Category: Honeymoon

The Honeymoon – New York

May 10th, 2011 — 12:56pm

Once we landed in New York we decided that we wouldn’t waste our money on a taxi and we would just get the train that goes directly to Penn Station.  Locating our train was easy enough, the problem was that we had arrived at “rush hour” (although I’m not sure whether there is ever a “quiet hour”.  Our cases seem to become even heavier and bulky. We struggled to heave them on to the train, then once there the train was so pack people were standing in the luggage storage areas. Once we arrived at Penn Station we had to make our way across the forecourt to find our exit, wheeling our cases through the crowds was a nightmare and I’m sure I ran over a few toes in the process.

We walked from Penn Station to our hotel the Wyndam Gardens. It was located on West 36th street just a few blocks away,when we reached the hotel we were exhausted but very happy to be back in New York. It was the day before Thanks Giving so trying to find somewhere to eat that evening was hard work.  We had a Broadway show to make so couldn’t afford to hang around for the 45 minutes plus wait most restaurants were offering.
We chose to visit Sbarros for a slice and a coke. With a little time to kill we went to a Starbucks just off Broadway and enjoyed our first famous hot drink of many whilst in the City.

The show we had tickets for was Rock of Ages. One we were both immensely looking forward to. We both love our 80’s classic rock music and had heard great things about this show. We were not at all disappointed – it was beyond amazing. It completely rocked. Dee Snider, front man for Twisted Sister starred in the show and Has’ highlight was when he ran down the aisle and the wings he was wearing hit him on the head! Ha! It’s such a great show and neither of us can wait until the show come to London late this summer.

The next day we set our alarms uber early so we could get a good spot to watch the Macy’s Day Parade.
We left our hotel just after 6am and walked the 20 odd blocks towards Central Park. Hundreds of people already lined the streets, huddled under blankets sat on fold up chairs with coolers packed with food and flasks of hot drinks by their side. It was clear these people had been there hours before we had even woken up! After stopping off at a little café to grab some hot drinks and breakfast we finally found our spot by 63rd street and managed to shimmy our way in so we actually had no one in front of us. It was 7.30. The parade didn’t kick off until 9. It was so cold but there was a real buzz of excitement in the air. We were stood next to a group of children who were super excited and had even made signs to hold up that said “Spongebob Square Pants Rocks”

The parade starts at 77th street so when it kicked off at 9 we could see them slowly making their way down to us. It was actually more like 9.30 by the time the first float came past, the people in the parade came skipping down throwing confetti and wishing everyone a “Happy Thanks Giving” it was a little odd to receive these wishes as we don’t celebrate the occasion but it wasn’t long before we were reciprocating and cheering along with the rest of the crowd. It was a wonderful experience, I loved watching the floats and seeing the school bands and cheer leaders that had travelled from other states to perform in the parade. There were so many infamous characters such as Snoopy, Buzz Lightyear, Shrek and Spongebob Square Pants. Some of the floats housed celebrities too. I recognised Kylie Minogue, Kanye West, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Jessica Simpson and Gladys Knight.

The Parade finished with Father Christmas around 11am. At that time we were cold, tired, exhausted, hungry and aching but on a complete high too! We made our way back to our hotel stopping off at Subway first to grab a meatmarina sub. We sat and watched the parade finish on the TV whilst scoffing our sandwiches. I actually fell asleep for about an hour and after we’d both recharged ourselves we ventured out again. One of my favourite things to do when we’re in New York is to visit Rockefeller Centre, more specifically Top of the Rock.

The views from the top are wonderful you can see for miles on a clear day and I just love from one side, the view of the Empire State Building and the other, Central Park. It had started to rain so it was dark and gloomy but I still loved it. The light was fading and we were able to stay up there until the lights on the Empire State Building were switched on. One of my favourite parts of the Top of the Rock besides the view is the crazy light up room they have. When you walk in a light on the ceiling, floor and walls follow you around. Simple things, but I’m honestly amused for ages!

Knowing the City would be busy we had booked a table at our favourite restaurant Virgils for dinner. We were both really curious to try a traditional Thanks Giving meal so there were no hesitations when the server came around to take our orders. Unfortunately the usually very good restaurant couldn’t handle the amount of orders and people they had and the service was a little ropey. I ordered a beef soup and was brought a prawn and duck, my diet coke was served to me in the can rather than a glass and when the correct soup was brought over, half way through eating it our main courses were brought out. Sigh.
The meal was also a little peculiar. Far too many flavours on one plate! This was our menu.

Parts of the meal were really yummy, others – sweet potato mash with marshmallows anyone? – were not!
For pudding I had an apple pie where as Has opted for the more traditional pumpkin pie. Or as I like to call it “The worst pie ever” Has enjoyed it but I honestly thought it was gross!

That evening we went to see the Green Day Musical American Idiot based on their best selling album of the same name. I’m a huge Green Day fan and was really looking forward to the show. We were sat 3 rows from the front so had a great view, of most of the stage. The actors were awesome and the show was incredible so dark and moving. We really enjoyed it.

The next day we had intended to get up early to see what all the Black Friday sales were all about. Just before we got into bed the night before I saw advert after advert for the sales, “3am to 5am” yeah we weren’t going to make those! We did however venture into Macy’s. God it was packed!!! I’m no good in situations like that I hate squabbling over the racks of discounted goods so I tend to avoid the sales here. Macy’s was indescribable! You had to fight to get in, to get out, and to get to the escalators, to move even! Has picked up a jumper but I didn’t have the energy to bother.

We grabbed a quick lunch then caught a train to Atlantic City in New Jersey. We left from Penn Station, went via Philadelphia and finally arrived in Atlantic City around 2 hours later.
Brett Michaels, the lead singer from one of my favourite bands Poison was performing at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. We arrived with enough time to grab some dinner and drinks at Hooters and play a few slots. Atlantic City isn’t exactly Las Vegas but it was still pretty cool. We stepped outside just to see the boardwalk but it was too dark and far too cold to stay out and see anything. We did buy some Salt Water Taffy though! Strange stuff, quite nice though!

