We ended 2013 and began 2014 with a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Now Im not sure what you think of when you think of Vegas, but being the travel deprived person I am, I only thought of gambling. That being the case Greg and I never had any desire to go to Vegas, we thought, if were going to spend that much money on something, we are going somewhere better than Vegas! Our friends Gina and Scott however, love Vegas, and decided to renew their vows there on New Years Eve. So we decided we were going along for the ride. There is a lot we learned, a lot we didn’t know or understand about Vegas, So this is my Vegas Review, if you have never been hopefully you can learn a few tips! We are no longer Vegas Virgins.
In Planning our trip to vegas there was going to be a large group of us, so coordinating everything together with different ideas of what everyone wanted to do was obviously hard to do. Gina and I sat and looked through restaurants one day and made a couple of group reservations, and then Greg and I tackled the trip with the idea that when we were with the group we would do what they wanted, but we knew we would have time to ourselves and not need to be with them everyday, so we planned stuff we knew we would want to do. One thing Gina and I learned from booking with a large group is, you can’t just call and make a reservation, you have to go through a group sales place. Not as easy and not as accurate. Greg and I did most of our booking online, Hotel, flight, etc. and I surprised him with the Beatles Love Show. TIP: We discovered once we were in Vegas, that you can earn Free dinners and show tickets by booking all of your travel through the hotel your staying at’s travel agent. Had we booked our flight, AND our hotel stay through our hotel, we could of gotten our Beatles Love Tickets free.
Day One – Sunday Dec. 29, 2013:
Our flight arrived and we ventured out to figure out how we would get to the hotel. We first ran across all the Limo drivers holding their signs, and we saw one with Gina and Scotts name! Their flight was after ours so we were going to attempt to steal it, but decided we better not lol. Coming out of the airport we could see where the taxi’s would pull in to drop off, but not where they were picking up. We decided to buy a ticket on one of the many shuttles that were lined up. Our first mistake. First, the shuttle line we were assigned was #3, but our shuttle was actually in the #1 spot. Our driver was missing in action for a good 15 minutes. When he finally arrived he threw (literally) our baggage in the back and we hopped on the shuttle waiting at least another 15 min for more passengers before he decided to leave. TIP: Find where the Taxi’s pick up! It would of only cost us a couple bucks more and we would of made it to the hotel 30 minutes sooner at least!
We get to the hotel, check in and head up to our room realizing when we get in there, that we somehow ended up with a better room than we booked! We were upgraded! Don’t know how or why but we weren’t complaining! 🙂 Once we got settled we had some time on our hands before Gina and Scott and the rest of the gang would arrive and get settled, so we ventured down to start exploring and to find a place that could accommodate us all for dinner. We walked across the street to the Aria and had our first face to face experience with a real live casino! So much action happening, lights, sounds, and SMOKE. The first person I saw with a cigarette, I said to Greg “wtf is that guy doing?? He’s smoking inside!!” I quickly realized we weren’t in Florida anymore Toto, and smoking indoors is legal in Vegas. Well, duh. I never did get used to all the smoke around, most places seemed to have a good ventilation system and you didn’t really smell the smoke unless you were next to someone smoking, but some hotels, P.U. Something to keep in mind if you have allergies.
Much to our surprise we came across a Pub. Todd English’s Pub! My Foodie Fan girl squealed with excitement, Im already beginning my celebrity foodie fun on the first night! We scooped up a table for 20 and sat down for a drink while we waited for the rest of the gang to roll in. Once everyone arrived we dug into some good grub and more drinks! TIP: I did a lot of searching on the internet for celebrity restaurants and had no idea this pub existed. We found several intriguing places to eat that I didn’t see on the internet, so leave some time and space to allow yourself to do some exploring for breakfast lunch or dinner, you never know what you might find!
