Friday, May 18, 2018

Las Vegas Trip Report - May 13 - 18, 2018

I was planning not to take any trips this year.  Decided to replace some furniture and work on the home instead.  However, I kept getting tempting emails and then I got one I couldn't refuse.  Bellagio sent me an offer that included 3 complimentary nights, a $50 resort credit and $50 free play.  That's pretty good for a low roller like myself!  5 nights is my sweet spot so the other 2 nights were $175 each and then of course the exorbitant daily resort fee of $40.  My air was complimentary with my credit card miles plan so it was relatively inexpensive.  "Almost Free", you might say...ha ha 😏

I was having dinner with my usual travel buddy and she mentioned she was a bit surprised I didn't ask her to go.  We had a long discussion about why I didn't think she would go.  Long story short, she asked one of her friends (first time trip for him) and they booked for the 3 of the 5 days I was there and the same flight out as me.  I enjoy my solo trips in Vegas, but it would be nice to have some company as well, even though I could not talk her into going to see "Thunder from Down Under" with me.  Party pooper...and I still haven't had a chance to go in Vegas (or anywhere else) yet... She was even staying at Excalibur too!  Sheesh.  😉

I'm 53.  I got to work with research...picking out where to dine.  Wasn't sure whether I wanted all new, old favorites or maybe a combo of both.  I had planned I would finally go to Wolfgang Puck's "Spago" which has been on my "to do" list forever.  Alas, I found out it was closed and moving to Bellagio but wouldn't be open for my arrival this trip.

Sunday, May 13th:

Early non-stop flight out of YVR with an 8:40 am departure.  It's a small world as I ran into my ex and our co-workers all going to Vegas on the same flight.  It was nice to see them though a weird "coinkydinky".  I haven't see him for almost 10 years.  Flight was fine and we landed just after 11 am.  I got a Lyft for $14 and was on my way.  When I logged into the airport WiFi, I got an email from the Bellagio saying my room was ready too, so that was great.  No line (below) for me at the regular check-in, I just went to the mobile check-in place and I was the only one there.



Above, I love the ceiling at the Bellagio lobby.  I was in the room by 12:15pm.  Room #10101 in the West Wing.  Easy to remember, but as below, the view from it was easy to forget..


I unpacked and then walked over to CVS by Bally's and picked up some water and wine.  I was tired and had a half hour nap.  Then I got ready and walked over to Aria.

Last trip, I never had a good "burger" and I was so looking forward to that.  I remembered my son had a great one at Bardot Brasserie, so I made my way there for Happy Hour (5 - 7pm).  I met my friend and her friend there.  Well, that burger did NOT disappoint!  Best.Burger.Ever!!!!  I ordered mine "medium" and this is definitely in the top five burgers I've ever had.  If you get a chance, you should go experience it for yourself.

 LE STEAKBURGER - $18
prime rib patty, comté cheese, garlic aïoli, watercress, bordelaise onions & salad


We finished up and walked over to the Cosmopolitan.  It was a beautiful night out.  Warm with a slight breeze.  I stopped at Momofuku restaurant and bought two bottles of the SSAM sauce to take home.  I love this stuff.  I said good-bye to my friends and made my way to the theatre.


I had booked a new show called Opium at the Cosmopolitan for this evening.  I haven't seen "Absinthe" by the same company but thought I'd give this one a try.  The price was right.  I got my ticket for $49 with an email offer from the Cosmo. However, opening reviews looked absolutely horrible, overwhelmingly bad.  I wondered if it would even be playing by the time I arrived.  I hoped not if it was as terrible as I had read!  It was playing and the "preview" was over, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best...they of course scoot you into the bar before they seat you.



My split of Moet was $24 before tip.  I asked for some ice water but they said bottled water only for $6 so I passed.  We went into the show.


