27/9/16 -Let’s go to the mall

Lazy start of reading, playing my Disney game and getting ready. We decided we’d go shopping first, since Mom wanted to go to a mall – I told her we could only go if she pronounced it right, rather than ‘mal’, like she kept calling it – and then we’d hit either the beach or the pool. We went to the Coral something or other mall. I really hate shopping. Mom wanted to look at clothes and homeware stuff, so I occupied myself by getting some more notebooks and also a pair of happy little pineapple earrings. Not a bad result, but I was still bored within the first twenty minutes.

When we came out, it was starting to rain, so we braved a dash to the car and then went off in search of food. We ended up in a place called Miller’s Ale House. I asked for an Orange Crush cocktail and gave the server my driving license when he asked for ID. He took it off to the manager, came back and said that they couldn’t serve me because it’s an out of country license. What the hell? My license is obviously not fake and it clearly shows my birth date on there, showing that I’m turning twenty-seven in a few weeks and am definitely long past the legal drinking age requirement of twenty-one. So even though I’m way old enough and provided legit ID like they asked, they still wouldn’t serve me. What bollocks. I grudgingly had to have pop instead. It kinda rubbed it in more that the pop was also called Orange Crush – it just wasn’t alcohol. Come on, guys. I got ID’ed at plenty of places and none of them cared that my license wasn’t American.

For food, I had garlic chicken zingers over a plate of fries loaded with cheese, bacon and spring onion. It wasn’t overly successful. They still managed to mess up my order and gave me blue cheese dressing instead of the ranch I asked for – yuck! I then managed to drop one of the zingers on the floor, which Mom found hilarious and wanted me to try kicking it underneath my chair at the people behind us. My mother, ladies and gentlemen. Clearly misbehaving.

After lunch, we drove a little way down the road and then stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts, because Mom was craving. I had a caramel apple croissant donut. Quite nice. A little like a mix between a donut and an apple turnover. Though I have to say I still prefer Krispy Kremes. It was still raining by this point, so our pool/beach plan was out the window. With nothing else to really do – other than finding another mall, which I definitely wasn’t feeling – we went back to the room for a while. More reading, more Disney game, a Red Bull and another episode of Psych, as well as Skyping Kel.

After an hour or so, it had finally stopped raining, so me and Mom decided to madly get into our swimwear and go down to the pool anyway. It was very cloudy and everything was wet, but it was still perfectly warm enough to sit out in my bikini, if a little pointless when there was no hope of sun. I watched more Psych and read more before it started getting late and we conceded we may as well just go back to the room. I hit the drinks early to compensate for the lack of sunbathing before we very slowly got ready to go out.

We went to a restaurant just round the back of the pizza place called the Parrot Lounge. Another place with a really nice bar. I had a Parrot Ocean Breeze, which was mango rum, blue curacao and orange and pineapple juice. Really nice, even if it looked physically like swamp water. I didn’t fancy much from the menu, so I went for the supreme nachos that are supposedly a starter. My god, it was definitely a good decision. They were friggin’ huge and topped with cheese, chilli, sour cream and jalapenos. The salsa came on the side, which suited me to a tee since I don’t like salsa all that much. Despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much around here, I definitely approve of the places we have found.

Came back to the room after for more drinks, more Impractical Jokers, more reading and more bed. Y’know, the usual. Even better as it was one of the particularly hilarious episodes of Jokers with the corn maze. Night all.

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I promise there’s nachos in there somewhere. And yes, I’m aware I mostly post photos of food.

22/9/16 – Doing as the locals do

Got up semi-early to get ready and pack the last few things before leaving our nice Miami apartment. A friend of Lydia’s picked us up and took us to the Alamo to fetch our car and didn’t even want to charge us for the ride! We still tipped him, of course. Our car wasn’t ready yet, but the man behind the desk upgraded us to a bigger one free of charge to save us spending our vacation sitting in the Alamo. I do love Americans. There was also the Latino double of Oliver Hudson working on the desk. I genuinely thought it was really him (and that he’d super downgraded his career somehow) until I heard him speak.

Our car was a big Dodge Journey that I quickly dubbed Harry (Hazza if you’re feeling casual). It’s so good to have a car to just pile everything into, rather than having to lug around various bags and cases, particularly the box that’s filled with alcohol. Both the Alamo guy and our unofficial taxi driver commented on how it was the most important piece of luggage we were carrying. Not untrue. We only drove about an hour out of Miami before we had to stop off at a Burger King. Hunger is real, people, even if Burger King is pretty unsatisfying when you consider the wide variety of eating options here.

