Budapest: A City for all Seasons, Part 1 Winter

TRAVEL

Sticking to staycations for the summer, but need to scratch that travel itch soon? In this blog I’ll be sharing why you should start planning a winter city break to Budapest for early 2021!

Why? Because there are just too many great things to say about my favourite European city. In this first part I’ll be talking about Budapest in Winter… 

It’s not a location you traditionally think of as a ‘winter’ destination, as the world famous Spa Bath’s didn’t sound that appealing at 1 degree celsius, but finding myself with a 2 week break before I started a new job, a spur of the moment booking saw me fly to Budapest with my parents in the middle of January 2019… random! 

Was it going to be too cold? Would anything be open? What was there to do in the middle of winter? 

Now, I don’t want to become one of these ‘bloggers’ that says everywhere is ‘the best’, but honestly, Budapest has been my favourite city break so far. It tops Amsterdam and even Rome! It was so good in fact, that I went back twice in the same year! I’ll talk about Budapest in the Summer in Part 2! Coming soon…

Here’s just a few reasons why Budapest is awesome…the architecture is stunning, the food & restaurant culture is second to none (and SO  affordable) and the Hungarian hospitality is awesome. Not forgetting the ruin bars and great nights out, but I’ll cover that another time..

The checklist for a fantastic winter break to Budapest is pretty simple:

  • A hat, warm winter coat and good pair of gloves
  • Cosy and comfortable walking shoes 

Not too much to ask… So, now you’re ready to explore. But, before I jump into our favourite finds, just a quick explanation of the geography & history of Budapest, as it might help you plan your trip…

BUDA & PEST; A BRIEF HISTORY

The city of Budapest only officially came to exist in 1873, after the merger of Obuda, Buda and Pest which were 3 separate cities before. Obuda and Buda sit on one side of the River Danube and Pest on the other. Pest is the ‘newer’, more modern city, while Buda and Obuda’s history date back as far as the Roman’s and architecturally Buda is quite medieval (more on this here…)

Although I had quite a decent history education, I was totally ignorant about how Budapest and the Hungarian people were tragically affected by World War 2 AND a long Soviet Occupation. This history is felt clearly on the Pest side of the city, with the historic Jewish Quarters, Heroes Square, Shoes on the Danube and other key historic landmarks.

So, if you’ve only got a couple of days in Budapest, I suggest breaking your exploration up by the Danube… explore the Buda side one day and the Pest side another. Otherwise you’re free to come and go as you please and the public transport links between the two mean you can cross the bridge(s) as much as you like!

Now that’s explained, here’s a roundup of some of the best wintery experiences in Budapest…

EXPLORING CASTLE HILL

Undoubtedly my favourite place in the city, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of the views from Castle Hill. Standing at the top of Fisherman’s Bastion, looking out across the Danube really is quite spectacular, especially on a crisp winter evening when the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (right) and Parliament building (to the left) is lit up in all its glory.

The walled district contains important Medieval monuments, from the Royal Palace to the South which is now a museum complex, to the ‘commoners’ quarters in the North, where you’ll find the absolutely beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.

All of the architecture is free to wander around, although you’ll have to pay to go inside the museums and the church. If you’ve got time, it’s definitely worth popping into Matthias Church! Dating back to the first king of Hungary, the church is decorated inside and outside with colourful murals, glazed tiles and stained-glass windows. The bonus of going in winter is that the church is much quieter than summer months – allow an hour to wander around, take pics and soak it in.

Top Tips: 

  • If your schedule allows, try and visit Castle Hill in the late afternoon to catch the view at both daylight and dusk/dark. There’s enough to wander around for a couple of hours (with time to pop into a local cafe & warm up).
  • Don’t bother with the Funicular railway up to Castle Hill – it’s a great money-maker for a 2 minute journey (and the queues for tickets are a waste of time), it’s only a 10 minute walk up through the castle gardens… easy enough to route on Google Maps, or take Bus 16 from Central Pest straight up to the top of Castle Hill!

