Good Morning America.
Updated: Feb 26
After living on New Zealand time and then Fiji time, arriving in America was a pretty big change, not much is overly relaxed and you certainly don’t feel relaxed straight away. I was reunited with Abbie in LAX and we headed over to Venice Beach for our first two nights. Venice Beach is somewhere that no words can describe until you actually go there for yourself. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and to say the boardwalk was busy would be an understatement. Everywhere you looked something was happening, you could not be bored walking down the strip there. We were told not to walk there at night, so we headed to Santa Monica pier before it got dark and decided to Uber back. On our walk there I got told by a passing skateboarder that he ‘liked my height’ and then asked by another random man if I smoked ‘tree’. And that was within about 5 minutes of each other. It was just a bizarre place. On the Tuesday after our two nights in Venice Beach we began a 2 week tour with Contiki that was to take us out of LA, to San Diego, Phoenix, Sedona, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite and Finally San Francisco.
Our first stop after LA was San Diego and this is pretty much where a key story of my first 3 weeks in America begins. We arrived there on Halloween, and so we all dressed up and headed to old town San Diego to look at the day of the dead decorations, markets and to eat Mexican food. Then we headed for the bars. To cut a long story short I had a great night but somehow, one way or another, my passport and purse did not make it home with me. Allegedly I had it when I got in the taxi, but alas, 2 weeks later there is still no sign of them. Somehow, I took this whole situation pretty well and had only one mental breakdown on my own when nobody saw me (outside a random Motel as the sun set in Phoenix, would have been beaut if I hadn't been crying like a baby). But after that I realized other than wait for it to be found or at least wait to know if the Uber driver had it, there was nothing I could do. I was now in America with absolutely no way of accessing my money and with no proof of who I was, not ideal. Thank god for Abbie, who became my bank account until I was able to get a credit card sent to me in San Francisco. I was not going to let this ruin my trip.
San Diego was amazing and I plan to go back next time I’m on this side of the world as I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do after the whole...situation. From there we went to Arizona where we stayed in Phoenix where we did an incredible hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert before a champagne breakfast with the cacti. We then travelled through the beautiful red rocks of Sedona to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon was as breathtaking as everyone says it is, and then some. Unbelievable views surrounded by incredible hikes. I opted to just to a walk round the rim as I wanted to see as much of the Canyon as I could. There was some amazing galleries around the rim which showcase Native American artwork which was beautiful as well. We spent two night staying in the National Park and it was perfect!
After the beauty of the Grand Canyon and the peacefulness of the park, our next two nights were to be spent in Las Vegas. As you can imagine I was in a bit of a pickle with regards to clubs in Vegas as I had no ID. Turns out you do not need to go to the clubs in Vegas to have a proper Vegas experience. We went to Old Town Vegas and spent hours on Freemont street which was by far my favorite part of Vegas. It is where all the original casinos can be found and at 10.30 each night they do an incredible light show. When the group went off to the clubs me and Abbie stayed on Freemont street, you can drink your own alcohol freely on the street and they don't always ID you for alcohol and the casinos aren't too bothered as long as you don't win big, so I was sorted. While there me and Abbie decided how amazing it would be for us to get some temporary tattoos, these ones were a specific type of Henna which lasts 4 weeks...I smudged mine within 5 minutes (they were meant to stay untouched for 4 hours) but I still didn't wipe mine off. Refer to the below photos to see what me and Abbie woke up with and were stuck with for 2 weeks until I finally scrubbed mine off, Abbie's is still there and it's now been 3 weeks LOL. We then met back up with Hayley, Tayla and Kelly and went back to the hotel to carry on the night. Me and Hayley ended up playing Craps (not Crabs as I thought it was called) for almost 2 hours, we were blowing on dice for people and everything, don't know who we thought we were. I still have absolutely no idea on the rules of the game. I got back to my room at 4am and therefore, you do not need ID to have an amazing time in Las Vegas,
For our second night me and Abbie went to see Cirque de Soleil Mystere at Treasure Island which was absolutely stunning in every way. Incredible show! We then met the rest of our tour group for a party bus around vegas, again, dreams come true really. After the bus we went to see the Bellagio fountain show as this was our last chance. It is as impressive as everyone describes. Whilst at the Bellagio me being me, got all excited when me and the girls introduced ourselves as Australian and British to a lovely lady we met and i managed to chuck my drink and spill it everywhere. All over the Bellagio botanical garden floor. To make matters worse I didn't just quietly walk away from the scene I declared that I have tissues and then got on my knees and started mopping up my mess with my tiny tissues and told all passers by to be careful as it was slippy...you can't take me anywhere and we left pretty sharpish before security came looking to see what was going on.
To recover from Vegas we had a 9 hour bus journey to Bass Lake where we were staying for 2 nights either side of visiting Yosemite National Park. I could never have done all this driving so thank GOD for Reggie our amazing coach driver. 7 of us got joining cabins by the Lake and we had the best time!!! All the other accommodation on the tour was hotel rooms for 2 people so it was so nice to have the girls together and we had so much fun. Yosemite was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The only shame was that we had just 3 hours in the park and so it wasn't enough time to do a full big hike so most of us chose to do a walk to Mirror Lake. Unfortunately when we got there, there was no water...just a rock in the middle of a ditch where the Lake would have been had there been any water haha. However the autumnal scenery was enough to make up for that for me. It was amazing, I had been so gutted I was missing Autumn back in the Uk and didn't think I would experience it whilst in America but Yosemite made that happen and for me it was a stand out day of the tour. My favorite time of year spent with the most breathtaking views.