TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: lafayette, louisiana

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 34 lafayette louisianaWhat can I say about Austin? It was simp awesome! But it was time to head to New Orleans via a pit stop at Lafayette.

I’m not going to lie, today simply consisted of driving, eating and sleeping – so it’s a pretty short post!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 34 lafayette louisiana - lafayette koa campsitecamp
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We arrived into Lafayette KOA in good time to set up our tents and head straight to the pool. It was so hot and humid – like unbearably hot, so we all had a few soft drinks to try and cool us down. With humidity comes mosquitos, and they just seemed to love me! Hello leg bites! So I escaped to the air conditioned laundry room (well, I did have laundry to do too), before Matty and Dave cooked tea.

Tonight was a pretty chilled night, all of the girls bar Emma who wasn’t feeling well and Steph, watched True Blood. I’ve never seen it before and I actually enjoyed it!

We then went to bed and tried to get some sleep before two busy days in New Orleans!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: austin, texas

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texasWhat was such a good day yesterday came crashing (or should I say pouring down) as we woke up to a quiet and small camp.

Me, Polly and the boys all packed up our stuff before picking the girls up at the hotel. It was safe to say that spirits were low today and with a 9 hour drive ahead, I can tell it’s going to be one of them down days.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - HI austintravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - sports bar foodour hostel, delicious dinner linebreakWhat made it a just a tad worse was that when we arrived at our hostel in Austin, we found that the girls and the boys were split up (none of us minded rooming altogether to be honest), so we had two random women (one with an oar and one with a dog – never thought I’d say both of them in the same sentence) in our room. Saying that, it gave us all an idea of what ‘real rooming’ in hostel world would be like (just don’t do a Kirsty and knock the oar down by accident in the middle of the night).

Once we unpacked, we then spruced up and went out for tea at sports bar Draft Picks. Me and Polly went for the Tahika platter with sweet potato fries and black beans – my second fish fish of the trip – and it was so nice to eat something fishy and healthy out! We also tried the infamous Purple People Eaters, which set us up for the night (you were only allowed 2 per customer they are that lethal!)

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - cheer up charliestravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - cheer up charlies insideAustin nightlifelinebreakAfter dinner me and Polly hit 6th street with Matty, Dave, Steph and Morgan. We started at Easy Tiger; a chilled bar with a beer garden and pretty lights before heading to the famous Coyote Ugly bar. Me and Steph danced on the bar (well you only live once!), before everyone then headed home. Me and Polly didn’t want to call it a night just yet, so we headed to The Jacquelope to meet Polly’s au pair friend Susan. She both got us a free drink and we messed around taking photos in the photobooth.

The next bar was Cheer Up Charlie’s which was a really cool, local hangout. We had a few drinks, danced and chatted to the locals before Susan kindly took us back to the hostel – what a good night!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - texas state capitol 1travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - texas state capitol 2texas state capitol linebreakAfter an amazing night out, I quickly woke up this morning and got ready for 9am to be dropped off in the SoCo District by Morgan. On the way there, we stopped at the Texas State Capitol, where we got to see Lady Liberty, dress up as Cowboys (well, it would be rude not to) and learnt about the history of Texas.

The next stop was the SoCo District to explore a few shops before having the best burgers ever in Hopdoddy. I had a magic shroom burger which was delish!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - i love you so much graffititravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - i wish you were here austintravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - hopdoddy burger austin
travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texa = greetings from austin texassoco district, hopdoddy burger
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Afterwards, me, Matty, Dave, Kirsty and Bobbi, all went to Alamo House – a classic American theater to watch Jurassic World. It was so good and we were away from the unbearable Texas heat (and we thought Vegas was hot), which was a bonus! The screen we were in had table service too, so me and Kirsty ordered a blue Havana cocktail and shared some popcorn (which came in a massive bowl!)

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - alamo drafthouse cinema austintravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - alamo drafthouse cinema austin - cocktail and popcorntravel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - hummerTheater, food, uber ride home
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When the film (which was amazing btw), had finished, Matty ordered an uber back to the hostel (and little did we know, a full blown hummer turned up – it was only $13) so we travelled back in style to get ready for dinner. Morgan cooked us her Caribbean special, before we headed to Broken Spoke – a honky tonk bar to hear some country music.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 32-33 austin texas - broken spoke barThe broken spoke
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There was a dancing class on there which was quite fun to watch and we all got some drinks, waiting for the live band to come on. Us girls all had a little dance before heading into town.

