Exploring: Maiwoche in Osnabrück

maiwoche 1
Every May for one week only, the closest city to the German’s hometown, Osnabrück is transformed into a strawberry heaven that is called Maiwoche. Literally translated, this means May Week and the place goes mad. It’s the only city in Germany that has this ‘Volksfest’ which, translated means people’s festival and it’s the largest ‘Volksfest’ in the whole of Germany – wowzers! When I asked the German what the reason was behind it was instead of giving me the answer I was expecting like ‘it’s to celebrate the start of spring’ or something similar, his answer was ‘it’s just an excuse to meet friends and drink.’ Typical German there!

Now, the German first introduced me to Maiwoche a couple of years ago, on the afternoon of our last day in Germany, just hours before we had to head to the airport to catch our plane back to the UK. This was an epic fail on his part (or maybe he planned it that way?) and I nicely asked him to take me to it the following year as I’d missed out on all the fun but instead he decided to get a promotion at work and we moved to America. Shucks.

Anyway, it would appear we planned our wedding well, the week before the big day was indeed Maiwoche! You can imagine my excitement when I figured this out – my time had come to sample the delights of this thing and tell you all about it. So here goes…we’ll start with a few pictures:

Maiwoche 2
So, Maiwoche is a little like a Christmas market but in May. It has the usual little stalls and stands but it has a spring feel. It’s only in Osnabrück for one week and in between planning a wedding and welcoming our guests I managed to visit this thing 3 times and the German 4. I think we did well, we were there within hours of stepping off the plane!

So, the aim of the game is to meet friends, chat, stroll around the stalls, listen to some live music, fill yourself full of tasty delights and this being Germany, there is obviously a few drinks involved! Instead of the warming Glühwein that’s sipped at the Christmas markets in Germany during December there’s a lovely little number called Maibowle instead – see the picture above and the huge smile I have on my face, believe me that stuff is good!

So, strawberries are the center of this tasty drink, basically you mix sparking wine with brandy and sugar, add a load of strawberries that have been soaked in the stuff for a long time and you are definitely onto a winner. I’m thinking there’s some sort of colouring in there too to make it red? At this point during the week I was in a carb-free zone to fit into THE dress so the strawberries fitted into the diet well, despite the huge amount of alcohol they came with!

Maiwoche 3
This thing does have a few other differences from your standard Christmas market, for a start there are the flying chairs that people seem to like to get on after having a few drinks…! The Maypoles, the live music, the carousel bar (it’s basically an old carousel that’s been turned into a bar, it moves and everything!) and the party tent. Yes, you read that right, a section of the city centre is turned into a tent where music and partying takes place all night, accompanied by some Maibowles, beers and of course shots. Those Germans definitely know how to sink some drinks and party but without looking completely trashed like the Brits…I’m still intrigued as to how they do that!

Back to Maiwoche! Sadly the weather wasn’t too good this year, it was a little cold (although I couldn’t decide if that was because we’d been basking in 80 degree heat in Atlanta the previous week) and it rained a few times so we had to find shelter either in the tent or under one of the beer stalls (again, shucks) so it wasn’t overly busy but there was still a good, fun atmosphere and the drinks were definitely flowing!

We also can’t forget the snacks. The German was so excited to get his fill of German goodness at Maiwoche – I think within minutes of hitting the stalls and getting a drink the man was itching to get to the Bratwurst stand for a sausage! I think he ate at least 2 or maybe 3 on every visit. So, apart from the traditional Bratwurst, Krakauer and Kasewurst (cheese sausage) there is every other treat you can imagine – Gyros, another favourite of the German, steak sandwiches, Kartoffelpuffer (deep fried potato, a little like a hash brown), deep fried fish, roasted salmon, caramalised almonds, gingerbread and every other German treat you can imagine. Being on the carb free I need to fit into a wedding dress at the weekend diet I had to choose wisely – I went for a bratwurst without the bread and some mushrooms with a garlic mayo – just amazing! Obviously I took you guys a few pictures…

Maiwoche 4
Maiwoche was definitely a big hit with me, my parents and every other Brit we managed to take there during the week we were in Germany! It’s obviously huge with the locals too, one of our nieces who lives in Osnabrück says she went nearly every night! I don’t blame her either – I think I would too given the chance. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it next year but I’m sure we’ll be back to Maiwoche at some point in the future! If you’re thinking of heading to that part of Germany, make sure you plan your trip to include a visit – I can assure you won’t be disappointed!

