Exploring: Las Vegas – The Strip

Exploring Las Vegas
You can’t avoid the Las Vegas strip when visiting Vegas, mostly because the main reason why you’re there is the strip and it’s hotels and casinos. And let me tell you a walk down the strip is an experience in itself. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, you must have a good stroll down it, yes taxis are easier, quicker and pretty cheap, but you miss all the fun stuff if you don’t take a walk!

Before you start though, make sure you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. On a map those hotels are technically next door to each other and look so close together but once you start walking they are much further apart than you think! Getting from one to the other takes a lot longer than you expect and my feet weren’t happy with me. I did wear an old pair of sandals that I thought would be very comfy, turns out the heat and those sandals don’t mix – cue a huge blister appearing on my foot. Ouch.

Vegas collage 1
We hit the strip as soon as we landed in Vegas, I was desperate to get out there and see what this place was all about! Within 10 minutes my sister-in-law and I already had a frozen margarita in hand to help us on our merry way, as I said before, it’s customary to have an alcoholic drink in your hand when walking down the strip. Drinking on the streets is legal in Vegas, this to me is strange because it’s a definite no go back in the UK, but I was happy to take this new-found freedom to heart and happily strolled along with my frozen cup of goodness!

The strip, and Las Vegas in general, is a weird and wonderful place and I loved it. It’s just surreal that somebody decided to create this party capital in the middle of the desert. Build these massive hotels, all with a different random themes that aren’t just dotted around here and there inside the hotel, the whole hotel is built on the theme, complete with an Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or pyramid! And just about everybody is there with the same thing on their agenda – to party, gamble and catch some sun! Let’s face it, there aren’t many more things you can get up to whilst vacationing in Vegas!

Vegas Collage 2
We started pretty much at the top of the strip – by the Treasure Island and Palazzo hotels and headed down Las Vegas Boulevard towards the Welcome Sign, if we thought we were going to get that far down we were very much mistaken! I think in about 5 or 6 hours we made it to the New York, New York, about half way down. We could still see both hotels where we started and they didn’t look that far away! Admittedly we popped into a lot of the hotels and had a look around (again that takes a lot longer than you think because they are so huge!) and stopped for a quick bite to eat, but I thought we would have made it a little further down!

The atmosphere on the strip is fab! Everyone’s in a good mood, probably because of all the frozen margaritas and beer they’ve been drinking, the sun is shining and I think most people were more than likely thinking the same thing as me – ‘this place is mad!’ Whilst strolling along and checking out the hotels, snapping some pictures and drinking it all in, there are so many characters walking along too, ready for you to have your picture taken with, for a small fee of course. Think Disney characters, Star Wars characters, minions from Despicable Me (my brother’s favourite!), half-dressed women advertising various nightclubs and casinos and not forgetting my all time favourite and the one that I would choose to have a picture with…this legendary guy:


oh yes people, it’s Alan from The Hangover! He comes complete with tiger, giraffe, baby and stand in Alan having a cigarette whilst lurking behind a bush! I think that is my favourite part of this picture, the stand-by waiting around the corner! You couldn’t make it up! They were both pretty convincing Alans though and maybe if I’d had another couple of frozen margaritas (or maybe the German, he was the one stopping me from jumping straight in there!), I’d have been in the exact same spot as that lady, complete with a stupid grin, possibly stroking Alan’s beard…

We also can’t forget the lovely women and men who try to thrust the cards of call girls into your hands, claiming they can get you hot girls, direct to your hotel room in 20 minutes wearing t-shirts with the words ‘orgasim clinic’ on. I think they need to get a dictionary and also realise that the guy down the strip that they’re trying to give the cards to his holding hands with his wife!

Vegas Collage 3
Aside from all the fun and laughter on the strip there’s also a serious side. As you walk along the footbridges to cross the road, on just about every footbridge there’s somebody who’s homeless and begging. In a city where money rules it’s literally like one extreme to the other. These people have no money, whilst inside the casinos there are high rollers, betting thousands of dollars on just one game. I know it’s the same every where you go, people are homeless in every city, but I think it stands out a little more in Vegas, purely because of your surroundings.

Vegas 1
Now, the strip during the day is completely different to the strip at night. Once sun goes down, those bright neon lights we immediately associate with Vegas are turned on and the city changes yet again! Everything looks completely different. Things are highlighted that weren’t highlighted before. You notice every light and how it changes, flashes and draws you into the casino or hotel that it’s advertising. It’s also pretty picturesque.