One of my highlights of the trip has to be getting to see Brett Michaels. It was a seated auditorium but most people ran down the front. By the time we realised you were allowed to do that we were better off staying where we were. He sang all my favourites and we danced and sang along. It rocked!

Once the show was over we went back into the casino and as our train wasn’t until much later we had some time to kill. We sat in the bar with our drinks and talked about how we couldn’t believe our honeymoon was coming to an end.

We had to get a taxi back to the Atlantic City train station but before we did we noticed Brett’s tour bus parked outside with a queue of people outside. One by one they went in and came out with their signed merchandise. We weren’t really sure how you got to be in that queue but we stayed around for a little while and spoke to the bands guitarist for a while. We than hailed a taxi and headed back to the train station.
We were both exhausted and managed to sleep a little on the train home. We finally arrived back in New York around 2 in the morning. Exhausted we climbed into bed and fell fast asleep.

The next morning we allowed ourselves a little lie in before getting up and heading to Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks. If we are in New York for the basketball season then we always go to cheer on the Knicks, more often than not they lose and that game was no exception!  I love the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden when everyone gets behind the team.

After we watched the Knicks lose we headed straight to Times Square to see if we could get tickets for a show that night from the TKS stand. They sell on the day tickets for Broadway and off–Broadway shows at reduced prices. We queued for what felt like hours in the cold until it was our turn. We managed to score two tickets to see Elf, which I was more than happy about!

After that we went to spend some serious cash (or should that be I went to spend some serious cash!) First up was Bloomingdales. My beloved Ugg boots had really been through it, first the snow in Seattle then the rain in New York and they were looking a little rough around the edges. They were over 2 years old and I desperately wanted a new pair. The shoe department in Bloomingdales was again rammed but I was a woman on a mission. I found myself a shop assistant told her what I was after and left her to find them for me. Thankfully my tall chocolate Uggs were in stock, in my size. Happy Laura. She put them through the till and I paid. Not-so-happy Has!

After Bloomingdales it was Abercrombie and Fitch. I love their hoodies more than anything and already own a few, but I wear them so often that I always try to buy a new one when I’m over in New York. One thing I have to say is, I hate their shop. It’s more like a nightclub. The music is loud and the place is so dark! Yes I know I sound like a moany old lady but seriously would it kill them to turn it down a notch!

As well as the hoody I picked up a pair of jogger bottoms and took them to the till. My argument was, I spend a lot of my home time in snugs so I may as well have something nice to lounge around in…!

We then went to Best Buy – Has’ favourite shop for DVD’s and Blu Rays. I mooched around the aisle quietly pleased with my purchases as Has went through his mental list of “Most wanted” films and TV shows.

Given the time of year we knew reservations at restaurants would be tough so we used to make our reservations ahead of time. We ate at Tony’s, our favourite Italian restaurant. Their food comes in platters so you always share, we ordered meatballs and spaghetti and it was delicious!

As we had so many bags from shopping Has took them back to the hotel whilst I waited in Starbucks. We were running a little late but Has made it back in time and we took our seats in the theatre to watch Elf. It was a happy little show, with catchy songs and made us both feel really Christmassy. It was weird to think that Christmas was only just around the corner, when we had left it was the last thing on our minds and now we were nearly in December.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped by a place called The Shake Shack for the most delicious frozen custard. It was just vanilla and chocolate with cream but it was pure heaven.

The next day we headed straight for the Magnolia Bakery.  The queues the night before were out the door so we arrived early so we could try on of the famous cupcakes.  Yum!

After scoffing our sugary treats I was able to tick off something from my 30 before 30 list. We went to see the NY Giants play at home. I got dressed up in my Giants shirt and hoody and went to cheer them on. Our seats were great right behind the field goal really close to the pitch. The game was really intense the Giants were losing by quite a bit but in true Hollywood Movie style managed to pull it back with a couple of really good plays. When they scored a touchdown all the fans around us turned around to high five us. It was a great atmosphere and we were totally absorbed by it. The girl sitting next to Has got louder and louder the more she drank. She was screaming at the Giants and at first everyone around her was laughing. In fact from the moment she sat down she apologised saying she gets very loud at games. By the end she was annoying everyone. Even with her yelling constantly everyone was really friendly and my first Giants home game will be one I’ll never forget. Completely amazing.

We got back into New York in time to visit Virgils one more time. It’s our favourite restaurant and the debacle of Thanks Giving dinner didn’t put us off. This time we both stuck to the BBQ menu we both know and love and of course it was scrumptious. We were both still wearing our Giants shirts so were asked a few times about the game.

We didn’t need to get to the airport for our flight home until later so we visited a few shops in Times Square picking up presents and souvenirs before heading back to our hotel to change and collect our cases. We had decided at this point we were both so tired and worn out that we would get a taxi to the airport. Yes the train was cheaper but neither of us had the energy.

As we watched New York disappear we sat in the back of the taxi exhausted but happier than we had ever been. Our honeymoon was the holiday of a lifetime, we had managed to do, see and experience so much in those 3 weeks and enjoyed every single second of it (ok maybe not the dreadful flight from Hawaii to Seattle! Ha!)
Our honeymoon suited us both perfectly, yes we could have flown off to some exotic island for a few weeks of complete rest and relaxation but we would have been bored within the first couple of days. Some people thought we were madto take on such a demanding holiday straight after the chaos of planning and the emotionally draining wedding day, but neither of us would have had it any other way.
Although we were sad to end our honeymoon we were also ready to go home, see our family and friends and start our “normal” lives as husband and wife

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The Honeymoon – Seattle

April 18th, 2011 — 9:00am

Of the six flights we caught during our 3 week honeymoon, Hawaii to Seattle was by far the worst.  We caught the red eye from Honolulu and by now my sun burn was excruciating.  Usually I have no problems falling asleep if I’m tired.  I mean I fell asleep in the middle of a field whilst Metallica were playing (No disrespect to Metallica – love their stuff but seriously when I’m tired I have to sleep!)  I therefore get incredibly frustrated if I can’t sleep.  We’d managed to score emergency exit seats but it meant we were seating either side of the aisle from each other which meant I had no one to lean on.  My forehead was on fire, my neck was burning, my legs had gone numb from the pain and I was generally very uncomfortable.