Back on the road again. Watched an episode of Psych and then we were distracted by a Walmart. Actually the first one we’ve seen. Finally got my big box of Seagrams, as well as more Red Bull, Sunny D, Milk Duds and a giant bag of popcorn. Then I discovered the clothes section and got very distracted indeed. I ended up picking out a stripy jumper dress of all things, but it was just too nice to pass up and as Mom pointed out, it was very me. Everyone knows black and red is my colour scheme. Even better, I also got various pairs of boxers with Deadpool, Batman and Wonder Woman on them. There were some lovely Harley Quinn ones, but sadly, they only had them in massive sizes.

By the time we were leaving, it was pouring with rain, so we had to wait it out a little before we were brave enough to make a run for it to the car. Thankfully, we didn’t have anymore distraction stops. I’d planned on using the driving time to write, but the drive was so nice that I ended up just watching through the window instead and taking the odd photo. Definitely some lovely views driving into the Keys. We booked into our very cute hotel in Key Largo and had a mill around in the room for a while. Had a little read and then Skyped Kel for a bit. I don’t think she’s enjoying hamster-sitting for Wilson, since he managed to get out of his ball. Yes, I named my hamster after a ball and yes, it’s ironic that he’s tried to make his grand escape from it on a few occasions.

Headed on out after that and had a little wander around the area. We walked down the waterfront first and found some lovely red and blue wrasse, stripy little Angelfish looking Sergeant Majors and some teeny, teeny jellyfish. We then went inwards and onto the street that ran parallel to the water. It was so freaking adorable. It was like being in a proper little fishing village, which I guess technically, we were. All of the houses were built up above the first storey with open patios underneath, besides the garages, clearly prepared for any potential flooding. They all looked really nice and cute though and everyone had their own unique mailboxes, like ones that were being held up by a manatee or alligator statue.

After exploring everything there pretty much was to explore – which really was only a little – we went to a restaurant called Sharkey’s, where we got to sit upstairs out on the balcony, overlooking the waterfront. Now this was just the most perfect night. I had a literal bucketful of a cocktail called Sharkbite Punch, which was mango and passionfruit rum, pineapple and orange juice and grenadine. To go with that, I decided to be adventurous and went with the beer battered fresh shrimp and sea fries. I’m really fussy with seafood and had to ask for them to be served without the tails on, so it was a brave step for me, but god, it was such a good choice. It was so fresh and so tasty and I felt so pleased that I’d chose to be adventurous. As well as the food and drink being delicious, there was a musician playing an acoustic set of great covers of songs I love like Three Doors Down, Oasis and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then we even got to sit and watch an electrical storm out over the river where the lightning made the clouds light up pink and blue. Talk about the most incredible atmosphere. Everything was just perfect.

Suitably stuffed and with Mom certainly not wanting any more cocktails after our buckets, we headed back to the room. I had a few of my Mike’s Hard Lemonade and read, then planned to watch the rest of Sahara and then do some writing. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it – Dad discovered Impractical Jokers on the telly, so I had no choice but to watch that after only watching a little more of Sahara. Guess we’ll try again tomorrow.

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Now that’s entertainment.

18/9/16 – Lost that loving feeling

Up not quite as early as the last few mornings. We still had time for breakfast, so I just got dressed and brushed my hair before going down this time. Cue more pancakes and sausages. I also spent an age trying to catch a really far away Golbat on Pokémon Go. After using more than half of my Pokéballs, I had to just give up. Stupid Golbat. Came back up to the room after to straighten my hair and get ready properly, whilst Mom browsed things that we could do on the internet. I suggested the Audobon Aquarium and the reviews were good, so we headed on down to the riverfront.

I actually really like aquariums. I got a lot of good pictures, thanks to the lovely camera on my nice new phone. There was lots to see. Plenty of general tanks, obviously, walk-through tunnels, sharks, giant turtles, seahorses – I looove seahorses – jellyfish, frogs, alligators, a giant otter called Clara – seriously, I thought it was a seal at first – penguins and of course, manta rays. I love those guys. Spent a while around the touch pool so I could give them some fuss. I just love how friendly they always seem. I even got two different sized manta ray teddies from the gift shop afterwards. Come on, I have a tattoo of manta rays for a reason.

