Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

‘Las Vegas is the boiling pot of entertainment’ – Don Rickles

I’m lucky that throughout my travels in my adult life I’ve been able to visit Las Vegas 4 times now so by all accounts you could safely say I’ve ‘done’ Vegas. However when Meagan and I found out the lifelong childhood heroes The Backstreet Boys were doing a residency there, I knew I’d be heading over to the strip indulge in the craziness once again.

In previous trips I’ve stayed at the (now defunct) Sahara and the Stratosphere, both at the north end of the strip, which you usually find is the cheaper end. We almost booked into Circus Circus which always comes up the cheapest of all the big hotels in the strip, however the Trip Advisor reviews were putting me off and as lady luck would have it, Booking.com had a 40% discount on some better options so we plumped for the Excalibur.


Visually, Excalibur has always been my second favourite hotel on the strip after New York New York; cheesy and tacky and built to look like a Disney ye olde English castle and the red and blue turrets stick out a mile off, but it’s Vegas, and unless you’re a millionnaire or won big and can afford to stay in somewhere a little more classy like the Bellagio, then you need to embrace the tacky.


We booked a queen room, which came with two free buffets, for 4 nights which came out at about £250 each. The day we arrived I was sent an email with the option to check in remotely, this helped a ton as we ended up getting slightly delayed getting there so when we eventually did arrive, we were all checked in and all we needed to do was collect our keys.


The room (26126); which faced south so you could see the majority of the strip, was a decent size with two large queen beds, a TV and separate bathroom with toiletries. It was basic (no fridge for one) however spotlessly clean and in all honesty, for the amount of time you’re going to stay there, what more do you really need? The room was serviced and cleaned every day and once you’re up in your room and away from the chaos of the casino and strip downstairs it’s like a different world – so quiet and peaceful!

Throughout our stay we visited some of the newer hotels like The Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood, whilst in comparison they did make Excalibur look a little old and tired, they were all a bit too shiny, glitzy and trendy for me. I loved Excalibur’s old school feel, with it’s 1970s carpets and brighter lighting. Let’s be honest, we’re not in out 20s anymore and weren’t going to be strutting around in skimpy dresses and heels. The Excalibur was exactly the kind of vibe we were going for.


The entrance level is the extensive casino as you might expect along with a couple of bars, the front desk, guest services, Dicks Last Resort restaurant and Johnny Rockets burger joint (top tip: Johnny Rockets serves wine and beer which is a good couple of dollars cheaper tan the bars so if you want a drink to walk around with this might save you a few $$). Up one level is a food court which is where the buffet is as well and lots of other fast food type places, an Italian restaurant, Starbucks, Cinnabon etc. The level below the entrance level is where the Medieval tournament is held (this level is referred to as The Fun Dungeon – which just founds like a euphemism for something if you ask me!) and there’s also a Dairy Queen down there, just in case you haven’t have enough calories already!


Facilities wise, there’s everything you would expect. We were lucky with the weather and despite it being March, managed to spend an afternoon by the pool, which has plenty of facilitates for all; a kids pool with a water slide, and an adult only pool area (for an extra cost). Towels are free or you can use towels from your room. There’s a couple of pool bars where you can get wine, beer, spirits or cocktails in plastic cups (if you keep your cocktail cup you can get a refill for half price). There’s also a gym, which we did’t visit because you know we were on holiday but it looked a decent size and well equipped!


Location wise we couldn’t fault it, you’re right next door to some of the biggest hotels on the strip; New York New York is connected by a walk way and across the road is the MGM Grand which has a monorail station in if you wanted to go down to the other end of the strip without walking the 4 miles. To get to Planet Hollywood, where the concert was, it was about a 15 minute walk, but there’s so much going on along the way it really doesn’t feel like it. This means you’re an only 20 minute walk away from the fountain show at the Bellagio, which really is worth a watch!

I’m really struggling to find fault with anything about our stay, it was exactly what we needed for the perfect girls trip away, and I’d definitely go back, once I’ve paid off my massive Kate Spade credit card bill!