Knowing Seattle would be cold, coupled with the fact that my suitcase was dangerously close to the weight limit I had worn my big thick parka coat.  I started to feel hot but I literally couldn’t move my arm to adjust the air flow every time I moved my eyes to look up, the crinkling in my forehead was agony.  I know I sound like I’m the only person to ever experience sun burn but it honestly was bad, I even had a blister on my forehead!

We landed in Seattle around 6am.  Exhausted, sore and… freezing we wheeled our cases for what felt like miles to the train station.  The train journey was about 45 minutes where I managed to doze off a few times until the doors opened and a fresh blast of icy air blew up waking me up.  Once we reached our stop we had to walk a little more until we reached our hotel.  I’m making out here that we were in bad spirits but honestly even though we were both feeling a little worse for wear we were laughing and joking all the time.  ”From sun burn to frost bite!”

We’d warned our hotel the Pan Pacific that our flight arrived very early and they were more than welcoming at 8am when we finally showed up.  They allowed us to check in straight away after congratulating us.  Once in the room I lathered myself in Aloe Vera, to the point where I looked like Slimer had “slimed me”.  We then slept for the next few hours to recharge.

We left the hotel early afternoon and headed out for some lunch/early dinner.  We went straight to the Hard Rock Cafe.  We don’t tend to eat at these types of chains preferring to try other recommendations but we’d heard that there was a lot of really cool memorabilia from our favourite bands like Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters.

First Starbuck.  Pike Place Market Seattle

After food we had a quick walk down to Pike Place Market and stopped by the first ever Starbucks to grab a drink.  We were pretty tired so ended our day early and headed back to the hotel.  We’d heard on the news before we went to sleep that we should expect snow within the next 24 hours so when we woke up the next day we weren’t surprised to see a light dusting of snow.

We had booked tickets to watch the new Harry Potter film, so we headed over to the Imax theatre.  It was definitely colder out than the day before and even though the snow was falling it wasn’t really settling.   The Harry Potter film had only just opened when we went to see it so we had to queue up to get a seat.  The theatre was packed but once the films started we didn’t hear a peep out of anyone.  We both really enjoyed the film (me more than Has!) and when it was over we stepped outside to find the light dusting of snow had become a blizzard!  The snow was definitely settling and becoming thicker by the minute.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition Seattle

As well as seeing the film we also brought tickets to the Harry Potter Exhibition.  It was a showcase of props and costumes from the films narrated via a headset by some of the films costume and set designers.  For a Harry Potter geek like me it was wonderful!

By the time we left the snow was really coming down and settling quite a bit.  We walked over to the Space Needle but soon realised it would be a waste to go to the top as we’d see virtually nothing!  So we went to Starbucks.  The weather had turned quite bad so we went back to our hotel to warm up.  The walk back was laughable, the wind was quite fierce so the snow was blown into our faces my legs were soaked and we were frozen to the core.

Has had found a restaurant review on line, so we showered and dressed ready to face the weather.  Whilst I was getting ready Has looked out the window to see a car had ploughed straight in to the lamp post opposite our hotel.  No one was hurt as the driver was standing outside obviously waiting for someone to come get them.  The road outside our window was on a steep incline so most of the cars travelling down it, had trouble stopping at the junction.  We sat looking out of the window and watched as cars slide down sideways, one mounted the pavement (or should that be sidewalk?!) and when they finally managed to reverse slipped right down the hill very nearly hitting the car that had hit the lamp post.  It was at this point that I questioned whether or not we should even actually go out at all!

We decided that we really didn’t want to let the weather ruin our stay in Seattle so bundled ourselves up and headed to a restaurant called The Pink Door.  Funnily enough the only thing to identify that we were in the right place was a pink door.  It was a quaint little place that I can’t imagine gets found very often by tourists unless like us you hear about it via the internet.  I actually heard a table of locals  (Seattleites?) laugh about how they were asked to show a couple where the restaurant was.  We did feel like we’d stumbled on a little secret because it truly was an amazingly quirky place.  The walls and ceiling are adorned with nik naks, paintings, mirrors and trapeze ropes and hoops!  Whilst enjoying our scrumptious food a very talented lady entertained us and other diners by twirling and performing from suspended from the 20ft high rafters.  It was a very enjoyable evening out.

We left and braved the outside again, where we saw a guy “jay-walk”.  He stepped right out in front of a police car and got a severe telling off.  Opps!

The next day the sun was shining and the snow had stopped.  As we walked back to the Space Needle we found that the ground was still very icy and very slippy.  We actually picked a really good day to visit the Needle because the view was amazing.  Yes it was ffffreezing at the top as the wind blasted our poor sunburnt faces but we could see for miles.  We could even see the Olympic Mountains.  But boy was it cold!!

You can hear the wind on this video we took.

Unfortunately due to the snow a lot of Seattle came to a complete stand still.  We had booked tickets for Ride the Ducks but when we turned up we saw this sign.


We desperately wanted to visit the EMP Museum but again it was closed for the sake of the staff not being able to get to work.  As we walked around the city we found a lot of shops, restaurants and attractions were closed.  We walked over to Pike Place Market and spent time there in the various different shops and watching people pose for photos with the stall sellers and the huge fresh fish they had on offer.

We spent the afternoon under the streets of Seattle on the Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.  Our guide was witty and interesting and taught us about the growth, destruction and regrowth of Seattle.  It was a really cool way to spend the afternoon and we both really enjoyed it.

The next morning we had to be up early to catch the train back to the airport ready for our flight to New York.  We left the hotel around 6am.  Struggling to pull our cases through the snow,  slipping every now and again.  We came to a crossing and waited until the walk sign turned green.  The roads were empty but we didn’t dare cross.  Why?  Because a police car sat at the junction opposite us and after seeing the telling off the guy got the other night we stayed where we were until the little green man said we could move!  When it was ok to walk the police car moved and pulled up right in front of us.  Uh Oh!  What did we do wrong?!  ”Where are you going?”  She asked.  We must have looked a little strange hulling our cases at that time of the morning.  We explained we were heading to the train station to which she replied “Would you like a lift?”