Unsurprisingly, we were hungry when we got out, so we went back to the Market Café for lunch. I decided to try the traditional Creole red beans and rice with andouille sausage. Can’t quite put my finger on what it reminded me of, but it was nice. I also helped Dad out with some of the fried shrimp from his po-boy. I’m really picky with seafood so I’m always loathed to order that kind of thing in case I don’t like it, but they were really good. It was pretty much just like having fresh scampi. Never a bad thing.

We decided to check out Bourbon Street in the daytime, since I had actually been quite horrified by the other night because of how busy it was – more like Broad Street than Bourbon Street. However, I was still incredibly disappointed. Mid afternoon and it was completely dead. Where were all the jazz musicians and the happy spirited people partying in the street? Hoping it would pick up with time, we stopped off at the Bourbon O Bar for drinks. I had a Drew Brees(y) Big Easy, which was rum, grapefruit vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, cranberry juice and syrup. Damn, it was good. It came in a cute cup decorated to look like an American football too. Whilst we were in there, we took great entertainment in watching a guy outside who was wearing nothing but pants and holding a cardboard sign saying “spank me, one dollar”. Worst, or best, thing is he’ll probably make more than any of the other buskers.

We carried on down Bourbon Street afterwards and although the crowds had indeed picked up, it was still not quite what I’d hoped for. At some point over the last three years, it seems to have lost all of its culture and just become a big party holiday spot. Bourbon Street has always been about the partying, but in a high spirited, always rocking street party kind of way; not just the getting rowdy and pissed up outside kind of way. They didn’t have any musicians or even play any jazz at all. They just blasted chart music from the open bars. Really, incredibly sad for me. I classed New Orleans as my most favourite place in the world since my last visit and Bourbon Street was a huge part of the reason behind that. Now I’m not sure I’d even be fussed about seeing the street again. A horrific change to what used to be such a fascinating, cultural and highly unique place. Now it’s just the American Malia.

We headed back to the hotel to start packing, since we have our flight to Miami in the morning. I had my usual Red Bull whilst doing so and fit my shower in around it, as well as finishing off my Anita Blake book. After getting ready, we came back down to the Gumbo Shop for the last time – and it probably really will be the last time, since the touristy changes have me not feeling the need to come back. At least not any time in the near future. Of course, had to have the gumbo again, along with some garlic mash and a cocktail called Blue Bayou, consisting of vodka, blue curacao and pineapple juice. Nice, but so strong yet again. Americans, I love alcohol, but you really need to sort your measurements out. Eight percent alcohol is too much over tea.

We went to Bar Medoras afterwards, since we’d seen that they did sangria. I actually had a Purple Pride Punch first – vodka, raspberry and blackberry liqueurs, pineapple juice and Hurricane mix – before helping Mom out with her blackberry sangria. Yummy all round. We tried another bar afterwards, but they were closed from half nine – what madness is this?! You’re a bar, for crying out loud! – so we went to a place called Creole House instead. I had a Mississippi Madness, which was rum, liqueur, pineapple and orange juices and grenadine. Definitely a nice and refreshing cocktail to go out on.

Came back to the hotel to finish packing up everything before bed, since we have an early start in the morning. My second trip to New Orleans really has been very different to the first. I’ll miss the food here and the lovely cocktails, but I can’t stop stressing how I won’t be missing the changed atmosphere. Not now. Three years ago, I would have. Guess that’s what tourism can do to a place.

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Cuddly seahorses!

17/9/16 – What about second breakfast?

Up fairly early again, at least before eight o’clock. That doesn’t usually happen naturally on holiday and/or on a weekend. Played on my Disney game a little before getting up to get ready for breakfast. I got to have my two rounds of pancakes this time, hoorah. We headed on down to get the trolley over towards the Garden District. We went to Lafayette Cemetery first. Last time I came here, it was incredibly hot and we’d tended to stick to the lines that were in the shade. Not quite that hot today, so I got to explore a bit more fully. Still easily the most interesting cemetery I’ve ever seen. It was rife with lizards too, so I did a lot of lizard spotting.