Royal Ascot: The Pros and Cons

‘Horse racing is one of my favorite sports’ – Elizabeth Banks

Just like the Grand National or Wimbledon, Royal Ascot is a British tradition that, if you play by the rules and know what you’re getting into before arriving, can be a fantastic day out. However, there are a handful of considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to attend Ascot.

Why you should attend Royal Ascot

The perfect excuse to get dressed up
Most of us spend our entire week working and, come the weekend, find it difficult to get motivated to do anything, including going out for a nice dinner or even a drink at the local pub, which is why you should take advantage of the British events calendar. Royal Ascot has a formal dress code which makes it the perfect excuse to get dressed up in your finest clothes, including extravagant hats, and enjoy yourself with a glass of wine in hand and a few bets on the table.

You might win big
The main draw of Royal Ascot is that it’s a chance to win some money. At its heart, Royal Ascot is a very British gambling event where betting is, in most cases, celebrated. If you enjoy the thrill of gambling, Royal Ascot is a fantastic place to place some bets and, if you’re lucky, take home a generous sum of money. No matter how much you’re betting, always bet smartly to ensure you don’t lose too much money – only bet what you’re happy to lose or don’t bet at all.

Keep an eye out for the Queen

Every year, the Royal Family descend on Ascot for Royal Ascot, including our Queen and the rest of the family. If you’re in the Royal Box, the most exclusive and, therefore, expensive of areas, you’re almost guaranteed to see the Queen and Royal Family. You may also see members of the Royal Family walking around Royal Ascot so, if you’re a royalist, it’s worthwhile attending.

Despite the thrill of adorning yourself in all your finery and placing some honest bets, there are a few downfalls of attending Royal Ascot, too.

The cons of attending Royal Ascot include:

It can be snobbish
Slowly, the attitude surrounding Royal Ascot is changing; however, we can’t deny that there is an air of snobbery at the event which may make those on lower incomes, for instance, feel a little out of place. Although, this shouldn’t be a problem providing you act sensibly, dress properly, follow the rules, and avoid discussing money with those around you – Ascot is a fantastic place to socialise, however, as often is the case, politics and finances are not topics of conversation.

Royal Ascot isn’t cheap
Ticket prices for Royal Ascot start at £37 per person, per day, however, that’s for the Windsor Enclosure. When attending, if you want to be right in the heart of all the fun, it’s best to purchase Queen Anne Enclosure tickets for £75 per person, per day. There are several higher-tier tickets, too. Once you have set aside your betting money and purchased your tickets and formal outfits, plus any food and drink you want throughout the day, Royal Ascot isn’t a cheap day out. Also, if you’re hoping to stay in Ascot during the event, hotels and B&Bs will be costlier than usual.

The rules are strict

There is plenty of room to enjoy yourself at Royal Ascot; however, the rules are strict and must be adhered to ensure you gain access to the venue. For instance, there is a dress code to be kept, and while you’re allowed to take one bottle or wine or champagne into the grounds with you, no other alcohol is permitted, ensuring you purchase your drinks from stalls within the grounds.

If you haven’t been to Royal Ascot before, the best thing to do is to attend and see what you think – different people’s opinions of the event vary, so all you can do is explore Ascot for yourself. For exploring you may consider a minibus hire.

*this has been a collaborative post with coachscanner.com

Owl & Hawk Experience at the Coniston Hotel

‘We learned to be patient observers like the owl’ – Tom Brown Jr

Since I was really young I’ve always been obsessed with owls. I seem to remember some wildlife conservationist came in to school to do a talk and I’ve found them fascinating ever since then. So much so actually that one summer holiday when I was bout 10 I got all the owl books out the library I could find a did my own summer project in a scrap book – needless to say I wasn’t all that popular as a kid.

Despite having such a keen interest in them, I’ve managed to make it almost 35 years on earth without ever actually meeting one or holding one so an owl experience is something that’s been on my bucket list for quite some time! There are quite a few you can do in an around Northumberland, near where we live but they all seem ridiculously expensive. We were looking for somewhere to go for a weekend away in February as it was and found a deal at the quaint little Grassington Lodge near Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales. About 20 minutes away from Grassington was an Owl and Hawk experience at The Coniston Hotel and Country Estate, and it was only £35 for two people. What a bargain!


