Aaaand just like that, let me whisk you back (albeit briefly!) to good ol’ New Zealand. More specifically, Christchurch, New Zealand. Over the weekend we took a half hour flight down to our old stomping ground to visit the grandparents, catch up with friends – you know the story. Our flights couldn’t have been better timed, as August/September is when the daffodils emerge… and if you know Christchurch, then you know that there are a whole lot of daffodils!
If you’re a long (loooong) time reader, you might just recognise the daffodil wonderland from this post way back in 2012, where the weather was clearly a lot warmer & my leg didn’t have a mermaid and sailor lady happily adorning it.
With the beautiful daffodils as my backdrop, I couldn’t help but crack out this whimsical rabbit and deer print romper; the latest offering by the wonderful Pepa Loves. I’m sure if those rabbits could talk they’d be rather thankful for a quick jaunt through the flowers – although there would definitely be some bite marks left behind!
It was the perfect chance to put my new instax franinstax camera to the test. Oh man, excitement doesn’t even begin to cover it with this baby! It was custom made, so obviously has elements of all of my favourite colours, which you can see for yourself. I am ridiculously excited to go on summer adventures a-plenty with this sweet, sweet baby by my side. Snap snap snap!
Paradise Garden Buffet, 3545 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
Visiting the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM had been up pretty high on my list ever since we booked our flights to America waaay back in January. After a quick trip on the Monorail we spotted the all-pink signage from really far back – a true testament to just how long I spent Google Imaging the thing.
In short: it lived up to expectations! It was really, really simple – just insert your card, select your cupcake, wait a couple of seconds.. then as if like magic, the little door opens and your cupcake is inside, just waiting to be eaten! (To which you happily oblige, of course).
Just a note to anyone visiting – it only takes a card! I expected it to take cash – which in hindsight is pretty silly – being an ‘ATM’ and all. It’s just a little heads up for anyone who might be visiting in the future. Remember your card!
During my trip to Las Vegas last year, I discovered what I genuinely considered the tastiest burger I had ever consumed in my entire 25 years on this Earth. Obviously, I was eager (to say the least!) about getting to try it again this time around. So I’m sure you understand my disappointement when I found out it had been TAKEN OFF THE MENU. Weep.
Not to let my crumbling dreams of black beans patties and melted gouda (mmm) disappear in entirity, we began a quest to find the best burgers in Las Vegas. And I’ll say this now: best decision ever!
First and foremost, I suppose I should announce that I’m a vegetarian so these are all meatless options. It’s kind of hard to eat as a vegetarian in Vegas, so hopefully this little list helps out other vegetarians out there who might have an upcoming trip to Nevada. Obviously, all of these places do meat options too. Furthermore, I can honestly say that all the meat burgers I saw looked absolutely delicious. I may be a vegetarian, but I can certainly appreciate a nice looking burger ; )
The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, 3930 S Las Vegas Blvd
This was the first burger I ate after finding out that the vegetarian burger of my dreams no longer existed (sob) so I definitely went in in a bit of a negative headspace. Fast forward ten minutes or so, when I was halfway into my burger, grinning from ear to ear, ridiculously pleased with our choice of dining.
I’ve never eaten a lentil burger before – at least, not from a restaurant. I’ll let you know straight up that this burger was insanely filling (lentils are good like that) and the cheese; boy, the cheese was good.
Not only was the food impeccable, but the staff were awesome too. We had the loveliest waiter, who made sure to ask if everything was alright and who also managed to replace our almost-finished cokes in record time. High five! All in all, this place is well worth a visit and definitely got me out of my burger depression.
New York New York, 3790 S Las Vegas Blvd
I had heard heaps of good things about Shake Shack and it wasn’t there the last time I was in Vegas. Basically, I was really excited… Until I saw that there was mushroom in the burger. I’m not terribly keen on mushrooms and for most places it’s just kind of the go-to meat replacement for veggie options.
I was deifnitely a little apprehinsive when I got my burger. All I could think about was mushrooms, but a bite or two later and I was a fan.
