We flew back from Vegas last Wednesday afternoon. I wore my swimsuit on the plane, underneath a tank top and summer skirt, having stayed by the pool until the very last moment before I had to go meet Tay for a quick lunch before we headed to the airport.
This has been my fifth time to Vegas in the past four years and I still love the city in all it’s excessiveness, the bright lights and the constant jangle of the slot machines. Certainly one of the reasons I still love it so much is that we’ve always been very conscious to not overstay our welcome and have yet to stay there for an entire week. Most of our trips are an exended weekend, four, maybe five days tops so when we leave, we’re always left wanting more. At least I am.
But I also love Vegas because it never ever bores me even though when I first get off the plane I might sigh heavily at the sounds and the lights and all the people. I sigh at first but then I very quickly get caught up in my excitement when I get to the room and then I have to decide do I go eat? Play poker? Shop? Lay by the pool?
It was close to midnight when we arrived on Friday which was actually 3am for us so rather than do any of the above, we very wisely chose to head to bed which was a good thing since it meant we were able to get up at 7am the next morning.
We spent our first afternoon at Red Rocks, climbing over the rocks and walking some of the trails and on our way back to the strip swung by Red Rocks casino for lunch. We hardly took any photos on the trip, other than a few with Tay’s cell phone, but we did take a ton of photos at Red Rocks, and some of them are below:
We saw Second City on Saturday night and Cirque de Soleil’s Love on Monday night, which wasn’t comparable to the other Cirque shows but the costumes and sets and clarity of the music make it worth seeing for Beatles fans that aren’t neccessarily Cirque fans.
We went to Emeril’s on our anniversary Monday night and I solved the dilemma about what to order by going with the tasting menu which included 6 small courses, each paired with their own 3oz glass of wine – our meal started with a glass of champagne and a blue crab salad that was exquisitely flavored and ended with a glass of port and a dessert of carmelized bananas and a banana cake. In between was a shrimp dish with green tea sobi noodles beautifully paired with a Riesling and I said to Tay after I took my first bite that sometimes, you eat something that is so beautiful it makes you want to cry and this was one of those things. We ate andouille crusted fish with red beans and rice, salmon and risotto and a steak medallion that was topped with a Maine scallop that was so tender it was like slicing into butter. The meal cost $145 EACH but was worth every single penny and was HALF the cost of what we would have paid at the Mansion and this menu included our wine.
We splurged at Emeril’s but took advantage of some of the crazy restaurant deals in Vegas, including the $5.99 top sirloin steak special at Ellis Island which came with a salad, baked potatoes and a mound of green beans plus a beverage which we couldn’t figure out if it was included in the price or if our server just gave to us for free. Our last night we went to Mr. Lucky’s at the Hard Rock at midnight having spent the afternoon and night playing poker at the MGM, and fittingly ordered the Gambler’s Special – more salad, steak and potato for just $7.77. Probably the best meal, value and quality wise in Vegas is still the Grande Luxe – good food at great prices. We ate at the bar there one night, ordering just appetizers ($9 each) and it was still too much food.
We played enough poker that we qualified for the poker room rate at the MGM which requires an average of 4 hours of poker play per room. We stayed 5 nights and easily hit the 20 hours of poker time between the two of us, Tay playing about a third more than I did while I snoozed by the pool in the sun. We lost what we had budgeted to lose and while it would have obviously been better to leave with more than what we came with, we definitely had fun doing it and probably learned a thing or two about how we both play poker.
I went on two runs up and down the Vegas strip, running from the MGM to the Wynn which was about 2.5km each way. The route included 3 sets of escalators or stairs which I ran up and down – why can’t we have escalators leading to pedestrian overpasses over the streets here in TO? It’s a very different Vegas at 7:30am than at 2:00am, and as much as I love being in a poker room late, late at night I love being out with the rest of the runners in the early morning before the heat hits.
But you know what other time I love in Vegas? Maybe even more than poker time and running time? POOL TIME. And the best time for pool time is 9am until about 11-11:30am, when it’s hot but not too hot and there’s only a handful of people out at that time rather than at 4pm when everyone that’s staying at the hotel is out lounging in the sun. In the morning you can get a lounger in the best location possible, one that’s right next to the pool but still very close to the bar and right in the path of the desert sun that so generously beats down on you non-stop. At 9:30am, after a long night of poker and/or an early morning run, there’s no better place to be, not even in your hotel bed because if you were in bed you wouldn’t be getting any sun and you wouldn’t be eating your Starbucks muffin and sipping on a diet-coke with lemon pool side.