Vegas collage 4
I don’t think street lights are needed on the strip, the neon signs do the job on their own! The evening atmosphere is even more electric than the atmosphere during the day. People are now ready to party, and party hard! The shorts and beach dresses have been ditched for party dresses and heels for the girls and smart shirts for the boys. They probably all stopped off in the beer cave in Walgreens (yes, that actually exists) to stock up on some drinks to get ready with, the alcohol intake doesn’t stop in Vegas!

Vegas Collage 5And of course you can’t hit the strip without taking a trip to the Welcome Sign! It’s a huge part of Vegas, and let’s face it, it’s on just about every single bit of tacky memorabilia you can take home with you from your trip. Yes, we did get something – a magnet for our fridge (we’re very American now with random things attached to our fridge!) and yes, it’s in the shape of the Welcome Sign! What else!

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Have you been to Las Vegas? What were your experiences of the strip?


Exploring: Las Vegas – First Impressions


Exploring Las Vegas
We went, we saw and we conquered Las Vegas and after spending nearly a week recovering I now need to tell you guys all about it, and oh my is there lots to tell – hell, it’s even getting its own blog series! This thing is major.

Now usually, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas but I thought you guys might want to know a little bit about our trip so I’ve decided to ditch that rule and reveal all – well maybe not everything, some things that happened in Vegas WILL be staying there!

I thought I’d start off by talking about my first impressions of Sin City, always a good place to kick things off if you ask me! Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Vegas, the German on the other hand was a little skeptical about the whole thing. I wanted to see the flashing lights, check out the casinos you see in movies, look at all the huge hotels and basically party in the middle of the desert! When we got married in Destin last year, I actually wanted to go to Vegas for the comedy pictures in a little white chapel with Elvis, kind of like in The Hangover but without the rufees! Needless to say the German got his way and we went to Florida instead, looking back I’m kind of glad he did.

Anyway, my brother was going that way so we decided to tag-a-long, the German needed some persuasion but we got there in the end and man was I an excited bunny to be heading to said party capital in the middle of the desert!

After our 4 hour flight from Atlanta (that included some amazing views of the Grand Canyon just before we landed – good work from the German for picking the right seats, he always does his research well!) we picked up a hire car, an essential for our trip to the Grand Canyon the following day, and headed to our hotels on the strip.

You can already see the strip from the plane but I really don’t think anything can prepare you for what you’re about to see as you drive up it, huge hotel after huge hotel, all with a different theme ranging from Egypt to New York to pirate ships to Disney castles to Italy, it’s like a trip around the world in about 10 minutes! We drove up shouting out the different hotels – ‘There’s the Bellagio!,’ ‘It’s the MGM Grand!’ ‘Look at the Mirage!’ We were like little excited kids in a sweet shop!

These were my thoughts as we hit the strip: first of all, this place is mad! Second, who the hell thought to build a party city in the middle of the desert. Third, they did a bloody good job. Fourth, I can’t wait to explore more of it!

And that is exactly what we did, well after getting to our hotels, unpacking, getting changed into something a little more fitting for the Vegas heat and of course, picking up some sort of alcoholic beverage – it would seem you’re not down with the cool kids in Vegas unless you’re sporting an alcoholic beverage as an accessory! My drink of choice was a frozen margarita:


Everybody wants to be down with the cool kids right? Plus, a frozen margarita keeps you cool in the 90 degree temperatures, as you can see the German finds that a beer does the same thing!

So, sit back, relax and prepare yourselves for a deluge of Las Vegas posts, we’re talking everything from my favourite hotels to where to eat and where it all began in Downtown Vegas. Oh, and not forgetting our trip to the Hoover Dam and down Route 66 to the Gran Canyon! Just amazing.

(Hopefully) The Final Mysterious Mason Jar Update…

Hey guys! So I’m back from the bright lights of Vegas and just about recovered…well saying that I am so tired today. It was amazing though and I’m slowly starting to sort my way through the hundreds of photographs I took, ready for some serious blogging! The Vegas posts are on their way people.