Completely surreal moment of the entire trip, loading our cases into the back of the police car and sitting in the back on hard cold plastic seats, behind the cage and doors that had no handles!  She was really very lovely and we chatted for the whole journey about the weather and how she was new to the area.  The whole time Has and I kept looking at each other trying not to burst out laughing with how crazy the situation was.  She dropped us off outside the train station and wished us well.  Off to New York we go!

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The Honeymoon – Oahu part 2

March 28th, 2011 — 9:00am

I actually really loved the drive to the North Shore, we did attempt to find Dog the Bounty Hunter’s office but our sat nav got confused along the way and I’m not really sure where we ended up but it definitely wasn’t where we wanted to be!  We gave up and carried on along the main road in Oahu, Kamehameha Highway (a bit of a mouth full for the sat nav to say, which made us giggle a lot!)

It was interesting to see the city disappearing behind us as our journey took us past fields of pineapples and gorgeous mountainous backdrops.  We’d read about the North Shore Marketplace in one of our guide books and decided to stop along the way.  I’m so glad we did!  It was a really sweet collection of traditional shops, kooky stores and restaurants.  I fell in love with the nik naks I found in one store.  I bought various different souvenirs including the map that is now hanging in our bathroom.  We enjoyed more shaved ice before setting off again towards our hotel.

We really splashed out with this one!  We were staying in an beach cottage at the Turtle Bay Resort, we were greeted by our own private concierge who arrived with a welcome tray that included tshirts, fresh fruit, ice and what they affectionately call POG juice (Passionfruit, orange and guava juice) which is utterly refreshing.

Our room was amazing.  It had a large bathroom, two beds and a lower living area which lead out on to our private lanai.  From there we could look out to the sea.  We sat out listening to the waves and watched the storm form as it got darker the rain started.  It was actually really relaxing listening to the sounds of the waves and the storm.  We were both so tired that afternoon so we just sat doing nothing which was perfect.  We did manage to visit the main resort for dinner but we didn’t stay out for very long.

The next day we order breakfast on our lanai.  It was pure heaven!  It was relatively early so it was still a little chilly but we sat outside and enjoyed our eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes.  It had been a little honeymoon wish for me to do this and it really was wonderful.  Whilst we sat outside enjoying the morning we had a little visitor, a very friendly and very fussy cat came to visit.  She followed us everywhere and constantly purred at us for more attention.

That morning we walked to a little secluded cove the other side of the resort and hired snorkelling equipment.  I have to admit despite snorkelling before I was a complete wuss about it.  Has tried to put me at ease but as we only had an hour with the snorkels I sent him off to enjoy the swim whilst I plucked up the courage to put my face in the water and trust that the waves weren’t going to go over the top of my breathing tube.  It wasn’t long before I was swimming out to meet Has who took me to the areas with the most fish.  It was so cool to swim around with the fish, there were so many different types.  Has was in his element where as I was still freaked by the idea of a wave going over my snorkel.  My ears also started to ache a little so I turned in my equipment early and left Has in the sea.

We dried out in the sun, it was relatively windy where we were and quite cloudy, I’d applied lashings of sun cream (I’m a huge advocate of sun cream) but made the most common tourist faux pas and fell asleep.  After a few hours lounging on the beach we went to the hotel’s “Hang Ten” pool bar, where we met a group of Australian guys who had come over for the surfing.  They were really cool but could not fathom the idea neither one of us had ever gotten on a surf board.  We tried to explain that when you live in the centre of England you rarely get to see the sea, let alone get to surf in it.  They were drinking lethal Mai Tai cocktails, as was Has.   I had to drive later that day so it was lemonade all round for me!  It was such a beautiful place to sit, under the shade staring out at the waves and watching baseball on the TV.  I soon started to feel a little uncomfortable, my feet were really sore and hot.  I figured that I had got a touch of prickly heat – as is normal for me and simply rubbed my ankles with cubes of ice from my drink.

A little tipsy from the sun and alcohol (Has) we strolled back to our cottage to shower and ready ourselves for our evening out.  Once I got into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror I couldn’t help but laugh.  Staring back at me was the most ridiculously sun burnt reflection.  I was stupid burnt.  Has had caught a little too much sun on his legs but it was nothing compared to what I looked like.  I had to take a photo immediately because I honestly couldn’t believe how red I was, never before have I burnt that burnt.

My face, chest, stomach and legs, all bright red!  On a side note, I’m not sure if this is right or not but I still have the marks of my bikini bottoms visible 4 months on!

We went out that night to the Polynesian Cultural Centre to watch a show called Ha Breath of Life.  We sat there waiting for the show to begin with bottles of ice cold water placed on our burning skin, it was so painful!  The show was amazing and thoroughly enjoyable.

The next day was our last.  Has had found a film tour we could do that was relatively  close by.  So with our bags packed we set out for Kualoa Ranch Tours.  On our way we made a pit stop at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.  There are numerous shrimp trucks that line Kamehameha Highway but Giovanni’s is famous!  It’s actually listed as number 3 (out of 41) on Trip Advisor’s best restaurants in Haleiwa.  I’m not a seafood fan but Has assures me the shrimp were amazing.

We arrived at the Kualoa Ranch and had to wait around a little until our tour time.  We visited the souvenir store and grabbed a couple of ice creams.  The lady at the till looked at me as she took my dollars and exclaimed (rather loudly) “Oh my gosh you’re so burnt!”  erm yes thank you!  I know!  We sat outside and enjoyed our ice creams until it was time to board our tour bus with only 2 other couples.  Our guide was really knowledgeable and showed us various different spots from films and TV shows including Lost, Pearl Harbour, Godzilla, You Me and Dupree and Jurassic Park.  I’ve mentioned it before but Has is a huge film fan… favourite film?  Jurassic Park.

We were shown the log in which the characters Alan Grant and the two children hide behind when the Trex is feeding.  The log is a little worn now but still Has was like a child.  We also stood in one of Godzilla’s footprints.  The guide told us they used to be 6 foot deep but the cows in the field kept falling in them, so they had to fill them in.

