Universal Studios Hollywood

As far as I remember, I haven’t ever been to Universal Studios Hollywood before. 

So both Topher and I were excited to compare it to it’s counterpart in Orlando. First off, it is so weird knowing a theme park like the back of your hand then visiting another version of it. Lots of similarities but you can’t seem to find anything. Thank god for the map!

Universal Studios Hollywood - spinning sign

Universal Studios Hollywood - Popcorn

We arrived at opening and started the morning by jumping onto the Studio tour. My initial plan was to go to the lower lot where the most popular rides were but as we arrived we found out that it doesn’t open for the first hour of park opening. I hate when places do this but it worked out ok in the end as the studio tour lasted about 40 minutes so by the time we were done, the lot opened.

Universal Studios Hollywood -studio tour

As it had just opened, the rides were pretty much a walk on down there (so many escalators!) which was a bonus. Transformers is exactly the same as Orlando and Jurassic Park is almost the same with a couple of differences. The Mummy on the other hand was completely different. Still a rollercoaster but a different track. I really enjoyed it – not sure which one I prefer.

Universal Studios Hollywood - lower lot

Universal Studios Hollywood - jurassic park

Then we moved onto Krustyland. The Simpsons ride is the same as Orlando one – don’t have lunch before this ride!

Universal Studios Hollywood - krustyland

Universal Studios Hollywood - side show bob

We had lunch at Luigis Pizza in Springfield/Krustyland which did the job. Universal food is never much to write home about but the theming of their restaurants is always on point!

Universal Studios Hollywood - duff beer

Of course we couldn’t visit Universal without a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is an exact copy of the Orlando Hogsmeade right down to the rides. It was nice to be “back” as the last one we visited was in 2015 when Topher proposed!

Universal Studios Hollywood - hogsmeade

Universal Studios Hollywood - hogwarts

After riding both rides we headed to the Hogs Head for a butterbeer to cool down. Now in Orlando it’s usually much quicker going in there to get your butterbeer as most people queue up at the carts outside. That was not the case in Hollywood. We were so confused at the large line coming out of the Hogs Head and couldn’t figure out why until we eavesdropped on some other people in the queue.

It turns out that everyone likes to get a shot of whiskey in their butterbeer here. It was never a thing when we went in Orlando so it was a bit surprising (is it a thing now?). Considering how hot it is, we like to avoid alcohol because of dehydration. But then maybe we’re weird – I know plenty of people who like to drink around the world in epcot but I’ll stick to my single margarita thanks.

When we did eventually get our frozen butterbeers we were disappointed to find them really watery in taste. Maybe we got a bad batch? Or maybe that’s why people add whiskey to them? Oh well. It wasn’t the end of the world – I’ll just look forward to the next time we go back to Orlando in a few years.

Universal Studios Hollywood - butterbeer

Pygmy puff slippers!

Universal Studios Hollywood - pygmy puff slippers

Universal Studios Hollywood - hogwarts express

One thing Orlando doesn’t have is Super Silly Fun Land from Despicable Me. The rides were more for kids so we just walked around and enjoyed the theming. I guess Orlando don’t have it as it would be in direct competition for Seuss Landing. Both have that same colourful, childlike vibe.

Universal Studios Hollywood - super silly fun land

We met Gru!

Universal Studios Hollywood - gru

And King Julien

Universal Studios Hollywood - king lou

Another thing Orlando doesn’t have – The Walking Dead attraction. It’s a walk through where zombies jump out at you. It’s just like Halloween Horror Nights but with more space. Claire would definitely enjoy this more as she found the HHN houses way too claustrophobic. So if you’re claustrophobic but want to see some zombies – this is a way better option!

Also super random but well done for the employee for stopping a women taking in her scared five year old. This is definitely not an attraction for small kids! Not judging the woman but I definitely advise reading the attraction descriptions carefully before going on.

Universal Studios Hollywood - walking dead

Universal Studios Hollywood - sign

Overall, we had a great day but the Orlando Universal Studios is definitely superior in our eyes!

Here’s where we’ve been so far on our honeymoon:

Part 1: New York

What we ate in New York

Part 2: San Francisco

What we ate in San Francisco

Color Factory

Madonna Inn & A Californian Roadtrip

Part 3: Los Angeles 

What we ate in Los Angeles




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Taking a Look at the Past for Future Travel Inspiration

travel inspiration

Image source

When it comes to world travel, you’ve probably noticed that your friends and other acquaintances tend to be frequenting the same places, taking part in the same activities and taking the same stock-style photos at each spot they visit. Now, this isn’t all too surprising. We see something on social media and decide to go there. We use the same travel companies who prefer the same routes. But don’t you want your experience of the wider world to be unique? To stand out from the stereotypical gap-year rigmarole? Well, perhaps it’s time to start getting inspiration from the past rather than our everyday social media newsfeed.