But first, I thought I’d quickly update you on the mason jar mystery – I know it’s been bugging you and you’re wondering if it’s still stopping by for some goodies…

Good news people – it seems our little friend has found somewhere else to hang out. It seems our chocolates are no good to him anymore and he’s ditched us for someone else. The jar has stayed upright with the same amount of chocolates in for over 2 weeks now, well, apart from when we intentionally knocked it over when my brother was here just to scare him and make him think he’d been in! That’s what little sisters do, right? I’m not sure he believed me though…

Anyway, we thought we’d set a cut off as to when we could officially say our little friend had decided we weren’t worth it anymore – after our trip to Vegas. We came back from the land of bright lights, casinos and wedding chapels and, yep, you guessed it, it was still standing.

So my friends, despite the glue traps that were dropped off and never used and our attempts at trying to work out how our little friend was popping in to say hello with some flour traps that were never touched, it seems he’s left us anyway.

I kind of feel like we’ve been dumped for someone or something better. Maybe our chocolates just weren’t tasty enough for him anymore, maybe somebody else was leaving out something tastier like ribs, steak or even the creme de la creme for squirrels (we kind of guessed that’s what it was) some nuts. Whatever it was it must be better than our chocolates.

The only thing that remains of our little friend is the chocolates in the jar that have little scratches on them where he’s tried his best to claw them out. Obviously they will be going in the bin. I’ll tell you one thing that has come out of it though, I haven’t touched those chocolates for months, mainly because I didn’t know what else was touching them.

I’m thinking he’s left us because the weather has changed and it’s getting warmer. You never know though, he might be back next winter…

Exploring: Stout Brother’s Beer Market, Smyrna, GA

So the big brother and sister-in-law arrived the other day and one of my brothers favourite past-times is drinking beer. So, less than 24 hours after he’d landed in the country we took him here:

Beer Market 1
Yes, to the Stout Brothers Beer Market in Smyrna. Our friends introduced us to this delight and I knew straight away that it would be a place to take the big bro!

This place is ace. Period. It’s literally a shrine to beer. Everything inside the shop is somehow beer related, obviously there’s the actual beer you can taste, and the stuff in bottles that you can buy, but on top of that there are beer candles, beer shampoo and conditioner, beer shower gel, beer ice cream, beer based snacks like jerky, pretzels, nuts, cheese and other such yummy delights, t-shirts and of course, that essential addition to any beer, a BBQ and charcoal!

So here’s the deal…you stroll in, buy a beer tasting card and choose five different beers to taste from one of the biggest selections I have ever seen! If you tell the guys serving you what type of beer is your favourite, they’ll find ones they think you’ll like. The selection is pretty overwhelming so I usually take this option – it’s just too hard to decide if not! And they’re pretty darn good and finding tasty ones too!

Now before I came to America I wasn’t very big on beer drinking, I could maybe have a pint at a time but if you give me a choice I probably would have said ‘no thanks’ and chosen something else instead. Here though there are so many different beers, fruity beers, IPAs and craft beers that there’s something to suit just about everyone’s taste! I am now a certified beer drinking convert with a Blue Moon at the top of my list!

So, when you walk into the beer market you’re met with this:

Beer Market 3
A HUGE array of beer taps, all ready for your tasting pleasure, well 5 of them anyway! The only thing you have to do is choose which ones – tough call I know! We got our glasses and scorecards and the tasting got underway:

Beer Market 2
As usual I had some help with my choices and went for these:

Woodchuck Summer Cider
Timmermans Blanche
Monks Mead
Monday Night Brewing Fu Man Brew
Well’s Banana Bread Beer

My favourite was the Monks Mead, but with a HUGE alcohol content it probably wasn’t wise to drink anymore of it on a Sunday afternoon! It was closely followed by the Well’s Banana Bread and the Monday Night Brewing Fu Man Brew. If I went into a bar where these were being served I would definitely order them! They were given four or five growlers when it came to the scores!

The boys tried some dark looking, sour tasting stouts and Becky went for some cider options like me. Now, once you’re done with the tasting it’s time to decide if you want to take a growler home and which beer you want to drink some more of. There was no question of whether or not we’d be taking a growler home, we rocked up with 2 that we’d already emptied from a previous visit and there was no way they were going home empty! So, after a long discussion, the boys chose some sort of dark looking, nasty tasting beer and Becky and I went for a light summer cider. Perfect!

After taking a little look around the rest of the store:

Beer Market 4
And buying a packet of spicy candied bacon (that stuff is AMAZING!) we waved goodbye to the Stout Brothers and headed home – my brother was a very happy soul and his beer craving had been satisfied, well for at least another hour anyway!

