Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Honeymoon | 3 Days in Miami

3 Days in Miami

I hope you enjoyed last weeks post about our flight to Miami. It was supposed to be joined in with this post, but as I was writing it the page got longer and longer until I realised I should split it into two posts. So here is the second half!

Ford Mustang Hire Car Miami

We landed in the mid afternoon, and after the endless faff of getting through American customs we were in America! To make life easier we hired a car, and Rich was desperate to drive a Ford Mustang again. The hire costs weren't bad at all, and it meant we were free to go wherever we wanted to whenever we wanted to. Fitting 2 huge suitcases and our hand luggage into the car was... interesting. We ended up dropping the roof and sticking one of the massive suitcases into the back seat!

Happy Couple Miami beach

Okay, so I totally forgot to take any photos of our hotel room in Miami. I did vlog it however, and the vlog will be going up soon... potentially next week? We stayed at Z Ocean South Beach in one of their spa suites, and it was lovely. There was a huge shower, a mini kitchen and a hot tub on the balcony. We couldn't see the sea from our room, but the hotel was on the street where a lot of bars are so we loved being all wrapped up in our fluffy robes watching the people out partying every night. The noise wasn't a problem at all though.

Sephora Shopping bag

The first day we headed off to Aventura Mall, which is something like the 4th biggest Mall in America, so I could go shopping and squeal over American accents. It was so good, and we had a great day wandering around looking at things, and I definitely spent far too long in Bath and Body Works smelling candles and hand sanitiser.

Cheesecake Factory Sign

Very luckily for me, the mall had a Cheesecake Factory, which is a place I've wanted to visit forever. There was a long wait for tables, but I didn't care, I was so so excited!

Cheesecake Factory Nachos Starter

Marinara Sandwich Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory Zuchinni Mushroom and Avocado Fries

The meal was so so good. It's lucky they don't have a Cheesecake Factory in the UK otherwise I'd be there all the time. We had nachos to start (of course) followed by a beasty sandwich (I could only eat half of it, thank goodness for the American custom of doggy bags!) with the most amazing fries ever. I love the courgette fries you get at Byron, so as soon as I saw they had zuchinni, mushroom and avocado fries on the menu I was sold. They were so good!

Cheesecake Factory display case

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cheesecake Factory

Of course though, it was the Cheesecake Factory, so we had to eat some cheesecake. After struggling with which to choose for ages I finally opted for the red velvet cheescake and it was beautiful. If I could marry a cheesecake I would marry this one. We desperately need a Cheesecake Factory in the UK!

Completely stuffed we slowly headed back to the hotel and had a chilled out evening in the hot tub watching all the people partying in Miami. Bliss.

Smoked Salmon bagel breakfast Miami

The next morning we had yummy breakfasts and then headed out for an explore of Miami beach. It was our last full day in Miami, so we wanted to make the most of it.

Miami beach in February

The beach itself was gorgeous, and we spent a bit of time relaxing on the sunbeds that are provided, along with towels, by the hotel. Even though it was the middle of February, it was still gorgeously sunny and warm and if you weren't such a vampire as me, you'd be able to get a decent tan.

People working out on Miami Beach

A huge part of the enjoyment of Miami Beach was people watching. Just from a short wander we saw lots of people rollerskating along, a model on a photoshoot, and countless people working out. The beach gym equipment looked excellent, and the people doing yoga were so good!

Burger & Beer Joint Miami Beach

One of Rich's requests for the time in Miami was to go out for a burger, and he found a place on Tripadvisor which got great reviews, Burger & Beer Joint, so we headed off to fill our faces (yet again). By this point (3 days into the honeymoon!) I was beginning to get sick of food already, as I'd been eating soooooo much! So, I thought I'd be good and opt for a salad. Then the salad arrived and it was in a mixing bowl it was that huge. Oops. It was so tasty though, and the courgette fries and super huge onion rings were incredible. Rich loved his burger as well, and we are both a huge fan of the American way of being able to have unlimited diet coke wherever we go.

