Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vegas trip report, continued . . .

Saturday was our last full day in Vegas. We decided to skip pastries at the Paris and head over to New York New York for bagels, fruit, and coffee. We snagged a "tree-shaded" table and enjoyed our breakfast as the casino rumbled to life all around us.

After breakfast, we stopped to do a little shopping here. At the Harley Davidson shop, we got T-shirts, sunglasses and a few items for friends. (They also let us pose for a picture on the Harley set up in the store. You KNOW I am not going to pass that up!) Then, we swung by Houdini's magic shop, where I bought a set of juggling balls. (Juggling is so on my list of things to learn how to do.)

We trotted across the street to check out the MGM Grand. I thought it was pretty, but nothing particularly amazing. We were hoping the lions would be there, but they weren't. Next up was the Luxor, which was huge and impressive, but crazy-hard to get to. I was really glad we hadn't stayed here. Part of me really wanted to see the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor, but the line to buy tickets was heinous. (And you know how I hate standing in line . . . ) I skipped it in favor of Mandalay Bay, which I wanted to nose around in.

It was pretty, too, but the main reason I was pointing my feet in that direction was Burger Bar, which I'd heard raves about. It's located in the Shops at Mandalay Place, and the place serves up delicious gourmet burgers. You can have Angus beef, lamb, turkey, buffalo, or veggie patties, and you get to choose from a variety of hamburger buns, toppings, and fixings. Hubs and I both had the sliders, three different small burgers that let you try a few different things on the menu. With fries and drinks, they were an awesome lunch. I think I liked the buffalo burger topped with caramelized onions best. YUM!

After lunch, I wanted to look around in the Miracle Mile Shops. There was a nice variety of stores there - both upscale and more mass market. I tried on clothing for a while in the Betty Paige store (such cute stuff), then found a HUGE fake diamond ring for our vow renewal ceremony, as well as a few touristy Vegas souvenirs.

After my shopping marathon, I headed back to the room to get dressed for our campy Vegas vow renewal at Graceland Chapel. I wore a gold, sequined tank top with a stain black tuxedo jacket, a black skirt, and some of the highest heels I've ever worn. Hubs wore a version of his tux, with the shirt untucked, no bow tie, and the collar kicked up a bit. (SO cute!)

Right on time, a white limo pulled up in front of the hotel to ferry us to our cheesy ceremony. We got there, introduced ourselves, and exchanged pleasantries with our HILARIOUS Elvis impersonator. Then, Elvis walked me down the aisle, singing "Love Me Tender." (I am so not making this up.) Once we got to Brian's end of the chapel, Elvis began to officiate. We said vows and slipped the gaudy fake ring on my finger. THEN, Elvis presented us each with a pair of black and gold sunglasses, proceeding to guide us through a second set of "Elvis vows." We about died laughing, but we got through it. Lastly, We sang "Viva Las Vegas" with Elvis, even throwing in a little dancing and an impromptu chorus line at the end. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. I can't encourage you enough to do this for an anniversary. We had an absolute blast.

Then, it was back into the limo for the ride back to our hotel. We changed into comfy clothes, then went next door to Bally's to see Jubilee! It's such a nostalgic Vegas show - showgirls in huge feathered headdresses, guys in tuxes singing old standards, the lit-up steps, the whole bit. They did some numbers, like Samson and Delilah, that didn't necessarily seem like a good fit for Vegas (Bible stories? Really? I don't remember quite so many exposed buttocks in the Old Testament.), but everyone was so cheerful about it that it hardly seemed worth a fuss. The pageantry of this show was very much what I expected. Singers and dancers dropping out of the ceiling, showing up in the coves, activity and sparkly people were everywhere.

Now, we went to the 7:30 p.m. show. Apparently, the 10:30 p.m. show is the topless one. It hardly mattered to me one way or the other, but I'm still wondering if Brian isn't kicking himself for not going to the 10:30 p.m. show . . . !

After the show ended, we had a leisurely dinner at La Provence in our hotel. Hubs had the steak frites, and I had the prix fixe menu - a great deal. I got a Caesar salad; then a plate of grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, and asparagus; then a lovely bowl of sorbet! All of this, plus a glass of wine, for $28! I thought it was one of the best "value meals" we'd had in Vegas.

It was our last night in Vegas, so we decided to trip across the street and catch the Bellagio fountains up close. They were so gorgeous that I nearly wept. Beautiful and free. It was the purest thing I'd seen in Vegas. An amazing thing. We were so fired up about them that we decided to go up to the top of the "Eiffel Tower" and watch them again. While I enjoyed the experience more at ground level, there's something to be said to visiting the top of the tower, admiring Las Vegas stretched out below you like a glitter-strewn blanket. We stayed up at the top for a while, admiring the views, before heading back to our hotel room to pack.

We really enjoyed our visit to Las Vegas. If/When we return, though, I think I'll stay off the Strip at a smaller property. I'll get out more into Red Rock Canyon and the surrounding desert. I feel as though we've seen the Strip, now, so I'd be interested in a different experience next time.

Plus, the Strip is overwhelming. Opulent, crowded, expensive, a crush of sights and sounds. It gets tiring. Staying elsewhere and perhaps driving in in the evenings for shows and dinner might be just the thing!

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