Beer Market 5
The thing I love about the Stout Brothers is that you can try, find and discover beers that you would never think of ordering in a bar. It kind of makes me a little bit more adventurous on the beer front and has helped me to discover some really nice beers! If you’re every in the hood you HAVE to go there! It’s fab! I’m sure we’ll be back there again soon – the growlers are already half empty so no doubt it will be sooner rather than later!


The Grand Re-Opening of The Richter Hotel

Yes, people, it’s happening! After officially closing the doors of The Richter Hotel at the end of August last year after a steady stream of guests, today those doors are being flung open again for the start of the new season!

Richter HotelThe last couple of days have been spent preparing for the arrival of our first guests – cleaning has been done, new cushions bought (including the one in the middle of the picture above which I LOVE) the guest bedroom has been preened to perfection, breakfast goodies have been bought and of course lots of beer and wine because the first guests are:

Richter Hotel 2
My big brother and sister-in-law! The last visitors to be waved out of The Richter Hotel last year and the first visitors of the new season. It’s now their third trip to Atlanta (they obviously love me and the German sooooo much, well either that or they like the free accommodation, or maybe both!) so they know the drill. This time though there’s more excitement on the cards…

There are big plans ahead on this trip! This weekend we’ll be celebrating Becky’s birthday, it’s actually today so she’ll be spending the majority of it on a plane but we’re making up for it on Sunday with a trip to Table & Main (One of my Top 5 Atlanta Restaurants…so far!), we’re heading to the basketball on Tuesday and the baseball on Wednesday – standard trips when they’re in town. On Thursday though things get exciting because, wait for it, we’re all heading too…VEGAS BABY!!!

And man am I excited! The bright lights of the Las Vegas strip will be the place we’ll be calling home for 5 days. We’ll be tripping the light fantastic, checking out all the casinos (no gambling from this lady of leisure though), lounging by the pool and kick-starting that wedding tan, probably tucking into some very unhealthy food, oh and taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. Oh yes people, it’s going to be five days of fun-filled heaven!

So if I disappear off the radar for a few days you know why. There will be some blogging action about the bright lights of Las Vegas after the trip but I may not reveal all because people, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Keep an eye on my Instragram and Twitter though for some snaps and updates – they will more than likely include food, or a casino, or possibly even both at the same time…

Yet another mysterious mason jar update…

It’s been about a week since I last updated you on our little intruder (well we think he’s little, we still don’t know what it is!) so I thought it was high time you got to know the latest. I’m sure you’re dying to know if he’s still making an appearance, right?

Following my trip to the leasing office and the request of some glue traps (that I was very unsure about, did I really want this creature captured and staring at me the following morning?) guess what the maintenance men did…yep, absolutely nothing. The glue traps never appeared. There was a slight sense of relief until I got home last night, over a week later, to find a box on the kitchen table that looks a little bit like this:



Apparently they’re peanut butter scented. Imagine that! Thankfully though a part is missing so they’re not in action just yet. Phew! I know what you’re all thinking though – is the critter still pinching the chocolates?

Well, after the flour stayed on our fireplace for about a week, we decided it was high time we cleaned it up. So we did and moved the mason jar back to its rightful place on the coffee table. Guess what, yep, it started mysteriously falling over in the middle of the night again. So yes, this thing was STILL making an appearance.

We decided to take matters into our own hands last weekend and set up some new flour traps in an attempt to pinpoint just where the critter was coming from. Cue the flour trap setting German:

mason jar 8
We’d already ruled out the cupboard where the water heater is so opted for the laundry closet and the door to the spare bedroom:

mason jar 9
This scared my big bro a little bit, he’s coming to visit with the sister-in-law this weekend and that’s where they’ll be sleeping. We have to rule out every possibility!

We went to bed on Sunday, the following morning the flour was untouched and the jar still standing. We went to bed on Monday, the following morning the flour was untouched and the jar still standing. I went to bed on Tuesday, the German was working away which left me scared to get up on Wednesday but when I did, you guessed it, the flour was untouched and the jar still standing.

This means our little friend hasn’t made an appearance for 3 nights now. I’d like to think he’s disappeared never to be seen again but I get the feeling he might show up again, probably when we least expect it. I think the critter’s stayed away for a few nights before so we’ll see how long it lasts this time.

Hopefully we won’t have to use those glue traps…