At the very start of the week (Tuesday, to be precise) my boyfriend, Barnaby and I purchased a tent, shoved it in the back of our car and headed to the picturesque Totaranui (more on this beautiful place in my next post!) in search of good weather. And the verdict? Crazy amounts of sun – not to mention the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in my entire life! ♥
We spent five days camping next to the beach, in an enormous lot with natives trees growing alongside us. I’ve never ‘done’ a proper camping trip before – or not that I can remember at least, so everything was truly novelty and so much fun! We had native New Zealand birds join us at every meal (I swear they could hear the rustle of a biscuit packet from a mile away!) and spent our days lounging by said beach and trekking into the forests.
Everything was so quiet too. It’s actually Autumn, although you wouldn’t think it, with the warm weather – and I genuinely think there were only 20 campers all up, when we were told that you can sometimes expect up to 400! It was honestly the most magical trip, and completely inspired my outfit, as I’m sure you can tell!
As you may already know (thanks, previous post!) I have had a slightly unbelievable last few days – as I was recently flown over to Sydney, along with four other bloggers, thanks to DAILIES TOTAL1.
I’ve never been further than Sydney airport, so genuinely had no idea what to expect of the city. Everything seemed to come together right at the last minute, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high so didn’t really do any research, other than finding out that there is a zoo right on the harbour (which I totally went to, by the way).
Of course the one thing I knew I had to do was visit the Sydney Opera House. The very kind Ashleigh and Janelle, two of the other bloggers joining me on the trip, took some photos for me as we gazed at the building. In proper blogger form, we had our phones, DSLR cameras and Instax cameras at the ready, and I am so, so pleased with how they came out. I eventually ventured over to the Opera House by myself and snapped away – until I got pooed on by a seagull -_- They say it brings good luck – which I totally now believe as I had the best afternoon with Annika (aka The Pineneedle Collective). What can I say; Sydney, you were so go to me!
Now I have to take just a quick (promise!) moment to talk about my dress! Just look at that collar! I’ve been coveting The Whitepepper for years now, and to finally have a piece of my own – and such a quirky one at that, makes me happier than anything. It’s a brilliant conversation starter too – you wouldn’t believe how many ‘Scranton Strangler’ references I heard (and nothing, absolutely nothing beats an Office reference!)
I’ve been wearing contact lenses almost daily for the past few years. As anyone (apart from me, apparently) knows, this is terrible for your eyes. My poor ol’ eyes were going red and veiny and were constantly irritated, which is why I’ve been wearing glasses so often lately – as they really needed a break! I’ve gone through various contact lens brands over the past ten years and have experienced the same problem with all of them.
…And that’s about when I was contacted by DAILIES TOTAL1. With a revolutionary water gradient, DAILIES TOTAL1 lenses will keep your eyes feeling a whole lot more moisturised than other contact lenses. I was a little nervous that my eyes might not ‘take’ to contacts after such a long break, but they popped in far easier than anything I have ever experienced!
After being flown to Sydney, put up in a beautiful hotel and a quick trip to the optometrist, myself, along with four Australian bloggers were taken out to dinner on the 47th floor of the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever seen (let alone eaten at!). After only getting four hours sleep the night before I was certain my eyes would flunk out and I would remember why I went off contact lenses in the first place.. Turns out that the water gradient is better than I could’ve ever expected! I stayed up until 1:30am with no eye problems whatsoever and enjoyed six delicious courses and a cocktail the size of my head along the way. And at the end of the night I was able to simply throw the lenses in the rubbish, rather than fiddling around with various cases and fluids. Score!
As part of this collaboration with DAILIES TOTAL1, I’m going to be sharing five different late-night experiences so I can really test out these lenses and see how they work for me. I’m a definite member of the Stay At Home Club, so am really excited to push myself out of my comfort zone and to see how my new lenses hold up! I hope you enjoy following along!
This post was in collaboration with DAILIES TOTAL1, but (of course!) all opinions were my own. If you want to purchase the contact lenses head into your nearest optometrist for a fitting. Or alternatively you can find out more information at www.morecontacttime.com
I’ve been meaning to put together this Miami city guide (as well as a Las Vegas edition) for a wee while now, but it has most definitely taken longer than I’d hoped. We spent all of our trip in South Beach – and if I had to do it all over again – I would. From the get-go I was adamant about staying in the Art Deco district, and I’m really happy that it all worked out! Stepping outside our vibrant yellow hotel (more on that below!) was like being front and centre on a Miami postcard – the pastel coloured buildings are just so beautiful and distinctive!
