Apparently I have a lot of people clamouring for Vegas info. So I will share some highlights: Pictures can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2157366&id=120402019&l=f9e0884390 and http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2157379&id=120402019&l=7edf4b5de5
On the Wednesday before my trip I headed home to my parents' place after getting my Graduate Assistantship offer acceptance in the mail. Woo for funding for grad school! 🙂 Definitely decreases some worries. Thursday morning was a dental appointment where I learned that I would have to get my wisdom teeth out eventually. But I made it back to Edmonton in time to board a Red Arrow Bus to Calgary and eventually meet Wendy downtown. We immediately went to Globefish for Sushi. Delicious!! I highly recommend it. After we arrived at her place we went over our plans, and looked at pictures from some of my past travels, before attempting to sleep. I don't think Wendy slept at all, though I got some brief shut-eye.
The flight to Vegas went smoothly, though Wendy didn't much enjoy the turbulence (I don't think anyone does, really, but this was pretty mild compared to some of what I've experienced in the past, so I honestly didn't mind). Upon arrival we took the first available shuttle to the MGM Grand and checked into our room on the 27th floor. Once we changed and freshened up a bit, we left the hotel in search of, well, lunch.
We determined fairly quickly that due to new construction In-N-Out Burger is no longer walking distance (though it is but 2 blocks away, really). Instead we hopped into a cab from the NYNY hotel and made our way to deliciousness. Well worth it, I think, even if it IS as always the busiest In-N-Out Burger anywhere. Then we took a cab ride to Excalibur, where we essentially passed the rest of the evening.
We began with three 4D movies: Dinosaurs, Spongebob, and Log Ride. Dinosaurs was pretty decent, I adored Spongebob — especially for the pickle scent effect, and log ride, well wasn't realistic. The physics were off. I'm pretty sure Wendy didn't have nearly as much fun as I did at this motion simulator/scent/water spray/3D/air etc. ride, but it was worth it.
At some point we played slots. To make it simpler I'll explain that at EVERY SINGLE Casino we visited I gambled US$1 in slots (usually penny slots but sometimes nickle or more). I also ended up $2 ahead at the end of the trip. Nothing significant but I didn't lose or spend any money gambling.
Then we went to the Tournment of Kings, which is a dinner theatre much like the Pirates one I went to last year in Orlando, only there were horses (a King Arthur theme), eating with one's hands (the food was much better here), and we were rooting for our King (rather than our captor). I didn't much appreciate the dwarf court jester, but I think that that aspect is probably period specific in a good way so no real complaints. The jousting was good, theatrics fun etc. Our King was the King of Spain, which was pretty awesome — especially since he was the only King available afterward for photos!
After that, we went to Thunder Down Under. This is a male revue, so the audience was filled with bachelorette parties. We were seated by a couple of ladies who could only be described as enthusiastic and very drunk, but other than them blocking my view occasionally, I have no real lasting complaints. The men were fun to watch — especially when they got audience members on stage (no we weren't among them). They even danced on our tables, could be touched, and were available for photos afterward. I rather like my photo actually, definitely one of my favorite trip souvenirs.
This morning we began by taking the tram to the Mandalay Bay and exploring. We found Burger Bar shortly thereafter and discovered that they now have milkshakes!! I had a nutella shake with my delicious burger. How could I not be having an excellent time? Burger Bar is a must on all trips to Vegas I think (or at least most if I can manage it, yum!)
Then we went to the Luxor and Excalibur. We just mostly walked around. Later on I would actually buy the Enchanted Forest Chronicles books from the Dragon's Lair store but that was on one of the last days of the trip… I had been looking for that series for over a decade and now I finally own it!
We took the Deuce bus to Bally's, Paris and the Flamingo, Bill's Casino and Gambling Hall, Caesar's Palace and The Forum Shops. We did a bit of shopping before seeing Bette Midler. Wendy had a blast, and I had a good time, though I didn't recognize the majority of her songs — most of my favorites are ones she didn't play. I'm still not quite sure what to think about her mermaid in a wheelchair number… but I liked her Soph numbers. And some of her song standards were pretty awesome too. I rather liked the intro to the whole thing too!