In this burger, the patty pretty much consists of crumbed cheese and mushroom. Biting into it, the patty quite literally disintigrated in my mouth; all in a wave of cheesy goodness. The lettuce was super crunchy and the bun was soft, soft, soft. Even just thinking about this burger has my tummy rumbling. It was so good!
Tropicana, 3801 S Las Vegas Blvd
This was hands down the BEST burger I ate during my entire time in America. Scratch that, this is probably the best burger I’ve ever, ever eaten. Even better, it was right in our hotel!
After getting a food and beverage credit, we decided that, hey, why not go try the Beach cafe. Talk about the idea of a lifetime! We tried this burger on our second-to-last day in America, and ended up getting it two more times for room service. I actually ate this burger twice in one day; once for lunch and once for dinner. Gosh it was gooood!
My favourite thing about this burger was that it quite literally had half an avocado in it. Pair that was a sour dough bun, gouda, and grilled capsicum, and you’ve certainly got a winner on your hands. I was a little sceptical about the chillis in the burger (I’m not great with spicy food) but it turned out that it added the perfect amount of zing. If you’re a vegetarian and heading to Vegas, this is definitely the burger I recommend most of all. It might be a little out of the way, what with the Tropicana located right at the end of the strip and all, but your tastebuds will be singing your praises for months afterwards.
3950 S Las Vegas Blvd
Obvoiusly this is the real ‘fast food’ place on this list. We don’t have Johnny Rockets in New Zealand, we were hungry, so hey, we decided to give it a go. While the order didn’t go off to the best start (they were out of the Soy Bocha patty; the vegetarian option) I didn’t really feel like one anyway, so it kind of worked out for the best.
I was left with a pretty simple, but tasty burger. I ended up filling mine with fries (my faaaavourite thing to do!) and it was good. We ended up going back a couple more times because I liked it so much! In short: this is the cheap option!
Stratosphere, 2000 S Las Vegas Blvd
This was a place I had found on Yelp months ago – and was really excited to visit! I’m a little obsessed with American diners (they’re such a novelty!) and having one that was reasonably accessible really was the bees knees.
You know how you hear about gigantic American portions? This was the real deal. We were a little peckish, so ordered a side of onion rings, thinking that, you know, normal onion rings would arrive.. These things were massive. I was feeling relatively full after two, so when the mammothly huge burger arrived, you can bet I felt intimated! In fact, this was the only burger I couldn’t finish on the entire trip. I even gave the sad little line when I couldn’t eat any more – “this burger has beaten me!”
I genuinely wish that I could have finished, because this burger was incredible. It was really, really greasy, but it kiiind of made it taste better (mmm, greasy). The pepper and black beans in the burger gave it a really Mexican taste, which was delicious. Oh, and I even ate the portobello mushroom too. And it was GOOD! I came away from this trip liking mushrooms way more than when I left!
Aaaaaand just like that, we’re off to Las Vegas! ; ) Actually, I have a couple more posts to share from Miami, but I have been WAY too excited about these photos. Basically, I can’t resist a second more!
My favourite sign during our entire stay in Vegas simply had to be this one created for the Holiday Motel. It was located right in the heart (teehee, gettit?) of the classic Las Vegas wedding chapel zone, so a white dress just had to be what I wore that day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t venture from one end of the strip to the other just to see the sign (although that is something I would definitely do!) – the entire purpose of this trip was to visit a vintage inspired diner, which certainly lived up to expectations. But more on that later..!
One of the things that made me love this sign even more was when we drove past it at night. So many of the lights were blown out; I’m pretty sure it read along the lines of ‘liay oel’ (Holiday Hotel) or something rather similar. It just adds to the countless reasons I adore Las Vegas so darn much; experiencing it at night is a whole other world to during the day. It really is the most peculiar place!
Ahh, good old yellow. I quite genuinely squealed as we approached this colourful beach hut, nestled among the enormous resorts on Miami Beach. Luckily my boyfriend, Barnaby, knows me well, and was soon asking “do you want to take photos over there?” before I even had time to open my mouth. Ah, true love, aint she a beauty?