So, I thought it was good.  Basically the story is the Opium spaceship is leaving Uranus for Vegas.  The band/music was great.  The acts were what I'd expect to see at a circus freak show.  The humor was funny at most times (corny and hokey, my son would love it).  Being more drunk would probably make it more funny.  But, OMG, I cracked right up and laughed so hard at the "banana" act.  And I was so grossed out, all at the same time.  The show definitely doesn't take itself too seriously.  I was okay with going and not mad about what I spent to see it.  The theatre is very small and intimate.  The performers will engage everyone in the audience pretty much and that was entertaining as well. I had the "banana" guy engage me, lol.  Thank god he didn't smell like bananas...

When leaving the theatre, a woman was flat on her back and the floor of the bar/entrance, and security had to veer everyone to walk around her.  I hope she was okay.  She was definitely unconscious...

I made my way to Jaleo.  I've been here before but it was 7 years ago now.  I wanted a gin and tonic from there!

$20.00 - Cítrico:
Oxley gin, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water, grapefruit, lemon, coriander, mint

Pan de cristal con tomate:
Toasted slices of uniquely crispy and
ethereal bread brushed with
fresh tomato $12.5

Tortilla de patatas clásica:
Spanish omelet with potatoes and
onions $12.5

I can't resist either of the above food items.  I LOVE tomato bread.  However, I was still full from the burger so after a sampling of both, I got it packed up and figured it would make an awesome breakfast.  I walked back to the Bellagio by the exit of "The Henry" restaurant on the first floor.  This was easy and took me to where I got the shots of the Bellagio and Paris while on the pedestrian bridge back to the hotel.



I went to the MLife desk.  I got my $125 freeplay ($50 from resort and $75 from "MyVegas").  I also got a dinner buffet (MyVegas).    I dropped the food in the room and went back down to use the freeplay.  I did okay.  I cashed out with $250 exactly and called it a night.  It was 1:30am now.  I was in bed by 2am which said it was a 21 hour day for me since I got up at 5am.  Step app said I walked 15,000 steps or about 12 km.

Monday, May 14th:

I slept lousy!  Constantly woke up and tossed and turned.  The bed was fine, I guess it was just trying to adjust to it.  I was up at 8am and wrote the trip report.  I had the eggs and tomato bread for breakfast and it was delicious.  I showered and walked over to Caesar's Palace.  We had reservations for lunch at Hell's Kitchen.  It's outside of Caesar's, opposite the main lobby.


First off, inside the restaurant is stunningly gorgeous.  And the service was stellar.  If you are a fan, you will want to come here.  I was in the beginning, but I don't watch it anymore.  I outgrew it... but I am a fan of his food still.



Below was my drink, "Notes From Gordon", which of course had a note in it.

$14.00
plymouth dry gin, green tea, lemongrass, peach, lemon, message from gordon


I had the shortribs.  My friend had the HK Express Three-Course Lunch Menu with wine pairings ($90) and her friend had the HK burger.  I'll start with the set menu:

White Asparagus Soup

Beef Wellington
Potato puree, glazed root vegetables, red wine demi-glace. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Speculoos ice cream

$22.00
Hell's Kitchen Burger
bacon, avocado, fresno pepper jam, crispy onion, ghost pepper jack cheese, seasoned fries

$34.00
Braised Short Rib
creamy polenta, baby vegetables, beef jus

Just before dessert was served, my ex showed up with one of our retired co-workers and friend. I had invited him on the plane as I knew he liked Ramsay.  However, he was very "inebriated"...  It was uncomfortable for all, including the restaurant staff but they handled it well.  My friends said my face went "white as a ghost" when I saw what condition he was in.  His friend handled him really well and got him out of there.  Said he'd been a handful so far (my ex's first trip to sin city) and had been up gambling/drinking since early, early this morning.  Said last night he was walking around with hundred dollar bills hanging out of his shirt pocket and he had to save him when some hooker was going to roll him.  OMG, lol.  Anyway, our servers said it wasn't anything they hadn't seen before but I was pissed off, to say the least...Sitting in a fine, refined dining establishment and your ex is yelling that he wants a pitchfork toothpick, and lets not forget telling the table that I haven't changed and I'm still a bitch, lol... I wish he told me how he really felt... 😉  Funny in hindsight, but not in that moment...needless to say, that was the last time I would be seeing him.

