We’re Sister Cities!

If I’m completely honest, I’ve kinda lost my excitement when it comes to new music releases; I just don’t get my hopes up anymore. There is some exceptions though, and this time it’s The Wonder Years that are restoring my faith in music. I am so confident in this band, as I pretty much like everything they’ve ever done. I love their transition from Pop Punk to a more mature alt-rock sound so much, I just think it’s been a natural progression. I know sometimes a drastic change of sound works, and I get that; but this just feels right, and I just can’t imagine them ‘selling out’. I love that they’re just 6 average dudes who love making music, and I think that’s what is so appealing to them as each of their albums can reflect on a current time in your life. Although I love it and listen to it frequently, I can’t so much relate to the the lyrics on The Upsides, but musically that album is Pop Punk heaven *insert heart-eyes emoji*

Their material after The Upsides, especially The Greatest Generation really are some of my favourite Pop Punk records.  I found that No Closer to Heaven had some absolute bangers on (Stained Glass Ceiling, I’m looking at you!) But there was some weaker tracks on there… I feel like their new song Sister Cities is a nice blend of TGG and NCTH. I think there will be better tracks on the album, as the lyrics aren’t quite as emotional as TWY usually are, but it’s upbeat and catchy, like any lead single for a rock album should be. The music video is also super cool, and I’m not usually a music video fan. I also heard a really bad audio-rip of another song from the album, and it’s just so beautiful. I kinda wish they’d of released that as well, but I’m sure they will next.

I’m going to see them at Leeds Stylus, which I cannot wait for as I went to see them there last year and they were AWESOME!  But what I actually can’t comprehend is that they’re still playing like 1000 cap venues in the UK? I mean, come on! They’ve had 4 consistently great albums in a row, they’ve literally got the whole package: great musicians, powerful vocals, beautiful and emotive lyrics. Why the fuck are they so underrated? I could think of so many bands who are more popular and aren’t half as good…

I hope Sister Cities finally gives them the recognition that they deserve. Cannot wait to hear this album on April 6!!



Travel Journal: Viva Las Vegas!

Last week, Paul and I came back from a brilliant, albeit rather sweaty week away in Las Vegas. We had previously visited Vegas for a few days during a road trip, and absolutely loved it; so we were very excited to give it a proper go. Let’s be honest here, there’s no place quite like Las Vegas…

We arrived around 1.00pm after a surprisingly easy flight, which felt more like 5 hours than 10 (I think we’re getting too accustomed to flying :P). Security took fucking ages, as per usual with the US; which is understandable, but it doesn’t help that we were stood in front of some absolute bellends for 2 hours straight. Sigh.

We stayed at The Luxor, which is a very affordable option if you’re planning on doing Vegas on a budget. The hotel is in the shape of a black pyramid, and looks awesome in the skyline! Another really cool feature is the beam of light that shining in the sky – I actually read that it can be seen from space! Also very handy to find your way back ‘home’ on a night 😉  The pool area is also really nice, with 3 huge pools to choose from. The only gripe I had with the hotel was that there was a lack of lifeguards on duty, and this meant that the large pool was closed; but we were informed that we could use the neighbouring hotel Mandalay Bay’s pool facilities, which was very appreciated considering that it’s one of the best pool’s in Vegas!

When we arrived, we fought the jet-lag and managed to stay up until around 11 pm, which was a huge achievement; as we were absolutely shattered. We made our way to the main part of the strip, and seeing the lights were just as incredible as the first time!

After enduring the heat for a while, we  had a bite to eat – and of course a little go in the casino 😉 The heat was unbearably hot, it was still over 40 degrees even though it was at late at night! The weather was one downside to the trip, as there was a heat wave ; even locals were saying that it was far too hot! Some days it reached 46° so imagine how 2 British people felt! Hint: like we were melting!

The next day, we woke up feeling as fresh as a daisy! We got ready and made our way down to breakfast, at what ended up being our regular spot for a deliciously overpriced breakfast. Yay! I had my usual: toast, hash browns, and sausage. Paul always went for a healthier option, which is probably why he lost weight, and I gained 4 pounds. 😦 We spent a few hours in the pool, the water felt so refreshing. I love watching Paul in water, he’s so elegant and beautiful. I call him my little water fairy, much to his dismay. Due to it being extremely hot, even with the water on our backs, we decided to have a little siesta; before heading out for a few drinks and a gamble. Standard.