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Language Smanguage.

Right now, I’m not going to lie, I’m sunning myself on a beach in Florida with my handsome hubby, probably in the exact place we got married for the first time a year ago on our mini moon! But I didn’t want to leave you guys with nothing to read at all, so here’s a little piece I wrote about the language barriers expats in America may face! Have a read and let me know what you think. I promise that wedding post will be on it’s way once I get back!

Language Smanguage.
Living in America is fab – people here speak the same language as us Brits! Yay! Or so you would think! Sometimes it’s like I speak a foreign language and I’m met with a blank face when asking a question!

Obviously, these are the differences between American and British English – we’re effectively divided by one language, and despite my best efforts to try to adjust to these differences it seems there are some things I simply cannot get my head around!

So, I thought I’d give you a selection of the ones that are causing me the most trouble so far:

Cinema/movie theater:
Back in the UK we call the movie theater the cinema. It’s something I’ve done for such a long time my little head does not want to change it to the American version! We’ve been a few times lately (more than ever before to be honest! We were always pretty pants with seeing films!) and I’m always blurting out cinema and then quickly correcting myself with movies straight after! It’s blummin tough! See, even on Twitter I can’t get it right:

Useless. (That is the best cinema ever though! If you’re ever in Atlanta and wanting to go to the movies then the AMC at Phipps Plaza is the place to go! You’ll see why! You can thank me later!)

Rubbish/Trash/Garbage
When we first came over to the States I asked the lovely man at the hotel reception desk if he had a rubbish bin for the bags I’d amassed from my shopping trip. He looked at me with a blank face until I went on to ask for a trash can! His face soon lit up, of course madam! Lesson learnt.

Porridge/Oatmeal
In the UK we have porridge for breakfast. I can now imagine a lot of blank American faces reading this, kind of like the puzzled expression I got from my friend when I told her I’d had porridge for breakfast before the gym. I soon realised my error and said oatmeal, soon everything was right with the world and we were on the same page! However, I’m sure if I was in the same situation again I’d opt for saying porridge!

Chips/Fries
Now this one can cause some serious problems if you don’t get it right! Thankfully, I think I’ve cracked this one, probably because food is involved! In the UK chips to us look like this:

Language 1
Seen here complete with some battered fish and mushy peas! Just how they should be! However, if I ordered chips with my ribs or burger over here I’d be presented with a packet of crisps, as the German’s boss found out when he ordered his favourite meal of ribs, coleslaw and chips! He was sorely disappointed when a packet of crisps (chips to the Americans reading this!) arrived and not some deep-fried, fluffy potato goodness!!

supermarket/grocery store
As much as I try to say I’m going to the grocery store the words just won’t come out! Also, they seem a little weird! It will always be a supermarket to me! Sorry American friends, I am trying my best to integrate with you guys but that one is just not working! I did, however, get very excited when I first came out of a supermarket with one of those brown paper bags you see in the movies! I’ve always wanted on of those! It’s the little things!

Trousers/Pants
OK, so this one is really tricky. In the UK, when we say pants we mean our underwear. Here in the States the word pants means trousers, and the word for underwear (well at least for women!) is panties. I simply cannot say the word panties. I think it my be my in-built British nature because panties just does not roll off my tongue. Pants are underwear and trousers are pants. I even feel wrong walking into Victoria’s Secret and asking about panties!! And that’s the shop where panties rule! I just can’t do it – to me it sounds wrong! I’m British, we seem to have some sort of trait that stops us talking about things like this and I don’t think that will be changing anytime soon!

There are some American words that I have adopted though – I now say cell phone instead of mobile (unless I’m back in the UK!) and I’ve obviously taken on board the fries/chips changes (I definitely don’t want the disappointment of a bag of crisps with my dinner!) but there are also a lot more that I’m sure my British brain will not get used to! I’ll keep you informed!!

Exploring: Las Vegas – The Casinos

Exploring Las Vegas

You can’t go to Las Vegas without visiting its casinos. Not only would it be a crime if you didn’t but you genuinely cannot miss them. For a start, we had to walk through the casino in our hotel just to get to our room. There is simply no escaping them! So I thought it was only fair to give them their own blog post.