SOAK UP THE HISTORY IN PEST

Now if you’re into your history (or even if you’re not), the Jewish Quarter (on the Pest Side) is now one of the ‘trendiest’ parts of Budapest, but it has a lot of history. The Quarter rightly contains many memorials and monuments to the atrocities faced by the Jewish community throughout the 1900s. To really get a sense of what happened, it’s definitely worth visiting the aptly named House of Terror Museum, which documents the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Budapest and the genocide of the Jewish population. It won’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it’s morbidly interesting and a really important piece of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

On the Pest Side of the River you’ll also find the art installation ‘Shoes on the Danube’ which again commemorates Jewish lives lost. It’s one of the highest rated ‘sights’ on TripAdvisor & although it’s certainly interesting and humbling, you’ll have walked past it in 2 minutes, so only make the trip if you’re also walking up to the Parliament Square at the same time. 

Parliament Square architecturally is really impressive, so worth walking to before cutting back through to the side roads to make your way to St. Stephen’s Basilica. Much like Fisherman’s Bastion, the Basilica is stunning and for a small fee you can climb to the top of the neo-renaissance Dome to soak up the views of Buda from the Pest side. It’s also surrounded by restaurants and cafes – we stumbled across a cute little cafe with walls lined with art and antiques – Egoist Cafe – and warmed up with a coffee.

TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

Now a visit to the zoo wasn’t the first thing that sprang to mind when I thought about Budapest, but having walked our socks off and seen most of the architecture in the first 2 days (Budapest is very walkable), we found ourselves in Heroes Square and saw that the Zoo was still open. For about 11 quid each, we thought why not!

For the first 5 minutes we thought we’d made a mistake as the zoo was deserted and the first enclosure (the Otters), was locked. But, as we wandered around we were pleasantly surprised to find Tigers, Bears, Rhinos, Elephants and Giraffes! And, the best bit, because the zoo was pretty much empty, so it felt like we were on our own private tour 🙂

Near the Zoo, you’ll also find Széchenyi Thermal Bath, but we weren’t brave (or silly) enough to strip down to our swimmers in the freezing cold. There’s also an Ice Rink for the more athletically inclined (again, not for me, see Bambi on Ice)… which in the summer doubles up as a Pedalo Lake which was more up my street (more on that in Part 2…)

A FOOD PARADISE

One of the unexpected reasons that Budapest was a hit (and one of the main reasons I was keen to jump back to the city just 6 months later) was the FOOD! Oh my gosh, the food! 

Everywhere you turn in Budapest, you can get the highest quality, most delicious food for the most reasonable of prices. The quality of the meats, the flavours (Paprika is a base for a lot of dishes and my absolute fave!) and the Nokedli (a Hungarian specialty, not dissimilar to a cross between dumplings and pasta) was to die for.

If you’re looking for a special evening meal, there are plenty of trendy restaurants to choose from, mostly on the Pest side.

Some favourites discoveries of ours (so good I went back to both in the summer):

  • Vintage Garden – a very cute, Instagrammer’s dream on the inside, it’s not all style over substance. The restaurant turns out modern takes on traditional dishes… check out the menu here.
  • Zeller Bistro – it’s best to book this one if you go in the evening as it’s popular due to the live music in the evenings. You’re greeted at the front desk of a ‘normal’ looking restaurant, but walked through to a fairy light dazzled indoor courtyard where you’ll have a magical evening. And, even after 3 courses of deliciousness, we got mini cupcakes for free with the bill. The service is also fantastic! 

Any guidebook worth its salt will recommend Café Gerbeaud, arguably Budapest’s most famous coffee and pastry shop. With fancy chandeliers, cakes and its famous Dobos Torte on display, it does entice you in, but for the premium you pay, it’s not worth a specific visit in my opinion.

Also, you can’t go to Budapest without trying the Chimney Cake…small street vendors in the summer, or cafes in the winter will serve the traditional sweet treat. It didn’t blow my mind, but is kind of non-negotiable on the Budapest bucket list.

In Part 2, I’ll talk more about places to eat… and more importantly drink, plus video evidence of our adventures with Unicum. Intrigued…don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss that one!!

WHERE SHOULD YOU STAY?