If you’re planning on visiting Miami I completely recommend it and hopefully this little guide comes in handy.
Where to eat
11th Street Diner, 1065 Washington Ave, Miami Beach
During our three day getaway in Miami this is basically all I wanted to eat.. and so I did just that! Before making my way to the sunshine state, I emailed several of my favourite bloggers (The Cherry Blossom Girl and Steffy’s Pros and Cons to name a few) and was told this is where I had to go. Well, gals, turns out I’m forever in your debt, because this place was insane.
The black bean burger had me at hello (after all, we all know I love burgers) but on my next visit I sampled the Belgian waffles – which were equally divine (as expected). On our last night we made our final trip to the 11th Street diner to sample their delicious cocktails. Boy, they were good, and strong too – which made for a less than thrilled flight back to Vegas. (In all honesty, I would’ve been less than thrilled, drinks or not! Miami is bloomin’ awesome, I never wanted to leave!)
What to do
Nikki Beach, 1 Ocean Drive, Miami
Initially, I just wasn’t sure about visiting Nikki Beach. It seemed really posh, expensive (two things which I definitely am not) and I was feeling a bit anxious about body hangups – because Miami ladies are a seriously good-lookin’ bunch! As it turns out; I’m an idiot. This ended up being one of the best experiences during our whole trip!
We went on Groupon and found a voucher for tickets into Nikki Beach, a sun lounger, a fruit platter and two mojitos. That was all we were going to have, but when you’ve spent the afternoon lying in the sun, followed by frolicks in that sweet, sweet ocean, you’re bound to get hungry! Aaaand it was then that we consumed probably the most delicious vegetarian pizza I’ve ever eaten, ever. Even the pictures are making my mouth water! Definitely be sure to hit up Nikki Beach – you will feel like a celebrity, minus the paparazzi!
My favourite thing to do in Miami was quite simply: walk around! There is an awful lot to see in South Beach, particularly as it’s home to the genuine art deco pastel coloured buildings! The buildings were the reason I was so excited to visit Miami and it certainly was validated. Besides the art deco, you’re bound to also pass the Versace Mansion which you can see above.
Let’s be realistic; would it even be possible to avoid the beach in Miami? I highly doubt it! And why would you want to anyway? This beach is famous for good reason – I have certainly never felt as relaxed (and warm for that matter!) as I did floating amongst the waves of Miami Beach. If you’re lucky you might even see tiny tropical fish darting around the oh-so clear water. Definitely an experience to savour!
Where to stay
Leslie Hotel, 1244 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
When it comes to hotels I’m usually pretty chill and just let Barnaby have the final say. This time (probably for the first time ever) I completely put my foot down! I was adamant about staying in this original art deco building in my favourite hue of all time – bright yellow! I didn’t really care either way about what the interior was like, but it turned out to be one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed!
The staff were so, so friendly, the rooftop pool (!) was beautiful, and the rooms were spacious. I completely recommend this exclusive wee hotel – it was so central and a perfect spot for couples, friends, families and singles alike!
Being an enormous ‘Fear and Loathing’ fan, you can bet that Circus Circus was high up on my must-see list. We had rewatched F&L a week or so before take off, and it was crazy seeing just how similar Circus Circus was to it’s counterpart, Bazooko’s Circus.
Fun fact: did you know that Circus Circus wouldn’t let Fear and Loathing film at their location? And fair enough too; Hunter S. Thomson’s description didn’t exactly put it in a positive light, eh?
We found out pretty early on from talking to locals that Circus Circus is thought of as a run down, kind of trashy establishment – but because it is basically the polar opposite to anything even remotely close in New Zealand, we fell in love. And we fell hard. The iconic clown sign (terrifying, yet so good) was one of my favourites during our entire trip, not to mention the incredible lit up signage out the front of the building.
I couldn’t help but snap some photos directly outside, as cars and RVs pulled in to experience the magic.. and luckily we got some photos inside too – well, in-between all of the gaming, of course!
And of course, we popped inside too! It was seriously one of the BEST things I did on our entire Las Vegas trip. I’m ridiculously obsessive about games. When Barnaby and I first started dating we would constantly head to Time Zone to play video games. This was a complete step up as it was really, really easy to win prizes! I ended up walking out with three toy lobsters (pictured below!), a teddy bear, and one extremely phallic looking cactus. And there’s basically no way of topping that!
…Unless of course, I mention the revolving carousel restaurant and free circus displays! Oh man, I loved Circus Circus. Definitely pop in for a visit if you’re nearby – and remember to bring lots of quarters!
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!