We arrived on a drizzly Sunday afternoon and drove the mile down the road on the Coniston Estate to the falconry centre where they also offer full day hunting experiences and a falconry safari. We were met by Matt and allowed to look around the barn looks at all the different owls, hawks, and eagles (they all look so impressive up close and you forget how big some of the birds can get!)

We were lucky in that there was no one else booked on the experience so we got the full hour just to ourselves with loads of time with the birds. We started outside with a barn owl, are were each given some (dead) baby chicks – which is like McDonalds to owls apparently and stand side ways on to the birds so as not to appear threatening. They fly always instantly to the glove for the food and stay there a good couple of minutes before flying off to another perch.

Next we met an Eagle Owl. The size difference was quite incredible really as was the weight difference as the fly onto the glove. We chatted away with Matt the whole time who really knows his stuff. I was really curious to know how they get the birds and whether they’re bred on site. Most are bought from UK breeders or people who have an interest in birds of prey and one of the eagles they have was even sent over from America. He also told us that it’s a misconception that owls are wise and nocturnal, as most species are neither. I of course, already knew this from my personal owl project from 1992.

Finally we go to fly one of the hawks which was done across the car park and the hawks for some reason prefer to perch on the roof of the barn. Owls are most definitely my favourite however it was still pretty cool seeing the hawk as well, they’re still quite impressive birds, very heavy and have a hooked beak you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of!

The whole experience went over in a flash and was fantastic value for money. We were lucky that there was only the two of us booked on that afternoon however is worth noting that they can have up to 10 people in one session which of course would limit your time physically handling the bids, you’d probably only get to hold each one once, where as we have about 5 or 6 turns each.

It’s always great to get something ticked off your bucket list and this was the perfect way to do it, certainly beats paying to hold some of the random ones you see on Northumberland Street from time to time!


The Coniston Hotel
Coniston Cold
North Yorkshire
BD23 4EA

Tel: 01756 748080

Twitter: @conistonhotel

Web: http://www.theconistonhotel.com/falconry.html




Bahia Principe, Costa Adeje Tenerife

‘A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking’ – Earl Wilson

When it comes to spending money Dave and I are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. He would happily live the minimalist lifestyle if it meant he’d saved enough to retire at 45 where as cash burns a physical hole in my pocket as soon as I get it. One of the few things we can both save or make sacrifices for though is our holidays as we both adore to travel.

Over the last few years we’re tried to work on the power of 3 concept; 3 foreign holidays and 3 weekend breaks. I wanted to kick off this year by going skiing. I skied a lot as a child and Dave has been snowboarding but we’ve never been skiing together. However having both been royally fed up with work, and not really that keen on going somewhere even colder than the North East of England so we packed up for a week in sunny Tenerife at the end of January.


Tenerife would never traditionally be my first choice of destination, I went to Playa de las Americas when I was 18 on a girls holiday and it was basically Whitley Bay in 30 degree heat. However we were only able to get a week off work so it seemed the best shot of nice weather without having to fly longer than 4 hours from Newcastle.

The Resort


We chose the Bahia Principe in Costa Adeje because it was the cheapest 5* resort that got decent reviews. We’ve stayed in All Inclusive places before which have been on the cheaper end of the scale but food and drink reviews came up good on Trip Advisor and the fact that you got to visit 3 of their 4 a la carte restaurants per week was a big sway for us to break up the monotony of  the buffet every day.

It’s a massive complex with over 400 rooms which all sit around the edge of 3 large swimming pools (1 is a infinity pool – swish!) and also boasts 3 bars, 4 a la carte restaurants, a gym and spa and little shopping village which includes a pharmacy and tourist shop.


Visually it’s stunning, overlooking the Atlantic ocean and the grounds are kept impeccably clean. We didn’t see one bug or creepy crawly, which meant no annoying bites or stings. All the staff are also incredibly friendly and attentive, we even had our lunchtime waiter trained to just top up my wine without me even having to ask. I half considered offering him a job as my personal wine butler back home but not sure he would want to cope with the temperature change!