The public transport in Budapest is reliable (and cheap as you’d expect), but it’s also really easy to get around by foot, especially if you’re on the Pest side which is better for nightlife and places to eat. Having never been before, we didn’t know this, and found ourselves on Castle Hill, which was beautiful & peaceful and it was lovely to have an excuse to walk through the Fisherman’s Bastion everyday!

We stayed at a little boutique hotel which I couldn’t fault at all and included a continental and hot breakfast every morning which set us up perfectly for a day of walking.

There are plenty of other options in Pest, and you can get some great flight and hotel deals by booking directly with British Airways! 

I hope I’ve inspired you to think about booking Budapest for your first citybreak post-corona (whenever that will be!)

If you’ve enjoyed reading, please share my blog with your friends and don’t forget to follow my @lifepickswithvix on Instagram.

Subscribe below, so you don’t miss Budapest Part 2, Summer, coming soon!

Thanks for reading,

Vix 

xoxo

Greek week: A food holiday at home

EAT

Try these 5 Greek recipes to bring your cancelled summer holiday home to you.

Like many of you reading this, we’ve had our summer holiday plans cancelled due to THE Pandemic. 

We should have been spending a week lazing around, eating our body weight in hummus and gyros at the ultra all-inclusive Eden Roc in Rhodes. But, after a few hours (days) of self-pity and grief – #firstworldproblems – we decided the best way to cheer ourselves up was to bring Greece home to us in sunny Berkshire (Costa Del Sandhurst).

Let’s be honest, not a lot makes me happier than Food (cocktails excepting).

So, welcome to our fondly named #Greekweek

Few places in the world excite my taste buds as much as Greece (reference my Taramasalata and Pitta addiction in my mid-20s – a result of living alone and sheer laziness). So, needless to say I was more than willing to spend slightly longer in the kitchen than usual this week. 

Our Greek Menu

After Googling ‘Classic Greek Recipes’, ‘Easy Greek Recipes’ etc and opening too many tabs to count, we finally narrowed our meals to the following… (if you’re wondering why there are only 5 main recipes, on Saturday night we had a delicious Gyros from our local, because Saturday Night Takeaways are a must in our house!)

If you want to know how we got on and how to make these Greek classics, keep reading…

Lamb Koftas with Homemade Tzatziki

As this was a recipe recommendation from my lovely mum, I knew it was going to be a cracker & it didn’t disappoint. I’m not quite sure what made this so enjoyable, whether it was the homemade Tzatziki which was easy to make and delicious or just the overall combination of my fave foods on one plate!

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Difficulty: 3/5  
  • Total Prep / Cook Time: 45 mins 

Tip: You can always make the kebabs ahead and freeze / fridge them raw ready for cooking later on. Serve your Koftas in a soft flatbread with rice and a Greek Side salad of cucumber, feta, tomatoes and olives.

Greek Chicken Traybake

This was a Hairy Bikers recipe, so you knew it was going to pack a flavour punch for relatively minimal effort. It was a great, easy mid-week meal that I enjoyed the minimum prep for and loved how all the flavours came together.

Greek Chicken Traybake

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Difficulty: 2/5  
  • Total Prep / Cook Time: 45-60 mins 

Tip: Don’t be limited by the veg suggested in the book, although obviously Aubergine is a Greek staple. You could always chuck in any other veg like courgette or mushrooms to bulk out. 

Lamb Chops with Roasted Veg

Another pretty easy one (can you tell I’m all about the one tray bake life?) this was again a delight full of flavours. You really can’t beat Feta or a bit of Lamb / Rosemary combo can you! I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the Chicken Tray back, hence the lower rating, but it was still tasty.

Lamb Chop Recipe

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Difficulty: 2/5  
  • Total Prep / Cook Time: 45-60 mins 

Tip: As we’d had potatoes the night before, I left these out and instead served on a bed of rice. We also didn’t have any red wine vinegar, but it didn’t seem to lack flavour!