Not to ramble on (too!) much – but talk about a meant-to-be moment! I had my yellow dress on, the sunglasses were already packed in my pineapple bag.. It couldn’t possibly have been any better! Coordinating outfits to locations is basically the pinnacle of all things bloggy, but when you do it without even realising.. there should be a reward for that or something, don’t you think? ; )
These ended up being some of my very favourite photos from our entire trip. I took a whole bunch on a disposable camera too, and am so eager to get the photos back! I love digital, but it really is the most unique feeling when you have absolutely no clue as to what photos are going to turn out like!
Arguably one of the very best points of our holiday was getting to visit Miami. There is something to be said for daily ocean swims (followed by waffles!) and historic buildings, among plenty of other very, very neat stuff.
On our last day, we decided to go for a swim before our flight back to Vegas. Somehow, somehow, we woke up at 5:30am (!!!) and immediately headed down to the water. It was seriously mind-blowing getting to see the sunrise over the water – and I won’t lie, there was definitely a tear or two in my eyes (I didn’t want to leaaaave).
Really though, I recommend Miami so highly; it was beyond excellent. Staying on South Beach ended up being a brilliant idea – especially as the art deco buildings were one of the reasons I wanted to visit so badly! We actually stayed in the bright yellow building (typical!) below; the Leslie. I’m sorting through the rest of my photos and am going to have a city guide up at some point soon. Stay tuned!
Guess where I am?! Miami beach! Well, actually I’m now in bed in my pyjamas – back in New Zealand, but I have spent the last couple of weeks rolling around Miami and Las Vegas. So yeah, the blog has been a little quiet. At least I have a good excuse!
Miami was insane. We spent most of the time in the ocean and even saw a little fish swimming right alongside us. (Actually I almost threw it, thinking it was a bit of seaweed touching me!) Then I saw a jellyfish in the water… aaaand cue going for a pizza lunch. Followed by more ocean time. After 40 minutes of course ; )
It was incredible to finally see Miami in real life. I have been Google imaging (is that even a term?!) pictures of Miami for a solid six months. It all finally felt real when we saw the Miami Lifeguard towers in real life. And it was at the golden hour. Talk about swoon-worthy! This classic Americana one was just it for me. And I wasn’t the only one either! You wouldn’t believe the amount of people snapping away and posting to Instagram here! I can’t complain.. I was one of them after all!
Over the weekend I paid a much (much much) needed visit to Christchurch; a city that may sound familiar if you’re a long time reader (I lived there before relocating to Wellington). I had massive aspirations – filming a video, writing a Christchurch city guide, but instead opted for some old fashion quality time with close friends and family.
One of the highlights of my trip (besides seeing my wonderful Nana and my boyfriend’s dogs ♥ ) was getting to experience Autumn; a season that is fairly non-existent when you live in the CBD. I couldn’t get enough of the acorns, leaves underfoot, and of course the beautiful shades of orange and yellow that were absolutely everywhere. There is nothing quite so satisfying as the crunch from a perfect Autumn leaf – and you know I deliberately changed my path to step on them!
Ah, the very last of my Auckland posts. It took slightly longer than expected to put this together – and I certainly hope that you enjoy it! As a grand finale, this is a round-up of all of my favourite things to do in Auckland! So if you’ve booked in a trip, or are already planning a visit, these are some places I make sure to pop by whenever I’m in town. I’d love to hear your recommendations too; so please leave a comment if there is an absolute must-go place, and I’ll do my best to arrange it during my next trip!
WHERE TO EAT
Mexicali / 137 Quay Street, Auckland
We are big Mexican food enthusiasts in our household! Whenever we go to Auckland, our very first stop is Mexicali. I usually opt for a good ol’ burrito (“extra guacamole, please!”) but this time around went for a taco salad – where I got to eat the actual bowl! Have you ever seen the Simpsons episode where Homer has a nacho hat that he gets to eat? Well that’s totally what I felt like – though I managed to resist the urge of placing the taco bowl on my head (and for that my hair is eternally grateful). Back to the food though, Mexicali is delicious, and with $12 a burrito, pretty standard by New Zealand prices. Oh, and it’s right next to the wharf, so you get to watch boats while you eat.
