South Africa – We need to discuss this journey from hell.

I went to South Africa a few years back, Im mainly writing about it because I know it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will never forget it. one day maybe I’ll be lucky enough to go back hopefully and do everything we didn’t get to do!

Now the plane journey was enough. It needed its own blog post. Because the journey was an incredibly unfortunate one. The time to South Africa, landing in Cape Town, should’ve taken us 11 and a half hours. It was a night flight and sleeping was the plan even though I can’t sleep on any mode of public transport. But surprisingly enough I managed it this time for the first time ever. Theres a lot of us on this trip so we’re all excited getting on the plane ready to sit on our arses for a few hours for the holiday of a lifetime!

The Plane takes off absolutely no problem at all, it wasn’t till we were about 5 hours in that we noticed something wasn’t quite right. Now the last thing I remember seeing is the crew and a first aid kit heading very fast towards the back of the plane. All the crew were occupied with something else, followed by an announcement for a doctor on board. I fell asleep after that.

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Myself and my sister on the plane!
Now I didn’t wake back up until we were in Barcelona. Yup, Barcelona! Not South Africa. As it had turned out, unfortunately for one of the cabin crew their appendix had burst and we had to turn around to Barcelona to get the crew member off the plane and to safety. Luckily in the end they were all a-okay which was a relief!

When I woke up I was so disorientated about the fact we were in Barcelona and I was so tired, I cried! Tragic I know, but I was tired alright! So the end result in this first aid was that after landing Barcelona they wouldn’t let us get of the plane, so we were sat on the runway for the next 4 hours until we had to go back to the airport, in the UK. We landed at 6am and were not allowed to board the plane again until 11am. The man was alright and that was the main thing! This late boarding of the plane was mainly because of a cabin crew change due to their hours they’re allowed to fly. Which is understandable as if I was cabin crew after that I’d have just had enough. Shout out to all the cabin crews out there, you’re smashing it.

To compensate for the fact we were back in the UK we got a complimentary Starbucks because who doesn’t enjoy being a stereotypical white girl for free eh? I just remember plugging my phone into the wall, sitting on the floor and then pleasantly staying there till we were called to board the plane again!

I didn’t mind staying in the airport at all, I love the airport more than anything! Its one of my favourite places to be because of the hustle and bustle and the constant buzz, people coming and going, hello’s and goodbye’s and all these different stories of different people. Its just an exciting place!

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In the airport hotel in SA!
After getting back on the plane the journey was plain sailing, we even got a night in Hilton at the airport at the other end due to the time we landed because we were driving to the Kruger National Park, and that would take us 5 hours. So we all set up in the hotel for the night which was much more pleasant, could do the journey refreshed that way too!

I was more excited about the fact I was in Africa, and there was so much to see & do!

Whats to come: Cape town / Safari / Robin Island / Table mountain & more!

My First Hospitality Job

I’ve been incredibly quiet on here the past couple of weeks and I am apologetic but do not regret it. This is because Ive started my first job in the hospitality sector. For me this is a pretty big deal, It is part of my university degree where I shall be working for a year in my chosen industry (hospitality). So, I’ve joined The Hilton Team!

Hilton is one of the largest and possibly most well known hotel business worldwide. So for me this opportunity to work in one of their hotels for a year was an obvious yes. Not only will it give me the experience I need in the future but it gives me a year to see what its like, because this is the real world not university. So a lot has changed.

I’ll be on placement from July 2017 until July 2018 so unfortunately no holidays/travelling to write about for you guys other than my South Africa trip from a while back which I’ll tell you guys all about when I have the time to write my blog! I mean I’m taking a holiday in September, but I’m only heading back to university for a week to see my friends, & I’m not going to write about that because all I’d be able to write is “I am too hungover and recovering from this week for this”.

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Getting up at half 7 is normal, maybe even half 6 now, which is really nice. Makes a change for me! I’m actually going to bed at 11pm and sleeping through till half 7, Getting up for work isn’t even that hard! The only thing I could say that could possibly fault it is the drive to work. I live 20 miles away from work. Now for those who are well aware of the hospitality industry you’ll know that normal hours 9-5 are a thing of the past, which is something that I really don’t mind as I love having different shifts as no shift is ever the same! If I can time it right I can get to work in half hour especially if my shifts are good. If my shifts are in peak times, we’re talking a whole hour and 10 minutes just to get 20 miles away. Ripping my hair out on the regs.