From there, we went for a wander down Prytania Street to see all the big celebrity houses. I didn’t know/couldn’t remember who any of them belonged to, but I’d certainly be interested to find out who owned the house that had a huge stuffed tiger sat out on the front path, guarding the threshold. Mike Tyson, maybe? We then ran into a Maccies to get drinks and binge off the WiFi for a bit to figure out what other trolley routes we could take. Whilst we were then waiting for the trolley to arrive afterwards, a very nice American guy came over to warn us about what area we ventured into. Apparently, two blocks over from where we were standing was their ‘ghetto’ and three shootings had occurred there just last night. Scary! We took his advice and certainly didn’t look back once we got on the trolley.

We went up and down the St. Charles route, then got off when we saw a little strip mall with plenty of eating options. We ended up in a cute place called O’Henry’s, where we got to sit upstairs out on the little garden balcony. I had a blood orange mimosa, a side of jambalaya and fried bayou wrappers, which were deep fried tortillas stuffed with chicken, andouille sausage, cheese and herbs. All very yummy. Mom erred over having the bayou wrappers too and our nice waiter suggested that maybe I’d be generous to share. I point blank told him no, which he seemed to find very amusing. Then when he brought the food out, he gave me mine and said “this is only for you; nobody else”. He clearly got me.

Following that was a Baskin Robbins. The girl serving us loved my red check dress. This seems to keep happening. A woman along the street last night told me she liked my pineapple dress. Funny how both times it’s been my super cheap Primark bargains. I had scoops of strawberry and coconut with pineapple, then we got back on the trolley and completed the St. Charles line there and back. We then came down to the Mississippi and got on the Riverfront line. That was actually pretty much hell on wheels. It was packed, hot and there was a screaming child who was honest-to-god called Siri. She also looked like Dora the Explorer and was an equally annoying little shit.

When we got off, we slowly meandered back to the hotel. I stopped off in a shop to get my Red Bull fix and a fancy New Orleans keyring for Lisa. Had a slow session of showering, getting ready and reading in between. I really themed it up with my Daryl Dixon inspired wing-backed dress and crossbow and arrows jewellery. Because I’m nerdy like that. For some reason, we let Dad be chief navigator again and wandered round for ages looking for a Mexican place that he reckoned he knew exactly where it was, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen it on our walks and he hadn’t looked at the address online. We shouldn’t have trusted him really. We never found the Mexican place.

We ended up in a little diner/bar type place called Déja Vu. I had the most horrendously strong Hurricane that I probably only drank a sixth of. We all shared gator balls to start with – deep fried and blended with onions, peppers and Cajun spices and served with ranch. They were really nice and quite delicately flavoured. Kinda like a soft tasting meatball. For my main, I had fried chicken fillet with country peppered gravy and super creamy mash. The mash and gravy were good; the chicken, not so much. It was one of those thing but heavily fried pieces that are a little too sickly. At least I finally got to try the alligator meat.

We then had another big wander around looking for a bar, because Dad decided he was going to be super picky about everything. He faffed around one place so much that I didn’t know where to stand to get out of the way of people and ended up stepping in a giant puddle. That wasn’t so fun. Me and Mom got fed up of meandering, so we ended up back in Pat O’Brien’s for more Hurricanes. Now these are the proper Hurricanes. Obviously wasn’t complaining about that.

After a long sit and drink, we came back to the hotel. Cue the oldies wanting to go straight to bed again. I wasn’t too put out by it this time, since I hadn’t slept too well the night before due to my sicky episode, so I happily sat and read quietly for about an hour before retiring myself.

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16/9/16 – Hush up and look at the gumbo

Got up early, but not crazy six o’clock early. Jet lag usually has me awake much earlier, but waiting until ten-ish to go to sleep clearly helped to get us back on track. Slowly got ready for the day and headed down for breakfast. I was delighted to see that there was a self-serve pancake machine. Never knew such a thing existed, but it was super easy to use and they had maple syrup, cream and rainbow sprinkles to put on top. Had my pancakes, as well as an egg patty and some mini sausages. The sausages were so tasty that I went back for more. Was tempted to do the same with the pancakes, but a queue had developed by that time. I’ll have second breakfast tomorrow instead.

We went out for a wander and found our way down onto the riverfront. I spotted the Natchez further down on the dock and actually managed to do some navigating on where to go, based on what I remembered from last time. We managed to get tickets for the morning Natchez cruise, since Mom wanted to go on a real steamboat and I knew that was the only real one here. Hopefully, the boring narrator guy that we had last time will have retired by now. We had a few hours before we were due to board, so we went off in search of drinks in the meantime.