My friends wanted to go to the Forum shoppes at Caesars, so I told them to walk over to the Bellagio after.  I walked back and gambled and LOST.  Don't gamble when you're mad, lol.  I lost three hundred in about an hour.  I went to the Sportsbook and took Raiders to win the Superbowl.  GO GRUDEN!  Then I went to my safe and took out another three hundred.  My friends came back and we went to my room for some drinks, got into the Crown Royal.  Yikes, and then it was too late - I was feeling no pain.  Next up was my favorite place.  The Conservatory!  I 💘 this place.  It smells heavenly too.  The details amaze me, always.






We went to the Petrossian bar, below.


We ordered some champagne.  Our server misunderstood us when we ordered a bottle with 3 glasses, and instead brought 3 glasses.  When we told her, she took them away and then brought them back and asked if we could just drink these and then finish the bottle.  We agreed and were glad it didn't go to waste.  She brought us some bar snacks.


Our server than came and filled our glasses up and told us the bartender had opened another bottle and that we could finish it.  Wow, that was so nice and unexpected.  And by the time we left there, I think I was probably looking like my "ex", lol.  I hugged our server, so I know I was pretty happy at this point.  I got my friends into an Uber.  They were going downtown to Freemont.  Our plans were that they were going to get back to their hotel by 9pm and then we'd go see a comedy show at the Tropicana.  

I went to the buffet for my free meal.  My MLife tier had a line pass (Pearl) so that was nice with no wait.  It hit the spot and soaked up some of the booze and that was a good thing.  I ate some stuffing with gravy for that.  I felt like I just watched people walking around with huge plates of mile high crab legs.  But, it wasn't King crab (I'd call it snow crab), so I tried a few legs.  Not bad and at least they were split.  I told the man serving them I only wanted a couple, not a plate full like everyone else.  He told me with a huge laugh that I was not supposed to diet today!  😊  Um, my food pictures tell you that he didn't need to worry...

Then I gambled again, and lost another $300.  I left a $120 TITO in or on the slot and when I realized, I went back but it was gone.  (Stupid is as stupid does).   I took a while remembering where I had last been as I was bouncing slot to slot, and I was drunk.  Ouchie.  I don't think that being drunk and gambling work too well together.  I get really stupid and loose with my cash too.  My last hundred I was playing $5 slots and it was gone in seconds.  It was 10pm and I hadn't heard from them so I went to my room.   They had contacted me, but the messages didn't come in until I got on my laptop.  The WiFi protected me and made me go to my room, and not out!  Haha.  I told them I was down for the count and went to the comfy bed...I desperately needed the sleep!  Only 10,000 steps or about 7 km walked today.

Tuesday, May 15th:

I got a good solid 8 hours sleep in and it was better than last nights. Below shows I didn't move much.  The pillows were exactly as I arranged them when I went to bed, lol.  The night before, a couple of pillows were on the floor, the blankets were off the bed and all over the place from tossing and turning.


I wrote up the report and nursed my hangover with some Mondavi wine which was not going down too well.  Oh well, I tried.  I then guzzled water for a long while, lol.  That helped.  I got in the shower, got ready and headed out for a walk.  Very warm today but beautiful - nothing but blue skies...


Lunch was at the Venetian today.  Yardbird.  This was the one I was most looking forward to this trip.  I love that their website is "run chicken run .com", lol.  


We were a half hour early but they seated us, no problem.  I ordered a cocktail.