Yet again we waddled back to the hotel for our final night on land before heading to the cruise ship.

Ford Mustang interior

We drove ourselves to the cruise terminal the next day as it was only about 45 minutes away from South Beach. Rich loved this car so much, he was genuinely sad to see it go when we handed it back in Fort Lauderdale. We got a transfer back to the cruise terminal, and began to check in on the ship... which will be what I talk about next Wednesday!

If you're thinking that I just ate on honeymoon, you'd be pretty right. American food is so good, and the portion sizes are all so huge. I can officially never move to America otherwise I'd be overweight before I knew it!

Rachel x

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Longhorns, Newcastle

Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse, Newcastle Review

Last Saturday I did something a bit scary. I met someone off the internet. Now, the last time I did that I ended up marrying the guy, and I think this time went just as well (no marrying though as bigamy is illegal).

Chloe blogs over at New Girl in Toon and I went on about how much I love her blog in my post a few weeks ago about blogs to follow so I'm not going to go on about it again. Just, go follow okay?! Chloe and I actually have friends in common, and could have met 2 years ago at the mutual friends wedding, but unfortunately it wasn't to be so we eventually met up for the first time on Saturday. I'd never been to Geordie-Land (what I call Newcastle, as Stoke has a Newcastle too) and had always wanted to visit ever since I watched Byker Grove as a kid, so Rich and I made the journey up the motorway and went for brunch at Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse.

American Smokehouse BBQ Graphic Wall

Now I could pretend to know lots of things about the location of the place, but we drove to the car park Chloe directed us to, parked up and it was just around the corner. We said our hellos to Chloe and Simon and headed inside, where we were allowed to choose where to sit. Obviously we chose the table near the window (always thinking about that lighting!) and settled down, chatting away getting to know each other.

Longhorns BBQ Menu on a clipboard

Rich always calls it cheating, but I had started looking at the menu the day before in order to try and narrow down what I wanted for breakfast, but there were too many good looking options, so I wasn't anywhere near deciding when we got there. Torn between many things, we all spent a bit of time trying to settle on options, and Chloe and I were both scoping out what the boys wanted to eat, so we could choose different things, so we could try more of the menu!

Two coffees in black mugs

There was one thing I definitely knew I wanted though, a coffee. I'd been good and not had one all week, so I was excited to get a caffeine fix. The coffee was really smooth, and even though I'm no expert, I knew it was a good coffee. It did give me quite the buzz though, so sorry to Chloe and Simon for talking very quickly for the rest of the day!

Mexican Eggs Benedict

Eventually a decision was made on what to order and the food arrived in good timing. I opted - after flipping between this and the pancakes with syrup for far too long- for the Eggs El Mexicana which is basically a Mexican Eggs Benedict. Poached eggs on a muffin with a chorizo salsa and hollandaise sauce. This was super tasty, it had the right amount of spice, and was unusual, yet yummy. The eggs were poached to perfection without any hint of vinegar and had a beautiful runny yolk.

American breakfast on a tray

Rich and Simon went for the same thing, the 2 meat breakfast, with Texas toast, sausage patty, bacon, poached eggs and syrup. I only managed to swipe a bit of the Texas toast and syrup, but it did make me a bit jealous. Wish I could have ordered both things for myself!

Eggs Benedict with beans

Chloe opted for the Pit Bean Benedict, and for the review of her brunch, you'll have to check out her blog post!

Brunch on trays on a wooden table. Photographer in back

We had a lovely brunch together, and chatted for ages. The staff were great and didn't mind us staying well past our brunches were finished, and after a couple of hours when our bums began to go numb we headed out for a stroll along the quayside before heading to a bar to carry on chatting.

