Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Food, Travel

3 Days In Sydney, Australia

After visiting Perth in Western Australia, stop two of my short travels was Sydney. It felt like we couldn’t really go all that way and not check out all the iconic sites, so we fitted as much as we could into our three days in Sydney.

Where to stay in Sydney on a budget

As we were definitely traveling on a bit of a budget (our Australian trip was just a little extra before our adventures around New Zealand), we stayed at the YHA Railway Square. It’s right next to the central station, which means it’s easy to get there via public transport. However, we actually found it was cheaper to get an Uber split between two of us than get the train.

The YHA Railway Square hostel in Sydney is spacious, modern and clean. You can stay in dorms, doubles, or even an old railway carriage off the platform at the back. There’s plenty of showers and toilets, a big communal space, and there seemed to be lots of activities and events (we didn’t manage to fit any in though!). 

Budget friendly things to do in Sydney, Australia 

  • Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House – You obviously cannot go to Sydney and not lay your eyes on these famous landmarks. Head to the Opera House from Circular Quay station and you can get a great view across the harbour of the bridge. 
  • Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk – Start off at the iconic Bondi Beach and watch the surfers or give it a go yourself. Walking from Bondi to Coogee Beach is super easy with lots of places to stop off for a rest or some food. And you can easily get public transport to and from each beach. 
  • Darling Harbour To Circular Quay Ferry – There are plenty of pricey boat tours you can take for a proper cruise around the harbour, but if you’re traveling Australia on a budget then you can hop on the ferry. It’s especially great at sunset as you go right under the bridge and you get to see everything light up as it gets dark.  
  • Free walking tour – Always a great way to learn a bit of history and see some places you might not know about when you’re doing a short trip (I also find them good at the start of longer trips to familiarise yourself with a place). 

Sydney three day itinerary 

So this is a quick run through of how we spent our three days in Sydney — we didn’t do a whole lot of research or planning so it might not be the most efficient or comprehensive itinerary. Also it was over 40 degrees celsius when we were there, so we avoided doing a lot of walking or anything too active. 

Day 1

Our flight was an overnight one from Perth – which seemed like a great idea when we booked as we would sleep on the plane (and it was the cheapest) but of course I did not sleep. So we landed in Sydney at 5.30am and headed to our hostel. 

We had to wait a bit before we could check in, but then we went to sleep and accidentally napped until 2pm. 

We then decided to tick off the main sights straight away, so we got the train from Central Station to Circular Quay. We walked around to the steps of the Sydney Opera House and took hundreds of pictures of it and the harbour. Next we walked up to the Sydney Botanic Gardens, which was nice to walk around but I wouldn’t make it a priority to visit unless you’re particularly into gardening — it was just so hot we couldn’t contemplate walking very far. 

Sydney Operar House - Three days in Sydney
Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour Bridge

After the Botanic Gardens we went looking for somewhere to have a drink and cool off, and found ourselves in Luca’s bar. We didn’t get food there but the burgers looked pretty good. 

Next we went to meet a friend for dinner at Ho Jiak, Haymarket, and then went for cocktails at Banchō afterwards, which was only a few minutes away from the YHA. 

Day 2 

On our second day we headed to Bondi Beach to do the walk from Bondi to Coogee beach. It was super easy to get there by public transport – we got a train at Central Station to Bondi Junction and then got a bus to Bondi Beach. 

We got off at Bondi, walked along the front, and headed up away from the beach a little to check out a cafe and bookshop, Gertrude and Alice, that had been recommended to us. After an iced coffee and a break we headed back to the beach and started the walk towards Coogee Beach. 

Street art next to Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Three days in Sydney - Bondi Beach Sydney

It’s about an hour’s walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach if you do it all at once, and it’s pretty easy, but we broke it down with lots of stops. We had lunch at G’day Bronte Cafe at Bronte Beach, and then stopped again at Clovelly Beach. 

Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach
Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk
Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk

When we got to Coogee Beach we sunbathed for a little and then caught the bus back to Central Station. 

In the evening, we decided to get the ferry from Darling Harbour round to Circular Quay. But first we grabbed a burger at Nameless Bar (it was called Down n Out when we visited). We then walked around to the ferry point through Darling Harbour, which seemed like a pretty cool area – modern, lots of people and things going on. 