We had a few hours to fill before our flight.  We were catching the red eye to Seattle so we didn’t need to get to the airport until late so we visited the Bishops Museum.  A museum of the cultural and natural history of Hawaii.  We learnt so much about Hawaii, how the islands were formed (and how there is actually another island that will surface in about another 100,000 years!)  we also took a tour to learn about the monarchy and some of the traditions that have survived hundreds of years.  It was actually really interesting to learn about the state we were visiting.

We stopped off at a KFC then dropped the hire car off at the airport.  The driving wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be and to be honest I’m glad we hired one.  It enabled us to see and do so much more.  Has and I completely fell head over heels in love with Hawaii.  The place is not only breathtakingly gorgeous but the people and their whole way of life is something we adored.  Everyone is so incredibly friendly and happy.  It’s somewhere we will definitely be visiting again, we would love to visit the other Hawaiian islands as well our curiosity has definitely been sparked.  Now all we need to do is win a large amount of money and we’ll be sorted!

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The Honeymoon – Oahu part 1

March 9th, 2011 — 10:44pm

The flight from San Francisco to Oahu was less than enjoyable.  The girl in front of me insisted on reclining her seat from the moment the plane was in the air, then fidget and wriggle constantly so my knees were regularly bashed.  I was also fretting about driving.  I’d never driven anywhere out side of the UK and I was nervous about operating an automatic car on the wrong side of the road!  I shouldn’t have worried though, once I was in the car (despite turning the wrong way out of the car park) we had no problems for our entire trip.  Unless you count the astronomical car parking fees we incurred.

It took us about half an hour to get to our hotel, after a few wrong turns.  Our room wasn’t quite ready so we sat on the terrace with a guava juice and enjoyed our surroundings.  We were staying at the Moana Surfrider hotel Waikiki.  An absolutely stunning hotel that sits right on the beach front.   We really scored with our room too, we had previously decided to save a few pennies on this hotel and splash out on our North Shore room.  When we opened the door to our room we were more than surprised to find we had a balcony over looking the elegant courtyard where the huge Banyan tree sat, just beyond that was Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean.  From our room we could hear the sound of the waves and traditional Hawaiian songs being played on the ukulele.  From the moment we arrived in Hawaii we knew it was something special.

That afternoon we had a walk along the beach front and got our first real glimpse of Diamond Head.  Waikiki isn’t exactly the most beautiful of beaches, but just standing there looking up at the volcano with the hotels to my back I got goosebumps.

We spent the evening on the hotels terrace watching the sun go down, drinking cocktails, eating delicious food and listening to beautiful traditional music.  A little later a few hula dancers performed to some of the songs.  It was at this point that Has leaned over to me and said “Can you believe we’re actually here?!”

We went back to our room and sat on our balcony for a little while until I fell asleep in my lounger, by this time we were 10 hours behind UK and the different time zones had really confused my sleeping patterns.

The next morning we woke up and grabbed breakfast in a small coffee shop next to the hotel. We wanted to visit Pearl Harbour and had heard that it can get very busy.  Tickets to visit the USS Arizona memorial are free but limited, so we left early to ensure we’d get to see it.  When we arrived we were given tickets and had a little wait until we were due for our tour.  We watched a historical film about the events leading up to the attack then made our way to board the boat that took us to the memorial.  It was a surreal place to visit, knowing that the USS Arizona had gone down with so many men still trapped on board.  The ship, after all these years, is still leaking oil.  The guide had told us that it’s such a minimal amount that they do nothing about it, only monitor it.  There were plenty of fish swimming around and they didn’t seem to mind too much.  Standing on the memorial platform looking out, parts of the ship are visible above the water like the gun turret, vents and funnel.

At one end of the memorial platform is a wall dedicated to all the men who lost their lives.  It was chilling to see how many brothers, fathers and sons went down with the ship.  We spent about an hour on the platform before returning to the land and then leaving the museum.

Even though neither of us are huge fans of sunbathing, we couldn’t resist the chance of spending the rest of the afternoon lounging on one of the World’s most famous beaches.  Has admittedly spent most of his time floating about in the Pacific, with me constantly keeping an eye on him as he swam further and further out to sea.  I’d wave my hands frantically at him motioning him to come closer and he’d just wave!  I knew he’d be ok, but I knew the tide was strong and I’m a worrier.  Not being a strong swimmer myself it made me nervous to see him drift away.

Once the sun had started to set and the temperature dropped slightly we went back to dress for the evening.   We’d enjoyed the hotel’s terrace entertainment and food so much the previous night we decided to go back there.  We spent another lovely evening listening to the music, devouring the delicious food and sipping drinks.

We then took a stroll along the beach front, you can only walk so far in the one direction but it was fun to see what entertainment the other hotels had on offer.  Most of them lit fire torches which looked amazing, we walked back the other way and out on to the main road.  The main Kalakaua Avenue runs behind Waikiki Beach, and is peppered with souvenir shops, restaurants, designer boutiques and hotels.  Among the fire torches stands the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian Olympic winner credited as the Father of Surfing.  People honour the statue by placing lei’s around his arms and neck.  Numerous tourists were posing and having their picture taken as we walked past.  We’d heard a lot of negative comments about Waikiki before we left about it being too touristy and not the “real Hawaii” but we honestly loved it.  The whole place is clean, beautiful and very welcoming.  Yes it’s touristy but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We left the lively street and headed back to our room, another early morning was on the cards.

From the very beginning of honeymoon planning I had a bee in my bonnet about climbing Diamond Head.  Has was worried.  He’d got a bad neck and I had a bad ankle.  He was concerned we’d be pushing ourselves too much, neither of us had proper shoes for the occasion but I didn’t actually care.  I knew I HAD to climb that volcano.  So Has gave in reluctantly and we drove early(ish) to the Diamond Head National Park.  With our back pack of water, Mountain Dew, sun cream and our camera we headed up the trail.

