Halloween in Hollywood

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Our time in Vegas was fabulous but all too short. We ventured on to Los Angeles and spent Halloween in the city.

Apart from going to see the Hollywood sign, we didn’t have any specific plans for LA. We mostly wanted to soak up the atmosphere and, as seems to be the theme with all my holidays, eat some good food. We spent some time in West Hollywood for the Halloween parade. We found a bar with a couple of free seats and people watched for an hour or so. I really enjoyed seeing how much effort  people put into their outfits.
in-chains.jpgMedusa and partnerThe JokerWilly Wonka, smoking

I had hoped we would be able to see a film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery but the timings didn’t work out. Instead, R found a roof top cinema that was showing the 90’s miniseries version of IT.

After a few drinks at the parade, we ventured to Melrose. Our tickets included dinner at adjoining restaurant where I had the best mango and coconut pudding.

Melrose Menu

And then it was upstairs to the rooftop for the screening where I fell asleep half way through – those beanbags were so darn comfy! The bits of the show that I did see were hilariously cheesy and not at all scary, which is good because I’m actually a massive scaredy cat.

Rooftop Cinema

Sadly we didn’t dress up for the occasion because we had spent the morning sightseeing and didn’t have time to head back to our AirBnB to get changed. But we did put on some ears so we looked a little festive.

Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a roadtrip

Route 66

{on the road}

Road tripping around the United States is one of my long held travel dreams. It’s going to be a while before I get to fully realise that dream, but when the idea of tacking on a trip to LA on our Vegas girls holiday came about, I knew we had to drive between the two.

It worked out best for us to fly to LA first. We landed at LAX late on Thursday night and  after a restful nights sleep, went to pick up our car early the next morning.

Oh, our car!

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Just look at her!

When I was looking at cars online, I had fully intended to hire whatever was cheapest. As I was scrolling through pages of uninspiring Toyotas, husband popped his head round  to have a nosey at what I was doing and suggested I see how much it cost to hire a convertible. At only £40 for the day I was totally sold on the idea – what could be more LA roadtrip than a convertible?! I had thought we’d go for a Mustang but when I saw this yellow beaut, I knew she had to be ours.

Shamefully, I don’t know anything about cars. Possibly even more shamefully, I can’t work up any enthusiasm about learning anything about cars so I can’t tell you about engine sizes and what not. What I can tell you though, is that this one purrs like a kitten and once I got over my fear of driving on the wrong side of the road and released my death grip off the wheel, it was an absolute dream of a drive.

The Donut Man, Glendora

{donuts}

Our first stop of the day was at the Donut Man in the fabulously named city of Glendora. I had hoped we’d be able to try one of their famous donuts filled with fresh strawberries but I didn’t realised they were out of season. We settled for a pumpkin spice and went round the corner to sit in the car park of the gym to eat it.

Pumpkin spice donut from Donut Man, Los Angeles

{donut, smooshed}

I was feeling much less nervous about driving by this point, after having survived my first hour of LA traffic on the Freeway. Still, I was very happy to get off the I15 and on to historic Route 66.

Where we had to stop off for some touristy pictures of the road sign.

Route 66, Jasmin

{66}

Before long, we arrived at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch

{Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch}

We didn’t get to meet Elmer but we had fun walking around his creation.

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch

{checkout}

Our sugar high had worn off, so made our way to the nearest In’N’Out.

Jasmin Eating In'N'Out

{happy Jasmin}

I’ve heard a lot about In’N’Out and I was massively excited to get my teeth into one of their burgers. They live up to the hype but confession – I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the animal style fries. I found that once they were a little cool, they turned into a bit of a solid cheese mess. Those little chillies though! So freaking good!!

We were going to stop off at Peggy Sue’s diner for a slice of pie, but we were stuffed. Now that I sit here, with a none-uncomfortably full belly, I’m a bit sad we didn’t man up and force a slice down because I think it would have been a fun stop. Regardless, we needed to digest, so we drove over to Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

{ghost town}

I love a bit of tourist-tack and the Ghost Town was right up my street.

