A view from the top: Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas, USA

Following my post A View from the Top: Sky Tower Auckland, I thought I’d throw a #throwbackthursday at you, because I’m in a nostalgic kinda mood.

Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas

The Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas

The Stratosphere is one of the many hotels that sit twinkling on the Las Vegas strip. If you’ve ever been to Vegas then you’ll know that each hotel has it’s own theme, e.g. there are gondolas at The Venetian, circus acts at Circus Circus and flamingoes at The Flamingo (well, duh!). The Stratosphere’s claim to fame is its tower – the tallest freestanding tower in the USA, standing at 1149 ft.

The Stratosphere Tower on the Las Vegas strip. Head up for the perfect view from the top!

Pros

The views from the 360 degree observation deck are fantastic. You get iconic views of the strip and it looks especially magical if you head up there at night time when you can see Vegas in all its glittering glory!

View from the top - the bright lights of Vegas from the top of the Stratosphere.
The photos don’t do it justice

Cons

The lights up on the deck indoors make it quite tricky to get decent photos without random glares in them and if you go outside, be prepared for it to be crazy windy out there (or at least it was when I visited) – I felt like I was going to get blown away!

The photos don't do it justice! View from the Stratosphere in Vegas
Not the best of photos!

Surprises

There are not only bars, restaurants and a sky jump up there but there’s also three thrill rides! There’s the Big Shot which shoots you straight up even higher, Insanity – where a mechanical arm spins you around 900ft above the strip and then there’s X-scream where you are catapulted off the tower edge! I couldn’t decide which would scare the crap out of me the most and just stuck to the thrill of the views!

One of the 3 terrifying rides at the top of the Stratosphere Tower
X-Scream

Verdict

It was just magic to see Las Vegas from this height and if I ever got to go back I would love to dine at the Top of the World restaurant. I would even go as far to say that I think The Stratosphere may be one of, if not the favourite of all my View from the Top adventures!

For more of my View from the Top series, click here.

Some of the hotels on the Vegas strip. View from The Stratosphere Tower.

5 fun things to do at Epcot

5 fun things to do at epcot

Epcot is perhaps the more ‘grown-up’ of the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Orlando, so I am writing this as an adult*, for adults because Disney World is for everyone, not just kids!

*Please note I don’t really consider myself to be a proper adult.

1. Buy a passport and travel the world

As I said before, I’m not a proper adult because no proper adult would buy themselves one of these souvenir Epcot passports and then visit all the Kidcot stops (basically children’s craft stations) dotted around the countries in the World Showcase to get their passport stamped.

Epcot World Showcase souvenir passport and badge
I also got this cool Mickey badge with my passport

I visited Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, each time receiving a cute message from the Cast Member there – which by the way, all Cast Members are from the country they are representing at Epcot. How cool is that!

The passport page for Mexico at Epcot World Showcase
The passport page for Mexico

2. Meet characters in their countries

One of my friends really wanted to meet Beauty and the Beast and we found out that they would be appearing in France in the World Showcase so we wandered off there when it was time. Our other friends decided they were too cool to meet the characters but they totally missed out!

Meet Beauty and the Beast in France at Epcot in Orlando
< insert all your Beast jokes here >

The Beast linked arms with me and Belle asked if me and my friend were sisters and then told us how she often travels with enchanted objects.

There are many other characters you can meet around the park, I spotted Mary Poppins in the UK and Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco too.

Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco
Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco

3. Ride Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is Epcot’s signature attraction. You know that big globe thing that looks like a giant golf ball? Well, there’s a ride in there!

Spaceship Earth at Epcot featuring Toy Story topiary for the Flower and Garden Festival
Spaceship Earth with Toy Story topiary

You sit down in a little train and get taken on a journey through time, exploring the history of communication, which was alot better than I am making it sound!

When you exit the ride you are taken to an interactive area called Project Tomorrow, where you can do silly things like make yourself appear floating about on the screens among other things. I can’t really remember but it was amusing at the time!

Project Tomorrow at Epcot
We’re the floating space-women!