The first thing you notice when you step into any casino on the Las Vegas strip is the smell. In Vegas it’s still legal to smoke inside bars and especially casinos, in fact it’s just about encouraged. As a non-smoker even I can see that for a smoker, being able to have a cigarette at a casino table will encourage you to stay for longer and gamble more. So, to combat the smell of stale smoke, every casino has some sort of air freshener being pumped into it. It literally hits you as soon as you walk in the doors, some of them are a little sweeter smelling than others, giving them a sickly smell but they’re not too bad and much better than walking out of there stinking of cigarette smoke, that’s for sure.

The casinos are pretty much all the same, unlike the different themes of the hotels, they’re all quite dark with lots of bright lights. They are slightly different depending on which hotel you’re in, for example the Paris has the legs of the Eiffel Tower coming through the roof, but the atmosphere, the sounds and the smell are pretty uniform throughout.

Vegas Casino 1
Just about every hotel on the strip has a casino, apart from The Trump, I think that is the only one lacking the bright lights of the gambling machines. In the past, the machines used to be different in each hotel, now though, I think you can find the same machines in just about every casino. They all have different themes, literally every famous TV show or movie is present from Sex and the City to The Walking Dead, you name it there’s a gambling machine with it on, including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

Gambling can also be a cheaper way to get drinks in Vegas. If you’re splashing your cash at a table or slot machine, your drinks are free so depending on how much you win/lose you could find yourself downing alcoholic drinks for free, and with the prices in Vegas (most are well on their way to $10 or more) it could be a cheaper way to drink in the city!

The casinos are so huge in every single hotel, this is America after all. They have evety game you can think of, many of the tables I simply didn’t understand – I really wanted to throw the dice on the craps table though! I’ve seen it in films, it needed to be done but as none of us understood the game we decided to give it a miss!

I’ll be honest, we didn’t do much gambling when we were there, shocker I know! I was more interested in seeing Vegas in all it’s weird and wonderful glory, checking out the hotels and soaking up the atmosphere. For the little bit of gambling we did do, I walked away with 21 cents! Yay! Go me! I didn’t even cash it in though – I saved it for a souvenir!

Vegas Casino 2
I was disappointed with the fact you don’t get coins from the machines anymore, when someone wins big you don’t get thousands of coins spilling out of the bottom and you can’t walk around with a cup full or quarters. My brother and I once went to Atlantic City and picked up loads of different cups with the logos of the various casinos on, now though you walk away with a white ticket that you cash in at a machine. Sad times. I think it’s stolen some of the heritage from Vegas.

In my opinion with Vegas casinos, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. They’re pretty similar throughout but definitely worth checking out, especially at 6am in the morning when there are waifs and strays still gambling from the night before with a beer in their hand and those early risers, having a quick gamble with a coffee before starting their day! It’s definitely an education!

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5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 2

Following on from this weeks ‘5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America…Part 2’ post, here’s the opposite to that – ‘5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 2.’ Like I said before, hate is a strong word and I don’t particularly hate the things on the list, it’s more a list of things I find different or miss from back home in the UK. Love and Hate just go better together than love and some things I miss/don’t like about life in America! So, without further ado, round 2…here we go:

Expat Hate

1. No Local Pubs
A local pub is something I seriously miss about life in America compared to life in the UK. Back in Leeds we had a local pub we would head to at some point every weekend. We could walk there, have a few drinks and some amazing pub food and then stroll home, not having to worry about somebody having to drive. Local pubs are a British tradition, you end up making friends with the people behind the bar, there’s an amazing atmosphere in them, often with open fires, quaint decor and good, traditional food. (You can find out more about our old local in this post.) Here in America everything is a drive away, restaurants aren’t very personal, nobody knows you, the service is always pretty rushed because of America’s convenience culture and there is always a designated driver. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate every restaurant in America, there’s definitely some good food to be had over here but nothing beats the great British pub! Here are some pics from my old local in Leeds, The Cross Keys. If you’re ever in the area make sure you check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Cross Keys Collage
2. The lack of Roundabouts
This is a strange one but America does not do roundabouts, at least not in Atlanta anyway. Instead, you have traffic lights at an intersection, and, if you just miss a light be prepared to sit and wait for a long time. We’re talking at least 5 minutes in some cases, depending which part of the junction you are on. If you’re heading somewhere and you hit every red light, you need to add at least another 15 minutes to your journey. I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve been late because I have forgotten to factor in the amount of red lights on the way and the chance of catching every single one! Roundabouts make life so much simpler, you move when there’s no traffic coming, give way to the right (if you’re in the UK of course, the left over here in America) and traffic moves along much quicker. I don’t know if it’s because of the huge roads here in America (many have at least 4 lanes) or what but the only time you ever spot a small, tiny roundabout in Georgia is tucked away on a housing estate somewhere. Maybe I should start a campaign to bring roundabouts to America? Erm…maybe not. Maybe I’ll just add more time onto my journey instead!