I’ve been working coming on three weeks now nearly and I am throughly enjoying myself. Even though the training is frustrating and it is a long process its something thats got to be done, I just can’t wait to finish the training so I can get out onto the desk and finally do something!

After starting the job I thought a lot would be different but I was wrong. I was convinced as I was so young I wouldn’t be lucky enough to make friends, now I realise it was hands dow the stupidest thing I had ever thought/said in my whole life. I’ve already met some wonderful people, Yeah I may be a baby but I’m not the only young one either. Everyone made me feel more than welcome, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. I was also so worried that I was going to be thrown straight into the deep end and that I might crumble and struggle big time. But its actually been the opposite, I’ve never been so throughly briefed about the way things are down in my life, It made me super confident which was really really nice.

One phrase used regularly by my family whenever I moan about work is “Welcome to the real world” because lord they aren’t lying. But I would much rather Live to work than work to live, and thats the aim especially if I can find a good career in Hospitality after this year and university (and travelling of course).

Its incredibly interesting seeing how the hotel business actually works, and It’s actually really impressive. There’s so many people all in one team. But at the same time all in different teams in departments and it’s all so well organised and yeah sometimes I’m sure as hell it gets hard to deal with everything for a lot of people and departments. So next time you visit a hotel, any hotel not just a Hilton Hotel, Be considerate because everyone goes that extra mile to make sure you enjoy your time whilst you’re staying.

Im very excited to see what the future holds! Here’s to the next year!

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Here’s a picture of Primrose Hill, London, With the London Skyline Just because!

Miami – Being terrified of scorpions, alligators & crocodiles. Star Island, Home of the famous and some HUGE houses.

The Everglades was an experience I’d really like to do again. We left the comfort of the heart of Miami to head a little way out to the Everglades to do a tour and try and see some alligators and crocodiles! It was a one of a kind experience and like I said I would totally go back and do it all over again. Firstly because the fan boats were so incredibly loud but SO much fun, they went a whole lot faster than I thought they would! And secondly, because we actually only saw one baby Alligator and that was about it!

I want to go again so that I have a little more of a chance to see some more of those water creatures I am so wonderfully afraid of! Although I say this now, chances are when it finally comes to going back It’ll be one of those things where I won’t see anything again. But the experience would be totally worth it.

 

We had a guide on the back of our fan boat, the boat sat about 15-25 people and we ended up at the back which meant we got given ear plugs because of how loud the fan was. Our guide was great, she was really talkative and open to all question and she actually got into the water at one stage of our tour where the water was only knee deep and all I could do was watch and listen and just PRAY that there was no creature with sharp teeth circling around her shins. It was pretty cool though when she just got back into the boat as if it was totally normal. But then I guess for her It was!

 

I could only imagine some of the beasts she’s been lucky enough to see on the huge area of water and grassland that is the Everglades! When we arrived back at the boat area we all piled out of the boat and headed towards a show area! Here we all sat around this large fenced area in the middle where another guide demonstrated how to tackle and catch an alligator or crocodile! I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but it was so interesting to watch. And If I ever get into a spot of bother with an alligator or crocodile then I know how to handle it, because you know, its something I deal with on a regular basis in the UK… sure.

He also showed us other animals and reptiles and Its a safe to say GJ and I thoroughly enjoyed it when he decided to place a scorpion in his hands, pretty damn close to my entire body. The photographs sums up our exact emotions. BUT I did get to hold a baby alligator, and if thats not cool and totally doesn’t makes up for the fact he terrified me with a scorpion then I don’t know what will!

 

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When In Miami it would be almost rude not to do the boat tour of Star Island and all the other celeb inhibited areas! Although probably incredibly intrusive to those celebs that live on star island, some of the houses were absolutely out of this world. We went on the trip with Island Queen tours and it was honestly such a fun experience for our little trip.

The tour started in the harbour of Miami where theres also a huge market place! I bought a hoodie that said Miami on it and it lasted a grand total of one wash. I pulled it out of the washing machine and I hadn’t gone to Miami, I’d just gone to M-am- Instead, the letters had peeled of nicely!

