Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I was a Vegas virgin . . .

. . . until last week.

In celebration of our 10-year wedding anniversary, hubs and I decided to take a short vacation to Las Vegas and renew our vows in the cheesiest, campiest ceremony $300 would buy. In the process, we got to be total tourists in Las Vegas and hit a good number of our must sees.

Here's the skinny - After nearly a two-hour delay getting out of the Jackson airport on Wednesday morning, we arrived in Las Vegas and took a cab to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. We chose this hotel primarily because it is centrally located on the Strip, and because we got a great deal on the room.

After checking in, we went looking for a good dinner. We didn't look much further than our hotel. We'd heard great things about Mon Ami Gabi, a restaurant at our property that offered on the Strip dining, reasonable prices, and delicious food. We weren't disappointed. We started with cups of soup. Hubs had the special, a delicious spring pea and potato blend, and I got the mushroom, served with a dollop of sour cream and some seasoned croutons. Both were served up with warm, chewy French bread. As a main course, I ordered the mussels and fries with a glass of rose, and hubs had a tender filet (no surprise there). Both were very tasty.

Mon Ami Gabi is one of the only restaurants that allows you to dine practically on the Strip, and because of this prime location, the people watching was amazing. If you've ever been to Las Vegas, you know that, every so often, a truck will drive by with pictures of scantily clad women on it. "Hot Babes Direct to You!" the signs on the trucks will shout, also showing a phone number with (I swear I am not making this up) "Delivered in 20 minutes or less!" written under it. It being a gambling town, Brian and I made bets about how many more such trucks would pass by before we finished dinner. He said one, and I said two. Unfortunately, we both lost.

We didn't do too much partying that first night. Tired from the road, we settled into our room, washed off the dirt of the trip, and prepared for a full-octane Thursday.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the yummy Cafe Belle Madeline. A raspberry and a chocolate pastry, a fruit bowl, and some strong coffee, and we were on our way. Fortified, we gave our property a thorough exploration. I decided that the architecture was accurate, just much smaller and much cleaner than what we'd seen in Paris. (There's certainly no patina of age at the Paris Las Vegas.) We checked out Bally's, which was pretty standard, then headed to the Bellagio. The Bellagio is owned by the same company that owns and operates the Beau Rivage, and the properties are quite similar. The Bellagio's oversized indoor garden (see first pic above) made me feel like Alice in Wonderland, and hubs and I marveled at their huge chocolate fountain.

Next up was Caesar's Palace. All I can say about this property is that it is VAST. The Forum Shops are huge and impressive, and the development takes up an entire block. Hubs and I took goofy pics of each other in front of Caesar's gold statue inside the casino, then headed to the Imperial Palace Casino to see their classic car collection. We slipped in on a two-for-one coupon, and spent over and hour admiring one of the largest classic car displays in North America. They had very limited edition vehicles, cars with historic significance, and just a bunch of cool cars that look like they'd be complete joys to drive. The other thing we found interesting was that many of the cars were for sale. That meant you knew how much they COST. OMG. I quickly realized that a lot of the sporty little convertibles I really liked were some of the most expensive Ferraris ever made. (Whoops. I guess I have good taste?)

After getting our lucky numbers from the Zoltar machine at the Imperial Palace (it is Vegas, after all), hubs and I headed back to the Forum Shops for lunch. We'd heard good things about Joe's Stone Crab, a restaurant that originated in Miami and now operates a Vegas branch. We settled in for a delicious meal. I had the AWESOME lunch special - a petite filet with mind-numbingly delicious au gratin potatoes (they came with a crispy breadcrumb topping - divine!), a broiled dressed tomato (my least favorite), and a generous slice of banana cream pie (dude). Hubs got the medium order of stone crabs and a nice green salad. Everything was really good here. The stone crabs are served cold, with a spicy mustard dipping sauce, and the medium order was more than hubs could finish, even with me helping him a little!

After such a big lunch, we positively rolled back to the hotel room for a little break before the evening's festivities. Once we were ready to face the world again, we headed for The Venetian. We really enjoyed walking around this property. Their entryway is absolutely gorgeous. (That's the ceiling in the above pic.) We listened to the live musicians they had stationed throughout the open-air "square," watched the gondoliers ferry people down the fake canals (which incidentally, are a heckuva lot cleaner and less smelly than those in Venice, I hear), and window shopped in the indoor mall. Our showtime was nearing, so we headed down to the Blue Man Theatre to get ready for the show.

We so enjoyed seeing Blue Man Group live! The three performers on stage never speak, and the entire show is a study in facial expression, body posture and reaction. There was a lot of audience participation in the production, and Brian and I laughed ourselves silly! Lots of music, cool lighting effects, and general craziness. The theme of the show seemed to be a comment on technology - does it connect us or just divide/overwhelm us? Which is more interesting still, since the show used a lot of technology (projection screens, rolling digital signs, etc.) to communicate to the audience. After the show, the performers came out for photographs, but they remained in character. I COULD NOT get them to smile. It was like being at Buckingham Palace.

After the show, we were a bit hungry. We headed to postria, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in The Venetian for a late supper of pizza and wine. I got the super-yummy mushroom pizza with onions, leeks, and goat cheese, and hubs got a pizza topped with pepperoni and olives. Mmmmm! After that, it was back to the hotel for a rest.

More to come . . . !

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