We found Café du Monde, but it was horrendously packed with the queue lining up outside, so we opted to keep going and find somewhere else instead. No beignets today. We went to the Market Café and I had a very nice Mango Madness cocktail. At ten o’clock in the morning. Because why not? They had a jazz band playing, like many places in New Orleans, and it was a nice relaxation spot. From there, we had a wander through their version of the rag market and popped into a couple of shops. I got a jazzy shot glass from Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop.

We then came back to board the Natchez. They had the woman on top again playing the pipe organ from the steam. No Carpenters this time though. Mom thought it was cute, but then quickly got annoyed by it. We got some seats up on the top deck and surprise, surprise, the boring narrator has still retained his job. I chose to ignore him, since I remembered a lot of the history from my last visit. The lasting damage from Hurricane Katrina is still astonishing on the docks. I then started to rain a little too much for us to want to sit in, so we moved down a deck and grabbed a little table near the open side and spent the remainder of the cruise there.

After we disembarked, we were in need of food and I was also super in need of a drink from being sat in the heat. We went to a steak and seafood bar and I had loaded cheese fries. Except they told me they were fries. They were actually potato wedges. I don’t mind potato wedges, but there’s only so much you can eat before they become really sickly, so I didn’t actually finish mine. We then spent forever looking for a Walgreen’s that we’d spotted earlier, to the point where even I was remembering all the same streets as we kept looping round, since Dad’s a horrible navigator. I miss Kel and her in-built satnav. Thankfully, we eventually stumbled upon a CVS instead and I was able to replace my heat protection spray that had emptied during the flight and also bought some Red Bull and Funyuns for the room. Yay, Funyuns. I’ve missed you.

It started to rain by this point, so we decided to head back towards the hotel for a while to shower and things before going back out for tea. The rain was sporadic and switched between being heavy and light. We tried to wait out one of the heavier spells in a bar and had some homemade Hurricanes – which were way too strong – but it didn’t lighten up again, so we had to chance the rest of the way with our umbrellas. Showered as soon as we got back, then Skyped with Kel for a bit, had my Red Bull and did some reading for an hour or so before getting ready to go back out.

I’d already iterated my deep love for the Gumbo Shop from my last trip here, so that was where we were headed. The wait for tables was actually out of the door, which was initially concerning, but their turnaround service is crazy good and we were in there in no time. I had everything I had last time. Chicken andouille gumbo with bread and a frozen strawberry daiquiri. God, it was just as good as I remembered. Mom had the same and loved it too, so I was pleased that I hadn’t just bigged it up. Even more pleased that she wants to go back, because I’m clearly down with that.

From there, we found our way onto the wonderful Bourbon Street and I directed us towards Pat O’Brien’s. We were given a table out in the courtyard. It had stopped raining, the fire fountain was going, they wiped everything down for us and brought Hurricanes over to our table. Best. They were properly mixed Hurricanes too and way better than the ones we’d had earlier. We sat in there for a while and ended up making friends with a lad from Boston called Nick, who I think Mom wanted to adopt. He was super big on traveling too and wanted recommendations for time-lengths and things to do in the UK and other places in Europe too.

After we left Pat O’Brien’s, we carried on down Bourbon Street. I stopped off at one of the Tropical Isle places to get a Hand Grenade to-go. Just as yummy as I remembered. I pretty much downed it all by the time we got back to our hotel, but didn’t feel in the slightest bit merry. Sadly, the downside to going with the oldies is that they were point blank ready for bed. I stayed up and read for a while before conceding to do the same. I then had to get up twenty minutes later and be horrendously sick, despite the fact that I still didn’t feel like the drinks had touched me at all. Guess that’s just a mark of a good night.

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Gumbo, gumbo, in the pot… We need a princess; what you got?

17/11/15 – Where does the lotion go?

Set my alarm so that I could get up and shower first whilst we know that we have a room with a decent sized shower. No idea how big our cabin will be on the boat, let alone the shower, so I’m just preparing. Didn’t have to check out until twelve, so we chose to stick around in the room for as long as possible before getting turfed out into the presumable cold. I watched a teeny bit of Walking Dead to keep the fuel going from relevant Walking Dead dreams, oh yeah.

Had a cookie and Red Bull breakfast and was going to have another try at writing, since I’d only managed a page yesterday (really not good when I need to be averaging at around eight a day) but that idea went completely out of the window when Kel found some Psych on TV for me. Psych! On a normal TV channel! Who knew that Psych aired on British morning telly during the week? Not me, because I’m always stuck at work when I could be watching Psych! (I know I have the DVDs, but that’s not the point). It was a good episode too. Where does the lotion go? Seriously, where does it go?