YARDBIRD OLD FASHIONED
our southern spin on this timeless classic features bacon - infused wild turkey 81, angostura bitters, orange bitters, maple syrup served in a lowball & paired with a 2" sphere ice
$16

DEVILED EGGS
dill, chives, smoked trout roe
$10

BLUE PLATE SPECIAL
two pieces of Lewellyn’s fine fried chicken (I asked for wing and thigh) chilled spiced watermelon, house-made buttermilk biscuit
$15

COLLARD GREENS
cider vinegar & cracklins
$10

The greens came without cracklins which they said they were out of and there was no potlikker either, which I like, but they were good even so.  We all had the chicken and it was excellent.  No complaints at all, moist (brined), tender and seasoned perfectly.  The watermelon was good too, like pickled almost.  Biscuits were yummy.  We headed out.  My friends were going to Wynn & Circus Circus and I headed back.

I stopped at every casino on the way back and donated $20 in each.  I played for about an hour in Casino Royale, but cashed out with nothing.  I was getting used to that feeling.  😏 I turned down all drink offers and was feeling pretty damn lousy.  Lunch did not restore my health like I thought it would.

Back at the Bellagio.  Concierge printed a 2-for-1 coupon for the Laugh Factory for me.  I emailed it to them and then they had me pick it up at the desk in the lobby.  I decided to have a drink somewhere.  I went to Cafe Bellagio and used some of my resort credit. I ordered a margarita and some french onion soup.  The setting is lovely, either looking out to the Conservatory or to the pool.



FRENCH ONION SOUP
toasted baguette, gruyère cheese

I felt better - alive even.  The broth and gooey cheese probably did it.  I asked my server about the change coming.  Sadelle’s, a Jewish-style deli will be in its place.  My server said renovations will start in August and it is expected to open for Christmas season.  I asked what happens to their jobs.  She said they will be laid off.  The awful thing I learned is that they won't have health insurance anymore and she said when they come back to work, it will take about 3 months to build the hours up to have it again.  I felt so sorry for them, shitty thing to happen...

Below is another Conservatory shot.


I gambled, lost more and then freshened up.  I walked over to MGM to meet my friends for dinner.  It was their last night and they had a really early flight home.  We went to Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill.


Bacon Blue Burger
Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Spicy Pepper Aioli, French Fries $23

Big-Eye Tuna Tartar
Avocado, Wasabi, Sesame Crisps $22

Linguine and Clams
Shishito Peppers, Scallions, Miso-Garlic Butter $28

He said this was his favorite burger of the trip.  She loved her tuna.  I thought mine was okay.  Clams were good, but it was just luke warm when it hit the table.  I ate it all anyway.  We walked over to the Tropicana and went to the box office.  My coupon got us three tickets for $35 each.  We went up to the Laugh Factory.  

The comedians were very funny and we laughed a lot.  One did a bit on his stay at Circus Circus and I was peeing myself.  So funny.  When it was over I told my friends I'd meet them by the bathroom which is by the elevators to go down.  They were nowhere to be found.  So I sent them a message and went and got a Lyft ($5.43 shared but I ended up being alone).  Below is a shot while waiting in the rideshare area at the Trop for the car.


When I got back, I got a message saying they were looking for me.  I guess she didn't see my message saying I was going, going, gone.  I sent it half an hour before she sent hers.  Anyway, I wished them safe travels home.  I gambled and lost and retired for the night... Almost 16,000 steps or about 12 km walked today.

Wednesday, May 16th:

I slept awesomely.  I awoke early, felt rested and a million times better than yesterday!  I wrote the report.  I have no idea why, but this song was in my head.  Probably heard it on my elevator or at the Tropicana...  So, I had to listen to it and then got in the shower.  I turned on that magnifying mirror with a light and OMG, I turned it back off quick.  Well, after I plucked a few random hairs I found growing on my face that I didn't know were there, lol.  And, Is that what pores look like?  Wow, didn't like trying that mirror, that's for sure.  I finished getting ready and walked over to the Aria.  Below always makes me think of a big penis with Christmas lights on it when I see it, I forget the true meaning of it though...


I gambled for an hour (no wins of course) and then wanted to have lunch at Javier's.  It opened at 11:30 am and I was seated right away.  This is another place that's been on my "to-do" list for a while.  Server immediately brought over chips and salsa.


