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The States: New Orleans

The second leg of our trip was to New Orleans (pronounced New Orlins by the locals). We left Vegas at the very unrespectable time of 4am and had to fly to Atlanta first which was a bit of a drag.

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First glimpse of the famous Bourban Street

We were staying at an Air B’n’B two bedroom condo which was just outside the French quarter. Hilariously enough Matty and I broke our bed (by just sitting on it, I swear!) in the first 10 minutes that we were there. A peek under the bed discovered that the mattress was held up but 3 slats, 2 of which were being supported by paint cans. Ray, the man who owned the condo was very nice, he came and practically rebuilt the supports on both beds. No more paint cans!

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We continued the tradition of first and second dinners with a taste of red beans and rice, and jumbalaya rice to start at an outdoor cafe with live jazz music. For dinner I had spicy buffalo wings which were amazingly delicious but also amazingly spicy. Both Mum and I lovingly suffered out way through the entire meal. Yum. Today was also the day I began finding animals to pat. Two cats was today’s achievement, haha.

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Washboard solo!

Washboard solo!

Our second day, Thursday, started with a breakfast with live jazz music. I was starting to realise that most restaurants and bars had some sort of band playing almost constantly. We then took a ferry across the Mississippi River to Algiers for a morning drink in the pub. By the way we had at least one drink almost every day of our trip. By the end I needed to come home to take a break! We also visited the French market and ate the famous beignet donuts.

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Thursday night was also the night that we found our favourite place to go on Bourban Street, Lucky Pierre’s. We all went out for dinner and then split up at Bourban Street to spent some time in the bars and listening to the live music. Matty and I were almost headed for home when we spotted the lovely Desiree in a Fiona costume from Adventure Time. If that didn’t lure us enough, their special was 3 for 1 drinks. Lucky Pierre’s turned out to be a burlesque/gay bar where we met 3 very lovely people whom we are now all Facebook friends with. This was also the night that we discovered that people will trow mardi gras beads off the balconies for people walking along the street to catch.

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Lucky Pierre’s Bar

Friday we took a steamboat ride on ‘The Natchez’ along the Mississippi. We also visited a cemetery, and had dinner in a bar with yet another live jazz band, well 2 actually, at Frenchman Street. Friday was our quiet night.

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The Natchez

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The voodoo queen’s grave, apparently

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Saturday we took an airboat tour around the swamp lands. This tour was great! Our guide scared us all with a baby alligator that he pulled from an esky on the boat. I was of course the first brave person to hold it when the 2 large black men sitting next to us flatly refused. Oh yes, and one of those men had a hunting knife strapped to his belt too! The guide also decided that enticing alligators towards the boat with chicken wasn’t enough and that he really needed to pull a large one from the water and drop it on the deck of the boat to scare us all some more.

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Saturday night we spent some more time at Lucky Pierre’s with our friends Desiree, Amber and Al. We also had some quiet drinks on the balcony with Al after he finished his shift.

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Our final day we didn’t get up to much, except breakfast, because we had to leave around lunch to fly to LA.

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This made me giggle each time I passed it on the way to our room. There was also a bike with a plastic skull hanging from the handlebars.

At other points in the trip I also made friends with several dogs, patted an police horse and saw a squirrel. Highlights for me of course.

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The States: Las Vegas

The much more plausible reason for the lack of posting is that I recently took a trip with Matty and my parents to the States.Our first stop was Las Vegas where we stayed at the MGM Signature for 6 nights.

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Airport selfies.

The flight from Melbourne to LAX was 14 or so hours and by the time we arrived we were bushed. We had sat next to a heavily tattooed (and absolutely lovely) guy who lived in the States and gave us a lot of tips about everything. Mum and Dad had a bit of an issue with boarding passes for the second leg to Vegas, but aside from that it was a pretty smooth journey. I fell asleep at LAX on a bench and for the entire flight to Vegas on the tiny, 4 seat across plane.

Mum and Dad on the tram inside LAX

Mum and Dad on the tram inside LAX.

Mum and Dad were excited to show us the strip and more importantly how to get from our room, through the casino and out. A 15 minute walk at least! We had a quick pool tour (including the ‘lazy river’) and then we walked to Caesar’s Palace Casino and ate at a (simulated) al fresco restaurant next to the Trevi fountain.

Caeser's Palace

Caesar’s Palace.

Our first full day in Vegas was spent between feeding $1 bills into a claw machine in an attempt to win a large stuffed donut and enjoying the main pool at the hotel. That pool was amazing. The lazy river was fantastic to float around and you could drink alcoholic slushy drinks right in the water if you wanted. That night we had our first yard stick drink and saw ‘Love’ the Cirque de Soleil show featuring music by The Beatles. We also had pre and post show dinners at The Mirage and New York, New York casinos respectively.