4. Eat the global cuisine at the World Showcase

Give the usual theme park food a miss and head for the World Showcase for your meals. We had some yummy baguettes in France for our lunch and then for dinner we paid a visit to Restaurant Marrakesh for some delicious Moroccan food. Dinner reservations are recommended.

The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France - World Showcase, Epcot
The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France
Try some of the world cuisine on offer at Epcot. This is Restaurant Marrakesh - the Moroccan restaurant.
Restaurant Marrakesh

5. Attend a festival

Epcot hosts its own festivals each year. If you visit during Spring then you will be there for the International Flower & Garden festival and if you visit during the Autumn/Fall then you’ll be in time for the International Food & Wine Festival.

Cars 2 topiary at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from Cars

Our Orlando vacation was in May, so Epcot was adorned with some amazing Disney themed topiary in celebration of the Flower & Garden festival, although the Food & Wine festival sounds pretty tasty!

Tigger and Pooh topiary at Epcot during the Flower & Garden festival
Tigger and Pooh

Of course, Epcot has alot more to offer than what I have mentioned above and if you can, you must stay for the fireworks!

Have you ever been to Epcot? What did you enjoy the most?

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WonderWorks Orlando – going upside down in Florida!

As I’m in a #throwbackthursday kinda mood I thought I would write about a place I visited on holiday in Florida a few years ago. If you read my post about Puzzling World in New Zealand, then I guarantee you will like this!

WonderWorks is the famous upside down house situated on International Drive in Orlando. It’s a weird, crazy, educational and fun indoor “amusement park for the mind”. It’s open from 9am until midnight so makes for something perfect to do if you have kids to entertain in the evening. Or in my case, friends who just wanted to visit the awesome cool upside down house.

WonderWorks - the famous upside down house on International Drive in Orlando, Florida

WonderWorks is an exciting and interactive adventure, where we got to experience an earthquake simulator – feeling the power of an earthquake reaching 5.3 on the Richter scale and a hurricane simulator with winds rushing at 74 miles per hour!

We also dipped our hands into icy water at -2 degrees celsius, which was as cold as the water when the Titanic sank. The challenge was to see how long you could keep your hand in the water for. Let me tell you, I couldn’t manage more than a few seconds!

There are loads of things to see and do in WonderWorks, we played with giant bubbles and laid on a bed of nails… 3500 nails to be precise and all in the name of science of course!

Make giant bubbles at Wonderworks on International Drive in Orlando

Test your endurance on the Bed of Nails at Wonderworks, Orlando

There was also a tube filled with one million beads. One of the beads was purple, the rest were pink or yellow. The challenge was to find the ‘one in a million’.

Find the one in a million at WonderWorks Orlando

And you know what, we only blooming found it! I even took a picture to prove it (although it is a tad blurry).

One million beads, one of them is purple - we found the one in a million! WonderWorks Orlando

We also got to go into a 2-seater simulator which tipped us upside down and threw us about. There was also an indoor ropes course – a bit like a neon glow treetop adventure kind of thing, except indoors. From the ground up it looked pretty easy and not too high although it’s a different story when you’re up there!

And just for your sheer enjoyment, here is a picture of me looking goofy in a spacesuit and my hubby who completely lost his head in the madness of it all!

Looking goofy at WonderWorks Orlando

As well as interactive spectacles, there are also crazy mirrors and random artwork, including these Gum Blondes – celebrity portraits made purely of bubblegum!

Gum Blondes artwork at WonderWorks

All in all our visit to WonderWorks Orlando lasted a couple of hours and offered us something a little different to rushing around the theme parks or lounging by the pool.

If you enjoyed this post, then why not check out my quirky travel board on pinterest or read about my visit to Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand.

Paradise in Port Douglas, Queensland

One of the biggest highlights of my trip to Oz was visiting the beauty that is Port Douglas –  a small town in Queensland, around an hours drive from Cairns, and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.

The heart of Port Douglas is Macrossan Street, which is where you will find the majority of shops and restaurants, but the real treasure of this pretty little town is its beautiful Four Mile Beach, a quiet palm tree fringed beach with soft golden sand and just a 5 minute stroll from the main part of town.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

Buried Treasure!
Pretending to bury treasure. I don’t know why!