Pan-fried Chicken Pie

As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to make it. Filo is one of my favourites and it looked like a bit of a Greek Twist on one of our usual favourites, Joe Wicks’ Chicken Pie. Although it was the fiddliest to make, it was worth the effort and would make a great sharer for a casual friend’s dinner party.

Chicken Pie Recipe

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Difficulty: 4/5  
  • Total Prep / Cook Time: 30-45 mins 

Top Tip: I nearly had a disaster when I flipped it. Make sure you layer the top of the pie with at least 3 sheets of filo. Also flipping it is a 2 person job, so make sure someone is on hand to help 🙂 I used fry light to oil the pan too, which meant the filo didn’t go too greasy!

Moussaka

Now, this wasn’t a new one for us. We first tried this when we had Gousto deliveries and it was a favourite then too. Yummy melted cheesy sauce and the cinnamon spiced lamb is a real warming meal that is ideal for a chillier evening.

Moussaka Recipe

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Difficulty: 3/5  
  • Total Prep / Cook Time: 60 mins

Top tip: You can also prep the mince / veg in the day ready to top with the homemade roux and whack in the oven for 20 mins later on. Also, if you’re feeling really lazy you could always top with a shop bought white sauce and some cheddar!

By the end of the week I have to be honest and say I still wasn’t fed up with Feta or the taste of Tzatziki AND I managed to keep away from the addictive Taramasalata. 

If I’ve inspired you to bring your summer holidays home, then I thought I’d quickly share where I find my recipes.

Where to find your recipe inspiration

Whenever I find myself lacking for recipe inspiration, a firm favourite and first port of call is the BBC Good Food website. It’s great if you have a few random ingredients left, as you can search by ingredient, keyword or dish. Not to be confused with BBC Food, which is also a great resource for yummy recipes. 

HelloFresh and Gousto also have their recipe cards online, so if you’re looking for something with clear, easy to follow instructions or to plan your weekly shop by recipe, these websites are a great starting point.

Happy Cooking!

Vix

xoxo

Champagne taste, prosecco budgets: the unexpected costs of home-ownership

HOME

Hey everyone, in this blog I thought I’d share my experiences of first-time home-buying… not the fun house viewing or rightmove scrolling which I’ll cover another time, but about the true / hidden / unexpected costs of home ownership – from mortgage affordability to, why address changes… This won’t be a glam one, but if you’re looking for a bit of sarcasm and some advice (non-expert) on your own home-buying journey, this one’s for you.

Before you get sucked into trawling through gorgeous homes and being disappointed with what you can(t) afford… the most logical (boring, but sensible) place to start is thinking about… WHAT CAN I REALLY AFFORD?

BUT, I REALLY WANT…

Be realistic with your expectations. If you’re anything like me and waste too much of your valuable life scrolling through picture perfect homes on instagram, you might not necessarily have the most realistic expectations of what you WANT versus what you can AFFORD.

Champagne tastes, prosecco budget springs to mind 

Use a mortgage calculator on a comparison site to see what you can really afford based on your (or combined) monthly income + the deposit amount you’ve saved (or kindly had donated by parents please and thank you). Now, imagine your worst paid month (especially if you work on a commission basis or are planning on starting a family with perhaps one income for a while) what will you have in the bank after the mortgage and all your other necessary life expenses has gone out?

It’s also a good idea to check your likelihood of approval before you make an application, you don’t want any rejected applications affecting your credit rating in the future! You can use an affordability calculator or online mortgage broker like Habito, who will give you a ‘mortage in principle’ estimate without any marks against your credit score 🙂

MORTGAGE APPLICATIONS

I mean, why they don’t teach us this stuff at school, I’ll never know. Pythagorus hasn’t really come into use, but a way to navigate around mortgages and what all the jargon really means would have. It’s a bit like signing your life away when you buy a home, you’re essentially agreeing up to pay for something every month, that’ll only really be ‘yours’ and not the banks in circa 25 years… lottery win depending (ever hopeful!). 

To try and make sense of all of it, I did a lot of reading around online – there are different types of mortgages (who knew) and you have to think about how many years you want to repay, what upfront deposit you can afford, as well just what interest rate you’ll pay (fixed or varied anyone?)