Me, Emma, Steph, Matty and Dave decided to stay out for a bit and met the other trek tour group in the Voodoo Room where we all had a few drinks, danced and me and Emma tried a vapour shot! 

It was another good night and me Steph and Emma all headed back to the hotel via a takeaway! Classic! Austin you’ve been amazing! Next stop, Lafayette, Louisiana! 

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: route 66 & amarillo, texas

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texasToday is the first of a few in Texas, with our first stop being Amarillo! Yee-ha!

On the way there we stopped off for lunch at Russell’s Travel Center on Route 66 which had a classic American diner vibe to it and a free car museum.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas - route 66 russells travel center car museumtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas - route 66 russells travel center car museum elvistravel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas - route 66 russells travel center car museum carsrussell’s travel center route 66, elvis, free car museum
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We had a quick walk around the museum before heading into the diner for lunch. We were only supposed to stay there for 45 minutes, but we were really cheeky and ended up spending an hour and a half there (sorry Morgan!) This was largely due to our waitress who got mine, Matty and Dave’s orders mixed up. It’s a good job she did that though, as I ordered the buffalo wings and apparently they were super spicy ! So nice save their miss!

Bellies full, it was back on the road again where we stopped at a Cadillac ranch to channel our inner Banksy and spray paint some cars! It was a such a cool experience leaving our mark there, and getting to graffiti something legally!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas - cadillac ranch me and pollytravel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas - cadillac ranchcadillac ranchlinebreakIt was then onto camp where we did the usual (unpacking the van and tent erecting) before getting ready for dinner at The Big Texan Steakhouse.

We (naturally), travelled in style to the Steakhouse in a suave limo which was pretty cool! Arriving at the Steakhouse, we soon saw just how much of a massive place it was – it had a gift shop, a beer garden and games such as a zombie shooting range.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas- the big texan steakhouse challengetravel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas- the big texan steakhouse me and polly big chairtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 31 amarillo texas- the big texan steakhouse foodthe big texan steakhouse challenge, me & polly, foodlinebreakAfter tea, we all chilled in the beer garden, drinking and playing games. All was good until torrential downpours ensued (why is this rain following us?!) which all made us worry about our tents and belongings, so all of us girls headed back to camp whilst the boys stayed out. For most of the girls, their tents, suitcases and sleeping bags were soaked (luckily mine and Polly’s tent escaped the flooding) and they ended up staying in a hotel. Morale at this point was pretty low and this was such a shame as it had been such a good night until the rain came.

When the girls headed to the hotel, me and Polly headed to bed. Hopefully the next two days in Austin will pick us right up!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: monument valley

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valleyAfter two days ticking the Grand Canyon off of our bucket lists, it was time to say hello to Navajo nation!

On the way there we stopped off at a Navajo gift shop where I bought my girls back home a little handmade dream catcher, before visiting a small Native American museum which was really insightful. For those Forrest Gump fans out there, we also paid a little pit stop to that famous scene before finally arriving at Monument Valley!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley run forrest run stopthat famous ‘run Forrest’ run’ scenelinebreak

As we would be spending the night in the valley with no showers, we packed an overnight bag (which consisted of a hoodie, shorts, flip flops, sleeping bag, pillow and clean underwear aha) and placed it in the 4 X 4 jeep for our tour!

The jeep tour was so good! We had a slightly crazy ,but happy guide called Jamie who kept doing Woody the Woodpecker impressions and told us all about Navajo life. Our first stop on the tour was a female hogan where a Native American lady showed us how they made their beautiful blankets and even demonstrated a typical Native American hairstyle on one of the girls from the other tour groups.

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Jamie then took us to a large natural hogan where we laid down, closed our eyes and listened to him playing the flute. It was so peaceful, and it really made you think just how lucky you are to be in such an amazing place.