Darling Harbour, Sydney
Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour bridge ferry
Sydney Opera House at night

When we got to the ferry stop we bought tickets from the machine and got on the ferry to Circular Quay. The sun was going down just as we got on the boat and all the buildings started to light up. The ferry goes right under the harbour bridge and you get to see the Opera House lit up – if you’re on a budget then it’s a great alternative to some of the harbour cruises. 

Day 3 

We were up early, packed our stuff, and checked out of the hostel. We then headed to meet a friend for breakfast at Haven Speciality Coffee. After that we took the light rail down to City Hall and joined the Sydney free walking tour

Three days in Sydney - Sydney Free Walking Tour

The walking tour went through the Queen Victoria Building to Hyde Park, the Rum Hospital, the Post Office, and then down to The Rock, finishing underneath the harbour bridge. 

The Rocks on the Sydney Free Walking Tour

I personally love doing a free walking tour anywhere I go – you always get lots of interesting insights and learn a bit about a place (I know you could read about the history but I wouldn’t take it in). Plus, we probably wouldn’t have made it over to The Rocks if we hadn’t done the walking tour. It’s an interesting area, with lots of smaller, older buildings and quite different to all the big, office block buildings around the rest of the harbour. 

Three days in Sydney - Sydney Opera House walking tour

Once the tour was finished we walked back to the weekend markets at The Rocks where there were lots of local crafts, gifts, and souvenirs. After that we went into the Museum of Contemporary Art (mainly because it was free and air conditioned!). We then headed back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and made our way to the airport ready to fly to Wellington, New Zealand. 

Where to eat in Sydney 

Ho Jiak, Haymarket 

This is a Malaysian restaurant that my friend had found. The food was amazing, and we ordered lots of different dishes so we could try a bit of everything. It was very, very spicy though — I thought I’d built up a tolerance so didn’t ask for it to be less spicy, but I was very wrong. 

Ho Jiak
Chinatown, 92 Hay Street, Haymarket, NSW, 2000

Banchō 

Banchō is a tiny little whiskey and cocktail bar – very sleek and modern, with some of the prettiest cocktails. 

Banchō
10 Thomas Lane, Haymarket, 2000

Gertrude and Alice Cafe

Sign on a wall inside Gertrude and Alice cafe in Bondi Beach, Australia.

This coffee shop/book shop is absolutely crammed with hundreds of books and seats scattered around inside. We didn’t stay for very long, but they did great coffee and snacks. 

Gertrude and Alice cafe
46 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026

Nameless Bar (Down N Out)

Neon sign on a wall on the way in to Nameless bar in Sydney.
The best beef burger from Nameless bar in Sydney Australia.

For me, this was the real highlight for food in Sydney. It’s a ‘dive bar’ up some narrow steps and I really wasnt sure what to expect as we walked up to it. But inside it’s very cool, lots of arcade games and memorabilia on the walls. 

I had a burger, of course: the tiger style patty which is a mustard grilled Wagyu beef patty and caramelised onions, with american cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapenos and their secret sauce ($12). It was easily the best burger I’ve had in a long time – the beef was super tender and there wasn’t too much stuffed into the bun so it didn’t fall apart as I ate it. 

Nameless Bar
LVL 1/77 Liverpool Street, 2000

Haven Speciality Coffee

Pancakes and ice cream from Haven Speciality Coffee in Sydney, Australia.

Great spot for brunch (although there are plenty of places to choose from in Sydney) – good coffee, chilled out, and amazing pancakes. 

Haven Speciality Coffee
30-34 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Overall, for us three days in Sydney was plenty of time to see all the main sites and make our way around the city. I’m sure there’s lots more to see in Sydney, but we just wanted a quick visit before heading on to New Zealand. 

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Food, Travel

What to do in Perth, Western Australia

While Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is one of the most isolated cities in the world, it’s definitely worth adding to any Australian travel itinerary. It’s a beautiful, modern city, with great food, and a huge public park and botanical gardens. Plus, you can take a half hour drive from Perth to visit the charming port city of Fremantle.

What to do in Perth

Rottnest Island

You can’t visit Perth without making the trip over to Rottnest Island to hang out with the adorable Quokkas. Rottnest is one of the only places in the world where you can find Quokkas in the wild, and you will find them everywhere.