Sourcing Inspiration

The first step towards deciding on where you want to go is to learn about the world’s greatest explorers. Back in the day, the world was full of uncharted territories. Nowadays, we have a pretty good idea of where every continent and country lies. So you may not be able to “discover” a new land. However, you can “rediscover” places that may have fallen out of fashion in the travel industry. How to find accounts of these places? Recounting the tales and travel diaries of the greats.


So, we’re all well acquainted with the explorer Christopher Columbus. While his “discovery” of America can be debated (there were already native people inhabiting the lands), there’s no denying that the USA is a whole new world for any explorer who wants to get their teeth into urban travel. Think about it: the United States is home to some of the world’s largest and most renowned cities. New York is a brilliant place to start, with the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, The Empire State Building and endless art museums and cultural days out. If you fancy something a little more rural, then you can visit one of North America’s national parks. Yellowstone Park, located in Wyoming, Montana, spans almost 9000 square kilometres of land where you can hike to your heart’s content.


British explorer Captain Cook was the first European to set foot on the East Coast of Australia. So why not follow his footsteps and take a trip to the land down under. If you’re fond of exploration a little further from the shore, take a dive in azure waters. The Great Barrier Reef is, of course, top of the list. It’s not surprising: it is home to the world’s largest living coral reef and hosts all sorts of underwater wildlife. However, there are plenty of alternative and quieter dive spots, such as the Yongala wreck, Whitsunday Islands, and Ningaloo Reef. If you prefer to stay on dry land, but still want a taste of the wild, why not try an outback tour. You can go by jeep, or even helicopter to see stunning canyons, astounding mountains and dusty desert-like expanses.

These are just a couple of places that may take your fancy.

At the end of the day, the world is your oyster. So seize whatever opportunities pose themselves to you.


*This is a collaborative post

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Los Angeles Food: What we ate on our Honeymoon

So, Los Angeles Food. As you know, all we had was an afternoon & evening in Los Angeles so there’s not much food in this one! 4 meals isn’t too bad though (technically one is in Anaheim but shh!). Here’s what we ate:

Fat Sal’s

I can’t remember where I saw the recommendation for this place but my oh my am I glad we found it. Topher is still asking for fat sandwiches today! We visited the Hollywood location and it was the perfect place to celebrate finally making it to LA.

Los Angeles Food - fat sals

Their fat sandwiches have fries in them. That’s all I need to say! Having been stuffed to the brim with food over the previous 24 hours, we opted to share a sandwich and a portion fries. It was the perfect amount but we wanted more because it was so good.

Los Angeles Food - fat sals sandwich

We chose the classic Fat Sal Sandwich which is roast beef, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries and brown gravy on a garlic hero. One word: heaven. Just pure heaven. I would kill to get my hands on another one of these. And one all to myself for that matter. If you’re ever in California or Texas, go! They’ve got a few locations in both states.

Los Angeles Food - inside sandwich


The home of ice cream and an instagramer’s dream – we stopped off at Milk for some dessert before doing our sightseeing.

Los Angeles Food - milk exterior

Los Angeles Food - milk interior

I was told their ice cream sandwiches are king and I definitely agree. Ice cream sandwiched between two large macarons, it was the perfect size to give you a sugar rush but not put you in a sugar coma. I had red velvet and Topher had some kind of chocolate which probably had coffee in it too (I can’t remember exactly). Both were great and I recommend this place.

Parking was a little bit interesting as there is none but there was a residential street nearby that looked safe enough (in terms of getting a ticket kind of safe!).

Los Angeles Food - ice cream sandwiches


I told myself we would avoid chains (at least ones we had tried before and that you can get everywhere) but after our sightseeing was done in the evening, we headed to Souplantation. The same company as Sweet Tomatoes which Topher and I love; we knew we would need an injection of something green in our diet during the trip. It’s basically a giant salad bar buffet where you can also get soups, and other hot foods along with dessert.

We piled our plates high with veggies and it was awesome. I may have had some cornbread too which I’m known among friends and family for stuffing my handbag full of the stuff on the way out. This time, it was just a couple of pieces on my plate. I also discovered their snickerdoodles which were so incredibly delicious and I don’t remember seeing at Sweet Tomatoes so I’ll have to keep an eye out on our next trip.

Los Angeles Food - souplantation

The Griddle Cafe

In the morning before heading out to Universal Studios, we were in the mood for pancakes so we went to The Griddle Cafe.

Los Angeles Food - griddle cafe interior

The menu was very impressive and the flavours were really out there and interesting. I decided to go with “tis the season” which was pumpkin flavour pancakes and Topher decided on an espresso based stack called Eyes wide open (surprise surprise)

Los Angeles Food - griddle cafe menu

So I was aware that the portions were big…I just didn’t realise that they were this big! Seriously kids, it’s nice to share. Please share!