3. Always wondering if it will end.
Being an expat in America on a visa that depends on the German’s job is sometimes a little worrying. His contract is open-ended so right now we have no idea if or when our American journey could end. There’s obviously some stability, the German has a job and our visas are valid for 5 years but at the back of your mind there’s always that little worry that this might end and then what? If the German doesn’t have a job tomorrow (touch wood he does, go on touch some!) then we have to be out of the country in 30 days. Nice, right? At the moment I feel like we have finally got settled in Atlanta, we have a nice group of friends that is ever-expanding and there are so many more things we want to do, not only in Atlanta but in the rest of America. If the plug got pulled tomorrow I wouldn’t want to go back home just yet. I’m not saying I’ll never want to go back but right now I’m happy to stay here for a while longer. The fear will always be there, you just have to try not to think about it too much and experience as many things as you can.

4. The Chocolate

Idiots excited for chocolate!

Idiots excited for chocolate!

Now I’m not saying American chocolate is bad but British chocolate definitely rules superior! You cannot beat a big chunk of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or a Cadbury’s Caramel bar. It’s just so much creamier and melt in the mouth than the stuff you get here in America. I think the worst culprit here is Hershey’s, the plain chocolate is so bitter and weird tasting to me I can’t eat the stuff. The cookies and cream version is another story though – that stuff is amazing! Whenever we have visitors over we ask them to bring us some supplies, the last being my brother who stocked us up on huge bars of Dairy Milk in various flavours (milk, fruit and nut, Crunchie and jelly beans and popping candy) along with Creme Eggs, Mini Eggs, Caramel bars and Malteaser Bunnies – it was Easter after all! We’re slowly making our way through it (even the wedding dress diet can’t keep me away from Dairy Milk!) and will be ready for another delivery once Ma Cook comes along in September! I also have to point out that, after opening that huge bar of chocolate in the picture on the left late one Saturday night it took us about 12 minutes to finish the whole bar! Whoops! I only know that because we text my brother to tell him we were going in, then text him to say we’d polished it off, according to him there was around 12 minutes between the 2 text messages. Oh dear.

5. Town/City Centers
I so miss being able to park up my car and walk from shop to shop in a town or city center where every shop I need, no matter what it is, is within walking distance. I can be outside in the fresh air, strolling along, picking up some shopping along the way, stopping off for a drink or some lunch and getting everything on my list in one stop. This just does not happen in America. Here, you have to drive from strip mall to strip mall, stopping off at the actual mall on the way, a lunch spot for some food and then to a CVS or Walgreens on the way home because there isn’t a Boots style chemist shop in the mall, I mean, seriously, it would make things so much easier if CVS and Walgreens opened stores in the mall, it would save loads of time. Things are never close to each other either, you have to drive at least 10 minutes to run each errand and things end up taking a lot longer than you expected to complete. Give me a town center with everything in reach any day!

So there you have it, another installment of ‘5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America.’ What do you think? Do you agree? Anything for me to add to the next list?

5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America…Part 2

So, as you  know, this week I’m in Germany preparing for our wedding on Saturday…eeek! I can’t believe it has come around so quickly. Anyway, while I’m away I thought I’d entertain you with another installment of the 5 things I love and hate about being an expat in America series. Today it’s the things I love, so, here goes…

Expat Love

1. Exploring at your fingertips
Living in a different country means there is so much more to explore than you had back home, especially in somewhere as big as America when it takes hours on a plane to get from one side of the country to the other. It means at the drop of a hat, if we decide we want to explore somewhere new we can, whether it’s in Atlanta itself (we still haven’t seen everything this city has to offer!), in Georgia or further afield. Having the busiest airport in the world on your doorstep means there are thousands of flights to everywhere in America every single day. Just the other week we hopped on a plane to Las Vegas for a few days which was something I could only dream of this time 2 years ago! Last year we explored Florida and there are so many more places on our bucket list that we want to see. It’s definitely a plus point of being an expat, I get to do things that a few years ago would have meant some major planning and a lot of money. It does mean life is pretty busy though because you want to make the most of every minute you have in your new country.