Book a ferry online here, and jump on at either Elizabeth Quays, in Perth City for an extended river cruise, or get on at Fremantle for a quicker boat trip. For an extra $30 you can hire bikes directly from the boat company and collect them as you disembark on the island. We were a bit unsure about whether to hire bikes, but they’re definitely the best way to get around and see more of the island – there are a number of different length routes, with a few minor hills.

Once you’re done cycling, two of the best beaches for a bit of relaxation are The Basin and Pinky Beach. Around that area are a lot of the Quokka, but you will spot them all over the island if you keep your eyes peeled.

Visiting Rottnest is definitely a full day trip. We caught the ferry that arrived at 10.30am and the 5pm ferry back, which was long enough to cycle around half the island at a leisurely pace, and then spend a couple of hours on the beach.

Rottnest Island Express

Perth Zoo

If you’re keen to encounter some of Australia’s native wildlife then a visit to Perth Zoo is well worthwhile. The Australian Bushwalk area is where you can find all the iconic Australian animals from kangaroos to koalas, as well as some emus, Tasmanian devils, wombats and dingos.

It’s best to visit early morning, or later in the afternoon, if you’re hoping to see them up and about, as they avoid the midday heat. It’s also worth checking out the talks, where zoo staff will share a bit more information about the resident animals.

Perth Zoo
20 Labouchere Rd, South Perth WA 6151, Australia

Kings Park

This huge inner city park is considerably bigger than Central Park, and home to the Western Australia Botanic Garden, as well as 400 hectares of protected bushland. Set aside a couple of hours and venture through the park, or take a picnic and enjoy it on one of the landscaped lawns with views of the river and Perth city.

For even better panoramic views of the city, walk along the Lotterywest Federation walkway, which cuts above the park.

Find out more about Kings Park here.
Fraser Avenue, Kings Park WA 6005

Fremantle

If you get the chance to venture out of Perth city, then head to Fremantle for a day or two. It’s a port city less than half an hour’s drive from the centre of Perth.

It’s known for its 19th century, colonial-style buildings, and is filled with striking street art, cute cafes, bars, micro breweries, and shops. The Fremantle Markets hold over a hundred stalls selling locally made crafts, souvenirs, and other unique finds, as well as a variety of food stalls.

You can also visit Fremantle prison, which was in use from the 1850s until 1991. And close by is Cottesloe Beach, with stunning white sands.

Plan your visit to Fremantle here.

Where to eat in Perth on a budget

Eating out all the time while you’re travelling can add up, but these are some of the best places to head to in Perth for reasonably priced, delicious food.

Authentic Bites Dumpling House

If you’re after any kind of Chinese food in Perth, you have to go to Authentic Bites Dumpling House. You can’t reserve a table, and there is sometimes a line waiting outside, but be patient – it moves quickly and it’s so worthwhile.

With boiled, steamed, or pan fried dumplings, as well as rice dishes, noodles and sides – there’s so much choice it can be a little overwhelming. We tried the pork and prawn wontons in spice sauce, steamed vegetarian dumplings, plus beef rolls, and a fried chicken steak – and a side of Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce because you can’t forget about your greens. The wontons in particular were amazing, but it was all really filling and only about $20 per person for plenty of food.

Authentic Bites Dumpling House
3/145 Newcastle Street, Northbridge, Perth

Little Lefroys

Fremantle has so many great places for brunch, you can’t really go wrong. On the Saturday we were there we headed to Little Lefroys on South Terrace. They do excellent coffee, and the brunches were all incredible.

I had the quesadilla with black beans, feta, avocado salsa, cherry tomatoes and fried egg, which was perfect. The shakshuka and the green bowl also looked really fresh and delicious.

Little Lefroys
310 South Terrace, South Fremantle, WA 6162

Duck Duck Bruce

Another coffee and breakfast spot in the centre of Fremantle that’s definitely worth checking out is Duck Duck Bruce.

It’s in a really cute, old building on Collie Street with a creative, unique menu of fresh dishes – they serve breakfast until 11.30, then lunch is available from about midday until they close at 3pm.

Duck Duck Bruce
18 Collie Street, Fremantle WA 6160

The Mantle – food truck heaven

Food trucks are always a great shout when there’s a group of you and everyone can choose exactly what they want to eat. At The Mantle they have a whole load of local kitchen pop-up food trucks inside a historic warehouse space – you can pick and choose from curries, fish and chips, burgers, pizzas and lots more. Alternatively you can order from the resident Free Pizza Factory or Short Order Burger Co.