Los Angeles Food - pumpkin pancakes

I mean this is ridiculous!

Los Angeles Food - diane vs pancakes

Even Topher struggled. Neither of us finished even half of our stack and for Topher that’s saying something. I felt so guilty for wasting so much food.

Los Angeles Food - coffee pancakes

Los Angeles Food - Topher vs Pancakes

He said his was nice but didn’t have enough coffee to it and as for mine, they were so delicious. They got the amount of sweet just right so it wasn’t too much. Apart from the size, my only problem with it was the huge amount of whipped cream on top –  it soaked into the stack and made it waaaay too sweet. I think I would have been able to eat a bit more of it without it. Still wouldn’t have been half but it would have been something.

We couldn’t even take leftovers as we were going to Universal and then off to our new hotel in Anaheim. I would definitely recommend this place though. Just be prepared for the size and share between at least two people.

Los Angeles Food - beaten by pancakes

In N Out Burger

Finally, we couldn’t go to California and not sample In N Out Burger. We went to one in Anaheim near our hotel after getting stuck in a load of traffic so we couldn’t wait to eat. We both ordered cheeseburgers and a side of fries, “Animal Style” to share. For fellow first timers, Animal Style fries are not on the main menu – they’re on a secret one so you just have to ask when you order.

I wouldn’t call it a religious experience but it was tasty and definitely just what we needed after a long day. I’d go again if I was in the area!

Los Angeles Food - in n out burger

And that’s everything we ate. Stay tuned for next week when I post about what we got up to at Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Here’s where we’ve been so far:

Part 1: New York

What we ate in New York

Part 2: San Francisco

What we ate in San Francisco

Color Factory

Madonna Inn & A Californian Roadtrip

Part 3: Los Angeles 


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Los Angeles Honeymoon Travel Diary

So on Day 7 of our honeymoon, we finally arrived in Los Angeles 

Since our schedule was so tight and we prioritised visiting theme parks for this portion of the trip, we basically had a single afternoon to see as much as we could in LA. So after lunch we hit the ground running.

Hollywood Sign

First up was the Hollywood sign. To be fair we could have just left it at this picture but I had scouted out a viewing point where I could park and get out of the car on Google Maps so we headed on up the super windy hills.

Los Angeles - Hollywood street

Hello Hollywood. Topher was a bit disappointed as he thought it would be bigger but I had to remind him that it is big, we just weren’t particularly close!

Los Angeles - hollywood sign

Tourist selfies of course!

Los Angeles - diane and topher hollywood sign

Los Angeles - diane hollywood sign

Griffith Park

Then it was back in the car to drive to Griffith Park. It was huge. I wanted to find the carousel where Walt Disney used to take his daughters and where he got the idea for Disneyland. It was touch and go but we found it!

Los Angeles - walt's carousel

Griffith Observatory

Back in the car for our final driven stop which was Griffith Observatory. As far as I remember (not a lot!) I never went here with my family so this was a first for the both of us. It’s just so iconic! There is paid parking available but you can actually park at the bottom of the hill and hike up for free.

We were tired but it was definitely worth it. I think it took us about 20 mins. Warning – it is steep!

Los Angeles - Griffith observatory

Inside the observatory:

Los Angeles - griffith observatory ceiling

And the park in front of it.

Los Angeles - observatory park

The view was amazing!

Los Angeles - downtown view

Los Angeles - observatory view

Los Angeles - LA view

By this time it was time to check into our hotel, The Moment. I was really happy with our stay here and I definitely recommend it. The Sunset Blvd location is ideal and the hotel is clean and modern.

Los Angeles - The Moment Hotel

Los Angeles - hotel room

Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater

After getting all checked in, we headed straight out and walked about 15/20 minutes to Hollywood Blvd so we could see the Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was super busy but we had a good time trying to spot names we knew on the street.

Unfortunately they seemed to be setting up for an event at the Theater so you couldn’t walk right up to it and look at the hand prints but we saw a few cool ones from the edge.

Los Angeles - grauman's chinese theater

Los Angeles - disney star

Absolutely shattered we headed back to the hotel as we would need our rest for Universal Studios in the morning!

Los Angeles - street art

Next up, what we ate in Los Angeles

Here’s where we’ve been so far:

Part 1: New York

What we ate in New York

Part 2: San Francisco

What we ate in San Francisco

Color Factory

Madonna Inn & A Californian Roadtrip



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Madonna Inn & A Californian Roadtrip

Madonna Inn has been on my bucket list for quite a few years now.