The Rooms


We stayed in a standard room (room 8004 to be exact) which was situated at the far end of the complex furthest away from the reception and near the sea; a small block of 6 bungalows. Despite being right outside one of the main pools, the room was absolutely silent (apart from the aircon – which is free) and for being a standard room was really big. The king size bed was one of he biggest we’ve ever slept in, there was a fridge and small mini bar which was stocked with beer, coke and fanta each day as well as a litre bottle of water.


There was a  large bathroom with double sinks, jacuzzi bath with shower head, toilet and bidet. A sign of a super posh hotel for me is a phone next to the bidet should you ever come into peril whilst washing your bum – now that’s living!

Rooms were cleaned and serviced daily with new towels and linen.

Food and Drink

As I say we’ve done AI before with varying degrees of success but the Bahia Principe is all inclusive done properly. Despite them saying that the bars are open from 11am to 11pm you could get an alcoholic drink 24 hours a day if you really wanted one as they have self service cava and bucks fizz laid out at breakfast time. Wine and beer are served in plastic cups around the pool area which is understandable, however you can get proper classes at the main bars and restaurants which feels so much classier. Wine and beer is also self serve, with spirits and cocktails available at different bars around the resort and spirits and mixers are self serve in the main bar in evenings.

My only small gripe (and this is going to make me sound like a right plonky) but I’m pretty convinced that the wine is watered down. For what is supposedly 13%, if i’d had two large glasses of that at home i’d be smashed in half an hour however I was drinking multiple, multiple, glasses on holiday without feeling much effect at all. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, it meant I was never really too drunk, therefore never really had a hangover, but it feels a little dishonest if that is in fact what’s going on.


The food was also pretty spectacular and apart from some marmite for my toast at breakfast I can’t imagine what you’d want that isn’t provided. There’s 4 a la carte restaurants; an italian, asian, brazilian and mexican. We tried all but the asian and all were really high quality, especially the Brazilian where the waiters come round with swords of meat cutting it off fresh for you until you tell them to stop! The buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and although have theme nights to keep things interesting, there’s also always staples like pizza, paella, pasta and fish dishes should you want something a little less exotic. Everything seemed incredibly fresh, nothing looked like it had been sitting out for hours and I got very used to having donuts and churros for breakfast every morning!



The Amenities & Entertainment 

The problem with winter sun is that it can be a bit risky. I don’t like lying out if the sun isn’t out as it turns sunbathing into essentially lying outside in your bra and knickers. We were lucky with the weather which although has cloudy patches, the sun was pretty much out most of the time at a very sunbathable 20-ish degrees everyday. If the sun isn’t out there’s little else to do than sit around and drink (which is pretty much what we do every Saturday anyway so not too much of a stretch!) there’s a gym (which i went to once for research purposes) and a beauty spa (which is chargable). They also have a very lively animations team organising table tennis, archery, bingo etc round the pool during the day.

We went with Thomas Cook who did offer different excusrions from the hotel. If we’d been staying longer than a week we possibly may have ventured out but I don’t get chance to top up my vitamin D as much as i’d like these days so we just stayed by the pool the whole time. It bothered me that wifi was only available in the reception area, which only has a few seats in. If you wanted wifi throughout the resort you had to pay daily for, boo, skinflints!


The evening entertainment was good. It was all live music of varing quality; singing wedding band favourites but all seemed to be able to get everyone up dancing night after night (or perhaps that was all the wine?!) The highlight for us was without a  doubt a Beatles Tribute band who were really excellent


There wasn’t much we didn’t like about the Bahia Principe to be perfectly honest. It was exactly what we needed to escape the dreary January blues and for the amount of free flowing food and drink it was extremely good value for money. I would hate to see what it looks like in peak season, it was hard to get a seat for the entertainment as it was in January however i’m sure they make provisions for that and put out more tables, it will undoubtedly create bigger queues at the buffet though I’m sure.

Despite that though we would definitely go back, and I’m absolutely converted to the idea of winter sun over skiing too!