Catch the food trucks in action Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 6pm until late.

The Mantle
1 James Street (Corner Beach and James Street), Fremantle 

Whisk Creamery

After a bit of an extravagant desert in Perth? Look no further than Whisk Creamery (just around the corner from the Dumpling House). These have even made it on to Big Seven Travel’s most instagrammable desserts list.

You can either pick from one of their sweet creations such as the unicorn cone or a hazelnut sandwich (a cronut filled with gelato and topped with Nutella and whipped cream), or build your own picture-perfect dessert. They have a range of ice cream flavours including Italian hazelnut, salted caramel, uji matca.

Whisk Creamery 
151 Rokeby Road, Subiaco WA 6008

 

Food, Travel

Glasgow, Scotland

We dithered so long on where to go over the Easter weekend break that flights got crazy expensive, so in the end we made a last minute (slightly crazy) decision to drive up to Glasgow.

When I told some people we were planning on driving to Glasgow on Good Friday, they laughed hard and told me we’d be stuck in traffic for days, but actually the drive took about 8 ish hours. Plus we stopped off at the Tebay Services, which has an amazing farmshop and restaurant – a big step up for your usual Burger King/McDonald’s services.

Once we made it to Glasgow, we checked into the impressive Grand Central Hotel, which is attached to Glasgow’s main train station. It’s a 19th century railway hotel, with an amazing lobby, and endless corridors with little alcoves.

Bread Meats Bread

We headed straight to Bread Meats Bread for burgers – a casual diner-style place with booths right in the centre of Glasgow.

I went for the Full House Burger (£11) a chunky, tender beef burger with smoky Scarmoza cheese, BBQ beef brisket, crispy fried onions, spicy beef mayo and pickles. It was insanely delicious; juicy and full of so much flavour and lots of sauce, which is always a winner.

We also had a side of Buffalo Fries (£4.50) which had loads of hot buffalo sauce, blue cheese mayo and crispy fried onion.

Bread Meats Bread – 104 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5UB

Kimchi Cult

Tucked away in Glasgow’s West End is the absolute must-visit, Korean style fast food Kimchi Cult. It’s a tiny little place; casual take-away, order at the counter kind of place, with a couple of benches if you want to eat in.

Obviously Kimchi is a key part of their menu; it’s made to a special Jeonju regional recipe passed down through generations, and seriously delicious.

We tried two Baos (Taiwanese steamed buns): slow roasted bulgogi brisket with kimchi, spring onions and sesame seeds (£4.50), and panko prawn with shredded cabbage, mayo and tonkatsu sauce (£4.00).

Then we had the Bulgogi fries (£7.50) with slow roasted brisket, spring onions, house kimchi hot sauce and mayo, which were so tasty. And Tom had the Korean Fried Chicken (£7.50), which was apparently on the level of the amazing fried chicken we had at Front Porch in San Francisco.

Kimchi Cult – 14 Chancellor Street, Glasgow, G11 5RQ

The Spanish Butcher

On the Sunday we decided we wanted an epic roast, so we did some frantic searching and discovered The Spanish Butcher.

With high ceilings, simple decor and loft-style vibe, The Spanish Butcher has a classy but relaxed atmosphere. We walked in at about 2pm and were seated straight away; almost immediately we saw their amazing roasts being served and we knew we’d made a great choice.

To start with we shared Jamon Iberico Croquettas with roasted garlic alioli, and the Cured Iberican Meats. Then I had the Roast Sirloin of Beef with beef and jamon jus, and charred red pepper, paprika cauliflower, red peppers, plus amazing olive oil and thyme roast potatoes. The meat was actually perfect; tender and juicy, with so much flavour packed in.

I honestly think it might have been the best roast I’ve ever had, and at £16 for one course or £19 for two courses, it was really reasonable as well. If you’re looking for an amazing Sunday Roast in Glasgow, make a bee line to the Spanish Butcher.

The Spanish Butcher – 80, Miller Street, Glasgow, G1 1DT

Platform

Another place you need to check out on your food tour of Glasgow is Platform. It’s a street food market, full of amazing independent stalls and ideal if you can’t decide what you want to eat!