 

We hopped onto this boat which had two tiers, it also had a bar with refreshments and an intercom across the entire boat so our guide could tell us who’s house/flat we were passing as well as all the other wonderful sights we did see. It wasn’t incredibly bumpy either on the boat so the journey was smooth. The water is such a clear blue when you hung your head out of the windows you could see all the jellyfish bobbing about in the water.

Not only did we get to see star island but you also get this totally different view of the Miami Skyline, all the cruise ships in the harbour were also massively impressive. It took us about an hour and a half to get around. We saw the houses that have been rented out by the likes of Kayne, P Diddy and houses that belong too Philip Frost, Shaquille O’Neall, Will Smith, Gloria Estefan and A few residents are women from the real housewives of Miami.

 

We also saw Fisher Island and Millionaire Row. Fisher Island is only accessible by helicopter or ferry and get people like Demi Moore and Bruce Willis renting the flats there. Plenty more famous faces still visit there too. It even has a golf course and a supermarket, I’d just never leave.

Nearing the end of the tour they take you under one of Miami’s main roads into the Port where the cruise ships sit and there were 5 HUGE big ships all docked. I’d never been so close to a cruise ship as nothing terrifies me more than cruise ships. But they looked wonderfully impressive from the outside, at a distance, in another boat that wasn’t a cruise ship. Much where I’d rather be!

 

We chose the best day for it too as there was no cloud in the sky! Overall I would totally go again, for the experience and because I enjoyed the boat trip that much!

 

 

Miami – Miami South Beach, Tiny Shorts wearing models & Nearly getting eaten by Sharks.

Miami south beach was my idea of perfect. I know I’m not yet travelled enough to have seen Thailand and Australia etc and I’m very sure my opinion will change once I do go to those places. But for now, Miami South Beach is my beach of dreams, its also where I realised I wanted to study tourism.

Our first day on Miami south was spent walking up and down the sand, not going that far into the water as there were swarms of jelly fish everywhere and watching a man nearly get eaten by sharks. No really,  he really did nearly get his ankles nibbled by a shark. But I shall get to that.

I was blown away. I love the beach. At home the beach is my happy place. So any beach that is more gorgeous than the seafront at home, which is most as its England, will never fail to absolutely blow me away. It had golden sand and the clearest sea I have ever swam in so far in my life. The lifeguard huts were even like ones you see from the movies. I fell in love. I won’t hide it.

This was also where I fell in love with the idea of working in the tourism industry. The influence of all the tourists and the sites that I saw as I wondered along the beach were something that made me realise that this industry was for me. So it really wasn’t just any old meaningless trip to Miami South for me because I decided my future. The best decision may I add.

One day I went for a wonder along Miami South on my own with just my headphones and I saw a stingray for the first time as it swam along the shoreline! I never thought I’d see one so close to the shore and because the sea was so clear it was so impressively large and swam so fast. i also saw a film crew filming someone who looked to be a male model, but its safe to say the swimming shorts were far to short for my liking.

The walk where the man nearly got bitten by the shark was an interesting one. I wasn’t on my own for this experience either so I had Imi’s shoulder to hide behind if I needed too. There was a a serious jellyfish problem at the time we were there so a few huge schools of fish were coming really close to the shore to feed, and following those schools of fish were some little sharks who wanted to eat the fish. Because they were so close to shore some man decided yeah Ill walk out into the water where the fish are, and the shark which you could see very clearly, and take some photos.

I think he realised the mistake he’d made when the shark spotted him and started to go for him and he was knee deep and humans running in knee deep water doesn’t always work in our favour. That and the shark was a lot faster than he was. So he literally JUST managed to make it back to the shallows before the shark decided he fancied fish instead of human for lunch.

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Honestly you know when you’re cheering someone on to win a competition because they’re winning and an opponent is just behind them and you get that rush of excitement and you’re alrmost screaming for them to win? It was a lot like that because we didn’t want his ankles to be devoured.