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First yard stick drink.

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Donut claw machine

Dollar stealing donut claw machine.

Saturday I opted to go the the North Vegas outlets with Mum for a spot a lot of shopping, whilst Matty and Dad went to Freemont Street to gamble. Whilst at the outlets Mum met neighbours from down the road in Melbourne. I couldn’t believe it! That night we saw ‘V the Variety Show’, had Mexican food for dinner, shopped until midnight and met some very friendly drunk girls with a mostly empty bottle of tequilla on an overpass. We also decided that it was a must to take a yard stick drink back to the room.

This time it's a bus selfie

This time it’s a bus selfie.

On Sunday we relaxed by the pool closest to our room. We had our first American diner experience at Denny’s and spent a lovely Mother’s Day dinner at the Aria casino buffet. We also went on the rollercoaster inside of New York New York casino. Oh and I won money on the pokies.

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Denny’s lunch.

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A word search whilst I wait? Don’t mind if I do.

Cashola!

Cashola!

Since Mum and I had scoped out the outlet shops on the Saturday the boys joined us on Monday and we were in and out in a few hours. On the bus trip home we stopped at most of the casinos that we hadn’t yet visited. We had dinner at geriatric time at Caeser’s and shared delicious eggplant chips and a parma with pasta. Yep pasta. Not chips. That night was an eventful one. We met up with a friend from Instagram (Donna) and together with her friend we went out clubbing. Donna was able to get us into Marquee at the Cosmopolitan casino for free, and us girls got free drinks for the first hour we were there. Therein lay the problem. Long story short we were escorted out.

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Girls at Marquee

Girls at Marquee.

Our final Vegas day was spent having lunch at Denny’s again. We also squeezed in most of the final few casinos that we hadn’t seen. For dinner we went to Freemont Street, enjoyed the roof laser show and had a giggle at the very old casinos that still paid out coins.

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Sounds dirty right?

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Last drinks by the pool.

 

 

 

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Going to get maaarried

I am beyond happy. My wonderful partner Matty asked me to marry him on May 4th.

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We decided fairly early on in our relationship that we were going to eventually get married. We’ve been living together for about 5 of the 6 years we’ve been together and we own a home together. It was inevitable.

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Recently Matty had told me that he wanted to beat our friends and be the first to get engaged. Fine by me. I had a look at some rings at a commercial jeweler but nothing seemed very me. I wanted something unique that wasn’t too glitzy or over the top. I really wanted a ring that I had seen on Instagram by Marina Antoniou.

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Matt planned the whole engagement perfectly. We had organised to go out as a group with my ‘posse’ and their partners for a fancy dinner on the Sunday night before we left for overseas. Little did I know that Matt had actually coordinated the whole thing and asked everyone to play along. The restaurant that had been chosen was close to Swinburne Uni where we met, so before dinner Matt said that we would take a walk through the park where he first asked me out. His pretense was that he was going to take me there for our upcoming anniversary, but seeing as we would be overseas on the actual date we would stop by before dinner.

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He was the perfect gentleman whilst I sooked about it being cold and dark and a long walk to the restaurant. Then he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I, of course, cried and said how beautiful the ring was without actually saying yes until Matt told me to put it on because his knee was getting wet. Haha.

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When we joined the rest of the group in the restaurant we celebrated with champagne and I was politely told that all my close friends and family knew about the intended proposal and had been keeping in secret for some time.

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It was really nice to be able to celebrate with our friends when it happened and then to make the rounds to the parents on the way home from the restaurant.

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The ring is absolutely beautiful and Matty was amazing to organise it all so wonderfully. I’m just so happy that I am going to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s perfect.

P.S. The ring is the one that I originally had my heart set on. It’s hand crafted by the wonderful Marina Antoniou who was an absolute gem throughout the whole process.

Nicole

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A little AWOL

Apologies for being AWOL for about a month there. I just can’t seem to get my head around posting on a regular basis, which is odd (and pretty slack) because I usually have a bit of a thing for structure and organisation in my life.

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In the time that I’ve been gone there has been quite a few exciting events in my life, some of which have contributed to the lack of posting.

First up I got engaged to the most wonderful guy ever. Hooray!

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Second that I took a wonderful trip with my fiance and my parents to the States for two weeks.

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I’m not going to tell much about either yet because I want to post about each thing on it’s own. They’re so big and involved that that deserve their own posts I think.

Nicole