It starts off relatively easy.  Cement path, small incline – nothing too challenging.  Then the paved trail gives way to the uneven, rock covered slightly steeper path.  I’d read on the Internet that the trail does get more and more difficult towards the end and not even half way there I was sweating and my breathing was heavy.  I was a few steps behind Has and there was no way I was going to admit to finding it hard.  Every now and again I’d call out that I wanted to take a photograph and he’d say “Come on let’s just get to the top, we can take pictures on the way down”  By now the trail was hard going, rather than just walking it you had to climb over rocks, up steep steps and all the while the sun was relentless.  Another thing I’d read about the trail on the Internet was the steps.  Oh the steps!!  First a series of 76, with people behind you, there was no chance of stopping.  One thing I should probably mention, the way you go up is the same way you come down.  So whilst you’re huffing and puffing looking a little red in the face, other hikers are steadily making their way down the same narrow staircase.  After the steps is a dimly lit tunnel,  I’m pretty sure the incline in this tunnel is minimal but it felt huge!

Once we’d made it through the tunnel, we looked up and saw what we feared most.  More steps.  Thankfully just off the the left is a small rest area, we sat for no more than a minute just to get our breath and take a few sips from our water.  Then we faced the 99 stepped staircase.  My legs were shaking and I’m pretty sure Has was cursing me under his breath at this point.  I have to point out we weren’t the only unfit ones, everyone around us seemed to be heavy breathing and sporting a face the charming shade of lobster.  With those stairs out of our way, there was another short tunnel then, yup you’ve guessed it more stairs.  This time in the form of a 3 storey spiral staircase.  I’d given up thinking at this point and my legs just seemed to move without instruction from me.  Once the climbing was over we walked in to the Fire Control Station Lookout, from there you have to crawl outside under a very narrow exit.  The wind up there was incredibly welcome, just another 54 steps and we had reached the top.  Hallelujah!

Honestly I thought I was going to cry, the view from the top was incredible and although I couldn’t ignore the wobble of my knees and my aching thighs it was all completely worth it.  (That’s not to say I would do it again in a hurry!)  On one side the crystal clear Pacific licked at the shore line, the high rise hotels of Waikiki stood tall over the beach and the other showed the crater of the extinct volcano.  It was a truly remarkable view, one even Has appreciated the climb for.  We took a few photographs, then made our way back down.

We stopped in the look out room where a very jolly man sat selling “I climbed Diamond Head” certificates, they were a few dollars and the proceeds went to the park so we paid and marvelled at the man when I asked him if he climbed the mountain every day.  ”Of course, it keeps me fit.  It’s easy when you’ve done it a few times”  We then had the smug pleasure of passing those making their way up, knowing they’d have to climb all those stairs!

Absolutely exhausted and with mouths as dry as sand we headed straight for the refreshments van and ordered probably the best invention ever thought up.  Shaved Ice.  Yes, crushed ice drizzled with fruit syrup.  (Kind of like a slush puppy by far nicer)  We sat in the shade and enjoyed our icy treats until it was time to make our way to the lovely air conditioned car.  We had planned to visit Hanauma Bay, but when we arrived we found it was closed for the day due to the maximum number of visitors reached.  We drove on a little further and parked the car at a rest stop whilst we re-thought our plans.  Whilst there we hopped out of the car and found a gorgeous area where the sea crashed against the rocks.  Several people had made their way out on to the rocks so we climbed down a little for the chance to snap a few photographs.  It really was a beautiful spot, one we wouldn’t have found if Hanauma Bay had been open.  When we left we decided to check out the Mall, which didn’t result in us buying very much so we headed back to out hotel and the beach to rest our weary muscles.

That evening we walked down Kalakaua Avenue to Jimmy Buffet’s restaurant.  Regrettably neither one of us ordered the cheeseburger in paradise but we did nickname our waiter “Voice Over Guy”  - seriously, he could have sold you anything over radio.   Has ordered a Lava Flow which, we soon realised was the worst drink ever.  Kind of like alcoholic ice cream, and not in a good way. Later that evening we visited the Cheesecake Factory.  Neither one of us were hungry but we simply couldn’t resist the cakey-goodness.  We took our slabs of calories back to our hotel, where we sat on the rocking chairs on the front porch of the hotel.  We watched a group of street performers opposite as they danced, flipped and jumped over each other.  They were pretty impressive and gathered a rather large crowd.  Once they had finished their act we went up to our room,  sat on the balcony and devoured our delicious cheesecakes.

We were sad to leave Honolulu, we had both fallen completely in love with everything about the city.  At the same time we were also really excited to see what the North Shore had to offer.  The next day we checked out of the Moana Surfrider and loaded up the car ready for the next stage of our Hawaiian adventure…

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The Honeymoon – San Francisco

February 25th, 2011 — 8:11pm

Our early flight to San Francisco meant we were waiting for a taxi  in the lobby of our San Antonio hotel at 5am.  Has may have dropped the “We’re on our honeymoon” line to the check in lady and they may have resulted in us securing a nice little upgrade.  Score!

We landed in San Francisco and took the train into the city.  We had no intention of getting taxis any where that we could catch public transport.  Ok so it was hard work lugging our cases on and off trains but neither of us wanted to use up our honeymoon budget on over priced cabs.  Plus it really wasn’t that bad!  We made our way to the Omni San Francisco where we were greeted by an incredibly friendly and informative check in assistant.  He was so helpful and alerted us to loads of cool things including a local market that was on over the weekend.

We headed out to Union Square and spent the day doing a LOT of walking around!  We pretty much just walked around where ever we fancied with no particular destination in mind.  We ate a very large late lunch at a diner just off Union Square then walked over the China Town.  It was so fascinating, I absolutely loved all of the architecture in the city it really is beautiful and hilly!  After a few hours the temperatures dropped and our legs ached so we went back to the hotel to rest up and get something warmer on.

We spent the evening at Pier 39, which I loved!  I had visited San Francisco 8 years ago and whilst I remembered some things it was great to see it all again.  We walked over the Fisherman’s Wharf where Has grabbed some shrimp.  We didn’t really love Fisherman’s Wharf so we walked back to Pier 39 and sat and watched the Sea Lions.