2. Seasonal Beer
IMG_0021Before moving to America I wasn’t much of a beer drinker, in fact I could just about manage 1 pint at a push if there was nothing else to drink. Here though, I’m definitely a beer convert and I think it’s because of the many different craft beers made in this fair land and their different flavours, in particular the seasonal brews. Just aout every single brewery does them and the flavours change to fit the season, currently we’re on summer brews so we’re talking citrus flavours, next will be autumn and copious amounts of pumpkin beer. It really mixes things up and means there’s constantly something new to try. Although once the brews are gone you do miss them and look forward to their return the following season. My favourite beer in America is Blue Moon, their pumpkin beer is so good, I also like the summer one they have out at the minute. The German and I managed to polish off a whole box of Blue Moon’s seasonal sampler whilst at the pool on Sunday…whoops!

3. Closet (or wardrobe if you’re a Brit!) Space
Seriously, these things are HUGE here. If we ever move back to Europe I don’t know what I’m going to do without a walk-in closet. The German’s just going to have to find us somewhere to live where there’s either a spare room to make into a walk-in closet or somewhere he can build one, I don’t think I can go back to having my clothes stuffed into a wardrobe that looks like it’s about to explode! One of the major advantages of America is the amount of space people have and that is definitely reflected in the size of the closets. We have a two bedroom apartment with 2 of the biggest closets I have ever seen, seriously. You could put a single bed in there or have a party. For the first time ever, my clothes are spread out nicely, I can see what I have to wear and there’s still space for some more shopping to be done! We have so much space we have drawers in the spare room that we brought over from England that are empty. The second closet’s more of a storage space with about 10 suitcases in, a bike, a set of golf clubs, anything that we can’t find a home for like camping chairs and cooler bags and any other bits and bobs that we don’t want lying around, every time we have visitors we’re forced to tidy it up so that they have somewhere to hang their clothes!

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What you don’t want to see on your way home!

4. School buses
I’ve talked about this before, I simply love seeing a big, yellow, American school bus! Back in the UK our school buses are the same as the normal public transport buses, only with a different sign on the front. The American buses to me, are what you see in a film, here though they’re obviously a normal every day sight. Just about every time I see one I have one of those ‘Wow! I actually live in America’ moments – sad I know, but it’s the little things that make all the difference when you’re living in a different country! I’m already excited about the idea that if we have children over here they would go to school on a yellow school bus. I’m sure they would think their mum is an idiot and wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I would! They do have one drawback though, you do not want to be behind one when it’s on its way to or from school, they stop literally every 20 yards and once they stop there’s no overtaking them or even passing on the opposite side of the road, both sides have to stop until all the children are safely on or off the bus and on the pavement (or sidewalk if you’re American), believe me, it can double or even triple your journey home!

5. Queso
And last, but definitely by no means least, is the delight that is queso. Seriously, this thing is the food of the Gods. If we ever have to leave this country, this would be one of the things I would miss the most! It is so, so, so bad for you but tastes so, so, so good. I literally cannot resist it if we head to a mexican or any restaurant where I spot it on the menu! Let me explain, with America being so close to Mexico there are thousands of Mexican restaurants in Atlanta alone and they are all amazing. This little delight is a melted cheese dip that you sink a fresh tortilla chip into before stuffing it into your mouth – a taste sensation! I mean, who wouldn’t like pure, melted cheese? It also comes in various different flavours, there’s plain queso, queso with jalapenos, queso with chorizo, queso with ground beef – oh my lord it is simply amazing. If you’re ever in the States you HAVE to try this out! My mouth is watering just writing this and thinking about the stuff! Can you tell it is one of my favourite things over here? If only I didn’t have a wedding dress to fit into…! Here are some pictures of this tasty delight to whet your appetite:

Queso Collage
So there you have it people, the latest installment of ‘5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America.’ What do you think? If you’re an expat here in the States are these the things you like too? What else do you think should be added to the list?

Stay tuned guys, next up it’s another installment of ‘5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America.’

