensive for no apparent reason other than being on the beach – hiking Runyon Canyon, buying cheap suitcases for all my extra shopping in Hollywood, and eating gigantic and delicious meals at the Cheesecake Factory. Oh my god. I haven’t spoken about the Cheesecake Factory. I would say one of the greatest things to happen in America, like ever. Bulk meals and every flavour of cheesecake imaginable. It’s THAT good. Same level of enjoyable as iHop.
I’ve always been a fan of you America, and your cheesecake and the ‘just do what works for you’ way of life, and this little rendezvous changed nothing. I’ll most definitely be back.