Viva Las Vegas

This is my 100th post on Travelbyky.com, which is huge for me. In one year, i’ve managed to write 100-times, wowzers! I am celebrating just like TV shows celebrate their 100th episode. To commemorate this milestone, this post will be a wild, all access view of my trip to Vegas! Since they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—I am completely flipping the script and telling it all!

Kydee Williams Las vegas

I took the Megabus to Vegas from L.A for a little under $30 bucks. I was paranoid because I just started reading A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, and it made me distrust a lot of things and people. I literally slept with one eye open, on the 6-hour ride–It was the middle of the night and I was on a bus with a bunch of weirdos, what would you do? When I got to Vegas, around 6AM, I caught a cab to my hotel which was the Hilton Grand at the end of the strip (by the Stratosphere). Imagine my surprise when the 6-minute cab ride from the bus station to the hotel came up to $22.

KY TIP: Vegas is expensive. Vegas taxis are even more expensive. Beware!

I was staying with my friend Britt, who was already at the hotel. The first thing we did was walk the strip. That’s when I realized how far we were from the center of the strip. We walked for about 20-minutes and was only at the Wynn Hotel, which is not even close to the main strip. I didn’t see The Paris Hotel, I didn’t see The Mirage, I didn’t see Bellagio—we were totally away from the action. At first this seemed daunting but using hindsight, it was actually a great thing for us:

  • Public Transportation: We were able to learn and navigate the public transportation system in Vegas. There’s buses that goes up and down the strip as opposed to taxicabs. The bus passes are $6 for a 2-hour pass and $8 for a 24-hour pass. One cab ride along the strip can cost you $18. You be the judge.
  • Cheaper Prices: The further away you are from the center of the strip, the less things cost. For instance, everyone walks around with over-sized cups in Vegas. They range in size but the largest you can get is about 3ft tall. The souvenir shops around our hotel were significantly cheaper, and we got one of these cups for about $3.95, whereas on Central strip it was triple the price.
  • Access to CVS, McDonalds, 7/11: Since Vegas is so expensive we tried to reduce cost as much as possible. We went to CVS for everything from wine to TV dinners. Luckily, we were in Vegas on July 11th (7/11), so we were able to get free slushies while singing Beyonce. We made our own drinks that were just as good as Fat Tuesday; our version just cost us next to nothing.
  • Peppermill Diner: We found a really classic restaurant called the Peppermill diner, which had the best breakfast for a reasonable price. The food was only $12-14 a plate for a very large portion. We came here everyday. Had we been on the Central strip, breakfast would’ve started at around $20. Another plus about this place was they take a picture of you and give it to you as a keepsake. Peppermill diner is a great dining experience.

Kydee Williams Las vegas

Kydee Williams Las vegas

Once we became acquainted with our neck of the strip, the fun began. We kept our day time activities pretty simple. We slept in, had breakfast/lunch and hung out by our hotel pool or other hotel pools on the strip. Our nights, were when everything came alive. We went to clubs, pool parties, and concerts. Las Vegas is one of the best places I’ve ever partied in my life!

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  • Our hotel pool was resort style. We spent most of our days in the over-sized Jacuzzi and cooled off in the pool. Did I mention how hot Vegas was.

Kydee Williams Las vegas

  • The Water Show at the Bellagio. The Water Show at the Bellagio was pretty cool. It happens every 15-20 minutes, and the water dances to different tunes. It’s an experience.

Kydee Williams Las vegas

Kydee Williams Las vegas

  • Surfing (Flowrider) at Planet Hollywood. In the words of Beyonce #Surfboardt I had a lot of fun surfing. The activity will cost you about $25.00 for 30-minutes of instruction and surfing. Once the instructor finally let me surf on my own, I got the hang of it–Then, something happened. I lost my balance and the waves washed me up. My back hit the wall and I was sore for about a week. I thought I’d share this embarrassing moment with you guys.

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Kydee Williams Las vegas
That’s Me, in a ball, getting washed up by the waves! Where’s my Surfboard?
  • Boyz II Men Concert I am Boyz II Men’s #1 Fan. There’s no one who loves Boyz II Men as much as me. So when I found out they were playing at the Mirage I had to get tickets. The day of the concert, Britt said “Kydee we have to meet Boyz II Men tonight” I looked at her like she had completely lost her mind. I was actually afraid of the thought, but my desperation outweighed my fear and I didn’t care what we did to make this happen! The concert was beautiful. They did a lot of covers by other artist, but also sang some of their hit songs including “Bended Knees,” “Water Runs Dry,” and “I’ll Make Love to You.” After the concert and two failed attempts at convincing security that we needed to be back stage, we were lingering in the lobby, when 2-middle-aged women came up to us frantically, “Hello, we have to catch a plane, but we have two backstage passes. Do you guys want them? You both look like fans–please take them” Would you look at God! We ran backstage with our passes, just in time to meet the legendary Boyz II Men. AHHH! I loved Nathan all my life, and now I was hugging him and standing next to him. Magical things happen in Vegas. I still can’t believe this happened.