All was calm until, you guessed it – a thunderstorm was approaching (typical trek!) But like the troopers we are (we handled Cedar Point, so we can pretty much handle anything), we embraced the weather and made it to our next stop – a rock formation up a massive hill of red sand. We all had a little race to the top and back down before it started pelting it down. Talk about perfect timing!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley hogantravel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley sunset lightningrock formation, thunderstorm during sunsetlinebreakJamie was so nice at this point and traded in our roofless jeep for a van, whereas the rest of the tour groups made their way back in the rain! Go us! As the rain calmed down, we met with the other groups and had a Navajo dinner – Indian fried bread with onions, lettuce, beans and a buffalo steak. It was so delicious and was a refreshing change to pizza.

Entertainment then followed with a Navajo showing us their traditional dances such as ‘the sneak up’ and ‘duck and dive’ in their Rennailla (it’s disrespectful to call what they were wearing a costume). I felt very privileged to experience a different culture and learn things from their perspective. What’s more, they even got us to join in and have a dance off!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley - foodtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley entertainmenttraditional food, Navajo entertainment
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When the entertainment ended, it was time to head to our special hogan for the night. Me, Polly, Bobbi, Dave and Matty decided to sleep out under the stars, whilst the others decided to spend the night in the hogan. After the thunderstorm, the weather had calmed down and it was such a beautiful night, so we thought we’d take advantage of it! The sky was so clear and the stars were twinkling – it was such a surreal moment and we even saw shooting stars!

About an hour until we had to wake up, it started spitting (what’s new there aha?) so luckily, we ran into the hogan and joined everyone before the rain hit us again. It was nice staying in the hogan and outside it, and to say we were all smelly, dirty and tired, it’s a moment that I’m sure we’d do again in a heartbeat!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley sunrise hearttravel - trekamericas grand trek day 29 monument valley sunriseshowing our love for monument valley, sunrise
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After an hour’s sleep in the hogan, we packed up our stuff and went to watch the sun rise, which was quite possibly the best sunrise I have ever seen in my life! The silhouettes of the rocks and the colours in the sky were so beautiful!

After an amazing day and night, it’s time to say goodbye to Navajo nation and head to New Mexico! Did someone say tequila?

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: grand canyon

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 - grand canyon national parkToday we are on our way to the Grand Canyon! This stop has been on my bucket list for ages!

After napping in the van on the way there (hey, yesterday was such a full on day!) Morgan took us for a ‘Grand Canyon reveal’, where we had to close our eyes and do a trust walk. We placed our hands on the shoulders of the person in front of us and let Morgan lead the way (this was a very big thing for me as you all know I have a habit of tripping and falling everywhere), but we made it to the edge of Mather point and we opened our eyes…

I can’t really describe how I felt in that moment apart from feeling extremely lucky to see one of the natural wonders of the world. It truly is breathtaking in real life as it is on film or in pictures! Naturally, we took plenty of selfies before having lunch and chilling out by the watch tower.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - hiking to ooh ahh pointtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - me and polly grand canyontravel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - watch towerthe grand canyon, me and polly, watch towerlinebreakIt was then onto camp to quickly set up our tents before heading back out for our Grand Canyon helicopter ride. Another first for me! I was a bit apprehensive before the trip as to whether I would do it. as it’s so expensive (a whopping $285!) but it was the most expensive thing I bought on the trip (a close second was a Wicked Broadway ticket in New York) but it was well worth it! You get to see the canyon from a different perspective and we all got some great aerial shots!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - helicoptertravel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - me and polly helicopter ridetravel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - grand canyon view 1helicopter, me and polly, views of the canyon from abovelinebreakAs I’ve mentioned before, one thing I discovered about going on a trip like this, is that you hardly get any sleep! So on the helicopter ride I decided to sneakily close my eyes – for just a few seconds – and enjoy the moment, but Polly cheekily said I fell asleep – let’s just say word got out to the trekkers who left and they wouldn’t let me live it down! According to them it was the most expensive nap I’ve ever taken! All in good jest I suppose aha! Once the ride had finished, we headed back to camp so me and Polly could cook tea for everyone – a delicious spag bol! It was then time for an early night as we would be up at 3.30am for sunrise!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - sunrise grand canyon 1travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - sunrise grand canyon 2sunrise in the grand canyonlinebreakWe surprisingly woke up on time this morning (to say all of us were shattered from the previous few days was an understatement) to catch the 4am bus to see the sun rise on the Grand Canyon. All of the girls decided to have a chill day today, bar Matty and Dave who wanted to do a big hike. So me, Polly, Bobbi and Kirsty all headed to prime sunrise spot Yamapi point. It was surprisingly so cold but we all braved it! As beautiful as it was to see, I think I prefer seeing the sun set to rising as its a lot prettier but it was still an amazing experience to tick off our bucket lists!