Platform – 253, Argyle Street, G2 8DL

Exploring Glasgow

We managed to pack a lot into what was really only two full days in Glasgow. The first day we visited The Lighthouse and then walked from our hotel over to the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and saw the iconic Glasgow University buildings and the Hunterian Art Gallery.

We strolled along Argyle Street, which is full of interesting places to eat, drink and shop and popped into Lebowskis.

In the evening we went to the The Stand Comedy Club, which was actually hilarious.

On our second day, after our roast, we headed out in the other direction and walked through The Barras, saw Barrowland Ballroom, and then visited Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis.

Next we stopped off at the Drygate Brewery for a couple of drinks in the sunshine, and picked up a Tantrum Doughnuts on the way back.

Glasgow is a really fun, quirky place for a weekend visit. I was overwhelmed by the number of amazing, independent restaurants, there were so many more that I wanted to try. It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to explore, but maybe we’ll take a short cut and fly next time.

 

Food

The Bite, Dalston

Nestled on Kingsland Road, Dalston is a delightful little Italian restaurant, The Bite. We stumbled on it, late Saturday evening, tired and hungry for pizza; it didn’t disappoint.

The Bite has a casual, cosy feel, with friendly staff and a typical Italian menu: pizza, pasta, calzone.

Their pizzas are Neopoliatan style, with a thin base and lots of sauce.I went for the Capricciosa and to be honest, it was absolutely just as good as the ones I’ve had in Rome and Venice.

A lovely thin but doughy base, with a very generous helping of mozzarella, plus cooked ham, mushrooms, artichokes and green olives. For all those crazy pizza combinations out there, is there anything better than this classic?!

The Bite is a no frills kind of place, but cute and welcoming, with lots of delicious Italian comfort food.

The Bite, 533 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 4AR

Food

Quick and easy dinner ideas

I haven’t done a recipe post in a very, very long time- but recently I’ve been really trying to cook from scratch more often, so I have control over the amount of salt, sugar etc that’s going into my meals. Here’s a few quick and easy recipes that I’ve been making over the last couple of months:

Mixed bean chilli soup with homemade guacamole

This is based on this BBC recipe for Mexican bean soup with guacamole.

Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 red pepper, 1 red chilli, tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of Tesco’s taco mixed beans, veg stock, chilli powder, coriander and cumin. Avocado and lime to make the guacamole.

Method

  • Chop up the onion, garlic clove, red pepper and 1/2 the red chilli, fry in a drop of oil
  • Once they’re starting to soften up (about 3-5 minutes) add a bit of chilli powder, coriander and cumin
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, the tin of taco mixed beans and 200-300ml of vegetable stock
  • Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes
  • To make the guacamole: One chopped avocado, with quarter of a chopped red onion, the other half of the red chilli, a sprinkle of coriander and the juice of a lime – mash it all up!

 

Pad Thai

Adapted from Miguel Barclay’s ‘One Pound Meals: Fast & Fresh’.

Ingredients: Flat rice noodles, sesame oil, garlic clove, chilli flakes, red onion, stir fry veg (or other chopped veg – carrots etc), 3-4 spring onions, cooked and frozen prawns, crunchy peanut butter, 1 egg and soy sauce.

Method

  • Cook the rice noodles according to the packet’s instructions
  • Heat some sesame oil up in a frying pan, add a couple of pinches of chilli flakes, the red onion, garlic and whatever veg you’re using
  • Stir fry for a few minutes, then add the prawns and 2-3 tbsp of peanut butter
  • I also added a dash of fish sauce at this point
  • Move the veg to one side in the pan, crack the egg in the other side. Let it start cooking, and then scramble it up as it starts to fry and mix it with the veg.
  • Add in the noodles, pour on some soy sauce and mix it all up.

 

Chorizo and butterbean stew

Ingredients: 220g chorizo sausage, garlic clove, 1 tin of butter beans, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 red onion, tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and paprika.

Method

  • Chop up the chorizo into slices and then half or quarter the slices. Stick in the frying pan with the chopped red pepper, green pepper, red onion and garlic.
  • Leave it fry and sweat for a good five minutes, adding some paprkia to taste as you go.
  • Add in the tomato puree and 2 tbsp of green pesto, cook for another couple of minutes
  • Add in the chopped tomatoe and the butter beans. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • We ate it with skin on garlic mash on the side, which was delightful.