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  • Shopping. Vegas has every store you can imagine on the strip and they are still building more. The shopping in Vegas is unimaginable and will make you either lose your mind or go broke. Everything from Chanel to Forever21 is right at your finger tips or better yet, in your hotel lobby.

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  • Night Life. There’s lights, dancers, acrobatics, amazing DJ’S, props, and  smoke. Clubbing in Vegas is a show in itself. We hit up Tao Night Club and Encore Beach Club

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I’ve been to Vegas once before, so it wasn’t necessary for me to do all of the touristy things. The Vegas strip revolves around the hotels. Every activity you do is most likely inside of or associated with a hotel. If you’re a first timer to Vegas, I’ll share with you a few great things you must do while in Vegas:

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The last day of our Vegas trip, Britt’s friend from Philly picked us up and took us on a off-the-strip tour of Vegas. She lives in Vegas now and wanted to show us around. We visited a bunch of the properties and homes in Vegas that were just exquisite, and might I add reasonably priced. This was a special moment in our trip because it brought about a lot of perspective. Anything is possible with faith and hard work. I realized that I used to have a dream of being a home owner, with a pool in my back yard. I lost that dream along the way, possibly even thinking it was unattainable but I am after it again. My trip to Vegas, was the extra pep that I needed. It left me in high spirits and excited about what the future might hold.

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Singapore By Tash

Really flying…yesterdays a thousand miles away“- Hoodoo Gurus

Waking up in Singapore for the first time was amazing not just because of the beautiful view from my sister’s apartment but because of the time difference; I was awake while everyone else was asleep.

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The view from my sister’s balcony the morning/night I arrived

Day one in Singapore was awesome. My niece and nephew were my personal tour guides which made the transition into this new country an easy one. Being shown the hangout spots and meet up areas that I probably would have bypassed had I not been with them made me think of all the areas New Yorkers know about that tourist won’t even think to look twice at or visit.

Many of the local hangouts in Singapore are primarily malls or outdoor food courts where the locals can come and sit around either between classes or during lunch breaks. The simplicity of these hangouts might be overlooked by tourists, but it was important for me to experience the essence of everyday life among the locals while there. The Ion Orchard is the “it” mall in Singapore city. Most of the malls use a tier system where the more popular, upscale and expensive brands are on the ground level and above, while the more affordable brands are downstairs.

Tasha Fact: If you get a Starbucks itch while walking through the mall, try a cheaper local delicacy instead. My tall frappe from Stbx was almost 8 Sing-yikes.

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Striking a pose amongst the professionals outside the ION Orchard

Areas like Holland Spring are another facet of the tourist-local blend in Singapore. Really popular for its low-key atmosphere and local amenities like supermarkets and convenience stores (i.e the 7-eleven behind me), its where many expats on a budget live. Overall, Holland Springs gave me a taste of what the everyday experience of shopping and living there might be.

Tasha Fact: Massages are a big thing in Singapore so finding a spa or massage parlor is really easy to do. The one behind me is on Holland Spring Road and offers really great foot massages for cheap.

get3(3)Walking the streets of the city was definitely an experience. I had so much fun people watching; just walking around observing the locals and some of their traditions was really awesome. Traveling throughout the different areas presented another interesting aspect of life there.

Singapore is notorious for its fines. Whether in a taxi or on the bus or train, fines for eating or drinking while en route can be as high as 500 Sing. So needless to say I kept the cover on my bottle of water screwed tight.

Tasha Fact: Singapore is known for being one “fine” city. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore and fines for this petty offense can reach as high as 500 Singh.

The Singapore MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is very similar to New York’ s MTA system except a lot cleaner. The EZ-link passes for riding the train are slightly different. If you’re from New York or have ever visited then you’re familiar with a metrocard. In NYC there’s a flat fare of $2.50 which allows you to travel the entire subway system. In Singapore however, when you enter the train station or a bus you tap your EZ-link card and when you exit you tap it again. The card is charged for the distance traveled, and don’t forget to tap when you get off or they’ll keep charging you.

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The view of a roundabout from a pedestrian overpass. Not featured in this pic many of the MRT buses are double deckers

DSCN1718Even though I stayed with family for this trip I was the only one actually on vacation. The family however was in the midst of preparing to move back to the States, so for the remaining days we stayed at the Orchard Marriott in Singapore city. This is probably one of the more expensive hotels costing about 400 Sing a night (or $300 USD). There are definitely more budget friendly hotels that you could consider. With local events and activities going on all around you, I doubt you’ll even remember what the inside of your hotel room looks like.

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The Singapore Marriott within walking distance of the ION Orchard mall.

Throughout much of the city, especially around the malls, I noticed random pop-up tents and stands with presentations of different products or events. Singapore is very fashion friendly-even the renowned luxury brand Louis Vuitton had their third presentation of their Fall/Winter 2014 collection while I was in town.