Early the next morning we headed to Pier 14 for breakfast at the local market.  I absolutely loved the atmosphere there, it was so colourful with fruit, vegetables, handmade crafts, cakes.  The San Francisco Bay Bridge loomed in the background and the smell of all the freshly cooked food had our mouths watering.  We each had an egg and sausage sandwich – incredibly messy but most definitely delicious.  We didn’t have long to savour our breakfast before we had to walk up to Pier 33 for our Alcatraz Cruise.  The walk was a little frantic, our Iphones told us it would be a 20 minute walk, unfortunately we had to check in for our tour in 15!  Full on food we marched in the heat, being overtaken all the time by extremely fit joggers by the time we reached the ticket collection office we were exhausted!  Luckily for us we made it there with time to spare so a brief sit down in the shade with a bottle of water and we were raring to go again when our tour time was called.

I had already been to Alcatraz when I visited San Francisco 8 years before, but it was such an amazing tour I really wanted to do it again, plus I knew Has would love it.  The boat journey to the island provides wonderful views of he bay area and the Golden Gate Bridge.  We didn’t witness any of the famous San Francisco fog, we had clear blue skies and gorgeous views.

The Alcatraz audio tour is award winning and is absolutely something you have to do if you’re in San Francisco.  You are guided around the prison by past wardens and prisoners, they tell you stories of day to day life, riots and even the attempted escapes.  Once the tour was over we walked around the island to admire the view of the San Francisco Bay area, where we are pretty sure we saw a Sea Lion bob his head above the water (Either that or a Shark!!)

After catching the ferry back we made a quick pit stop at IHOP, then caught the bus to the Walt Disney Family Musuem.  We weren’t allowed to take photographs inside but I thoroughly enjoyed learning not only about the growth of the Disney enterprise but also about Walt’s family life.  I loved learning about Walt and the people around him, as you walked around the different rooms different stages of both his professional and personal life were explained.  By the time the tour was coming to an end and I learnt about Walt’s death, I actually felt a little emotional.  The tour did a really great job of connecting you to the man behind the mouse.

We had intended to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge but the time had slipped by us and we had to get back to our hotel to get ready to see Rufus Wainwright at the San Francisco Symphony Hall.  He sang five Shakespeare Sonnets with the San Francisco orchestra.  It wasn’t really my thing but Has really enjoyed it.

The next day we took advantage of a breakfast coupon we had been given and enjoyed the most amazing meal.  I totally embraced the American way and was ordering my eggs like a native!  Although I did make a rookie mistake and completely forgot where I was when I saw “Hot Tea” on the menu.  Thinking I might be in for nice hot brew I felt a little silly when I was given a blackcurrant tea bag.  Still it was a nice drink, just no Yorkshire Gold!

We had tickets to see the San Francisco 49ers.  We knew there was a city bus that took us to the stadium but were a little unsure of where to catch it, so we did he most sensible thing… followed the fans in the 49ers tops!  It was such a fun atmosphere, as we were following someone in a football jersey a lady walked past with her children and cheered “Go ‘Niners!”  The bus journey didn’t take too long and we could soon see the stadium.  We bought a brochure, 2 hot dog, and a couple of drinks in souvenir cups before taking our seats.

It was an insanely hot day, as we waited for the game to begin the sun was behind the stadium offering us some shade.  When the game began the sun moved around a fully soaking us in heat.  We pretty much sat in the sun all afternoon, I started speaking to a fan next to me who said it was really unusual for it to be so hot at this time of year in San Francisco.  One of my favourite things about American sports is the atmosphere, next to Has were a family of Rams fans who were there to cheer on their team against the 49ers, not once was there any trouble from anyone.  We both really enjoyed the game and as it went into overtime we were both on our feet cheering for a 49ers victory.  They finally won 20 – 23.

On our last night in San Francisco we were determined to ride on a cable car, it did however mean climbing a few very hilly blocks to get there.  The night was still hot and I had stupidly worn a coat, the hills in San Francisco were incredible I ached every night and actually really hurt my ankle whilst we were there.  We only climbed about 5 blocks but they were all up hill and stupidly steep.  We rode the cable car to a really small little restaurant called Frascati.  I had an amazing duck salad to start and lamb for my main, Has was a little jealous after he tried my duck salad because it really was that good!  The restaurant was small, rather crowded and because it was a hot night really stuffy too.  They didn’t have air conditioning but they did have all the windows open.  I really loved the restaurant, it was so romantic and the staff there were excellent.  I’d definitely go back.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend in San Francisco.

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The Honeymoon – San Antonio

February 4th, 2011 — 4:00pm

Our greyhound trip from Dallas to San Antonio took 4 hours.  Although we could have flown we thought it might be cool to have the chance to be driven across state.  We had a short stop in Austin, where 2 HUGE men without necks bordered and started to question various passengers about how much money they were carrying and whether they had any drugs.  Talk about scary!  We must have looked very trustworthy as they didn’t bother us, despite that the coach journey enabled us to see quite a lot of the Texan landscape and gave me the chance to write up some of my Wedding Report.

Let me just say that our Iphones and more specifically Google Maps were completely essential on our holiday.  Everywhere we went we were able to follow the route on our phones, Has had worked out the best way to walk from the coach terminal to our hotel before we’d even got off the coach.  Thankfully the walk was only short and we arrived at the Drury Plaza Hotel Riverwalk.  It was formally the Alamo Bank so the interior was very grand and impressive.  We had booked a suite and whilst the decor was a little old fashioned we couldn’t fault the room.  It was huge, comfortable and had a balcony which overlooked the Riverwalk.

One of the perks of our hotel was what they referred to as Kickback.  5pm every evening they offer guest 3 free alcoholic drinks and a selection of hot and cold nibbles.  After making the most of that we went for a lovely meal at a restaurant, raved about on Tripadvisor, called Las Canarias and ended the night with a short stroll around the Riverwalk.  It took me quite some time to adjust to the time difference, I have to admit that by 8pm most nights I was pooped.

The next day we took a bus ride out to the San Jose Mission.  It was a really beautiful place and so quiet we both really enjoyed wondering around learning about the people who used to live there.