We made it to the Atlantis show shortly after and ate a LATE supper (mind you our brunch was huge so this worked) at Wolfgang Puck's Chinois. This restaurant had a nightclub above it and without doors between them, the noise (and I say noise because it wasn't my genre of music and was too loud) carried into the restaurant when the club opened. Fortunately our waiter was good (and apologetic!) and gave a discount too.
We actually ate breakfast (a rarity) at Rainforest Cafe. I totally enjoyed the waterfall and animals. Fun! Plus my breakfast omlet was delicious! And I had yummy juice, it even had strawberry juice in it!!
We went to M&Ms World (which is far superior to the NYC one, but some of it was in disrepair compared to my last visit), where I was given a package of Mint Crispy M&Ms for my dancing while we waited for the 3D movie. We would later eat these while waiting for a bus. We went to the Coca-cola store and posed with the Polar Bear (this time not a statue but an actually furry character who liked to ham it up).
We then went to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets where I bought an American Apparel Dress (I had been looking for this particular dress and colour for quite some time actually at least 3+ years), and a top from another store. Wendy did better at finding things she wanted, but we both had fun.
We then journeyd to downtown and ate buffet at the Golden Nugget (mainly because I knew it served good food), before checking out all the casinos (Golden Nugget, Mermaids, Golden Gate, Four Queens, Freemont, Las Vegas Club, Binions and Fitzgeralds). Mermaids still spewed out coins. We caught American Pie playing on the Viva Vision screen before heading back to the strip via The Deuce. We stopped at the Bellagio to watch the fountains and check out the conservatory before ending our busy day.
We began this day with crepes at Le Creperie in Paris, and then went on the Jubilee Backstage Tour where we learned things like: showgirls are minimum 5'7 (and that's a short showgirl!), and that Jubilee is the last show of its kind in North America. The Backstage Tour was well worth it — really gives you respect for the stagehands and dancers. I mean wow!
We got discounted tix to Madame Tussauds and enjoyed our visit. I liked the variation between different Madam Tussauds locations. Unfortunately between our visit and the time we left Vegas a wax Obama was added so we missed that, but my pictures do tell a tale of a good time had! I even enjoyed the haunted part — I was randomly in front of everyone in the line to go in!
We went through the Venetian and ate at SushiSamba (I like the Brazilian/Japanese fusion aspect, but not as much as Wendy did!). We then visited the Wynn and the Encore (I adored the red butterflies at the Encore!). We visited Fashion Show Mall (it's a mall) and got a new pencil case (my current one is falling apart) from the Sanrio store.
A trip to T.I. (Treasure Island) meant watching the Sirens of T.I. show. I loved how the ships moved and the plotting was pretty exciting… though over dramatic a bit. Good eye candy though — the pirates were fun… and the scantily clad women were spunky. We saw the tail end of the Mirage volcano eruption too before heading back to Bally's for Jubilee.
And Jubilee was worth every penny and more! Wow. The intro numbers were great, the show tunes were great, the Sampson thing was entertaining, the Titanic thing (yes the ship ACTUALLY sank on stage… it was impressive!) and the finale … I was impressed. I highly recommend Jubilee to anyone going to Vegas any time. Even if you don't like topless showgirls (they aren't all topless, and if you're really particular they do one show a week that isn't topless too, but why would you want to see that?), it's well well worth it! 85 people on stage (stage is half the size of a football field), over 1000 costumes, how can you NOT be impressed?
We walked back to the hotel from here (this is when we learned that walking often took the same amount of time as the bus and that we were in great enough shape to walk like maniacs everywhere).
We slept in (finally) before heading to Grand Wok for brunch using our $35 MGM room credit. Good food. We then went to Television City to evaluate an episode of Ghost Whisperer (it was our luck, but I still love doing evals of shows!). We then visited the lions at play before going to NYNY to ride the rollercoaster. Wendy kept her eyes closed most of the time. It was not my favorite coaster, but I can now say that I have gone on it.