Day Two – Monday, December 30, 2013:
Greg and I woke up and ventured out to see some sites. TIP: Most of the hotels down the strip connect in some way so its easy to get from one place to another even without walking outside on the strip itself. All of the hotels still had up Christmas Decorations (Bellagio being the best by far!) so it was fun seeing everything all dressed up for the Holidays. Our celebrity food goal of the day was Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr (No, I didn’t spell that wrong, thats what its called) I was in foodie fan girl heaven, the only thing better would be if Gordon was cooking my meal himself. We sat at the bar where we could watch the kitchen happenings, and had good conversation with one of the Executive Chefs. (Who looked a lot like one of the Hell’s Kitchen winners, but wasn’t) For an appetizer we got the Honey Pig Bao Buns.. roasted pork belly, cucumber, radish, cilantro, and honey-hoisin sauce. DELISH! Then we got the truffle parmesan fries, and Greg got the Farmers burger (Fried egg on top!) and I got the Hells Kitchen burger with roasted jalapeños, what else? We also got a couple of specialty cocktails, Greg’s Whiskey Cherry Lemonaid ended up being his favorite of the whole trip. Everything exceeded our expectations, and we declared that between Gordon Ramsay and Jaime Oliver, they must be on a mission to change how the world thinks about English Chefs. TIP: we got there early to eat (Around 11:30) by the time we left there was a line all the way down the hall of the Hotel, arrive early for a good seat! I also decided to try my hand at a couple of slot machines! (You know, the ones that don’t have slots anymore) TIP: A lot of the machines advertise “Penny slots, quarter slots” etc, however, they are deceiving you! Sure, its a penny slot, but in order to spin, you need at least 10 credits for example, which isn’t 1cent, its 10!
That night after Jeff arrived we went exploring some more deeper into Caesars, and met everyone for dinner at Sushi Roku. It and a great view, and the atmosphere was nice. We had wonderful service and the food was yummy! But really, it wasn’t any better than anything we could of gotten here at Ronin, but still a really good place to eat. Shenanigans happened after dinner of course while searching for such shenanigans, we discovered that to go into one of the casino bars you had to be 21, so we ventured back to our hotel (No casinos) for such shenanigans!
Day Three – Tuesday December 31, 2013:
Wedding day!! Did you know that Vegas has an average of 366 weddings per day?!
The day was filled with too much Champaign, not enough food till dinner, and lots of wedding shenanigans like pole dancing in a party bus, ya know.. like ya do. That night after all the wedding activities was dinner at Sirio’s . Beautiful restaurant, and we were seated in a private room just for us! The food was outstanding! I had Beef Carpaccio and Greg had a Caprise Salad for an Appetizer, Beef Carpaccio is something I am picky about, there is a fine line between it being fabulous and it being crap. This was FABULOUS. Then Greg had the Grilled Swordfish, and I had a Crab Pasta, the crab pasta was wonderful so much flavor and a little bit of heat. Greg’s Swordfish was delish too and cooked perfectly! We had a couple of really nice cocktails and a to die for salted caramel dessert! Now here my friends, is where we run into a problem. TIP: Make sure when you are in Vegas with a large party (or more than couple people) that the restaurant you are dining at, can split your checks. We had no idea and the waiter didn’t ask, but this is the second place we went that wouldn’t split the checks. We are a party of 20 PEOPLE, you don’t think you need to split the checks?? A little warning might be nice. An hour an half later (Yes, an hour and a half just trying to get our bills paid) 2 managers, and over $500 charged to my hotel room, we finally leave. It took till the last minute of our trip for us to finally get everything settled and get all the money returned back to our hotel room that shouldn’t of been charged there. What. A. Cluster. The night ended with getting into the crowd of the strip for New Years Eve Celebrations TIP: We expected once we got on the strip to be able to buy drinks etc on the street while we were walking and enjoying the sites and sounds, but that wasn’t the case. Anything you bring from the hotel must be in a plastic cup. Right before midnight we went back up to Gina and Scotts room on the 56th floor and watched the panoramic fireworks at Midnight. Spectacular. TIP: Make sure when you book a hotel in Vegas you get a room with a view, its worth the little extra you might pay.