Exploring: Las Vegas – The Hotels

Exploring Las Vegas
If there was one thing I was looking forward to when we hit Las Vegas it was the hotels. They may be hotels and on any other holiday you wouldn’t just stroll into one to have a look but this is Vegas, and the hotels are, shall we say a little different to normal vacation (holiday if you’re British!) spots! In pictures, they look so random but so intriguing and exciting at the same time! So, I’ve put together a little list of my favourites (in no particular order) from the strip, if you’ve ever been, see if you agree with me:

Treasure Island:
This is the hotel we stayed in. The German was adamant he was going to get a good deal on a hotel in Vegas, and, after weeks of telling my brother we were sleeping on his sofa because the German’s Priceline attempts weren’t working, 48 hours before we left Atlanta his bid was accepted and we were staying at Treasure Island:

Vegas Hotels 1
The hotel room was comfortable, clean and had everything you need for a stay in Las Vegas. We had a king size bed (always good, having one at home means we’re a little too close for comfort when we sleep in a double bed!) and we were on the 25th floor so we had some good views of the strip. Obviously, there was a casino, it was slightly random and weird walking through a casino pulling a suitcase behind you but that’s standard in Vegas. We had a pool (that we didn’t use), various bars and restaurants and a Cirque du Soleil show in the hotel’s theatre. Sadly we didn’t see this, or any show for that matter, but I’m sure we’ll fit one into our next trip whenever that may be. We also can’t forget about the pirate ships outside, our room looked onto them and they are just typical Vegas – random but fab!

New York New York
This was, by far, one of my favourite hotels in Las Vegas. You walk up to it and there’s a Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Chrysler building mixed into a mock-up of New York’s skyline along with the Brooklyn Bridge before you even head inside to check out what looks like a typical New York suburb, complete with shops and restaurants. It’s pure madness and a little bit like stepping into New York, just with a huge casino in the middle!

Vegas Hotels 2
We also can’t forget the hotel’s roller coaster too. Yep, you read that right, this place has a roller coaster that goes inside and outside the building – if you look closely on the picture of the German and I in front of the Statue of Liberty you can see the tracks. We didn’t go on it but given the chance next time I’ll be on it like a shot!

The Venetian
Another hotel of utter madness, step inside The Venetian and it’s like stepping into Venice but without the smell (or so I’m told, I still haven’t made it to Venice but it’s on the list.) You can take a ride on a gondola, visit St Mark’s square, walk over the Rialto Bride, take a stroll along the Grand Canal – like I said, utter madness! The gondola men even sing while you’re taking a ride! Obviously there’s a casino, bars and restaurants inside too, this place is definitely worth checking out!

Vegas Hotels 3
There’s also an amazing pizza place inside The Venetian but we’ll come to that in a later post!

The Bellagio
From the outside this place isn’t as spectacular as the other hotels, it doesn’t have a specific theme like the New York New York or The Venetian, that is until the fountains come on. This hotel has been the backdrop from many a film in shot in Las Vegas, most notably Oceans 11, and believe me, in person, those fountains are even more spectacular than on-screen, although the area in front of it is a lot smaller that it looks in a movie! The Fountain Shows start every 15 – 30 minutes depending on the time of day and each show is different – you simply have to check them out! Inside the hotel has an amazing conservatory with some beautiful flowers and butterflies in and of course there’s a casino, we are in Las Vegas after all! This place looks so pretty at night too!

Vegas Hotels 4
Oh, and there’s an amazing roof in the lobby (bottom right picture) made out of glass flowers. These people know how to make hotels that little bit different!

The Paris
Another of Las Vegas’ themed hotels the Paris bases itself on, you’ve guessed it, the capital city of France, and it does it pretty well. Complete with an Eiffel Tower (if you’re staying there you can easily find your way home after a few drinks on the strip!), French bistros both inside and outside and small French looking streets inside, some people might think they’re actually strolling through the famous city of lovers. Of course there’s a casino in the middle which kind of shatters the illusion but it wouldn’t be Vegas without a casino!

Vegas Hotels 5
You can also dine in a restaurant within the Eiffel Tower – I’m sure you can get some amazing views of the strip from up there.

The Stratosphere
Talking about amazing views, this hotel is slightly off the main part of the strip, if you’re staying on the strip you might want to get a taxi up there, unless you fancy a good walk, but it’s definitely worth the trip for the views from the top of the Stratosphere tower. The hotel itself is nothing to write home about, inside there’s a casino, some shops and restaurants, as with every hotel. The big draw to The Stratosphere is the tower, and the views from the top of it. If you’re staying at the hotel you can go up the tower as many times as you want during your stay, if not, I think it’s about $18 per person.