Calico Ghost Town, schoolhouse

{schoolhouse}

We toured the mine and enjoyed the scenery in the blazing sun.

calico-ghost-town-halloween.jpg

{Halloween}

I wanted to visit an abandoned water park, but once we got close to it we were put off by the dirt track up – I was nervous about chipping the paint on the Camaro, so we just looked from afar before leaving for our next stop – Zzyzx road which leads to a spring in the middle of the Mojave desert.

zzyzx

{oasis}

It was so hot on this day. But I didn’t know how hot until we visited the World’s Largest Thermometer.

World's Tallest Thermometer, Baker

{hot}

And popped up the road to Alien Fresh Jerky.

Alien Fresh Jerky, Baker, California

{all the jerky}

Alien Fresh Jerky, on brand

{on brand}

Our final stop was to see Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains. This was the stop I was most looking forward to and was a bit worried we might not make it until after dark since we’d lost track of time, having too much fun at our other stops of the day.

As it happened, we lucked out and reached there just as the sun was setting. It made for a wonderfully, magical view.

Seven Magic Mountains, dusk

{dusk}

Seven Magic Mountains

{tops}

Seven Magic Mountains

{approaching}

Seven Magic Mountains and Me

On holiday

This time, it was R who chose our holiday destination.

Welcome to Las Vegas

I get a lot of side eye when I tell people why exactly we went to Vegas, but here it goes…

R, my long time friend and travel buddy has been to Vegas twice before. On each trip, she has had a travel companion* with very questionable taste in music who has declined the opportunity to see Britney’s live show at Planet Hollywood. Since her residency is coming to an end this year, a trip to the city was of utmost necessity and I, being the amazing and supportive friend that I am, offered to accompany R on said trip. Because that’s what good friends do.

And since we were travelling all that way, we decided to tack on a trip to LA as well.

*Her sister – who is actually very nice even though her taste is music is far too cool for me

 

Malta, not eating

Mdina, door

{Mdina, door}

My cousin was in need of a relaxing holiday, one where the hardest thing to do each day was to decide when to eat. I think we did a good job of that, but we did also get some good moseying in during our time in Malta.

Mdina, silent city

{Mdina, silent city}

We visited Mdina, the ‘silent,’ walled city in the heart of Malta, and enjoyed the calm and peace. There are signs around town asking you to be mindful of the residents of the city by being quiet. It’s a place to get lost in and take pictures.

Mdina, details

{Mdina, lamp}

Mdina, sign details

{Mdina, details}

I had arranged for us to spend the day sea kayaking around the island of Gozo (not quite in the spirit of relaxation, I know) but unfortunately the trip was cancelled on the day due to poor weather reports. It was touch and go for a few hours as to whether or not the activity would go ahead so we decided to make our way to Gozo just in case it was possible. We went to see the salt pans whilst we were there.

Salt Pans, Gozo

{Salt Pans, Gozo}

We took a boat trip around the Blue Grotto. We dipped our toes into the water but it was a bit chilly for our wussy selves.

Blue Grotto

 

Malta, in meals

When my cousin and I holiday together, we eat.

Crystal Palace Pastizzi

{pastizzi, fresh}

Pastizzi at Crystal Palace, Rabat

Locals and Google told us these were the best pastizzi on the island. Savoury, flaky, buttery pockets of goodness for mere pennies. Usually filled with ricotta or peas, we tried all the flavours available. Anchovy was our favourite by far, much to my cousin’s surprise as she’s not normally a fan of the fish. We tried pastizzi at a few other places but none were as good as here. We wanted to try and go back on our last day for more, but time wouldn’t allow for the three hour round bus trip*

Fontanella Tea Garden

{cake, whipped cream, ice cream}

Cake Extravaganzas at Fontanella Tea Garden, Mdina

We should not have ordered one cake each. We knew as we were ordering, that we should not be ordering one cake each. But one cake each we got and my god was it good. The sugar surge did odd things to my emotions and at one point I felt on the verge of tears. Don’t worry though, I made it through and we almost cleaned our plates. If you’re planning on going, be more sensible than we were and get just the strawberry meringue. The chocolate was tasty but the fruity flavours with the meringue were spot on.

Cafe Berry Pistachio Latte

{pistachio latte}

Pistachio lattes at Caffe Berry, Sliema  

As fun to photograph as they are to drink although I was sceptical at first, I will admit. I think I half expected the pistachios to be salted since that’s the type that I eat at home – they’re not, you will be unsurprised to learn.