Day Four – New Years Day – January 1, 2014:
Happy New Year!! We ventured out to have some fun, we met everyone at the burger joint in New York New York Hotel, great little hotel, all the streets make you feel like your in New York, little shops, Sports Center, even a Roller Coaster and giant arcade. The food wasn’t much to speak of, especially on the back of having a burger at Gordan Ramsay’s this burger was pretty average. After lunch and roller coaster riding we headed to the monorail to go out to the Stratosphere. Im not sure about everyone else, but *I* did not realize how long this process would take. TIP: Before going to the stratosphere its helpful to know that just to go to the top costs $18 per person, and if your not going to the top, there really isn’t much point. Mind you there is a Hotel and Casino as part of the Stratosphere (and a wedding chapel too!) But in all honesty this place isn’t in the best of areas, we didn’t exactly feel safe walking from the monorail to the Tower, and we walked past some pretty questionable buildings, including a “Happy Endings” Massage parlor. We arrived after going through empty lots, parking lots, and holes in fences, We bought our tickets to go to the top (And some to ride the crazy ride) and got in line to head up. Now if it wasn’t for the pure entertainment of the fight we almost got into, and the “Manager” I wanted to smack, I would of been bored. The line was long and the process of the elevator service was exhausting, but once you get to the top, its worth it all. There are a could of rides at the top, neither of which I would brave but a few people in our party did because they were out of their minds lol. One of the rides, The X-Scream, goes 35mph over the edge of the 100 story tower and stops, Say wha?! Those of us that were not totally insane and just watched as the others hung over the edge, had a good time tormenting the people who went on the ride before them. After the Stratosphere we got cabs and headed down to Fremont Street. TIP: This is a must see! Most fun I had the whole trip! Make the trip down there! The energy and excitement on Fremont street is completely different than anywhere else we went in Vegas. We went to one place to have dinner who informed us that they were so busy EARLIER That it would take 45 min to prepare our food (huh?), so we trotted off the a place next-door and managed to not only get some food, but Jesse caught a lobster in the claw machine! A Real, live, lobster! They even cooked it for him! Sadly, my phone and camera battery were dead for this leg of the day so I have no pictures 😦
Day Five: Last Dance. January 2, 2014.
Our last day in Vegas Greg and I set out with some goals in mind. We knew there were a couple of things we wanted to do that we had to fit in today! One was eating Lunch at Mesa by Bobby Flay. I have to say we are not Bobby Flay’s biggest fans, out of all the Food Network celebrities, he’s probably closer to the bottom of the list for me (But way above Sandra Lee!) but Mesa changed my mind! First Greg ordered Iced Tea, they served it with a tray of sugars, sweeteners etc, but the coolest thing on that tray was a small carafe of simple syrup. Absolutely, BRILLIANT. We started off with the Tiger Shrimp and roasted garlic corn tamale. My problem with a Tamale has always been that more often than not they tend to be dry, this was moist and delicious!! Greg go the Ancho Chili honey glazed salmon and I got the Pan Roasted Shrimp with smoked Chili butter. Both meals were absolutely delicious but I think Greg won the ordering battle on that one. The Salmon was cooked to perfection and the flavors were like a party in your mouth! New respect for you Bobby Flay. TIP: Get there early for no wait! They open at 11am.
Another thing I wanted to do was play (and learn) Some Roulette, I played a few games and stood with a guy who helped me learn and taught me a few tricks. TIP: IF your not a gambler and don’t know how to play a lot of the card games etc. Roulette is a great game to play without interfering with what anyone else at the table is doing, by not knowing what your doing! The next thing we wanted to make sure we did on our last day was go up in the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and Casino. The Tower cost 28 million dollars to build, but makes approx. $30,000 a day and paid itself off in just 2 years. It’s $15 per person (Despite that the website says “starting at $7.50”) and up at the top of this 46 story tower, you get amazing panoramic views of Las Vegas! Mountains, Casinos, the strip, you name it, you can see it! The elevator attendant at the top of the tower was asking each person what hotel they were staying at, when you said your hotel he started spewing random facts about that hotel like trainman spews numbers! He stated that he had Autism and remembering facts was just something he could do as a “talent” of that Autism. Love it! I tried to take notes on some of the stuff he was saying but he went way too fast for me to get it all. (Hindsight I should of just recorded him, duh!)