After sunrise we headed to the market plaza for breakfast! It was so nice to eat food, chill and chat! After a little pick-me-up, Kirsty and Bobbi headed back to camp whilst me and Polly headed to the South Kaibab trail to do a small hike to Ooh Ahh Point. A moderate trail which takes 1-2 hours to go up and down, the South Kaibab trail was just what we needed to do some exercise all at our own pace. Saying that, we both smashed the whole thing in 45 mins – go us ! We of course stopped along the way to take in the views and get plenty of pics! After our mini and wait for it… last hike on this trip – we headed to the visitors centre to watch a film about the Grand Canyon before heading back to camp, where we met with the girls and all snuck a free shower before spending the rest of the afternoon in the laundry room – standard!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - me at ooh ahh pointtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 27 and 28 grand canyon - me and polly ooh ahh poointI finally made it to ooh ahh point!, me and polly
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That night Kirsty and Bobbi cooked us a yummy sweet and sour, whilst Polly, Steph and Emma headed back to the canyon to see the sun set. The rest of us, feeling tired after a long day stayed in camp and hung out. We all made our own horror movie up with classic cheesy deaths and Morgan being the serial killer – it would deffo sell out in the cinemas! When the girls came back we then set up a camp fire and made smores before heading to bed!

The Grand Canyon has been a nice, chilled retreat after the hedonistic time we had on the Northern Trail and in Vegas! Bring on tomorrow and Monument Valley !

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: zion national park & lake powell

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powellEveryone was pretty tired after our wild couple of nights in Vegas, so we all had a lovely long nap on the way to our penultimate national park; Zion Canyon!

On the way we stopped at Lake Powell for a quick dip and a cool off from the Vegas heat before heading to Zion for a sneak peek at what we’d be facing the next day.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - lake powelllake powelllinebreak

We then headed into camp to set up our new tents, which let’s just say, were pretty basic compared to Steve’s. Steve’s tents were like staying in The Ritz, whilst poor Morgan’s was well… all I can muster is a ‘thank the Lord we didn’t have them in Cedar point!’ Aside from checking out the types of trails for tomorrow’s last hike and a swim, we had a nice, chilled evening as in the morning we’ll be up at 5am!

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It was an early start today as we packed up our tents and headed to Zion. Most of the group apart from Emma and Kirsty decided to take on Angel’s Landing – one of the most strenuous and dangerous trails in America’s national park system, whereas the girls fancied a go at the Emerald trail.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - angels landingtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - me on angels landingtravel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - me on angels landing viewon one of Walter’s Wiggles, me at the top, my view from angel’s landinglinebreak

This tough hike (and I know I’ve said this before, but this was the toughest hike I have EVER done), started with 21 steep switchbacks, also known as Walter’s Wiggles, taking you to Scout’s Lookout. From here the trail turns narrow with steep drop offs and chains nailed into the mountain for the last 800m. Scary or what? Not gonna lie, the chains were the one thing that really worried me, as they literally separated you from life or death.  But through persistence and determination, we made our way to the top, and I was so proud of ourselves! It was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever done, and it definitely tested not only my fitness but my fear of heights!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - zion canyontravel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - girls on angels landingzion canyon, steph, bobbi, me and pollylinebreakOnce we finished the hike we met up with the girls and headed to our next campsite where Morgan surprised us with a bunkhouse – no tents tonight yay! There was no time to rest though, as we all did a spot of horseback riding in the Lake Powell countryside. It was my first time ever on a horse, and I had to get the slow one – poor Sonny loved a gentle stroll (and food), which led me to the back of the group! But all in all, it was another fun experience to tick off the list!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - horsestravel - trekamericas grand trek day 25 and 26 zion national park and lake powell - horse riding trailhorses, horse riding traillinebreak

As the day drew to an end, some of us did laundry, whilst the rest of the group relaxed. Me and Matty sat on a bench outside and looked at the stars. I loved just sitting down and not doing anything aha!