Horse Racing in Melbourne and Hong Kong

‘There are other things that I could do, but there’s really nothing that I love as much as horse racing’ – Chantal Sutherland

*A guest blog from my Dad!*

When planning our once in a lifetime trip to Singapore, Melbourne, Canberra and Hong Kong Siobhan and I had two aims really – to see our great friends Greg and Elaine in Canberra and to sample the cultural, culinary and alcoholic delights of the far east and Australia. It was only when booking accommodation in Melbourne that we realised that our visit coincided with one of the great global sporting events – the Melbourne Cup! Not only that, there was racing in Happy Valley Hong Kong while we were there. Being big racing fans, this gave us a unique opportunity to see how these things that we love doing at home are presented on the other side of the world.

The big sporting event of the year for us is the Northumberland Plate, the richest two mile handicap in the northern hemisphere. The Melbourne Cup is the richest in the world. I love the staying races, A five furlong sprint you can see your money disappear in a very short time, at least over two miles you can hope for a bit longer. We had heard about ‘the race that stops a nation’ and this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. Tickets were booked online for $A70 each (about £45, very comparable to UK for this type of event).

We arrived in Melbourne the Friday before the race on the Tuesday. Cup fever was already in full swing, there was racing on the Saturday – Derby day, and then the build up to the big day really started. The hotel we were staying in had a healthy number of racegoers staying and we saw them gathering in the bar area on Saturday morning. A short stroll from the hotel and Flinders Street station was teeming with immaculately dressed people of all ages.


A days racing in Australia starts much earlier that in the UK, first race being 10.40 and everything was really well organised, almost as if they had done this before! So we were at Flemington in time for the first race. Crowds were manageable at this time and a seat could generally be found so it was ideal for us to look around, soak up the building atmosphere and see something of the racecourse with the stunning backdrop of the city. The food and drink at Flemington was no more expensive than in downtown Melbourne and in fact very reasonable for an event like this although it doesn’t appear so to locals and it is the fact that the pound has been in steady decline against the Australian dollar for many years now that makes it appear so to us.

Not being familiar with the majority of horses in the race I had decided to concentrate on jockeys that I know. Kerrin McEvoy and Hugh Bowman are Aussies who have both ridden in UK so I short listed them. James MacDonald had won the Northumberland Plate and was riding the favourite, so he went on the list and how could I now overlook Heartbreak City after meeting the traner in the hotel bar a few nights before, so he completed my betting slip. Siobhan, much more conservative, chose Qewy, widely tipped to go well at a big price.

Wins in races 2 and 3 set me up nicely, so I was in confident mood for the big race. As is often the case with these events you seem to be waiting for ever when all of a sudden they’re off and running. The race is very difficult to read until about two furlongs out and a horse makes a break for the line. “It’s Heartbreak City” I said to Siobhan, “COME ON MY SON”, but hang on, there’s another horse gone with him, who is it? I couldn’t make out what the commentator was saying above the din. Agonisingly, Heartbreak City is caught with 50 yards to go and goes down by a neck. Now I like to win a bet, but I confess that I was not totally perked up even when the winner was announced as Almandin – ridden by Kerrin McEvoy. James MacDonald came in third and Qewy fourth so Siobhan and I headed off to the TAB (Tote) with thoughts of champagne. To say that Siobhan took the news that the TAB only pays three places in a 24 horse race well would not be true. I explained to the TAB lady that in UK the Tote would always pay at least four places   and she gave me a look of genuine concern and empathy – or perhaps I misread that. Undaunted, we had had a great day and won enough for it not to be termed expensive.

One week later, it’s Tuesday morning and Siobhan and I are in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Museum. I asked the young man about Wednesday’s racing. “You just turn up and pay $HK10” (about £1!). With a tram fare of about 25p we decided we could just about stretch the budget. Turning up about 20 minutes before the first race the crowds were comfortable. There were food and drink concessions all along the rail and with the lights and the towering city blocks overlooking the course the scene was stunning. We found a seat, had a couple of bets and won a little bit. The public areas were now very crowded. Notwithstanding I went under the stands to make a bet (Race 4 – Sharp Hunter – 13/1). The bedlam that was the betting area was the worst I have ever seen – and I’ve been to Cheltenham on St Patrick’s Day! I couldn’t get my bet on. Never mind it won’t win. Five minutes later and not even the best hot dog I have ever had in my life made up for the fact that Sharp Hunter got up on the line and cost me $HK320!