My best advice would be to SHOP AROUND!

USE WEBSITES LIKE MONEYSAVING EXPERT (gotta love a Martin Lewis…) TO COMPARE THE BEST MORTGAGE OFFERS, DON’T JUST ASSUME IT’LL BE YOUR BANK (IT PROBABLY WON’T)!

In the end, we’ve chosen to go with HSBC, they had the lowest fixed 5 year interest rate, which means our monthly payment won’t change for the next 5 years and we know we can afford it each month for at least that long, for peace of mind. 

The application process was fairly simple and all online, which if you’re anything like me and hate holding or talking to a robot was ideal!.It can take up to 6 weeks for the application to go through, but we were confirmed within 3 weeks and all ready to roll!

THE EXTRA EXPENSIVE SURPRISES

Now, I bloody love a surprise… but not the sort of expensive surprises you get when buying a home.

If you’re sensible or clued up, you’ll know there is a stamp duty to pay when you buy a house – around £8000 for an average 2-3 bed. First-time buyers can get this waived on properties up to a certain value or often with new builds… but it’s something to budget for.

Then you’ve got the solicitors fees… fun times. About £1500 for lots of very tedious paperwork to read through and sign. Oh, and you have to chase them too. 

Not to forget about the homebuyer survey. Now depending on the age of your property, you may want to get a full survey – we opted for the middle ground, which is a homebuyer survey around £600. Which at dozens of pages long is pretty comprehensive. Although survey ended up being a debacle in itself (reported damp when their wasn’t any) it’s super important to get a survey done before committing to owning a property which at worst case could be actually falling down…

Then you’ve got the costs of moving itself… removal vans… boxes… trips to a fro. We used Anyvan.com to move the bulk of our furniture (mostly because it wasn’t precious) and then transported most of our belonging ourselves, in our Ford Focus because we’re gluttons for punishment (removal men are expensive!) If you do use this route, just make sure your anyvan option is insured… and pre-empt you might get a few dents taken out of your doors / walls… they’re about speed, not care!

Oh, and don’t forget…

  1. House Insurance
  2. Cancellation costs for any existing utilities you can’t / don’t want to transfer
  3. Change of address on car insurance … because those few lines of text is a lot of ‘admin’ to charge a fee *rollseyes*
  4. Postal redirects
  5. Any outstanding rent for the remainder of any existing tenancy agreements

Once we were in and everything was signed & sealed I’ve never been happier, but they do say moving home is one of the most stressful (and expensive) things you can do in life & I agree.

But, being a homeowner is the best feeling in the world and I love having something that is ‘ours’, so if you can afford it (and when the world goes back to normal) GO FOR IT!

If you’re embarking on your own home-buying journey & my ramblings have been of any use, comment below with any questions you have about buying your first home / moving and I’ll try and pop some more advice in my next blog.

For more of my house updates, follow @Home_at_the_close on Instagram 😀

Until next time,

Vix

xoxo

The unexpected costs of home-ownership: a guide for first-time buyers

A Quick Hello, welcome to my blog!

LIFESTYLE

Hi, I’m Vix …

Thanks for visiting my brand new blog! 🙂

It’s taken me nearly 29 years, well… at least 10 since I first mentioned blogging, but finally the day has come and the blog has landed!

A little bit about me

I’m 28, nearly 29, happily engaged to the funniest, kindest guy Glenn and recently bought a lovely house which we’re currently making into a home, in Berkshire.

Originally an Essex girl (see leopard print for reference), there is nothing I love more than my family, friends, travelling, house music, an espresso martini and stuffing my face with amazing food & drink (preferably at a bottomless brunch or cocktail bar!)

When I’m not eating or drinking, you’ll find me working out to counteract the above, or researching where to travel next!

I’m currently Head of Marketing for a startup, but have found myself with extra time on my hands because I’m on furlough (damn Covid-19!)

And so… ta-dah, I’ve started my blog!

If you’re interested in travelling, food, drink, or home styling & projects, this blog is for you. I’ve tried to cram in some tips from our travelling experiences, recommendations for first-buyers, recipes, updates from @home_at_the_close and more… with a bit of lighthearted humour too (because well, life is too serious isn’t it!)