We had till three before we could get down to the dock and start checking in, so we decided to loiter around the Hull town centre for a while. After checking out of the hotel, we did a petrol stop and then went and found somewhere to park. We spent a good fifteen minutes wandering around in search of a pub, but Hull pubs are clearly stupidly laid out/run. Most were either closed down or didn’t serve food, despite having clear signs that said they do. Well done, Hull. Because of this, the pub idea fell through completely, so we ended up in a Sainsbury’s café instead. I got excited because they had corned beef hash on the menu, but what I actually got was mince meat in a giant Yorkshire pudding. I double checked with the waitress and she said that it was definitely corned beef hash. Yeah, right. It was actually very yummy, but still the weirdest take on corned beef hash I’ve ever seen (it’s mash with corned beef, yo – just look at the name!)

We had a little wander around afterwards to kill some time. We were going to sit in Costa’s for a bit, but it was packed, so we were demoted back outside. Apparently people in Hull don’t have jobs – it was seriously busy for a Tuesday afternoon. As it was raining, we soon headed back to the shopping centre we’d parked at. Walking past this little helta skelta slide that was outside, we heard it playing the Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride song from Lilo and Stitch. Of course, I made some pathetic little noise over it. Whilst at Tesco, we bought another mix of snacks to restock up on what we’d already eaten at the hotel. Oops.

We’d used up our allotted two hours in the Tesco car park, so we moved on to another free one closer to the dock that Kel had found online earlier on. The weather was still miserable, so we weren’t really feeling having another wander around. Thankfully, there was a pub that opened up onto the car park called Minerva’s Brewery (aww!) so we sat in there for a while for a pint. I do love being British. They had some kind of beer or ale on draft called Atom, which amused me. Ray Palmer has his own drink! Whilst we had our ciders, we had a look online at things to do in Amsterdam and, of course, top foods to try. I got really excited at the prospect of stroopwaffles (or stroodlewoodles, as Marieke got me into the habit of saying years ago) which are a popular Dutch snack that I love and used to get people to bring me back from Holland visits.

We then headed down to the port to get parked up and check in. Had a right hoo-ha checking in, because the women behind the desk were trying to tell us that we only get free parking for the duration of our trip if we booked through Groupon, which we hadn’t. Luckily, saviour Kel had screenshotted all of the information of what was included when we booked, which specifically said on the P&O ferries websites that free parking was included. So they can suck it. They had us wait around for a little while, but I think they realised we were ready to kick up a fuss, because they then gave us the parking voucher and just apologised for the wait. We went to grab our luggage from the car and display our well-earned parking ticket, then we went to board.

So much more straightforward than airport customs and security. We had to show our passports and tickets and were basically just asked if we had any alcohol or sharp objects, then we were let on board. We found our cabin to drop our things off first. It’s surprisingly big and nice, even if I am on a top bunk. Shower’s friggin’ teeny though, as I’d thought – forget where does the lotion go; where am I meant to go?We then went to explore. The long corridors of cabins were a little creepy, but everything else was super big and fancy. Several restaurants, bars, a casino, two cinemas, duty free shops and kiddie areas. I made a lot of Titanic references, which probably wasn’t a good connection to make, so I soon stopped. We checked out the price lists at the bars, which are surprisingly reasonable, and had a peek out onto the deck. We weren’t allowed actually outside as there were chains and signs up to say that it was too windy, so I couldn’t do my king of the world impression. Okay, promise I’ll stop now. We did manage to get a pack of DC Top Trumps from the gift shop. Geeking it up already.

We came back to the room to get ready and then headed down to the restaurant. What we didn’t get was that the restaurant works on a weird reservation only service (despite the fact that there were only like two other people in there) so we got booked in for a time about twenty minutes away and hit the bar for our first cocktail whilst we were waiting. Again, what we didn’t realise was that the cocktails are basically the ones from the little squeezy packets, but just with a bit more alcohol added. So kind of a rip-off, money wise, but they were still pretty nice.