It had been a hectic few days, but we survived Vegas and our last ‘official’ hike! Bring on tomorrow and our visit to one of the natural wonders of the world – the Grand Canyon!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: las vegas

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegasSo 22 days with our Northern Trail family has passed. Jules left in San Fran, Holly headed to the airport yesterday and today we said goodbye to the boys as they head on their Grand Canyon mini tour. After a few hugs goodbye, we met our new trek leader Morgan and found out that we’d be doing the Southern Sun tour as an eight – so no new people and no awkwardness!

After filling in loads of paperwork, we loaded our stuff in the new van where it finally dawned on us just how much space we have! We took a row up of chairs each and Morgan even gave us blankets so we could sleep in comfort! Ahh perfect! It was a long drive to Vegas, but we powered through and arrived in in good time. Can I just say, it was so hot! In fact it was 47c! We dropped our bags off in our rooms at the Golden Nugget casino hotel and had a quick look around before getting ready for a pizza party in Morgan’s room.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - party bustravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - welcome to las vegas sign nightthe party bus, welcome to las vegas signlinebreak

When it was time to head out, we were greeted by a 26 seater party bus (did I mention that there were only 8 of us?) It was so much fun to let our hair loose and dance! Making our way through the strip we stopped off a the Mirage and saw the volcanos erupt, we stopped for a photo at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign before completing our party bus ride at the famous Bellagio Fountains which were just as spectacular as I had expected. It was then time to hit the clubs but unfortunately Matty couldn’t get in with his shorts and David’s ID had expired so we decided to head back to the hotel, with the girls getting food and Matty and Dave hitting the strip clubs. Classic!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - the mirage volcanotravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - bellagio fountains nightthe mirage volcano, bellagio fountains
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After last night’s antics and an amazing lay in this morning, me and Polly got ready, had a quick Starbucks by the pool and went back to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign again for a daylight tourist pic. Then it was onto the strip for some sightseeing! Me, Bobbi, Polly and Kirsty all hung out and headed to the Minus 5 ice bar for a cool down (like I mentioned yesterday, Vegas is one hot place!) It was such a fun experience, we all got a cocktail in an ice glass and chilled (literally!)

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - welcome to las vegas sign daytravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas = new yorkme and polly at the las vegas sign, new york new york
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Once we cooled down, we did a mini tour of the famous hotels starting with New York New York and the MGM where we stopped for lunch at possibly the coolest café I’ve ever been to – the rainforest café. It had fake thunderstorms, animals making noises and was such an amazing place! Despite being full from our main courses, we all thought it was a good idea to get ‘the volcano’ for $4 each – it was literally a chocolate volcano with brownies, ice cream and whipped cream – so sweet yet sickly! We even left half of it as we were so full aha!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - mgm grand rainforest cafetravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - bellagio fountains in the daytravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas- flamingo hotelmgm grand rainforest cafe, bellagio fountains, flamingo hotel
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We then hit the Bellagio fountains again to see them in the daytime. They were just as spectacular as they were at night! Caesar’s Palace was next – I felt like I was in The Hangover (but maybe Dave and Matty had them roles today aha). Our tour ended at the Flamingo hotel where you guessed it, we saw flamingos! It was so cool to visit all of the hotels on the strip and Vegas is exactly like what you’d imagine it to be- like another world!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - downtown vegastravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - preing mantace bartravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas = fremont streetdowntoewn vegas, preying mantace bar, fremont street
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After our little tour, me and Polly headed back to the hotel and chilled at the pool which was so nice! The Golden Nugget even had a shark slide (a water slide which goes through a shark tank) which was so cool so we just had to have a go!

We then headed back to our room and got ready for a night out in Downtown Vegas. On the way to Fremont Street, we stopped by the casinos so we can tick off ‘gambling in Vegas’ off of our bucket list! It was then onto the bars – Common Wealth, Griffin and Golden Spike which were really trendy, local bars and it was so nice to be with the locals – we even got some of our drinks paid for! Griffin was our favourite place which was like an indie bar and up our street, with Golden Spike being another fave – we even took advantage of its’ photobooth and in the bar’s garden it had oversized games such as beer pong, cornhole and ping pong!

It was so nice to do our own thing tonight and party it up local style! Bring on plenty of naps in the van tomorrow as it’s Zion time!

sigyhl

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