One day Imi, GJ and I decided we wanted to go exploring to the end of the beach where there was South Pier. The view of the coastline from south pier was literally something from a magazine, I was speechless. It made me realise Miami is a beautiful place. The other side of the pier was the harbour and I think what made it was when the disney cruise ship was leaving the harbour and they sounded the horn that played disney tune and I melted. It was an impressively large harbour and port which can hold up to 5 cruise ships! But I’ll get to that in my next post about our Star Island trip!

My stepmum and I also did a beach run along the boardwalk that they have along the top of the beach, almost like a promenade. That was perfect to run on. It was also incredibly hot, but really perfect for a 6 mile run as we went a little earlier in the morning! We tried to run along the sand but as you can imagine that wasn’t the easiest!

So the verdict from Miami south was that I’m going to live there one day and bury myself  under the sand so I never have to leave ever again. And go to Nikki Beach. 

 

 

What is so great about Dark Tourism?

Trust me i’m here to tell you.

Dark Tourism is something that has fascinated me from the moment I started looking into it on my university course. That was it from the get go honestly. From the outset I wanted to know more about Dark Tourism and what it was.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what dark tourism is heres a little definition:

“Dark tourism, the act of visiting sites associated with death, suffering, disaster and the overall macabre” – (Tinson, Julie S; Saren, Michael A. J; Roth, Bridget E)

Sounds like something really chirpy to be interested in hey? But it is totally worth the interest. Dark Tourism isn’t something that is unfamiliar to us. It has been around for centuries, the example starting as early as the Romans going to watch live executions. Delightful right? So its not something that is new and unheard of.

Dark Tourism sites now are not quite to the extent of live executions, but definitely when being visited, bring an overall sense of sadness and realisation as to what happened during these horrible events and in some cases can help us to understand and gain more knowledge on the situation. An Example of this is Ground Zero in New York.

Ground Zero is the memorial for those who perished in the terrible 9/11 bombings. It was an act of terrorism that shook the world, but we did not and do not let those who suffered be forgotten. This has been done at Ground Zero in a brilliant and clever but harrowing and sorrowful way. The two squares are to mark where the two buildings known as The World Trade Centre / The Twin Towers used to stand. Around the edges of these large footprints where these towers used to stand are the names of those who were lost on the edges of the wall.

The concept of Ground Zero was to “remember absence”. Something that after speaking to someone (My stepmother) who recently visited Ground Zero, was very apparent, moving and emotional.

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There are incredible amounts of Dark Tourism sites all over the world, these sites are sites of respect, remembering and they all share the same theme.

Other examples of Dark Tourism sites are:

  • The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam.
  • Auschwitz.
  • The Killing Fields in Cambodia.
  • Prypiat, Chernobyl, Ukraine.
  • Hiroshima.
  • The My Lai massacre grounds in Vietnam.
  • Memorials dedicated to war veterans globally.
  • Prisons and Mental Institutions, abandoned and currently functioning.
  • Battlefields and previous war sites.
  • Robin Island, South Africa

I’m sure the list could definitely go on.

These Dark tourism sites are an incredible influence on our tourism industry as there is the offer of tours and guides to help understand these places more. Although there is the argument that whilst tourism for these venues is incredibly good for awareness and spreading the word of what happened in these horrible circumstances. There is also the argument that encouraging tourist to visit these places is wrong and can bring larger crowds and mass tourism. This can be seen as ruining the atmosphere and the entire meaning to the site. 

we should respect those still in mourning, which is a given of course. And respectful generally as a whole. Recently there have been issues in places like Auchwitz for example, with younger adults being disrespectful by being loud, littering on the sight and believe it or not, it’s been reported that some were even playing Pokemon Go on the death camp site. 

Some of the more positive aspects of these tourism sites is that we can learn, we can be fascinated by our tour guides who may have once been there during the tragedies. An example of this is at Robin Island, where you are taken on your tour around the prison & island by ex prisoners, a normal tour guide will never make the hairs stand up on your skin as much as these people will. 

We can learn about the past, these memories are ours for the taking and to make those around us and ourselves aware of the tragedies these people have suffered.

I feel that Dark Tourism sites make us appreciate life a little more too. 