The third day was the day when we found out that we could use the Mandalay Bay pool, so we headed over there and found a spot on the manmade beach that they’ve got there. With it being one of the hottest days we had, you couldn’t even sit for long as the sun lounger was scorching hot; so we ran on what felt like boiling hot coals to cool off in the lazy river, then made our way to the massive wave pool, which was just as fun as it sounds! 🙂

When evening arrived, we arranged to meet up with my friend Hallie, who I met in California – and has just recently moved to Las Vegas. I was very excited, as she had booked for us and our boyfriend’s to go in a limo down the Las Vegas strip, which turned out to be amazing! We met them at The Linq hotel, after a very stressful and boiling walk, which involved a lot of weaving in and out of the hotels, just to feel the air con (Yes, it was that hot.) We managed to get a good view of the Ballagio fountains, which looked even more spectacular than we remembered. We finally arrived at The Linq, and had time to introduce our boyfriend’s to each other over an extremely welcome cold beer, before getting in the limo. Going down the strip in a limo was a very surreal experience, and I am so glad that we did it. Thanks Hallie!  The chauffeur very kindly took us to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, which was handy as that was something that we didn’t do last time, and wanted to do before we left. Afterwards, to our delight, we got a lift back to The Luxor, so we didn’t have to endure that horrendous heat (I am aware that I have mentioned the heat a lot, but seriously it was ridiculous). We had a few drinks with Hallie and Josh in the hotel bar, before heading to bed for a long day ahead…

The fourth day was indeed a long day, and that was because we did a 5 hour drive to visit The Grand Canyon. We could’ve gone to the much closer West Rim, but we figured that if we’re only going to do this once in a lifetime, then we may as well go to the National Park and see the real thing! The drive was pretty boring after a while to be honest, and usually I come prepared with a wide arrange of music to keep us occupied; but I didn’t remember to bring an aux cable, so only had limited music available which were on Paul’s phone. Thankfully Paul and I share a similar music taste these days with Arcade Fire being our favourite band, so luckily he had enough songs I liked to keep me from going completely insane.

The Grand Canyon National Park  cost $30 to enter. We were informed that the ticket is valid for a week if we want to revisit, which I think is pretty good value as there’s so many little vantage points scattered around the park. I think it’s pretty obvious that we didn’t return given the length of the drive, but $30 was worth seeing a famous landmark like the Grand Canyon, and the rangers do a fantastic job of looking after the visitors and the upkeep of the park.

We couldn’t believe the sheer size of the thing, and we just stared in awe at what was in front of our eyes. I personally enjoyed the views at desert view the most, and I particularly enjoyed going in the watchtower and getting an even better view! Another positive factor of the day was that the weather was a lot cooler in Arizona than it was Nevada, so it was definitely nice to get a break from the heat.

The drive back was draining as hell, so once we got home we were that exhausted that we had our obligatory nightcap earlier than usual…

After the long day we had the previous day, we made sure we had a beast of a sleep in. After a couple of hours in the pool, we headed to the strip to walk around the hotels. Being the hottest day so far, we grabbed a couple of beers to walk down the strip with. Paul chose a Bud Lite, and I went for the same but the lime version. Honestly, the cold can in your hand is so refreshing when it’s that hot.

Firstly, we visited The Venetian, which we agreed is both our favourite hotel. I love The Venician, because you actually feel like you’re in Italy. Outside you’ve got a lovely little walkway towards the main entrance, which is surrounded by water and Gondola’s. Inside is when it gets well and truly magical though –  the ceiling is painted like a realistic sky, and you really do feel like you’re in Venice. You’ve also got the gondolas flowing down the river (yes, the hotel has a river flowing through) and you’ve got beautiful sounding singers serenading people in the Gondola’s. I think this is so romantic to watch, which is a really weird thing to say about a hotel lobby, but you need to see it to believe it.

After a mooch around the shops, we headed out towards Caesar’s Palace; which is another one of our favourites. I’d say that it is similar to The Venetian, as it gives you the illusion that you’re outside, but this time it’s theme is  based on the roman empire. The place is bloody huge, and we saw so much that we previously didn’t see. I think that out of all the hotels the shops are better at Caesars, and I enjoyed having a cheeky gamble in the impressive casino that they’ve got there. After spending a couple of hours wondering around… and getting lost, we then decided to brave the sweltering heat once again, before making our way to The Flamingo hotel, which was one that we hadn’t yet visited. The Flamingo wasn’t anything special if I’m honest, especially with how magnificent the previous 2 were; but I had read that they have actual real life Flamingo’s on the grounds, and as any sane person would…. I LOVE FLAMINGOS! After spending a short-while with the little pink lovebirds, and thinking ‘how the hell do they stand on one leg all day’, we headed back to the strip.