After our drinks, we revisited the restaurant to actually be let inside this time. Our waiter, Pedro, was very friendly and very funny. We had some bread rolls to start and then I had a steak burger with cheese, crispy onion rings and chips. I’m not really a big burger fan – I normally only have them as a last resort if there’s nothing else that I want – but this one was damn good. And I had a Magners to go with it, of course. We moved onto the bar after that; cue more Magners and us breaking out the DC Top Trumps. We clearly know how to party. We won a game apiece. I was chuffed because the very first card I turned over was Harley Quinn. It was meant to be – she clearly sensed my tattoo.

As it was a fifties cruise (fuck yeah), we had entertainment going on throughout the night. First we had a band called the Blue Notes, who played stuff like Frankie Valli, the Ronettes, Lulu… Then we had a Buddy Holly tribute called Bootleg Barry (at least I think), who was dressed the part but looked more like Greg Proops. By this point, we were both knackered. For some reason, being out in windy weather really takes it out of me. I clearly never venture outside when the weather’s bad. Inside good.

We went back to the room and watched an episode of Flash on my iPod. I was clearly happy with that – hadn’t had any eye candy all day. Then it was finally time to attempt to climb into my bunk and then attempt even more to go to sleep. Rockabye baby may work on kids, but it just makes me feel drunk without the good stuff.

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First drinks is always a good moment – even if they are expensive for what they are.

1/10/15 – Last day on Gran Canarian soil

We got up, got semi dressed and went down to breakfast first, this time. Why have we not been doing this the whole holiday? Had my usual sausage, bacon, chips and cheese and ham toasted thing. It was the last one and I actually ran for it, so I felt I deserved it. Cath caught us at breakfast and told me off for not wearing something pineapple-y. Apparently I’ve gotta that reputation as the pineapple girl that I was kind of expecting. Guess that’s better than my reputation as the drink that I got on our trek in America. Though that one became apparent this time too, as Cath was surprised at how much I’d been drinking in the day, every day. Eh, I’m on holiday. We wanted to leave some time to do some more packing after breakfast before we went down to the pool. Kel had already spoken to the guy on reception to see if we could keep our room on for a few more hours, which was fine. We primarily did it just to keep the all inclusive going, as we figured they’d cut our wristbands off as soon as we checked out.

Once we only had a few necessities for the day left out, we suncreamed up and headed down to the pool. We were given more word searches to do. This one was much easier than the last. I did that and then another short story. Patrik tried to convince me to join the aqua gym by sitting on the end of my sunbed, facing me, and doing his stretches. I must have an iron will if I can resist that. I really didn’t want to get wet though, as I won’t be able to shower or do anything with my hair later on, once we lose access to our room.

Instead, we got roped into the paper plane game. Surprisingly, this was the one activity that got most people to join in – over forty of us altogether! All to play with paper planes. We were each given a sheet of paper and told to make a plane with it. That was a challenge in itself as I’ve never even made one before. I’ve always gotten other people to make them and then give them to me to play with. I tried my best to make mine aerodynamic, but when it came to us all lining up and taking turns to throw them, mine just insisted on going nowhere but down. At least mine was more awesomely decorated than anyone else’s – I’d written Thunderbird 3 on the back of the wing. The Barry/Murr guy almost landed his in the outdoor shower, which was funny as you had to stand where your plane landed, so he was practically standing in the shower. One guy even had to stand in the pool when his went really off course. Gutted.

We then went for our last inclusive meal of the trip. So sad. I bid goodbye to the rice, pizza, chips, beef with champagne sauce, lasagne-less pasta and some new garlic potato cubes that I really hadn’t gotten the time to know. I did my last bid to get drinks in before we checked out, so I ran down to the pool bar to grab another sangria and cocktail and left them on the table by our sunbeds. We then brought the cases down, put them in a storage room for safe keeping as we don’t get picked up till later and checked out. Apparently my drinks preparations had been futile – they didn’t take off our wristbands or say anything about the all inclusive ending. Happy days!

I went back to my shade after that. I didn’t want to risk the sun and getting sweaty because of the whole no shower thing. I don’t wanna be that icky person. Joel caught us and got us to go join Patrik for the new rifle shooting activity. Now this is an activity I can get behind! I did feel a bit stupid holding a giant rifle in my bikini and big sunglasses though – the kind of look you’d expect to be all sexy badass, but this was me, so it wasn’t. But it turned out I was pretty good at the shooting part. Even Patrik was like, “Who are you?” My first shot went wild before I got the hang of it, but I quickly got the highest score and also the first bulls-eye. Boo-yah! Nerf guns, eat your heart out!