So that was it, two very different racing experiences. The Melbourne Cup was wonderful and in many ways the same as the experience Siobhan and I have each year at the Northumberland Plate. People recreating scenes that have been seen since the middle of the 19th century, dressing up, having a drink and revelling in a sport which is a wonderful spectacle.  Happy Valley I’m not so sure about. It’s not the lost bet, it was only £30, but after initially being very struck with the visual wonder of it all it became obvious that there was very little – if any – genuine love of the sport or the horses. The track is obscured by the concessions so that anyone at ground level or the first few rows of the seats has to follow the race on the screen. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go again but it wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t.

I certainly would make sure I got my bet on in time.

Backstreet Boys – Larger than Life in Las Vegas!

‘Bacstreet’s back, alright and this time they’re appealing to everyone’ – Meagan Morris

Back in the late 90s and early 00s the internet was a scary place, so imagine my parents shock when I tell them I’m taking a train to London to meet someone I met in a chat room so we can hang out and talk about boybands for the day? I’m amazed still to this day they let me go! I’m so pleased they did though because that day marked the beginning of an amazing friendship.

For years Meagan and I have wanted to see the group that made us so close together but for whatever reason could never make it work logistically. When The Backstreet Boys announced they were doing a trial residency in Las Vegas we knew we had to make it happen. Those boys aren’t getting any younger and we didn’t know when we would get the chance again.

It’s hard to review a concert of your all time favourite band with one of your all time favourite people objectively but i’m going to try….


It was fucking amazing! They were seriously, seriously good. Between the two fo us we’ve seen them live about 11 times and we both agreed that their Vegas show was one of the most professional, polished show they’ve done.

Before I run out of adjectives to describe how amazing they were i’ll give you a run down of what actually happened. They took to the stage just after 9pm after a really cool remix of all their singles/music videos on the large screens, you forget how many songs they’ve released really! And kicked everything off looking dapper in white with Larger than Life. I won’t run through everything song by song (check out the set list at the bottom if you’re interested) but needless to say they got the crowd’s energy up as they went from one up tempo pop hit to the next.

Show highlights for me were As Long As You Love me, which was never my favourite single but they nailed the chair routine all these years later, We’ve Got it Goin On (which is one of my faves) which they updated and mashed up excellently with Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison and the fact that they included 2 of my favourite album tracks Undone and Get Another Boyfriend.

ALAYLM #chairdance #bsbvegas

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Meagan’s show highlighters were – the montage in the beginning which sounds weird but it got everyone amped for the show. Their version of We’ve Got it On was probably her favourite performance of the night because of the dancing and Shape of my Heart of course which is her all time favourite BSB song. They also came out into the audience and Howie was right in front of us, like touching distance from us, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

QPG #bsbvegas

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Fans will be aware of the recent voice issues that Brian has been struggling but they all killed it, singing completely live through the whole 2 hour show and Brian in particular sounded better than he ever has. They dancing was also super tight and the 10 dancers that joined them on stage were fantastic. The staging worked brilliantly in Planet Hollywood and there appeared to be no real bad seat in the house. We were sitting at the front of the first ‘normal priced’ seating, directly behind the ‘pit’ and VIP seating (we paid about £140 a ticket if you were wondering) and the view was amazing. It also helped that there were catwalks and walkways coming out into the audience so people further back had a better change of getting a good view

When I was bored in Heathrow waiting for my super delayed flight I did what I swore I wouldn’t do and I looked up the set list ahead of time. I was a little disappointed to be honest. I’ve said from the beginning of time that they never release the best songs off their albums (there’s a blog post in there somewhere) and with only 3 of the 20 strong set list being album tracks, they weren’t singing hardly any of my faves. HOWEVER (and this a big however, I wrote it in caps and everything) Whilst their singles may not be my favourites, there’s no denying their singalongability and their gravitational pull to get everyone in the room joining in and having an amazing time. Which made me have an amazing time, so no set list complaints for me any more!