On our usual weave in and out of buildings to feel the air con walk, we stumbled upon a quirky little shopping mall that had loads of restaurants and bars. Honestly, you could go on a night out here and never leave the shopping mall, it’s crazy! We were extremely hungry by this point as we hadn’t eaten much at all, so we checked out the menu’s of various different places, until we came across a place where all lunch items were $5.99! We thought this was some kind of sick joke or a catch, but it was absolutely true. If you have ever visited Las Vegas, then you’d know that food and drink is RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. I mean 2 beers are $20 in most places, and even our average breakfast and coffee in our usual deli spot in the morning is $25 for the two of us. You must now be able to understand that this was very exciting for us, especially when beers were only $3 too. I ordered Salmon with potatoes, and Paul got some beef with some fries. I can honestly say that it was the best food I ate all week, as I don’t really like the food in America after a few days; so it was nice to have something that I’d eat at home. The place that we ate at was called the Ocean One Bar & Grill, and it is located at the Miracle Mile shops, which is a part of the Planet Hollywood complex. Seriously, if you’re looking to do Las Vegas on a budget, then this is a fantastic option.

The following day was our last proper day, and so we spent a few hours enjoying the pool as much as we can, which was nice as it was a little bit cooler. I bought something called a sea-wag (gotta love that name) which is basically a sleeve that goes over your phone so your phone is waterproof. I’m proud to announce that my phone is still intact, and even though it was quite expensive for what it is, it’ll come in handy when we go to Bali, as we’re planning on going white water rafting. Also, we got some absolutely hilarious selfies of us underwater, as well as some nice photos of us by the pool to look back on in years to come.

We were planning to have a fairly chilled night, due to us having to be up early for our flight the next morning. We stupidly had 3 or 4 beers down the strip, then made our way to Beer Haus, which is a German bar with loads of board games to play. After playing Jenga whilst drinking out of a Stein, and getting thrashed by two 10 year olds at table soccer*ahem* football, we thought we’d go check out a bar that we’d come across, The Rock Bar. I enjoyed it in there, as it was the first time that I’d actually listened to decent music in a bar since we arrived, as Vegas unfortunately has a serious absence of rock bars on the strip. 😦 Of course if you know me, then you’d know fair well that one does not simply have a sophisticated night after a few drinks, especially on a Friday night in Vegas…

Usually Paul is sensible enough to prevent us for making bad decisions, such as going   full on party-mode, when we have to be up at 6AM for a 9 hour flight. Paul was not sensible, as Paul was around 5 pints in at this point *facepalm* I had the bright idea to contact Hallie and Josh, so we can say goodbye properly, and of course carry on the partaaaay. Hallie suggested that we go to bar called Gilley’s that was situated within the grounds of Treasure Island, a hotel we’d actually missed out on. I was a bit dubious about Gilley’s at first due to how rowdy it seemed initially, but it was actually amazing, and it’s a shame that we only came across it on the last night. The place is a real country and western bar, and I felt like I experienced the authentic America that I always dreamed of experiencing, with the thick southern accents: the cow-boy hats, the rodeo bull, and the line dancing. I was actually in awe at how in-sync the line dancers were with each other, and the music that they were dancing to was a real band, which made it even better. Hallie bought Paul and I some Fireball Whiskey (mm anti-freeze) for some liquid confidence, before we gave the line dancing a go. And yes, we sucked at it.

Ideally, we should have gone home afterwards, but we agreed to go to a shisha bar, or ‘hookah lounge’ as they call it in the US, which I think sounds like pure filth. Haha. I only smoke when I drink sometimes, and Paul wouldn’t smoke if you paid him a million pounds; in fact I would go as far as saying he detests it. I shared a hookah (lol) with Hallie, and had a little dance whilst the lads had a pint together. I have no idea how long we were in there, but all that they played were gangsta rap, and usually I would hate that; but all I can remember is I was ENJOYING myself, with the odd slutdrop and twerk in there for good measure. Damn, that anti-freeze must be good. ;D

We got to bed around 3AM after a rather embarrassing dispute with the lady behind the counter in the hotel shop… I genuinely thought she charged me $10 for a packet of crisps, so after causing a scene, I rushed to find my trusty knight in shining armour, to rescue my seemingly rogue spare change from the clutches of this evil woman… Only to be told by my knight in shining armour that said change is hanging out of my pocket. Duh. Cue an embarrassing trip to the shop to apologise to the poor lady, I then had to try to drag Paul out of a bar that was showing the British Lion’s Rugby match, which didn’t leave him in the best of moods, but we did have to be up in 3 hours! Damn you, alcohol.

The next morning, or a few hours later shall I say, we woke up absolutely pissed out of our heads, I genuinely don’t even remember checking out of the hotel, lol. I was also convinced that I had left my bag of make-up (my literal nightmare right there) at the hotel once I was on the plane, making my plane home a very anxious experience, but luckily drunk Amy still had her priorities in check and remembered. 😛

As I’m writing this I’m giggling to myself, and I’m sure you are too, Paul. After all, it wouldn’t be a holiday to Vegas if you didn’t go slightly crazy whilst there. 😉