After discovering it through the world of blogging and social media, I had to make it part of our honeymoon. Perfectly, the Madonna Inn is situated in San Luis Obispo, California which is approximately half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Though you can spend days road tripping between these two cities, we were on a tighter schedule so split it over two days with Madonna Inn being the overnight stop in between.

So our journey started back at San Francisco airport where we picked up our rental car. This is the only photo I have with it. Isn’t it dinky? I thought Jeep’s were supposed to be big! No matter, we had a giggle and it was a really nice running car.

Madonna Inn - rental car

The Road Trip

We set off sometime between 3 and 4 in the afternoon with plans to reach the Madonna Inn by 8pm latest. We would take the 1 highway that runs along the coast (purely for the photos!) Topher noticed that Big Sur was actually all closed due to roadworks so we planned on getting off the 1 before hitting that section of the road. It seemed like a good plan.

Madonna Inn - Pacific Ocean

Topher actually vlogged a lot of the journey as I was driving so at some point I’ll get that up on my Youtube channel.

Madonna Inn - beach

Unfortunately we ran into a lot of traffic along the way but we also combined it with missing a couple of turns which led to me driving after dark.

Not usually a problem but as you can see, there are no lights on these roads and the cats eyes on the road were pretty useless. So you couldn’t see a thing. There weren’t many other cars on the road. This was paired with the fact that 75% of the time the highway exits were on bends and it was natural to follow them off so you had to really keep your eyes peeled so you stayed on the road.

Topher who usually falls asleep on these kind of trips was wide awake and had his phone sat nav on so he could warn me when the road bended. It’s safe to say that my body was locked in a tense gripping onto the steering wheel type of situation. I’ve been driving for over 12 years and this was my third time driving in the US and was definitely up there on my list of terrifying driving situations.

Luckily it was only about an 80 mile stretch in the dark so I just drove like an old woman and we eventually made it to Madonna Inn at around 10pm.

Madonna Inn - mountains

Our room

Absolutely shattered, we grabbed some burritos from Chipotle just up the road and we checked in.

We got the Starlite room which is the one I requested. Yay! Sorry for the terrible photos – it was obviously night time so the light wasn’t on my side.

So we’ll start with the bed. Doesn’t this look like it belongs in Beauty and the Beast?

Madonna Inn - bed

The ceilings were so high. I now realise I barely took any room photos but I did do a super shaky room tour so I’ll get that on my channel as well.

Madonna Inn - sofa

Madonna Inn - chandelier

Of course I didn’t remember to photograph the bathroom but it was full of these blue tiles.

Madonna Inn - bathroom

After a good night’s sleep we could actually appreciate the balcony that is attached to the room.

Madonna Inn - balcony

The Copper Cafe

We had breakfast in the Copper Cafe which is part of the hotel and we sat in a booth. How awesome are these goblets? They’re actually for sale in their shop so you could get one to take home. Kinda wishing we’d been able to. Next time I guess!

Madonna Inn - table

Madonna Inn - copper cafe

We both had pancakes and I hoovered most of them down. Not a bad effort.

Madonna Inn - pancakes

In the Copper Cafe they also sell chocolates and cookies. So tempting but we were stuffed and knew we’d be eating as soon as we reached LA.

Madonna Inn - chocolate

Madonna Inn - goblets

The Madonna Inn Interior

After breakfast we had a wander round to take some photos before heading off. We only saw the outside the night before and it was so pretty with all of the fairy lights in the world.

The started at the Steakhouse which we had considered booking a table for but I’m so glad we didn’t as we would have definitely missed the reservation.

Madonna Inn - stone desk

Hello creepy doll. It was an animatronic too. Shivers*

Madonna Inn - doll

The restaurant was closed of course but look how kitsch it is!

Madonna Inn - dining room

Below is the bar.

Madonna Inn - bar

The founders.

Madonna Inn - founders

We headed into the basement where there is a wine cellar, gift shop, bathrooms and a candy cavern of course!

Madonna Inn - candy cavern

This is the ladies bathroom. Shiny wallpaper alert!

Madonna Inn - visitor bathroom

The Madonna Inn Exterior

Madonna Inn - front door

I’m so glad we came though I would definitely recommend coming for at least two nights so you can fully enjoy it. They have a spa and do horse riding among other things. There’s a pink tennis court too.

Madonna Inn - exterior

Madonna Inn - check in

Madonna Inn - diane outside

Madonna Inn - topher outside

All checked out, we hit the road just after 10am to a much calmer trip.

Madonna Inn - road

This one passed without incident. Probably because we took the direct route! It only took 3 hours so we arrived just in time for lunch.

Madonna Inn - road to LA

The next chapter is LA. Stay tuned!

Here’s where we’ve been so far:

Part 1: New York

What we ate in New York

Part 2: San Francisco

What we ate in San Francisco

Color Factory

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