Rocking our bodies right! #bsbvegas

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If i were to pick any holes (because the cynic in me jut has to find fault in everything) the second costume change (of which there were 4) bordered into boring territory where they sang too many ballads back to back in my opinion, although I’m  pleased my obligatory I’ll Never Break Your Heart toilet break came early in the show as my $24 Margarita was starting to work it’s way through. It also felt that they were racing through the set list a little bit and didn’t talk or interact with the audience very much. I get it though, they need to cater for everyone, not just fans like us who’d moved mountains to be there, but also for people who were in Vegas anyway and just fancied seeing them on a whim.

They’re just really minor points though and didn’t detract from the show at all. I’ll admit we were both dubious when we found out they were doing a Vegas residency. It felt like it was pretty ambitious for a group for the majority of common folk are only really known for one or two songs. However never under estimate the power of the Backstreet army as by all accounts it’s been a roaring success. Time will tell whether they lose momentum by the end of their run in July and whether it will be extended further, here’s hoping they do, although I’m not entirely sure my credit card could take it!

I really wanted to avoid using this chiche but Backstreet aren’t back, for us, and the majority of the people in the Axis theatre, they never left. Alright!

Set list:

Larger than Life
The One
Get Down
Quit Playing Games
Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You
As Long as You Love Me
The Call
We’ve Got it Goin’ On
Get Another Boyfriend
More than That
All I Have to Give
Shape of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)



Magic Ice Bar – Bergen

‘Let me be the first to tell you, drinking alcohol is the worst thing to do in cold weather’ – Morgan Freeman

Being cold isn’t a natural state for me, I’m like a cat who likes to lie in the beam of sun streaming through the window. However I’ve always for some reason fancied trying out an Ice Bar and am always astounded to find that Ice Bars seem to pop up in the coldest country. We almost visited an Ice bar in Reykjavik and after dragging Dave around the city for 45 minutes looking for it, found out it actually shut 2 years previously. Attention to detail has never been a strong point of mine.

So imagine my joy when it was raining chair legs the afternoon we arrived in Bergen in Norway and the Norwegian chain of Ice Bars Magic Ice was a 5 minute walk from our apartment. We found the bar on a rather dull looking street about a 5 minute walk from the main marina in Bergen and after being relieved for 160 NOK (about £16) each, we donned our ponchos and gloves and took a deep breath before entering the pimped out refrigerator.


Dave’s been to an Ice Bar before in Prague when he was on a stag do so at least had something to compare it to, being my first time however I was surprised at how small it was inside. I think I imagined a full 3 story Wetherspoons (my main frame of reference when it comes to pubs) but just made of ice. Still, I guess that much ice would be difficult to maintain and you’d be forever losing staff to hypothermia.

What sets Magic Ice apart from perhaps other Ice Bars around the world is that it’s actually part Ice Bar part Art Gallery with recreations of some of the world’s most famous paintings as well as original sculptures from Norway’s most renowned ice carvers (if you ever knew such a thing existed).

When we arrived we were the only ones in at the time however as I say, its quite small so that didn’t matter too much. The bar man served our complimentary drinks (a traditional wine and crowberry juice mixture – which was really yummy!) and was super friendly chatting to us about the bar, showing us to the best seat in the house and explaining a little about the bar’s history and the ice sculptures within it. I always love hearing people talk passionately about where they work and who take the time to explain where you are and what you’re seeing.

After our little introduction we were left to sit and enjoy our drinks and have a look around. The Ice art and sculptures really are very impressive as are the little ice seating booths and ice table and chairs (that have sheepskin throws on them to stop your botty getting too chilly!) Our favourite though was the recreation of The Scream by Edvard Munch – much fun was had taking pictures with that one!

You get a maximum of 2 hours in the bar and further drinks are available after your complimentary glass of wine however we probably only managed about 45 minutes in there. The bar prices weren’t the most reasonable and after seeing all the art it does get a little chilly even with the poncho and gloves. I guess if there were more people in or you were having more to drink it would probably keep you warmer, however we had other things to see that afternoon so headed on our way.

As a one off treat I would definitely recommend giving Magic Ice a visit especially if it’s raining and you need to shelter for an hour or so, it’s fun a quirky and they’ve made a good effort in making it a little more interesting than just your bog standard cold room. A session pub however, it isn’t!

Contact Details:

Address: C. Sundts gate 50, Bergen 5004, Norway
Phone Number: 4793008023
Website: http://www.magicice.no