 

Red Thai prawn fried rice

This one makes a massive amount of food, and is great for another round of leftovers the next day. I followed this BBC recipe: Thai prawn fried rice.

Ingredients: 275g uncooked rice, 2 eggs, 300g frozen prawns (I use slightly less), 1 tin of cooked green beans, 1 lime, fish sauce, red Thai curry paste

Method

  • Cook the rice as normal and set aside
  • Pour two beaten eggs into a frying pan, move the pan to form a thin omelette and cook until it sets (about 1 minute).
  • Roll the omelette up and slice into thin strips
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp of red Thai curry paste in a big pan, with a drop of water and then mix in the rice to coat it.
  • Add the prawns and the green beans and heat through
  • Pour in 1 tbsp of fish sauce (I add a little more), and the juice of 1 lime, mix in the egg strips.
Food

Greens, Zetland Road, Bristol

Turn off the busy parade of Gloucester Road, and you find a handful of cute, independent restaurants along Zetland Road. One of my favourites for a special occasion is Greens; serving a small menu of traditional British dishes with influences from international cuisines, using high quality, local ingredients.

Greens is a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, taken over by Head Chef Martin Laurentowicz, and front of house Nick Wallace, in 2012, whose partnership began in fine dining restaurants in Scotland.

From the outside, Greens looks cute and cosy; very enticing when you walk past at night. And inside it’s decorated very simply, with a cool, intimate atmosphere. It’s the kind of place you can dress up for on date night, or pop in on the spur of the moment if there’s a spare table.

Last time we went was over the weekend between Christmas and New Year, the time when you have no real clue what day it is. There were a handful of other tables, a mix of families, friends and dates.

To start I had the wild mushroom and buffalo mozzarella arancini with aioli and truffle oil (£8.50). Mushroom and mozzarella are always a perfect combination, so these were fried delights.

This was followed traditional Cullen skink with smoked haddock, braised leeks and cripsy potatoes (£16.50). Cullen is a thick Scottish soup – the smoked haddock flavour was almost overwhelming, but the braised leeks added a little taste of sweetness. Overall, it was a little too salty for my taste, but I did enjoy it.

Finally we shared a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and cream. It was rich, decadent and amazing.

Greens is a lovely little place for an evening meal, especially if you catch their evening set menu of two courses for £17.95 or three courses for £23.95, Monday to Thursday.

Greens Restaurant. 25 Zetland Road, Bristol BS6 7AH.

Food, Travel

Las Vegas

On our whirlwind tour of California, we also managed to skip over the border into Nevada, and spend a couple of nights in Sin City – Las Vegas.

MGM Grand Las Vegas

We drove through the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, which took about 5 hours and was filled with some incredible, expansive views of desert and mountains. When we got to Las Vegas, we dropped the hire car at the airport and got an Uber to our hotel, the MGM Grand.

If we were going to Vegas I wanted to get the full, vibrant, brash experience – and staying on the main strip at one of those massive hotels and casinos was essential. Nothing can quite prepare you for just the size of everything in Vegas; the MGM Grand has over 6,000 rooms, plus a sprawling casino with over 2,000 arcade games and slot machines. There’s also restaurants, shows and events, and an impressive pool complex – you could pretty much spend your whole trip inside the hotel.

However, for our first night we had a quick turn around and out to catch LA Lakers vs Golden State Warriors at the T Mobile arena. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a basketball game before, but despite watching from up in the heavens, the atmosphere was insane, and the game itself is so quick and skilled that it literally kept me on the edge of my seat.

La Salsa Cantina

Located in the depths of the Showcase Mall on The Strip, in a weird twilight, La Salsa Cantina offers probably one of the cheapest breakfasts in Las Vegas. If you’re there before midday, they have a $5 breakfast deal with eggs, bacon, tortilla and potatoes.

We however, decided to splash out on the breakfast quesadilla and the breakfast burrito.  It’s pretty much the definition of ‘cheap and cheerful’; a generous breakfast, lots of flavour, plus 99 cent Bloody Marys, what’s not to love?!

Las Salsa Cantina – 3785 S. Las Vegas Boulevard #1500, Las Vegas NV 89109

Las Vegas Strip

We started off after breakfast with a beer at the Sin City Brewing Company and a little shopping in the Miracle Mile shopping centre. Then we made our way back out to The Strip, and just wondered around all afternoon, taking in the pure excess of everything.