It was while we were in Port Douglas that we got to mix with a bit of the native fauna in Australia, something I was quite eager to do. We took a day trip to The Rainforest Habitat (or The Wildlife Habitat as it’s now known), an eco tourism award winning centre committed to the conservation of native species via its Wildlife Rescue Program, situated in Port Douglas itself.

It has quite a free roaming environment, allowing you to get close to most of the animals. It was here that I photographed some beautiful birds, including the rainbow lorikeets and I also got to hand-feed wallabies and kangaroos, as well as cuddle a koala!

Rainbow Lorikeet, Port Douglas

eclectus-parrots

Australian birds

Feeding wallabies

Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas

Feeding the birds at The Wildlife Habitat
My fan club!

mama and baby wallaby

Luckily, not all of the animals were free roaming! There were some pretty scary looking crocs lazing about in their own separate section, I mean, look at the gnashers on that!

Smiling crocodile

The Wildlife Habitat offers presentations so you can learn a little bit more about the animals in its care and as well as an up close encounter with a koala, you can also have your picture taken with a snake or a small crocodile.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day mingling with the marsupials and can’t wait to head back Down Under to meet more of Australia’s furry icons!

If you liked this #ThrowbackThursday post – leave me a comment below!

My Australia Highlights

As I am counting down the weeks until I am back in The Land Down Under (and yes I must confess that I secretly love that song!) I thought I would offer up a #ThrowbackThursday post or two about my visit there before. It’s no secret that I love Australia, so I thought I would start with a brief round-up of my top Australia highlights from my previous visit…

1. Photographing Sydney Opera House at sunrise and sunset 

It wasn’t easy tearing myself out of bed at 5am for but I am so glad I did. Our hotel was just a short walk from Circular Quay so we headed down there at dawn and photographed the iconic Opera House against the backdrop of burning orange fading out into a vibrant blue.

Sydney Opera House at sunrise by Quirky Little Planet

Photographing that famous silhouette at sunset was a much easier feat and I just love how photogenic this landmark is! Every angle offers something different. My favourite thing about this photo is the way I caught the sun glare through the shapes of the building.

Sydney Opera House at sunset by Quirky Little Planet

2. Cuddling a koala

This was on my Australia bucket list and was something I got the chance to do in Queensland. The little guy was called Cobber (how very Australian!) and he smelt like eucalyptus, probably because that’s pretty much all koalas eat. This was a great day at a wildlife habitat in Port Douglas where I also got to hand feed birds, wallabies and kangaroos!

Cuddling a koala

3.  Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

If you’re in Queensland then this is a must-do – one of the planet’s greatest natural wonders and the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef features on many a bucket list. Not gonna lie, being in the middle of that big vast ocean did panic me at first but as soon as you dip your face into the water for the first time, your anxieties drift away and you are mesmerised at the magic below.

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

4. Seeing the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island

Every night at dusk, after a day’s fishing, the Little Penguins come ashore to their burrows on Summerland Beach. This is one of the very few places in the world where you can see the Little Penguins in their natural habitat. Visitors are sat on viewing platforms and photography is prohibited, to allow for minimal disruption to the penguins activities. Another highlight of my day on Phillip Island was seeing my Australian family who took us there for the day.

In the car park at the Penguin Parade
Wrapped up in my aunt’s coat in the car park at the Penguin Parade!

5. Spotting a cassowary in the wild

When we were in Queensland we took a trip into the Daintree Rainforest. We weren’t going solely to spot a cassowary but seeing one was the icing on the cake. In all honesty, I didn’t quite realise how lucky we were until our guide got really excited about seeing one. Apparently they are quite rare and an endangered species so we were incredibly fortunate to spot one of these brilliant birds!

Cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest Australia

So there you have my top five recommendations from my first visit to Oz, if you would like to keep up with more of my Down Under adventures, then you can follow me on Bloglovin, Twitter or Instagram!