Friday, May 28, 2010

What happens in Vegas gets a Blog Posting...

We went, we drank, we shopped, and we may have even gambled a little!

This is a very late post for our vegas trip which was about 2 months ago.  We stayed at the MGM grand and the room we had was nicely appointed, but small and with no view.  However, this wasn't a bad deal since we didn't go to Vegas to hang out in a hotel room.  We went to have fun and to see the oppulent sights.  We went from a Sunday to a Wednesday and here are the details as best as I can remember.

Sunday - Our night of Free shows and expensive margaritas!
The first day we arrived we got in around 2 pm local time.  We skipped the shuttle and opted to pay a bit more and get to our hotel more quickly.  I think it was well worth it because we were just eager to get started on our vacation.  After checking into the hotel we grabbed a drink at the pool and enjoyed the warm afternoon sun. 

We had previously decided to check out Margaritaville for dinner on the first night so we walked up the strip to the Flamingo hotel for our dinner there.  The food was decent (burgers/fries) and the margaritas were yummy!  The best part was that they had a free floor show which consisted of 3 guys on stilts doing a bit of a dance and then a woman joined in the dancing.  The woman then climbed up to the top of the indoor volcano, the volcano "erupted" and the woman slid down a slide in the side of the volcano into a giant blender full of water.  After getting out of the blender she danced around in her bathing suit and "Margaritaville" was played on the sound system.  The funnest part was that the whole restaurent sang along with the song!  It was a fantastic way to start the evening!

We decided that we would continue up the strip to see more free shows at the Mirage (the volcano) and Treasure Island (The Siren's of TI-pirate show).  We were early for the pirate show so we grabbed a primo spot right at the edge of the water.  I sent Dave to get us another margarita and he came back with giant skull mugs full.  A bit excessive, but apparently it was the best deal they had going.  The pirate show was not exactly as I had expected.  I had heard that it was a pirate battle and one of ships sank... pretty family friendly.  Apparently they felt the need to "vegas" it up a bit and had turned it into a sexy show where it was the "sirens" tempting the pirate into attacking basically so they could have their way with them.  The women were scantily clad and the innuendos were thinly veiled.  (Seriously here's one of them: "My name is Cinnamon, but all the seamen that sail into my cove just call me 'sin'.")   We were standing near a family with 2 tween aged kids and the mom made the statement about how it had changed since she last saw the show.  The special effects were pretty cool!  They included fireworks and other pyrotechnics and the "guys" pirate ship moved and then sank as they lost the battle and had to swim over to the HMCS S.T.D.  (OK maybe that's not ACTUALLY the name, but whatever.)

We caught the end of the volcano at the mirage.  Its a pretty fancy show.  Before we went I read up on how they had recently revamped the entire thing and the new volcano was designed by the same company that had done the fountains at the Bellagio.   Afterward we decided to take the Monorail (basically to try it out) from Bally's back to the MGM Grand.  All I have to say is don't bother.  We had to walk as far off the strip just to get on the mono rail as it would've been to walk down the strip.  Not only that it cost like $5 for the ride.  Totally not worth it at all!

Monday - The day we got our money's worth on the transit system.
This was the day we decided to check out the outlet malls (something I hadn't done last time I was in Vegas in 2004).  The plan was that we would check out a couple of the hotels near us (NY-NY, Excalibur & Luxor) and then try to find the correct bus to the outlets.  You would think that finding out where to buy a ticket for a bus would be easy in such a tourist town, but you'd be wrong.  We asked at a drugstore, we asked a concierge, we finally found the ticket machine ourselves.  Since we were planning to go dowtown to Freemont street that night we bought a ticket that was good for 24hrs and I think it cost only slightly more than the single use mono-rail ticket.  The buses run frequently and they have an express bus that goes to the outlets and downtown as well as a strip bus that stops at every bus stop on the strip from Mandalay bay to the Stratosphere.  After spending all our shopping money we headed back for some pool time. 

For dinner that evening Dave really wanted to go to the Buffet at the Bellagio which is supposed to be one of the best.  I hate buffets, but against my best judgment we went there.  It was an excellent buffet with a huge selection of gourmet foods.  Of course I ate way too much.  Way, way too much.  This is really my problem with buffets and once again I know better and should not go to them... too late now. 

After dinner we took the bus to check out "old" Las Vegas at Fremont St.  It was pretty amazing down there with the old neon signs and the marquee lighting.  They've built a roof over a few blocks of Fremont St. and turned it into a pedestrian zone.  There were a couple of bands playing and then there was a light show on the roof.  The roof was really a bunch of curved "jumbo-vision" type TV screens so they had a big show up there with music.  The day was going great until we tried to get a bus back to our hotel.  Apparently the bus that we had taken to Fremont street had only started operating the day before so they were still working out some timing issues.  That combined with construction that caused heavy traffic on the strip increased our ride home from 20mins to nearly 2 hours.  So we definitely got good value for our 24 hr ticket from a $/per-hour-on-bus standpoint.

Tuesday - The day we walked a whole lot and saw a Cirque-de-soleil show.
Since our bus ticket was still valid for a couple more hours we decided to ride the bus up the strip and walk back, walking through some of the hotels we hadn't seen and then walk back to our hotel.  We started at the Venetian and worked our way through the Forum Shops and Caesar's Palace.  We had lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Spago.  It was simple and elegant food with fantastic flavours.  I would eat there every day if I could afford it (oh yeah and lived near one). 

After more pool time we got ready for our "fancy" night out at the show.  We had dinner in our hotel at a mexican restaurent called Diego.  The food was great the the drinks were even better (margaritas again - of course).  They would even make guacamole at your table if you ordered some (we did not because it bothers my stomach - much to Dave's chagrin). 

We had bought tickets before leaving home for the Cirque-de-Soleil Zumanity show.  It is billed as the sensual side of the cirque-de-soleil.   It was a fantastic show with unreal acrobatics mixed in with sensual topics and a good sense of humour.   All-in-all perfect for a kid free getaway!  Our only concern was that we were seeing the 9pm show and we're such early birds we weren't sure if we could stay awake long enough! 

Wednesday - The day we left...
The trip home was uneventful (which is always a good thing when you're travelling by plane).  We were a little sad to leave the child-free freedom of Vegas, but we missed our kids and were excited to be going home.  

On a closing note one of the highlights for me was seeing all the people in crazy costumes.  We saw Batman, Superman, Elvis, Austin Powers, Gene Simmons (Kiss), Micheal Jackson and Capt. Jack Sparrow.