One place we really wanted to eat while in Vegas was Gordan Ramsay’s Steak in the Paris Hotel. Despite MANY Efforts, we were unable to get reservations. So while in the Paris we thought we would just ask the hostess if by some weird chance we could get in, and sure enough! We were in! TIP: Vegas Hotels use a hotline to make reservations for dining, so when you call the number for one restaurant to make a reservation, its a line that actually makes reservations for sometimes up to 30 various places. They are NOT Accurate, and neither are the websites. We discovered on two occasions a place we wanted to eat that had no availability on line or through the reservation line, that actually did once we got there. My foodie fan Girl was in 7th Heaven!! We did some more exploring then headed to the hotel to get ready for dinner, and The Beatles Love show we would be seeing after dinner!
Gordan Ramsay’s Steak – We went a little crazy with this dinner! We were so excited to get in and eat, and We ARE Gordan fans, that we wanted to taste a little of everything! Now, there is a Hell’s Kitchen Tasting Menu, I really wanted to get it (It comes with an autographed picture) However, most of what I wanted to try, wasn’t on that menu. So we dined Ala Cart. We started with the British Ale Onion Soup, the broth was rich and flavorful, and the onions were cooked perfectly. From there we moved onto the Pork Belly, with cheesy grits, tomato jam and onion Au Jus. The tomato jam was not like any tomato jam I have had before, it was divine! The pork belly just melted in your mouth! From there we decided we wanted to each order something we both wanted to try, it was wonderful because they split it on separate plates for us so we weren’t sharing from each others plates. Greg ordered the famous Gordan Ramsay Beef Wellington, and I ordered my dream come true, an American Wagyu Beef Rib Cap Steak. We also ordered some Demi-Roasted Bone Marrow, and some sautéed Mushrooms. The Beef Wellington was good, but I have to say its not something I could eat a lot of, Im glad we split it because even the half was too much for me. It’s very rich. The Wagyu Beef, well.. theres no way to describe it, its just melt in your mouth amazing. I won the ordering battle on this one! The mushrooms were yummy and the Bone Marrow, well, if you’ve never tried it, you should. When its done right, its to die for. (I apologize for the quality of these pictures, the lighting in there was bad, and I only had my phone camera)
After dinner we went to the Mirage to see the Beatles Love Show. The show was AWESOME, but most people probably expected more acrobatics since its a Cirque show, there was more storytelling that a normal Cirque show, but still worth every penny. I have to warn you though, the seats were AWFUL. I don’t mean the viewing from where we sat, I mean the actual seats! You would have to weigh 90 pounds to be comfortable in those seats, they are very small and very close together. they and a cup holder but if your cup was there, it actually made the seat even smaller! You were so squashed in with your neighbors that it actually made it hard to concentrate on the show. Your not allowed to bring a camera or take pictures, and they are SERIOUS. I tried to snap a pic with my phone of one of the guys that was strolling through the audiance before the show even started and got yelled at lol. TIP: This theater is kind of round, so really, I think as long as your on one of the lower levels, any seat is a good seat, but make sure to be on one of the lower levels, the higher levels miss out on one of the coolest things they do in the show!
Far away: This was the longest time Greg and I had been away from the kids, ever. It was also the longest distance we had ever been away from the kids, and the longest airplane flight I have ever taken. Big thanks to my mom and stepfather for taking care of our kids, and fur kids!
Casino Babes: When you think of Casino girls what do you think of? Well, I think of hot chicks with nice bods walking around in skimpy outfits serving drinks to everyone blowing their money at the tables. Um ya, not so much. Every Casino girl I saw was actually a woman, an old rode hard hung up wet kind of woman, still in the skimpy outfit, but shouldn’t of been.
Cha Ching: I think a lot is lost in Vegas from the view point of how gambling is done. Every thing is electronic! Slots are electronic, hell even craps and roulette can be electronic. I think TOO Electronic. Gone are the days of putting a penny or quarter in a slot machine, pulling the handle and getting a bowl full of change when you win. You now have to get a card, money goes off the card money goes on the card. It was a little disappointing I have to say.
It’s a Dog eat kinda town: There were dogs everywhere!! Who knew all the hotels and casinos were so dog friendly! Considering its a concrete jungle where do the dogs go tot he bathroom?? Well one night completely accidentally, we discovered the dog area of one hotel. It was a small fenced in area like behind the hotel, with fake grass!!
Well, thats my Vegas review, If you made it all the way to this point kudos to you! 🙂 Thanks for reading!