Given that I am currently locked in the UK due to study and work commitments, I thought it might be nice to write about one of my old trips, a "#throwbacktrip" if you will. This throwback is a pretty epic one because we're going all the way back to August 2010 when I took one of my biggest trips to date. As with all throwbacks, get ready for a dodgy hairstyle and some now questionable outfit choices (it was really cold in San Francisco, that bright purple "I<3 SF" hoodie was necessary, promise). Now, Let's Set The Scene... It's my friend's mum's birthday and her husband has just bought her a new engagement ring (or eternity ring.... 6 years later and I've forgotten the finer details) and they plan to renew their wedding vows in Las Vegas! Suddenly, my family and my friend's family are planning an epic 3 week trip together through America incorporating a trip to Vegas. Somewhere along the way, the wedding vow renewal was forgotten and all focus was on how much we could squeeze into these 3 weeks of fun - hey ho, we had good intentions for romance but sometimes wanderlust gets in the way! This is a pretty touristy trip and I know a lot of people that have done similar routes, but if you're going to the U.S. for a period of around 3 weeks and want to tick some of the major tourist bucket-list items off of your list - this is definitely the route for you! I will be writing more detailed posts on each of the cities/areas in due course, so this will serve as more of a route guide/city highlights/photo diary! 4 Nights In San Francisco (California) Of all the cities we visited on this road trip, I think San Francisco is my favourite. New York is obviously one of my favourite cities but I'd already visited the city twice before, so it wasn't as new and exciting! Trip highlights:
  1. Visiting Alcatraz on a seriously foggy and spooky day
  2. An amazing private tour of the city with particular emphasis on the city's amazing China Town
  3. Obviously ticking the Golden Gate Bridge off of my bucket list
Trip disappointments:
  1. I thought Chicago was meant to be the windy city? We were not prepared for how cold, foggy and windy our time in San Francisco would be - I've never purchased so many hoodies in my life!
Driving the Big Sur (California) If you stick me in a car, it's safe to say that I will fall asleep. So I don't actually remember ALL that much of this section of the trip but the photos speak for themselves, the coastal drive from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo was a beautiful one. Along the way we stopped at a few smaller towns like Carmel (I've never been to a place where people love their dogs so much). One Night In San Luis Obispo (California) This was primarily just a stop-over to break up the long drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but I remember being absolutely terrified of the accommodation that my family had booked. The website made it look like the kind of wooden lodge in a U.S. small-town that crazy axe-wielding men frequent in bad horror films. Don't worry, I survived! 4 Nights In Los Angeles (California) Then we were off to the land of the rich and famous. As an avid "Friends" and (at the time) "Two and a Half men" fan, the highlight of the trip had to be the Warner Brothers Studio Tour! Pretty Little Liars had just been released and I remember the hype in the studios for it being huge - shame I only got into it last month - whoops! Now I would be SO hyped to see the sets. Relaxing on Venice Beach, spotting celebrity houses (ironically the only celebrity that we saw during our time there was a fellow Brit - Vinnie Jones) and screaming our heads off at Six Flags Magic Mountain were further highlights! Looking back, I'm gutted that we didn't visit Yosemite National Park during our time in California, but the bright lights of Nevada were ahead! One Week In Las Vegas (Nevada) So... this is where that ever-important wedding vow renewal should have happened... Instead we spent our days catching a tan by the hotel pool (and enduring many American people asking me if I was Austrian or British and one man asking me if I'd ever starred in Baywatch... just because I was wearing a red bikini). Instead of staying in one of the more recognised hotels, we stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations. This is because my dad found out that my grandparents had some old unused transferable timeshare weeks from an old holiday spot in Tenerife - win win - who needs to read loads of posts about free travel/using travel reward schemes/travel hacking when your dad has already got it sorted? As I was only 16 at the time, our evenings obviously weren't spent in the casinos (we left that to the grown ups!). I'd love to know people's thoughts about Vegas. I just don't "get it". If you're mesmerised by big shiny lights, you will love it. On the other hand, if you want to be immersed in history and culture, I'd probably give Vegas a miss ;-). In my eyes, it is just a strip of hotels in the middle of a desert. I am obviously so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and see what the city has to offer but in the future you are more likely to find me in a European Castle! One Day At The Grand Canyon (Arizona) If there's one thing that I did LOVE about our stay in Las Vegas is the day-trip to the Grand Canyon. I am in love with this place. No photos can do it justice, that's for sure! You can read the full details of how we visited the canyon and my recommendations here! 4 Nights In New York City (New York) We didn't really need to visit New York on this trip. Of the 7 people on the trip, only 1 hadn't already visited New York... but we all love the city so much, that we obviously had to show it to her! So after our week of sun in Vegas, we hopped on a plane to New York, ready to be uber-tourists in the Big Apple. There's something about this city that I just love. I get the same feeling when exploring London (unfortunately commuting into Holborn everyday doesn't have the same affect...). The big city, the extensive list of things to do, the million miles an hour pace, I love it all. I've always said that if there were a city I could go and work in for maybe 6 months, New York would be it. I've visited 3 times now but feel like there's more to explore. Like London, I think you could spent a lifetime there and always discover new corners and exciting things to do. Highlights obviously include the usual tourist attractions (even having done them all twice before!) and my all time favourite thing to do in the city - escape the hustle and bustle, grab a hot-dog and chill out in Central Park watching the locals play baseball. Have you ever visited these cities? What were your highlights?

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Danielle1

So US National Park week is coming to an end (16 April - 24 April 2016) and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my current favourite place in the US. The Grand Canyon is incredible - there's no two ways about it. I visited back in 2010 (hence the slightly dodgy hair in the photos) and I would recommend it to anyone. We were staying in Las Vegas and made our way to the Canyon for a day trip. I know that a lot of people say you can't see the Grand Canyon without flying over it - I beg to differ! There were 7 of us on the trip, so not only would this be ridiculously expensive, it would also have been inconvenient given you can't fit 7 people in a helicopter! We settled on the Grand Adventures Sunset Tour and it was the perfect day! You leave Vegas early and make your way to the Hoover Dam for a quick photo stop (my top tip is to not accidentally lean on the metal railing around the dam when it's a billion degrees outside... I practically suffered third degree burns on my leg...). You then hop back into the minibus and have a few more stops in local Arizona towns - a really interesting insight into rural American lifestyle. Then you arrive at the big finale! The Grand Canyon! I really don't think pictures do this place justice (especially mine as they are taken on a 2010 DSLR which isn't half as good quality as cameras these days!). I would love to go back and take the time to photograph and wander around more. Given that the name is the "sunset tour", you obviously get to see the sunset over the Canyon and it's safe to say that it is a beautiful sight! One of the things that made our tour really special is that our tour guide George was a professional photographer and made us pull all sorts of crazy poses, meaning we got some really great family photos! If I remember rightly, it was announced on Facebook that George left the company a few years ago, but I'm sure the other tour guides are just as great! If I was in the US over the past week, I would have absolutely loved to take advantage of National Park Week! Who wouldn't want free entry into some of the most beautiful areas of the states?! There are so many ways that you can see the Grand Canyon - just to name a few, you should look into hiking, flying, the skywalk, the grand canyon railway, horse riding and water-rafting!  So make sure you do your research and find something that works for you. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? How did you experience it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1