Velvet Burger / 18 Fort Street, Auckland
Before our visit, I made darn sure to do my burger research (a must of any trip). There are zillions of amazing places about, but as a vegetarian – or more particularly, a vegetarian that doesn’t like tofu or mushrooms very much, your options get narrowed down awfully quickly. On a rainy day, just as the hangover was beginning to strike, we arrived at Velvet Burger. Me & my guy, Barnaby both opted for a Animal Rights burger (pictured above) – complete with a kumara & coriander patty, velvet relish, and a minty yoghurt sauce. This was probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten. Ever. And I eat a lot of burgers (vegetarian, of course).
Sals Pizza / 183 K Road, Auckland
…because who doesn’t love pizza?! And did I mention it’s New York pizza style – aka. massive! We always make sure to pop into Sals – and luckily there are branches all over Auckland! You can buy by the slice (we did) or opt for a full size pizza pie. Either way, Sals is delicious!
WHERE TO SHOP
Iko Iko / 195 Karahange Road, Auckland
I give a far more detailed description of my retail choices in my where to shop in Auckland blog post, however, I couldn’t help but include my beloved Iko Iko in this post too! Iko Iko is my favourite shop, and it’s really not surprising as it’s home to some of the cutest (and weirdest!) knick knacks and accessories. Every time I emerge from this shop I always end up with a souvenir – including this trip in to take photos! If you’re not planning on visiting New Zealand any time soon, you should totally check out their online store. I love Iko Iko!
WHERE TO DRINK
Hula Hut / Cnr Hobson & Quay Street, Viaduct, Auckland
To say that I don’t drink is basically the understatement of the year. My drinking life is fairly non-existant – although when I’m on holiday I always seem to make an exception. I’m really not into crowds, so the quiet little Hula Hut was completely perfect. We sat harbourside, watching yachts as they docked, and felt the fresh sea air on our faces. Oh, and did I mention that the entire floor was covered in Astroturf?! I’m kind of obsessed with the stuff (and have long dreamed of covering our balcony in it!) so I was rather impressed. And lemmie tell you; those Sol beers were bloomin’ amazing, especially as the weather was peaking at 28 degrees! Eep!
WHAT TO DO
Sky Tower / Cnr Victoria & Federal Streets, Auckland
It’s impossible to visit Auckland without at least catching a glimpse of it’s massive landmark; the Sky Tower. The tallest building in New Zealand, and one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere for that matter, the Sky Tower offers the most breathtaking views of the city. We didn’t make it up this time around, but we certainly did a couple of years ago, which you can see in this post. And if you’re a thrill seeking individual (I’m totally not) you can leap off the side of it – at a whopping 328 metres!
Auckland Zoo / Motions Road, Auckland
You might have seen my earlier post about Auckland Zoo. There was absolutely no way it wasn’t going to appear on this list – it was one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to! About ten minutes out of the CBD, this picturesque spot is home to New Zealand’s only elephant (…but not for long!) and my favourite of all – flamingoes. This is without a doubt the best zoo in New Zealand – and so so so recommended!
Before heading out to dinner (burgers for the win!) we had an enormous attempt at stalking a stunning building that I had been eyeing up from our hotel. Picture ivy covered, picture old brick.. Gosh it was a beauty! And do you know what? We couldn’t find it!! Phones clutched in hand, staring at Google earth, we were sure there was no way we’d miss it.. But somehow it just wasn’t meant to be! So was a relief when we finally made our way onto this equally beautiful palm tree lined street. And it honestly felt like it was meant to be – as I was clad in my finest leopard print – making me feel like some sort of urban Jane-from-Tarzan (never a bad thing, let me tell you!)