Rich and I had a brilliant day out, and will definitely be back to visit Newcastle again soon, and Chloe and Simon were excellent tour guides! If they'd have us we will definitely be meeting up again, which will more than likely involve food, again as we all chuffing love our grub!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Honeymoon | Flying Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic

So, in case you've been living under a rock - I got married in November and I've written all about it (click that link to catch up!). Rich and I went on a mini-moon straight after the wedding to our favourite Hot Tub Lodges in Yorkshire which I wrote about last time we went a couple of years ago. I didn't take any photos as the entire week was just spent recovering from all the stress and excitement of getting married.

I'm so pleased we didn't go on our big honeymoon straight away, for two reasons, one being that for at least the first 3 days of our mini-moon I really didn't want to do anything which wasn't stuffing my face or lounging in the hot tub, and the other is that I could not have coped with the stress of packing for a big holiday at the same time as the last minute wedding stuff. How do brides do it?!

Clinking mini prosecco glasses

When Rich and I started thinking about our honeymoon we were really at a loss of where to go. We wanted to go somewhere luxurious, but still with plenty to do. America was my number 1 most desired destination, but we couldn't decide on a location which would give us everything we wanted. Eventually we settled on a cruise. It meant we could have the luxury we were after, with lots of activities to do, and we could start and end in America, so I would get to visit at long long last!

I'll talk more about the cruise in my future honeymoon posts, but the one we chose used Miami as it's departure and arrival port, so we decided to extend the holiday by 3 days and stay in Miami first. We saved like crazy for our wedding and honeymoon - as well as very generously being gifted donations towards the cost, and it meant that we could afford to spend the bit extra and travel premium economy to Miami from Heathrow, which was a very exciting experience for me, especially as I'd never flown long-haul before.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Menu

We were welcomed onto the plane with mini glasses of champagne and shown to our very spacious seats, which had little welcome packs on them with a blanket, pillow and bottle of water (there might have been more, this was a few months ago now!). We settled in and were offered newspapers and the menu for the flight (!!) which of course I immediately began looking at, having only ever once eaten on a plane, which I can't remember at all, I was eager to see what it was like.

The air hostesses looked after us so well, once we had settled into our seats they brought around hot towels, which made me feel so fancy!

After takeoff the drinks trolley came round for the first time of many and we were offered a drink and some mini pretzels. All of the things they came around with were included in the ticket price, and you could have had any alcohol you liked, which is why we opted for Virgin over British Airways, as BA only offer you one alcoholic drink per flight. Even though Rich and I aren't big drinkers, as the prices and everything else was identical, we thought why not as it was our honeymoon.

I got very stuck into the entertainment system on the plane, loving the movies, TV shows and games - especially as they had Tetris!

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Main Meal

The main meal arrived and it was surprisingly tasty. I love the mini propeller salt and pepper shakers, and that they gave us a mini cheese and crackers. I ate better on the plane than I do at home! After the wine I was beginning to get a little tipsy, so watched a movie and stopped being quite so hyper and excited for a while.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Fab Ice Lolly

Then they only went and brought us a mini FAB lolly each! This made me so excited again, it really is the little things.

I loved tracking where we were on the map thing on the entertainment system, and seeing how fast and high we were. I did take a lot of things on the plane with me to do, as on the budget Europe planes I've been on before there is no entertainment at all. I didn't end up reading my magazine or using the iPad at all as there was so much to do, which was great as it meant I had those for later on in the holiday.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Afternoon Tea

Nearing the end of the flight they brought around afternoon tea, which consisted of a sandwich, crisps and a mini chocolate bar. It was a little stingy in my opinion, but that's probably cos I'm a bottomless stomach - especially when I'm on holiday.

When the flight landed we were one of the first off the plane, and our luggage was the second group on the luggage carousel, something tiny, but very much appreciated as I hate having to wait ages for your luggage, especially as it's usually so crowded and I end up needing a wee.

The whole flight experience was brilliant, we really felt well looked after, and if we can ever afford it again I would definitely repeat the experience! I'm not sure how I'd like not having as much leg room on such a long flight, or as much room to spread out. I think I spoiled myself for life now.

Next Wednesday I'm going to be talking about our time in Miami, which was an amazing three days.

Rachel x
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