I really hope you enjoy reading and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out when I publish my next blog 😀

Happy reading!

Vix

xoxo

What happens in Vegas: Top Picks for Couples

TRAVEL

Not sure if Vegas is for you? Here’s our honest account and highlights as Vegas Virgins (p.s. you should definitely go…)

As first-time visitors to Las Vegas, neither of us had high expectations. We love a cocktail and a party, but beyond a hangover… what really happens when a couple holidays in Vegas? 

Despite our love for Orlando (which couldn’t be more touristy), we normally enjoy soaking up the culture on our trips, so… what would Vegas have to offer?

To get the most from our 3 days, I spent too many hours of my life Googling where to go and what to do (standard!)… but it paid off! We literally had the best couple of days, and already are talking about going back in the summer (we went in January) to experience a pool party or two!

So, if you’re toying with the idea of going to Vegas as a couple or are just generally looking to pop your Vegas cherry, here’s our ‘not-to-be-missed’ experiences…

SIGHTS: EXPLORING THE STRIP

Exploring the sights of Vegas by day is way more interesting than I ever imagined!

It really is one giant adult’s playground. 

Every single hotel is themed to perfection, with the stand outs for architecture being the New York New York, Caesar’s, the Venetian and the Luxor. The decor was just amazing – in Caesars you walk past a coliseum, in the Venetian you stroll along shop-lined canals, the Luxor takes you inside an Egyptian pyramid and New York is lined with NY street and a rollercoaster on the inside (only in Vegas!) 

Mandalay Bay was also beautiful with a tropical garden inside, but avoid Paris unless you want a face full of smoke at midday! (One downside of Vegas is smoking is allowed inside every Casino! :()

Top tip: I’d completely underestimated the size and scale of the strip (typical Brit), but breaking it down into 3 sizeable chunks meant we explored a third of the strip each day. We used the Monorail ($25 dollar pp for 72 hour pass) to travel the length of the strip from our hotel at the Sahara (one end) to the Mandalay Bay at the opposite end. Still, be prepared to walk miles using the monorail and Uber it in the evening when you’re all dressed up!

FOOD: CULINARY DELIGHTS THAT WON’T BREAK THE BANK…

As with everything in Vegas you’re paying a premium to well, just be in Vegas. 

They’re definitely catering for the aspiring ‘high-rollers’… but there are deals to be had!

Vegas hotels have 24 hour buffets a plenty, but ever a fan of a bottomless brunch, I didn’t want any old buffet food. 

So, after more research (you guessed it), a highly recommended buffet was Wicked Spoon.

We were not disappointed. Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan hotel was THE best all you can eat buffet I’ve ever been too. Queues can get long, so we opted for an early dinner. The selection was mind-blowing – everything from fresh sushi, to bone marrow, to an amazing salad bar, freshly carved meats of all varieties and a dessert bar to die for. It was like being in a real-life Willy Wonka factory with bitesize treats of all flavours, including lollipop brownie sticks and popping candy icecream. 

For a more ‘fine-dining’ experience (we can be posh when we want) the next day we opted for Hakkasan. Steak restaurants and high-end grills are really popular in Vegas, but we figured Gordon Ramsay could wait until we were back on home soil. 

Hakkasan can be pricey if you go a-la-carte, but we opted for a set menu (weeknights 6-8pm), which included 1 cocktail, 3 courses for $59 (cheap by Vegas standards!) The service, flavours and decor were exceptional – it was a night to remember and not to be missed if you love Chinese food.

Top tip: Most restaurants, even the high-end ‘posh’ ones will have some sort of happy hour or set menu (especially on weeknights). So, you can still sample the amazing food, for literally half the price! Check out their websites for details and be prepared to ask the server as they won’t widely advertise the deal even if you pre-book…

DRINKS: CRUISE FOR BOOZE

There is something for everyone in Vegas when it comes to the drinking scene. If you’re up for gambling you get free drinks at tables and machines in most casinos (although you might have to wait a while & tip the server so they come back ;))

If you’re looking for ‘better’ value, casual, but a fun night out, head to the Old Las Vegas strip in Downtown. With older smokey casinos and much smaller minimum bets, it’s a reasonable scene with regular evening entertainment on huge outdoor stages.