Then we walked through the Monte Carlo and had Buffet at the Bellagio. My goodness, nothing really compares to the Buffet at the Bellagio, now, does it? For buffet, I certainly recommend it. The mediocre sushi was my only complaint but everything else was spectacular. We watched 5 fountain shows (they were running more frequently than usual for no reason we could come up with) and then went to the Zumanity gift shop before seeing the show. I bought the CD (which I adore! Another of my favorite souvenirs), and a set of dice — playful dice that is!
The show itself was a combination between sexy play and Cirque theatrics. Not exactly a traditional Cirque show, but I very much enjoyed myself. Plus the fact that we were in the front row of the balcony didn't hurt — we could see everything and didn't have to interact with the characters 🙂 I would certainly see this one again… particularly if I ever went to Vegas with a significant other.
We began our day with breakfast in the MGM Grand at Nathan's. It was fast food of course (and not as yummy as the hot dog I had had on a previous day) but it worked. Then we rode the monorail to the Las Vegas Hilton. Some vestiges of the old (gone last year) Star Trek Experience remained in the casino. Wendy really enjoyed the Barry Manilow store. We then walked down the street to the Sahara. Next we made it to the Stratosphere and went up to the observation deck. I rode Insanity, the ride! It was great: not scary at all and such an amazing view from so high up there! Wendy prefered staying on the observation deck and took pictures of me riding. The gentleman beside me enjoyed screaming during the ride, but I still say it was mega fun — the best ride of my trip I think!
We bought KA tix from the discount place and then visited the Mirage where we saw the aquarium in the lobby, the plants in the atrium, the dolphins in their habitat and the Secret Garden with all the lions and tigers. Then we took a special trip to the Bellagio for the Jean Philippe Patisserie where we ate a Rose Macaroon and Imperial (desserts). The Imperial even had gold foil on it and the Rose Macaroon had a rose petal. Very yummy though Wendy ate most of it since I can't handle too much by way of sweets. We saw the world's largest chocolate fountain there — 27 feet tall!
We returned to the MGM to get our seats assigned and I picked up my Television City souvenirs (a CSI T-shirt and a Star Trek T-shirt (the new movie)). Then we walked to Planet Hollywood and pulled the free pull. Wendy got a deck of cards while I got $10 free slots play. We played at the casino for a bit, before going and looking at The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary display of ruby slippers and art. We used our Players Club discounts at Pampas (an excellent Brazillian restaurant where they bring over skewers of meat and whatnot to your table (and there's an amazing buffet-like salad bar, with all sorts of great dishes too!). Expensive but well worth it — probably also one of my favorite meals in Vegas. I would definitely go back.
We made a brief trip back to M&Ms World for souvenirs before heading to see Cirque's KA. I was ever so impressed! The stage was amazing — the whole experience was amazing! The stage moved up and down, back and forth and horizontal to vertical at strange angles. This was great because at times characters fell off the stage or climbed it. The space was so well used and the speakers in the seats meant everything was crystal clear. And the acrobatics worked splendidly with the storyline. After, I bought a top and another CD, to help remember the experience.
We checked out of the hotel, stuck our luggage in storage and headed to Bally's (again) to purchase our Price Is Right Live Show Tickets before eating breakfast at the Sidewalk Cafe. Wendy loved the Sinatra theme. We walked through Caesar's Palace for a bit before stopping for ice cream delights at Serendipity 3 and basking in the sun. The Price Is Right Live Show was fun, though we weren't called up or anything. It was good once, but next time (if ever) I go to something like that it'll have to be the real thing.
We stopped at Panda Express for food before picking up our luggage and waiting for a shuttle. Apparently a bunch of us were all heading for Calgary and we met up with a great couple of newlyweds. We basically spent time in the airport with them (they had honeymooned in Mexico before Vegas and showed us some of their photos). It was good to meet them in any case and hear about their travels.
The flight was interesting — got to watch some news and learn about the world beyond Vegas for a bit. We arrived at Wendy's safe and sound. I slept really soundly that night even.
Finally we got up lazily and then went to The Coup in Calgary (a Vegetarian restaurant that I absolutely adored) before driving up to Edmonton. We mostly listened to showtunes on the way up. I kind of drifted in and out of sleep a bit… but we made it to Edmonton okay. I had an awesome vacation overall (and felt very relaxed at work the next day)… now it's back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life eh?