We checked out the flamingos at Flamingo Las Vegas, we had a drink in Caesars Palace, and we explored The Bellagio, before heading back to the MGM Grand.

Downtown Las Vegas

For our second night in Vegas, we decided to explore Downtown Las Vegas – here you can find some slightly smaller, and older, casinos such as El Cortez and the Fremont Street Experience, as well as amazing sushi.

Fremont Street is the highlight of Downtown Vegas, with the world’s largest video screen dazzling you from above, there were small stages with performers, as well as, of course, more casinos. It’s definitely worth venturing away from the main strip to explore downtown. 

Bocho Sushi, Las Vegas

One of the best meals for our entire trip, was the sushi at Bocho Sushi. We sat at the downstairs sushi bar, and ordered excessive amounts of food, it’s Vegas after all.

Starting off with 6 delightful beef gyozas ($7) and miso soup ($3), we followed up with a Spicy tuna roll ($6.50) and a California roll ($6).

We also tried one of their speciality rolls, Disco Inferno ($13) – spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, seared escolar, jalapeno, spicy mayo, spicy house sauce, eel sauce, with green onion and tobiko on top. Seriously, seriously, fiery and delicious.

Bocho Sushi – 124 S 6th St #150Las Vegas, NV89101

Find out more about our drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Travel

San Francisco to Los Angeles: Roadtrip

San Francisco to Los Angeles is such a classic road trip; completely incredible scenery along the coast, the cutest seaside towns to explore and, of course, delicious food to eat.

The road trip: Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, LA

We flew into San Francisco on a Friday afternoon, and jumped straight in our hire car.

I’d spent a long time researching and trying to find out the best places to stop off on this trip. So our first was Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is a very cute seaside town, with an incredible boardwalk. We arrived at the beginning of October, so a bit out of season and on a Friday evening everything was very quiet and a lot of places weren’t open.

However, Saturday morning the boardwalk was teeming with families and people enjoying themselves on all the rides and arcade games.

After a bit of fun in the arcades we got back in the car and drove about an hour or so along the road to Monterey.

Monterey is possibly even cuter than Santa Cruz. It’s more of a fishing town, with hundreds of boats in the harbour. We did a whistle stop tour of the main Monterey sites: Fishermans Wharf, Cannery Row (of the Steinbeck novel), Pacific House and Custom House, and we even managed to see some sea lions sunning themselves.

We continued along Highway one for another half hour before turning off to drive through Carmel by the sea. Part of me wishes we had stopped off at Carmel instead, it’s idyllic Main Street is lined with shops down to a stunning beach.

After Carmel we carried on down the coast for another couple of hours, through Big Sur. The scenery is breathtaking along this way, big endless cliffs and miles of ocean before driving through the greenery of Big Sur.

Just after it got dark we arrived in San Luis Obispo for the night. Originally we had intended on driving all the way down to Santa Barbara that first night, but we definitely started off too late and there was too much to explore on the way.

San Luis Obispo seemed to be a fairly quiet town, a good stopping place for the night.

Sunday morning we got up, went for an amazing breakfast and headed off again.

It took us just over two hours to get to Santa Barbara, driving past Pismo Beach and then away from the coast through Lompoc. The landscape was very different for this part, lots of farm land, green and mountains.

Santa Barbara is definitely somewhere worth stopping. We parked up in the Funk Zone, just off of State Street. This area is full of bars, places to eat and some cool shops.

Along State Street you can find your way to the pier, and then up towards lots more shops and restaurants.

We spent a good couple of hours in Santa Barbara, though we thought we would just stop off for half an hour! From Santa Barbara to Los Angeles the route is fairly simple, we went along the 101 instead of the 1, they’re fairly similar but we wanted to save some time.

We eventually found our way to our AirBnB in Los Angeles’s arts district at about 8pm.

