If Life Begins At 40…. That’s Just A Practice Run For 50…
What a year it has been, reaching 50 has been, so far, the best fun I have had in ages.
So the men had their fun at Silverstone and now it was my turn…. however, I let them accompany me as long as they brought their credit cards!!
America, here we come
It was sold to me as the holiday of a lifetime and it didn’t disappoint. Booked around January in order to give us time to save, plan and prepare and boy did we need that time for all of the above.
The bright lights of Las Vegas, New York and the calming waters of the Bahamas were something I only ever thought I would see on TV, was suddenly within our grasp…
Cases packed, in line with tradition (everything but the kitchen sink) Tom, Jim, Mary and I headed to the airport with plenty time to ensure we weren’t stressed out with check-in, security checks etc.
A nervous flier, I had not been looking forward to the 4 flights included in this holiday, nonetheless I boarded the plane with some anticipation. I never even had a chance to participate in some “Dutch courage” due to the early departure. I put on a brave face and tried to forget my fears and tell myself it would be worth it.
After not one but two flights to reach Las Vegas, our weary group arrived and hailed a taxi to our hotel. Ill say this for Vegas, they know how to build a hotel. We arrived at the Encore, luxurious just doesn’t do it justice. The room was amazing, it had a glass wall with views over the strip, stunning décor & furniture and a 60″ TV. Seriously, I’ve been in some nice hotels in my time but nothing is a patch on this one.
Encore at Wynn
Las Vegas, if you can imagine, is like Disneyland for adults. The sights of the hotels, buildings, Casinos and the people are like nothing I have ever seen. I don’t know what I expected but I absolutely loved Las Vegas. I did find it expensive but I suppose that was to be expected.
Each hotel has its own theme. The Venetian Hotel has gondolas inside and outside and is surrounded with buildings modelled on those such as the Bell Tower in St Mark’s Square. Simply Stunning.
Gondola outside the Venetian
Look around the buildings surrounding Ceaser’s Palace and you feel like you are in Rome with the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and Roman statues etc. Then there is a New York area, Paris area complete with Eiffel Tower, the list is endless.
Mary was ecstatic thinking she may meet her idol here but it wasn’t to be…aw bless
Mary looking for Rod
New York Quarter
There is also the world famous Stratosphere tower. Some 1150ft high. This is the place for the true fearless. Boasting the highest thrill rides in the USA, you can either go on the swings, 4G drop zone or roller coaster at the top of the tower which go right over the side or if that is not terrifying enough, you can bungee jump right off the top and land on the ground….I gave that lot a miss…too much to see and too little time (that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!!)
Every hotel has a casino and esplanade of shops like Loius Vuitton, Chanel, Givenchy to name but a few. No Primark or TK Max here…
All I can say is that If Vegas is on your bucket list….what are you waiting for? Get out there and see for yourself.
Next, not so much the red-eye but the bleary eye flight back to New York. A 5 hour internal flight to reach our next destination, then there it was in front of us, the Manhattan skyline. Breathtaking from a distance, how would it be once within the walls of the concrete jungle? We were about to find out.
A short Yellow cab ride and we arrived at the Hudson Hotel. Not a patch on the Encore but it was nice, clean and within walking distance to Times Square, Central Park, again after seeing these many times on TV, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure it was a reality.
Manhattan from the airport
With cameras and backpacks ready, we hit the sidewalk with a great sense of excitement. A few minutes later we were in the centre of Times Square. It was bustling with people from all over the world, selfie sticks and cameras everywhere. As they say when in Rome…
Tom and Helen Times Square
Time to hit the red top bus for a proper tour of the city. Taking in all the sights, I even managed to forget my hatred of heights and joined Tom in a jaunt up to the top of the Empire State Building. What a view that was. It really brings it home to you the size of the city.
View from 86th Floor
View from Floor 102
I know get why they call it the City that never sleeps as its like Piccadilly Circus day and night. The throng of the crowd will sweep you along if you are not careful. The night tour bus was amazing, the driver took us over the Brooklyn bridge to let us see the skyline lit up at night, it was amazing. Sadly my picture taking skills were a bit of a let down.
So, after 2 days in Vegas and 2 in New York, we felt like we had walked 500 miles and were ready for a bit of R&R…there is no way better to achieve this than a wee cruise, and as we were in the area, where better than a wee sail roon the Bahamas. Sounds idyllic? It was just that.
Another yellow taxi cab to Pier 91 and there she was, waiting patiently for us (and the other 3496 travellers) NCL Breakaway.
We embarked around 2pm and started exploring the ship’s numerous restaurants, bars, etc. It was a lovely ship, fairly modern and nicely decorated.
Our favourite area was O’Sheehan’s, a nice wee Irish themed bar. The barmen were great at making the cocktails and loved showing off their skills in doing so. Thankfully we had pre-paid for an Ultimate drinks package so could fill our boots (they clearly don’t know us ha ha). With the prospect of Prosecco and cocktails on tap for the next 7 days, I was in heaven even before the ship sailed.
We left New York and gave this lady a wave on the way past.
Statue of Liberty
We had a lovely room with a balcony right next to Jim and Mary so we could enjoy the sail away and scenery without fighting for a space on the decks.
We spent the next few days at sea which gave us ample time to relax and explore what the ship had to offer and book our tickets for the onboard shows, etc.
Mary and I danced the night away while Tom and Jim chewed the fat at the bar (no change there then). We watched shows like Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor. It never ceases to amaze me, the talent of the staff and how they manage to do all these shows on a ship. They were fantastic.
There were 70’s, 80’s and 90’s discos, Jazz Bars, Piano Bars, Ice Bar’s and a deck full of shops and duty free (my favourite)
There was also a huge casino, them yanks do enjoy a flutter. Its hard to believe the amount of money that goes through this area. I was keeping a hold of mine till we got to Nassau as we were told this was the place to shop.
We stopped off at Fort Lauderdale, Florida watching dolphins frolicking around in their natural environment was something else. We couldn’t stop in the Cayman Isles due to the danger the swell was causing to the tenders. We did however get extra time in Nassau as a result.
The scenery was jaw-dropping. We hired a tour guide for the day and he took us to Atlantis, around the affluent areas as well as the more deprived areas on the island.
If you fancy a wee break to Atlantis, they have one room there which costs $25000 per NIGHT, with a minimum 4 night stay….maybe next time eh…
Jim, Omar and Tom
Just for the record, the real bargains were all to be had in the Diamond shops there which are VAT and Tax free apparently…Tom had conveniently forgot his wallet but promised me one day we will return for the set I liked…. not sure that I am falling for that one though as it was $8000…
So after a fabulous 7 days of R&R, it was back to a rainy New York for our flight home
I hope you enjoyed me sharing our adventure with you but its back to reality and back to work so watch this space for Rainbow news in the very near future…