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This lady is eating an ice cream bar inside a slice of bread, which I came to find out was a local treat. Talk about local delicacies

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This tent was for Audi Fashion Festival that was happening that week.
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With some of the models from the Fall/Winter 2014 Louis Vuitton presentation. *For some perspective I’m about 5’8″ in this picture 😮

The local experience was fascinating and that was without even trying, so just imagine the wonders the city has in store for its tourist.

Bahama Mama’s

The next day, we had a full-blown buffet breakfast which was delicious and then decided to head into town to hang out with the locals. We soon discovered there was not much to town, but found comfort in a local boutique where the sales associate was so freaken cool. We talked to her for an hour about everything ranging from Drake to Love & Hip Hop to relationships before we exchanged Instagram’s and said our good byes.

IMG_6337bahamas kydee williams kydee bahamas IMG_6343After shopping around and meeting other amicable Bahamian’s including Mama G who invited us to the strip club that night, we headed back to our hotel, where we met up with the rest of the wedding guests for an afternoon on the private beach of Taino resort.

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Barcelona Remixed

“Maria Maria you remind me of the West Side Story”-Carlos Santana
Kydee WilliamsDay Two in Barcelona was way better. We had an early start and made our way to the beach. Barceloneta was calling our names, as the sun shined bright and was beaming in our faces. We were in SPAIN and it finally felt like it. We took a bus to the boardwalk and settled at a cozy restaurant where we shared an array of Tapas and Paella. AHHH! Spain food was to die for. So rich with flavor. I loved how much seafood they used in their dishes. We then walked to the beach and relaxed there for hours.

Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe decided to head back to the hotel so we could get ready for the night. Our first stop was Chupitos where they light your drinks on fire. Burn Baby Burn. We then ate dinner at the most amazing restaurant ever…La Flauta (I still look at the pictures of the food and salivate over the mussels and prongs). Dinner was followed by a night on the town where we danced the night away at The Sutton Club.

ChupitosKydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsThe next day, we had a jam packed schedule. After a little R&R by the pool, Parc De Guell was our first stop. At the peak of this attraction, we saw all of Barcelona and it was literally breathtaking. We also saw the amazing artwork of Gaudi. I love all of the bright colors and abstract architecture in Barcelona. It’s such a metropolis, however it still has some out of the ordinary structures that’s exquisite. I spent the rest of my day as a tourist walking around, shopping and just enjoying all it had to offer. I also had an amazing dinner with LaSaundra where we reflected on the trip and everything we learned.

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Kydee WilliamsKydee Williams IMG_3311That night it was time to experience the world famous Opium Nightclub. This club is one of the best clubs in Barcelona, standing out from all of the other clubs I’ve ever been to because the party continues onto the beach. It’s fabulous. We stayed there for a few hours and then found a tapas bar, where we ate some more…the food in Spain is addictive.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsKy’s Verdict: Barcelona was fun, but probably the one place I enjoyed the least. I think after traveling for so long, you become numb. For me, Spain wasn’t what I expected. I realized I loved the countries that made me feel like I was in Europe, rustic, archaic, historical and Barcelona was just like being in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn with loads of Spanish speaking citizens. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful city. Some people suggested that I may have liked Madrid better…who knows?

Style 101: Shopping

I did all my shopping before I left; it’s just too expensive to shop in Europe. Nevertheless, in this photo driven world that we live in, it was important for me to look the part while in Europe. I wanted each of my outfits to be reflections of my personal style and the countries I was visiting. To start, I researched the traditional and/or stereotypical looks of each country. I then tried my best to imitate:

When I think of…

  • London, I think preppy, I needed a trench coat
  • Paris, I think romance, I needed a beret, soft colored outfits and black
  • Venice, I think nautical, I needed stripes like the Gondola guys
  • Rome, I think of a historical metropolis, I was thinking something along the line of gaudy Donatella Versace
  • Barcelona, I think excitement and liveliness, I needed bright colors
  • Amsterdam, I think Kydee all the way…Boho-hipster

Kydee style boardFor fashion inspiration I resorted to magazines that illustrated European influenced styles, specifically Harper Bazaar magazine and clipped out tons of photos that fit the looks I was going for. Now I needed to shop:

Thrift Shopping: Thrifting was the best. I got a lot of European styled skirts and shoes that set the tone for some of my looks

The Fashion District: The garment/fashion district in NYC was my go to spot for D.I.Y projects I was attempting including a tutu skirt and tassels on my heels

Zara: If you know me, then you know my favorite store since I was 15-years old has always been Zara. I found some really cute things including leopard pants that were expensive ($70) but cute.

Forever 21 + H&M: I got a lot of accessories, leggings, shirts and sweaters from these stores. I also got my walking shoes.

Banana Republic: I found my trench coat and blazers here…perfect for the conservative looks.

Ky’s Style Tips

 

  • Take pictures of your outfits before you pack them. It’s great for memory and keeping track of what you are actually taking
  • No pictures? No problem…just use an excel document or the reminders app on your iphone as a check list

 

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