After seeing the mission we headed back towards The Alamo,  we were both really looking forward to visiting but I have to admit feeling a little disappointed.  The San Jose Mission was in the middle of no where surrounded by desert, The Alamo was inbetween a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not and tourist souvenir stalls.  We weren’t allowed to take photographs inside but we did get a few around the grounds.

That night we ate at a restaurant called Mi Tierria and had by far one of the nicest meals of the trip.  We shared fajitas and my god were they delicious!  We finished with an amazing Dulce de Leche Cheesecake.  The place was amazing and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting San Antonio.

The next day we took a boat tour on the Riverwalk, it was nice to learn about some of the history of the city and snippets of trivia like how the Hyatt hotel had to be restricted in height when it was built because no building can cast a shadow over the Alamo.

One of the things Has wanted to do whilst we were in San Antonio was visit the Alamo Drafthouse.  A famous cinema that as well as showing the latest films have event nights.  Such as Top Gun in heckle vision – you can text in your comments so they’l appear on the screen, or The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film with all you can eat pizza!  Unfortunately we weren’t there for any of the event nights so we went and saw Due Date.  The other really cool thing about the cinema is that all through the show you have waiter service.  We managed to order nearly $60 worth of food and drink, everything was incredibly delicious though!

We ended our last day with a night time stroll around the Riverwalk then heading back to our hotel to the top floor terrace for a beautiful view of San Antonio.

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The Honeymoon – Dallas

January 25th, 2011 — 11:44am

We woke up exhausted and despite barely being able to keep our eyes open we were more than excited.  It was the 7th November and the honeymoon Has had been planning with expert precision for the last year or so was about to begin.

We got ready, grabbed our suitcases, checked and double checked we had our passports and headed to the airport.  Our flight was pleasant, well as pleasant as it can be when you’re stuck on a plane for 10 hours!  We arrived in Dallas, picked up our bags and headed outside.  It was warm, sunny and actually quite quiet.  Has had researched the best ways for us to get from the airport to our hotel, which happened to be a taxi.  Our driver was lovely and drove us past the Grassy Knoll and the Book Depositary building where JFK was shot. A short while later we had arrived at our hotel, checked in and were lying on the bed watching Sunday night NFL.

Honeymoon in Dallas

Our hotel, The Aloft Dallas was uber modern and very comfortable.  Despite feeling incredibly tired we knew as we weren’t in Dallas for very long we wanted to make the most of it, so walked over to the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about the life, the assassination, and the conspiracies surrounding John F Kennedy.  It was an incredibly interesting place, unfortunately you couldn’t take photographs inside or get anywhere near the window in which Lee Harvey Oswald was alleged to have shot through.

Honeymoon in Dallas

The next day my husband (!) woke me up with a hot chocolate and pastry from the hotel’s Re:Fuel bar in the lobby. We spent the morning exploring more of the city and could not believe how clean and quiet the place was.  We visited the Dallas World Aquarium which was really fun, then ate at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse.  Yum!

Honeymoon in Dallas

We had tickets for the evening to see the Dallas basketball team The Mavericks, who were playing the Boston Celtics.  It was a really great game and The Mavs managed to win by the skin of their teeth 89 points to 87.  Because it was such a tight game, everyone around us was so excited and we couldn’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere and cheer along with them.

The next morning we left Dallas on a greyhound bound for San Antonio.  Our short stay in Dallas was the perfect place to begin our honeymoon.  It is somewhere we have both been very curious about visiting, it was slow paced enough so we didn’t feel like we were thrown in at the deep end but had enough to see and do to keep us occupied.

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November 19th, 2010 — 3:06am


We have reached the mid-way point in our Honeymoon and I wanted to check in and say Hi!

It has been an absolutely amazing trip so far, we have seen 2 awesome sports games where the home sides have won.  The crowd has gone wild and we couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement.

We’ve visited sites steeped in history including The Sixth Floor Museum,  The Alamo, San Jose Mission, Alcatraz and Pearl Harbor.

We’ve rode a cable car, caught a Greyhound across Texas, climbed a volcano and dipped our toes in the Pacific.

Huge hello to everyone who is still reading Purple and Pearls, I’ve had word that our Wedding Day Photos have arrived and I’ve typed up a little of my report whilst travelling.

But just in case you were wondering how we scrubbed up on our wedding day, here’s a pic from Facebook

Big honeymoon love Mrs S xxx

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I can’t help myself

October 19th, 2010 — 4:00pm

Has and I bought, what I’ve been calling, His and Hers luggage.  My case is bright pink and put it this way – it’ll be hard to miss on the carousel!

Once I got it home I couldn’t resist not packing just a little bit…

I’ve already bought “honeymoon clothes” that were hanging on the outside of my wardrobe so they may as well live in my case for the next 2 and a bit weeks!  I always pack at least 2 weeks before I go away, I’ll then take everything out and repack at a later date but that’s besides the point!  I just can’t help myself!

I’m trying my hardest to keep my luggage to a minimum, we’re restricted on a lot of our flights with weight and I’m sure we’ll be picking up bits along the way so I want to make sure I only pack essentials.  This is easier said than done!

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Look what the cat dragged in

October 18th, 2010 — 9:27pm

Let me explain.  One of my favourite bands. Ever, is Poison.  Number 30 on my 30 before 30 list is to see Poison live.  I ran the Race for Life this year wearing my pink Poison tshirt

and this was my birthday card from Has this year.

Bret Michaels is the lead singer of Poison.

Has rang me today and said “Guess who is playing 2 and a half hours away from New York when we’re there?”  I think you can see where this is going!

Bret Michaels is playing the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Alantic City and YES we’re going to take the 2 and a half hour train journey to see him and I’m fidgety with excitement!  There is no way I could pass up the opportunity to see him when we are so close.  Poison hardly ever tour and the last time they came to the UK I was 6 and had never heard of them!

Plus it’s also cool that we’ll get to see another place, I can’t hear Atlantic City without thinking about that Sex and the City episode, in fact I’m going to have to watch it now… right after I finish listing to my Poison album!

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