Did more reading and chilling in the shade afterwards. Also watched some bits of Arrow on my iPod. Ah Brandon Routh, you are a pretty, pretty man. Eventually, I conceded that it was probably time to sort out my appearance at least a little before eating. Had to pop in and out of the room where the luggage was being held (more so than I should have needed to, because I was stupid and kept forgetting things) and got changed and did a bit of makeup in the toilets downstairs. It was actually just a horrible ordeal, as it was really hot in there, so I tried to be quick about it.

We then went for food around six, pleased that we got an extra meal more than we’d been expecting. Bonus meal! The evening menu has a split earlier on and they seem to serve different foods for each half. We’d obviously never been down to eat this early, so it was all new to us. Was initially horrified to see that they had a yellow rice rather the usual amazing rice, but then it turned out it just tasted exactly the same anyway. You deceived me, rice; well played. Also had some salted potatoes with the Gran Canaria sauce, some pork and crackling (wow), chips, a chicken drumstick and some chicken and chickpea stew, which was super yummy.

No entertainment room tonight. We hung out in the lobby instead, so we could see what was going on and if our coach turned up. We had our free cocktail to share that we’d won from the movie quiz. It was called a San Francisco (woo!) No idea what was in it, but it was nice and sweet. I made the most of my last sangria before switching to pop. I really don’t wanna be drunk on the plane or, worse, risking a migraine from lack of hydration. Sadly, we didn’t get to see Joel, Patrik or Marek before leaving. It was an awkward time in between when they’re clearly usually getting ready before the entertainment slots have to start. Sad times. But at least we have their Facebook details. The practicality of the modern age.

The transfer was a bit horrific. It had been alright up until the last pick-up, then about fifteen people got on and every one of them had a child with them, all of which were screaming and crying and shouting. It was like hell got on the coach. I was surprised I wasn’t screaming and crying and shouting too. To make things worse, the girl sat behind me could not stop complaining. Everyone who knows me knows that I actually really, really hate kids, but no way do I ever go on that much about it. Sh was actually causing more of a fuss than the kids and the kids really were making a fuss. Her and her mom were clearly not the kind of people you want around though anyway. Soon found out that they robbed a mirror from a club and were trying to get it through security. I secretly hoped that they weren’t allowed.

Checking in was a real ball-ache, as there were loads of us and then hardly any people behind the desks. The plus side was that we were told our flight was gonna be half an hour early. Getting through security was brief, though I did get swabbed for explosives again! Why me, guys? Do I look that dodgy? Once we were through, we grabbed some drinks for on the plane and I bought a big bottle of citrus Grey Goose from duty free. I’m calling in my early birthday present to myself. Since I asked people for vodka anyway, that’s just like skipping a step. No seriously, I really did ask for vodka for my birthday. I’ll get more use out of that than a gift card for New Look.

We got on the plane and had a bit of a mix up with an older couple who had misread their tickets and were in our seats. They were completely fine about it and the man apologised, saying it was their fault, to which the woman corrected that it was just his fault. She gets how it works. I watched the Psych musical on my iPod to clear some time. It was funny because at one point, even though Kel obviously couldn’t hear it, she could see Shawn’s mouth moving and knew exactly that he was doing the ololololololol hoo-de-hoo hoo-de-hoo bit that she loves from Santa Barbara Skies. Well done, Kel.

After Psych, I watched several episodes of Impractical Jokers. Those guys never fail to make me laugh. I then listened to the Galavant soundtrack, did a little writing and a little reading, then thankfully, we were coming in to land. I’d been getting really tired, but I hate trying to sleep on the plane because it always makes me feel really bleugh and out of it. Which probably would have been made worse by the fact that I’d still pretty much been drinking all day. Getting through passport and baggage control on the other side was pretty quick, thank god. We grabbed a black cab from outside and found ourselves with a very chatty, travel-savvy driver. Awesome.

When we got home, I saw that Dad had put the hard top on my car for me. Aww. I guess we left the sun behind in Gran Canaria for the rest of the year. Would absolutely go back though and recommend our hotel to anyone. Great food, great drink, great place and great crowd. First shot at all inclusive was an absolute success too. For now though, I have to concede to grey old England. We got into the house and, of course, Izzy was very eager to get into my bedroom. She got onto my bed before I did and immediately took up all the room. Home, sweet, home, I guess.

One fancy cocktail to see us off!

One fancy cocktail to see us off!