I recently visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and I was thoroughly moved and emotional by what the Frank Family went through. Reading her diary extracts and walking around the house, it gave me chills. It was an experience I will never forget and was lucky enough to encounter. It widened my understanding Of their experience too, I knew a little bit not a lot, so to go and to learn about it in its entirety was a wonderful experience. 

So go to these sites, be fascinated, be interested, cry, smile, enjoy, discuss, and most importantly

be respectful.

Orlando To Miami – ROAD TRIPPIN’!!

We decided from the start of the holiday we were going to drive to Miami South Beach from Orlando as a convoy, two SUV cards both packed and ready to roll for the 5 hour journey! And it didn’t disappoint. Honestly I spent a majority of the journey wondering how the hell my parents knew where they were going. We did two initial stops, although there was a quick one because we got lost being adventurous.

162We’d been driving about an hour when we stopped for a toilet break and some breakfast,  Dunkin’ Doughnuts? Don’t mind if we do. The scenery hadn’t changed much; we could tell we were still in the depths of Orlando, but there was a lot less around as were were driving. Not as many buildings or places to stop and enjoy. So once we’d stopped at Dunkin’ Doughnuts and stocked up on munch and were satisfied, we were off on our road trip once again to the holy land.

A little further along the way more buildings and roads and cars generally appeared, which meant we were getting somewhere, and getting closer! We stopped for lunch on our journey to Miami at Palm Beach! I didn’t catch the name of restaurant we went to but we sat outside under a canopy and all 13 of us enjoyed a big lunch! Us younger ones went for a wander along the beach, there was a huge pier which I wish we’d had time to walk down. There were also countless volley ball pitches on the sand, which was awesome but I can’t play volley ball for love nor money. The food was lovely and it was a really good break in the journey as it was starting to get a bit tedious.

We got a little lost before we finally managed to make it to Miami. I could never have told you the route we followed but it involved looking at a lot of beautiful beachside houses that were impressively large. We had to make a stop to stretch the legs and figure out which way was the right way but we made it in the end!

I remember arriving in Miami and being absolutely lost for words. What a place is all I have to say. I would live in Miami if anyone gave me the chance because its hands down the place of my dreams. Beautiful beaches, houses, fast cars, better lifestyle, god If only.

One day hey! I’ll be writing about my experience in Miami from here on! These were some of my favourite experiences of the holiday!

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Orlando – Universal S(unburn)tudio’s

Universal Studios was incredible, We did both sides of the park and of course we visited more than once, my all time favourite ride is at these parks, duh, The Hulk! Universal is sick, from The Simpsons world to Harry Potter world and all the other awesome rides and places it has to offer its definitely a come back more than once job!

Of course we all had our photograph of us on the giant fake blue wave in the entrance to the parks, it would’ve been rude not too, and I also absolutely LOVED the Billabong shop they had so of course I did spent a little too much time there. Theres also the beautiful view of the river that runs through the entrance to both universal parks and the entrance to the Hard Rock restaurant, the best time was when the sun was setting, it was gorgeous.

And not forgetting the rather large spinning earth and Universal Studios sign before you enter the park on the right side, I mean did you even go to Universal if you didn’t get a photograph in front of it?

Of course upon entering the park for a majority of the day all I was doing was applying suncream, which didn’t work, because I got royally burnt as per usual when is anything ever different with me. My face and my nose flare up so much when they’re burnt you may as well call me Rudolf. So many great rides at universal and so little time, but regardless of that we went on the Hollywood Rock It probably the most, although The Hulk was definitely a close second!

278My favourite time on the Hollywood Rock It was when I went on the ride with Imi, obviously you get on the ride and you strap yourself across your legs and stomach and whilst you’re making your way up to the first drop you get to choose what music you listen too as you go around the course, and at the time they were also filming your experience for you to take home instead of a photo. Id decided to listen to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger because what other banger is better than that.

So it was video’ing Imi and I as we went round, and I’m pretty sure after watching it back with Ims she passed out on nearly every single drop on the ride and then came back to life screaming and smiling whenever we weren’t on a drop or loop, and the ride managed to get it all on film! I wish, I WISH I’d bought a copy of the film because we were hysterical laughing!