San Francisco to Los Angeles Road trip tips

  • Driving along Highway 1 is definitely the way to go, but it does go along some high, twisty cliffs and some narrow bridges. It’s completely safe, but a little nerve wracking if you’re not a fan of heights, plus you can’t really do it in a hurry.
  • Book places to stay in advance, especially if you’re travelling in the summer. Places will book up and get expensive.
  • That being said, you probably won’t drive as far as you think you would each day – don’t stretch yourself by booking a motel further away.
  • Also, there are some great stops, but it doesn’t really matter where you sleep – you’ll probably be pretty tired anyway and can just get up and drive to the next interesting place. I spent way too much time trying to figure out the best places to spend our nights, and we were really just there to crash for a few hours.
  • Most of the towns will have signposts for the landmarks/ sites you want to see right from the highway. It’s very easy to find them.
  • Also parking centrally was simple in all of these places – Santa Cruz you can park along the seafront on meters, and there’s a car park next to the harbour in Monterey. Just make sure you have some dollar coins (there was a change machine in Santa Cruz so we changed $20).
  • Big Sur looked like it would have been an amazing place to spend the night. There were lots of cabins and camp grounds. We didn’t realise as we’d mainly used Airbnb and booking.com etc to search for accommodation. At the very least, leave a couple of hours to get out and explore Big Sur.
Food

Quay St. Diner, Bristol

If you’re looking for a new brunch, lunch, dinner, all day dining spot in Bristol city centre, Quay St. Diner is the place to go. The California inspired restaurant is located in the former premises of Roll for the Soul, and has hit the spot with it’s laidback atmosphere, colourful interior and delicious menu.

Pride of place in their open kitchen is their custom charcoal grill, which has enabled them to build the menu around cooking over an open fire; ‘live fire cooking’.

We ventured in there on a rainy Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, for breakfast (maybe brunch is more accurate, it was nearly midday!) and were absolutely delighted with it.

First off, the coffee – I ordered a latte (£2.80), while Tom had a flat white. I’m not really much of a coffee expert, but I loved the giant teal coffee cup, and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee!

The brunch menu, served 9am-12pm Mon-Fri and 9am-2pm on the weekend, is full of tasty, California influenced choices, from Pancakes and Fruit to Brunch Tacos topped with grilled tomato and ancho chilli salsa, smashed avocado, pumpkin seeds, fruit salsa and pomegranate!

We both went for the Huevos Rancheros (£7) – baked Mexican eggs in a tomato salsa with crumbled feta on top and sourdough dippers, and added bacon (£2). It was incredible. The salsa was a little on the hot and spicy side, but full of flavour, and the contrast with the feta was just right. Oh, and the thick chunks of bacon were amazing.

The all day menu also looks exciting; small plates, tacos, and a selection of burgers, steak, salad etc. We’ll definitely be back to try it out.

Quay St. Diner is a great, friendly and welcoming place, with full flavour, smokey, delicious food – go now!

Quay St. Diner, 2, Quay Street, Bristol, BS1 2JL. 

Food

Got Beef, Cardiff

Inspired by street vendors and food trucks, Got Beef initially started out as a mobile catering business for gourmet burgers, and then took up residence as a pop up kitchen at The Canadian in Adamstown, Cardiff. In 2014, Got Beef fully joined Cardiff’s growing burger scene with its own restaurant on Whitchurch Road.

Got Beef burgers

Offering a creative burger menu, and some very indulgent sides – it’s best to go there hungry. There’s a lot of mouth watering choices, and a special mention definitely has to go to the Donald Trump burger – ‘Mexican cheese, American cheese, Russian dressing, topped with a tiny pickle’!

I went ‘dirty’ with my food choices. I order the Dirty South burger (£8): a tender beef patty, with cajun onions, a homemade bbq sauce, jalapenos, cajun mayo and American cheese all served in a brioche bun. The burger itself was great, and the jalapenos gave it a real kick – I would say that the bun was a little oversized compared to the burger though, but overall it’s up there with the best burgers!

On the side I went for the dirty fries (£3.55) – perfectly cooked fries topped with American cheese, bacon sprinkles, jalepenos and chipotle sauce. It was a perfect portion size for one person; indulgent, delicious but not too excessive.

The true highlight of the meal was the halloumi fries (£3.60) – big chunky pieces of cheese fried and smothered in hoisin sauce, peanut crumble and sesame seeds.

We went on a Monday evening, and the place was buzzing – it’s probably worth booking a table. We were slightly disappointed with how long we had to wait after we ordered the food, and a long gap between burgers and sides arriving – but it was very busy and the staff were all lovely.

If you’re after a burger in Cardiff, Got Beef should definitely be on your shortlist!

Got Beef – 83, Whitchurch Road, Cardiff, CF14 3JP