The side roads are also lined with casual bars where you can get unpretentious beers and local DJs keep you entertained. We headed there one night and had a great night dancing outside to live bands singing American Pie…

If you want to stay on the new strip and drink in the day, there’s plenty of casual pub type bars from Planet Hollywood, to Coyote Ugly in New York New York. 

If you’re looking for more ‘fancy’ drinks and an espresso martini is your bag, then head to the Chandelier Bar in the Cosmo. The inviting 3 floor sparkling chandelier was enough to entice the Essex girl in me, and although it was already busy at 3pm in the afternoon, the service and drinks were amazing. It’s also an experience I will never forget, having tried the ‘Secret’ house drink – a verbena cocktail. Not to the ruin the secret, but you chew a special verbena flower and then drink a special cocktail… the reaction of the flower and drink combined will blow your mind!

Top tip: if you’re planning to hit a few bars before a club night, plan your route carefully, it’s not easy walking from one bar to another at night, so best to enjoy a drink or two in your hotel room before heading straight to a club or casino for drinks.

SHOWS: ABSINTHE

There are so many shows to choose from in Vegas, from Michael Jackson tributes to Cirque du Soleil and Cher.

One we’d been told was not to be missed by friends was Absinthe, hosted in a big circus tent outside of Caesar’s. A crazy journey of circus acts from dancers to burlesque dancers and strong men, the evening is made unforgettable by a wildly inappropriate circus ring master and his assistant. If you’re a prude, this one is not for you! But as 2 people with un-PC humour and amazed by the circus acts, we had an amazing night – 10/10!

Top tip: Pre-book your tickets only using a website like https://www.tix4tonight.com… you can save money and there are often discount vouchers available.

SOUNDS: PARTY TIMES WITH TIESTO

Now, we figured we wouldn’t really have had the ‘true’ Vegas experience, until we’d hit up one of their world-famous Nightclubs. So after a fair amount of debate between Omnia or Hakkasan, we settled on a night with Tiesto at Omnia.

Now, if you haven’t been to Vegas before, expect to pay through the nose for a night out. Forget about having a seat unless you can fork out $10-20k for a booth (comfy wedges or heels recommended!)

For most nightclubs, unless it’s Ladies night, you’ll both have to pay a cover charge of around $20-25. As we knew this, we paid ahead for a VIP Entry which meant no queue (which was snaking around the block) and a VIP Bar Card of $100 each. It basically meant the cover charge was free and we didn’t have to queue, win-win… they can be bought directly from Omnia’s site here.

Both Tiesto and Omnia were insane! I’ve been to Creamfields and EDC festival multiple times and as a dance music lover I was not disappointed! Tiesto delivered a set to remember, playing his old classics and new songs not yet released – he was on for over 2 hours, so expect to get great value for money if you’re there for the music!

But, the highlight was Omnia’s incredible chandelier. It suspends above the ceiling and moves in every possible direction, with lights, smoke and pyrotechnics that move along to the beat of the music. It really was mesmerising. There’s some awesome videos of the chandelier on Youtube which you can watch…

Despite having an amazing night, Omnia’s bar setup was questionable and the drinks were extortionate $25 for a double vodka OJ. So, I’d recommend only going if you really love the music and atmosphere, rather than for a boozy night.

3 DAYS IN VEGAS

Is 3 days enough time to soak in everything Vegas has to offer? No! But, did we have an amazing time? Yes!

We’ll be back, but in the meantime if you’re looking to explore Vegas and all it has to offer, check out Go Las Vegas… it might not be worth investing in the card unless you plan on cramming loads of activities in, but it’ll give you a great idea of everything you can do and see! 

Hope you enjoyed this blog and use some tips on your next adventure If you know anyone that’s going please like, share and pass this on using the sharing buttons below 🙂

Vix

xoxo

What happens in Vegas: Top Tips for Travelling as a Couple