Step In, Malta

{calamari, cousin, chips}

Calamari at Step In, Qrendi

Ordinarily I wouldn’t eat at a restaurant so close to a tourist attraction as invariably the food is over priced and mediocre. However, by the time we stepped off the boat after our tour of the Blue Grotto we were too hungry to consider waiting for a bus to take us somewhere else for lunch. We picked the Step In purely for it’s sea view and happily, we lucked out. Our calamari was fresh and perfectly cooked, the chips (because what’s a meal without chips?) moreish. We also had a Maltese salad to make us feel slightly virtuous – it worked, we did.

Tea and tiramisu at Cafe Cordina Valletta

{tea and tiramisu}

Tiramisu at Caffe Cordina, Valletta

There seem to be an abundance of signs for public toilets in Valletta, but actually finding them requires a skill that we did not seem to posses. As we passed Caffe Cordina and spied the rows and rows of decidedly decadent cakes, we took it as a sign that we should sit down and enjoy a slice – all in the name of being able to use of their facilities as their patrons, of course.

Seafood at Cafe del Mar

{seafood}

All of the seafood at Cafe del Mar, St Paul’s Bay

Our favourite meal of the trip. The mussels! The calamari! The clams! You could punctuate everything we ate there with a exclamation mark and that would be our review. It was surprisingly also very reasonably priced. Reserve a table in the evening and watch the sunset as you eat dinner. We were treated to a luscious pink and orange sky when we were there.

*We even considered (for longer than is probably reasonable) a taxi, but that would have been silly expensive.

The Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway, Friends

{friends}

R has been my best friend since secondary school. We don’t see enough of each other these days unfortunately, but she’s always game for a silly jaunt somewhere and was more than happy to accompany me on my 30 before 30 quest to see more of the UK. So, to Belfast we went!

Our weekend started, as all good weekends should, with tea and cake. We spent some time gossiping and people watching before making our way to the hostel to leave our bags since it was too early to check in.

I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels in my time and unfortunately, Lagan Backpackers was one of the more disappointing ones. Not informing your customers that your hostel is undergoing construction and there are only two toilets for the entire building? Not cool. One of those two toilets having no working lock? Even less cool! Our room was reasonably comfortable but the communal areas felt very scrubby. Luckily we weren’t planning on spending much time there beyond sleeping.

R got some recommendations for things to do from her Northern Irish boss, of which a Black Cab Tour was a must. Our guide was passionate about the history of the city and I left feeling I had a better understanding of The Troubles, but man, humans can be such animals to each other. It was an upsetting couple of hours but I’m glad we went.

Belfast Black Cab Tour

{bonfire making}

For the main event of the weekend, I had initially planned that we would hire a car and drive up to the causeway ourselves. However, knowing that I’d be tired after a long work week I looked into other, lazier options. I found a Groupon for a bus tour and £25 later had two vouchers in my possession. I was a bit apprehensive about the quality of the tour after having read some reviews online but I needn’t have worried. The bus was on time and the driver entertaining. Somehow the clouds aligned and only spat out their rain when we were safely on the bus between sights.

We went to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge first and had an hour to walk around.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

After a quick lunch stop it was time for the causeway.

Giant's Causeway Up Close

{The Causeway, up close}

The Giant’s Causeway lived up to expectations. The weather helped, it was moody and atmospheric. I still find it hard to believe someone hasn’t hand chiselled those columns!

Giant's Causeway, Details

{Giant’s Causeway, details}

I signed us up for afternoon tea at the Titanic museum on our last day. The museum bills itself as a world class tourist destination which, I must admit, I was a bit sceptical about. But throw in cake and a replica Titanic dining room and I’m there. R, not being the afternoon tea connoisseur I like to think I am, was a initially unsure of the idea fearing it was a fusty, boring activity but she loved it. Obviously. I don’t know how anyone could not love tea and cake.

Titanic Museum Afternoon Tea

{Titanic Museum, afternoon tea}

We ate, drank and were merry whilst a live band entertained us. The museum was fun to mooch around although I must admit, our enjoyment was largely bolstered by our tea experience.

Titanic Museum Afternoon Tea Feedback

{afternoon tea, important feedback}

We spent our last hour in Belfast stocking up on Tayto’s. Because really, why wouldn’t you?

Tayto Prawn Cocktail

{Tayto}