Some of the other rides that deserved just as much recognition has got to be The Mummy Ride, The Transformers 4D ride and the Men in Black shooting/game ride was so much fun. Im a pansy and hate simulator rides, so the Twister ride was lost to me, which is such a shame as I love the film! After being in Orlando a while I was starting to get sick of eating crappy foods so universal was my saviour in terms of the huge big tubs of fruit they sold around the park, easily my favourite buy because I was starting to forgot how good the sweet nectar of fruit was whilst we were out there.

269Of course The Simpsons world was fun, although I bottled it on the ride they had to offer, so I held the bags whilst everyone went on! But it was so cool how they had a Moes Bar and all the other Simpson related statues and venues! I even got to have a cute photo with Millhouse!

From The Simpsons world we went across to the Men in Black ride which was interactive, where you sat in a carriage of 4 and shoot things and get a score, I was crap, of course.

 

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For those who are massive Harry Potter fans you’ll know just how incredibly impressive Diagon Alley and Harry Potter world, Hogwarts, the train and the Duelling dragon rides are. Not to mention the Butter beer, So sweet but so good. Nothing was cooler than walking along Diagon Alley and realising that the dragon breathes fire down at all of us walking through the street! We also had a pretty good chat with the man who was running the ‘night bus; in the park, he was pretty up for a photograph and a natter! Now I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but It didn’t take much to absolutely blow me away with just how impressive the place was.

We took the train from platform 9 and 3 quarters across to the other side of the park which was awesome. It was newly opened when we headed there, there was 5 of us to a cubicle and the movie they showed on the window and the special effects with the carriage doors was so cool, so fascinated and great to be reminded of what happens in the Harry Potter films! The train dropped us in the adventure island part of Universal where the duelling dragons and the village with Hogwarts was, Im not sure how it happened but after a few tears from one of our youngest members of the families, we managed to bag ourselves a quick tour of the Hogwarts castle and then on the ride that was inside Hogwarts!

The Duelling dragons were good fun, and of course we had to go on both the Red ride and the Blue ride too see which one was better! I preferred the red ride hands down.

NOW of course because we’d come across to the other side of the park there was a whole new park to explore basically, this side of the park consisted of Dr Seuss’s area, as well as Jurassic Park and the Marvel area, which is definitely my favourite area!

228Jurassic Park was good fun because at Universal they have the water ride for Jurassic Park, not only was Imi terrified of all the dinosaurs that jumped out, and I don’t blame her either, but as we were making our way up the massive hill to then go down the HUGE drop they have, which FYI soaked me through even though I was holding a waterproof coat over GJ and myself, one of the padre’s our group had his Go Pro out and you can just hear some america voice say “Can you please put your Go Pro away sir” over the intercom, but, I’m sorry love, we didn’t hear you, what was that???? It was wild fun, I’ve NEVER been on a water ride with such a steep drop! Scared the living daylights out of me! But of course we were soaked, and it was great, kept us cool for the duration of the day as to was a scorcher!

Carrying on through the park the Spiderman 4D experience ride was tonnes of fun although it made me a little nervous in terms of simulator rides, but it was good’un in the end! AND I got to meet Captain America and HOLD HIS SHIELD, But typically, with my rather short shorts its made me look very naked…

Got to meet Optimus Prime too! The transformers costumes were seriously impressive, I couldn’t tell if they were ran by remote control or if there were people actually inside them, but they were really tall and so detailed, they were so impressive.

My favourite part of the holiday in terms of food in Orlando, was the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando in Universal Studios, I was excited to eat there before we’d even arranged to go there put it that way. Not only was it huge inside and out but it had a Cadillac just in the middle of the restaurant spinning around above the bar below it! When we arrived there was 13 of us and they even took a group photograph of us before we all went to sit down, and it was a great picture as we didn’t get another like it the entire holiday.

The food was incredible, I had a burger with bacon, cheese and the sweetest BBQ sauce, then all of us girls had mocktails because boo hoo the drinking age being over 21 in the US, none of us qualified for that haha! But the mocktails were nice none the less! I loved looking at all the famous musicians outfits dotted about the restaurant too, I’d also never eaten in a Hard Rock before this night either so it was a fun experience!

Id love to go back to Universal soon as they have opened a Kong: Skull Island ride, and it bet its phenomenal because I LOVED the film! One day I’ll head back.