Vegas Hotels 6
When you’re at the top of the tower you’re more than 100 floors up (those lifts are pretty fast too, prepare for your ears to pop!) and around 1,149 feet above the Las Vegas strip, it’s the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. As well as amazing views at the top there are rollercoasters galore, well 3 I think, one of which is pictured above and pretty badly, it was hard to capture it! This one literally dangles you over the edge! There are bars and nightclubs and if you want a quicker way down you can bungee jump off it! Rather you than me on that one – the rollercoasters look good though! A little tip for you – if you buy a tower admission ticket and roller coaster ride at the same time you can save a lot of dollars!

The Luxor
Fancy a trip to one of the seven wonders of the world? If you can’t make it to Egypt then this is your chance. The Luxor is a replica of a pyramid and a sphinx. Inside the pyramid there are hotel rooms that must have sloping walls to be inside a pyramid. The inside isn’t much to write home about, a casino (obviously), hotel rooms, a couple of bars and the longest check-in queue I have ever seen! If I was staying there and was stuck in that I wouldn’t be a very happy bunny by the time it was my turn to check-in, that’s for sure. Back to the pyramid – it’s doesn’t necessarily look like the original’s in Egypt although it’s location is pretty similar – when I went to Cairo I was shocked by the lack of desert you had to drive through to see the pyramids, literally take a left turn off a main road and you’re there, a little bit like the strip!

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It’s pretty impressive when you’re standing inside the pyramid and looking up to the point though!

Caesars Palace
Sitting next door to The Bellagio and The Mirage, this little piece of Rome in the middle of the desert is definitely a sight to see. Will a full-blown Colosseum that houses a theatre where the likes of Celine Dion and Elton John perform, a replica of the Trevi Fountain and some of the most expensive shops on the strips I would definitely recommend a stop off at Caesars Palace. At one point the hotel hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix – looking at it now you would never guess where! Obviously there’s a casino inside too!

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Caesars also has the most amazing all you can eat buffet (that gives you unlimited mimosas at the weekend!) but again, we’ll save that for another post!

So there you have it, my favourite hotels in the weird and wonderful city of Las Vegas. Obviously there are many more to check out like the Wynn and Encore and their amazing flower displays, the MGM Grand with its huge lion outside, Circus Circus with its big top and circus attraction rides, the Disney castle inspired Excalibur, The Mirage with its white tigers, the list is endless and believe me, it can take you a long time to check them out!

Which Las Vegas hotel is your favourite?

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Things have been pretty busy around here lately…

Like seriously busy. Hence why this little blog space of mine has been a little neglected lately!

Wedding planning is now in full swing, this thing is happening in just over 2 weeks! I know, I can’t quite believe it is so close either. We leave for Germany in a week. 1 week. Oh my lord. So this week has been spent ticking everything off the to-do list, and, let me tell you that list was long! We’re slowly making our way through it and it’s looking a lot better than it did this time last week!

I’ve spent hours making table numbers, menu cards and orders of service and I still have some things to make. The German’s been sending emails and making phone calls left, right and center to make sure everything’s organised and booked. We’re still trying to work out how we’re going to get everything to Germany but I’m sure we’ll manage it somehow. We did however, find some time to work on another important part of the big day, the wedding tan:

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Yep, the sun decided to shine last weekend so, in between wedding planning, helping some friends move apartment and going to a wedding shower we managed to fit in a couple of hours by the pool. More of that will hopefully be happening this weekend and into next week!

I saw this the other day during one of my many trips to Hobby Lobby for wedding supplies that I just had to share with you guys:

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America it seems, is already getting prepared for Independence Day in JULY! I need to point out that I saw this at least 3 or 4 weeks ago. Really? So early people? I’m running a 10k on Independence Day and my training has been a big fat zero so far. I’m blaming the wedding planning but really I think it’s just my lack of love for getting off the sofa! I digress, do people really prepare for July 4th so early? I also think the display is expanding every time I visit the shop. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail as they say!

Oh and I finally got my Christmas present the other day! Well, I got the present on Christmas Day but it became a reality on Tuesday night when we went to see British band Bastille! They’re my favourite band at the moment so as you can imagine I was so excited to see them at the Buckhead Theatre – a fairly small venue which I think always makes a gig even better. I’d seen loads of reviews from friends on Facebook who said they were amazing and I definitely wasn’t disappointed – they were fab! I loved it, and managed to get some pretty good pics:

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So that’s what’s been happening in the Richter household lately. I’m hoping to write some more before we go, but if not you know where I am…getting MARRIED! (Again.)