The salsa I loved!!!!!  Perfect blend of heat, cilantro, onions for crunch and fresh.  Sooooo tasty and I couldn't stop eating it.  I ordered a margarita and it was also delicious.  If you love cucumber, you will want this drink.

PEPINO
A Blend of Silver Tequila, Agave Nectar, freshly squeezed lime juice and cucumbers. $16

View of the bar from my table


ENCHILADA, CHILE RELLENO & TACO
Chile relleno with choice of chicken, beef or cheese enchilada and choice of beef or chicken crispy taco $28

I dug in.  Everything was lovely and seasoned perfectly.  The refried beans tasted like pork fat and I could feel my veins hardening but they were so good.  I did a good job (finished three quarters of it!) at eating and then waddled out of there.  I needed to walk that off.  I went shopping at Ross, Marshall's, ABC store and then walked back to Bellagio.  It was a hot one, 92 degrees (33C) today, so I had to cool off in the room for a bit.  I freshened up.  That usually means wine and retouching my make up.  

I walked over to Harrah's and gambled.  I sat at a slot and looked right and that cardboard scared the crap out of me, I jumped in my seat.  😊


I lost more.  I've had zero luck this trip and any bonuses have been cheap.  Sometimes it's with you and sometimes no where to be found.  This was one of those trips.  Well, I won on my last three visits so can't complain.  About 6 pm, I went for dinner here:


My server told me the clam chowder was the "best in town" so I had to try it.  Fortunately he was right.  Very, very good traditional New England style soup ($9).


I really wanted to get the grilled oysters, but when I asked him if they were as good as the ones you get in New Orleans, he said he didn't know and that customers have said they don't have as much on them.  I guess that meant cheese and butter?  Anyway, I didn't want to risk being unhappy with them so I ordered one of their signature dishes instead.  I asked my server what his favorite dish was and he said "a quarter pounder without cheese"...so yeah...

O.B.’S PAN ROAST
Lobster, shrimp, crab claws, clams and mussels,
finished with a smoked tomato cream sauce and
jasmine rice $35

The roast was good.  Only 2 clams of 6 were open so I had to discard those ones.  The sauce was very sweet but the smoky taste was nice.  Seafood was cooked well and not over done.  

I then made my way to the show room to see "Menopause the Musical".  Let's just say it's age appropriate for me at this time as I head down the road of "mentalpause"... I bought the ticket at a discount before I got here, on Travelzoo, I think.  I took the voucher to the box office and exchanged it for my ticket.  Below is my view of the stage and I had a good seat.  The theatre filled right up and was full, unlike "Opium" the other night.  


Cindy Williams from "Laverne & Shirley" was there in a couple of scenes and also was the "host".  I watched that t.v. show as a kid and they referenced it in one of the acts.  The cast was fabulous and I literally laughed out loud and it was polished and acted well.  It was great to giggle about it.  Funny and entertaining.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  Very APROPOS and just what I needed at this time.

I walked over the LINQ promenade and had a look around.  It was packed.  


I stopped at the Honolulu Cookie Company and bought a box of shortbread for my son.  Then I gambled at LINQ and lost.  It was so gross and smoky in there, says the ex-smoker.  So, I walked back to Bellagio.  It was packed solid in there and smoky too.  So, I just went up to bed...12,000 steps or about 10 km walked today.

Thursday, May 17th A.K.A. Last day:

I slept restlessly and woke up early.  I typed up the trip report.  Getting up early everyday really helped for this.  Lots of time to get the previous day written up.  I showered and got ready.  I avoided the evil magnified lighted mirror, though it called out to me and asked me to look in it, but I wasn't going for it.  I walked down to the Venetian.  I gambled for an hour, and lost.  I went for lunch at Chica which has been on my "to do" list since it opened.


View from my table

It was pretty empty.  A few more people came over lunch.  My server said they rely on convention visitors.  I wondered what that meant about the food?  Anyway, a couple joined my section and the wife talked on facetime on her mobile, on speakerphone the entire time until their food came.  It was annoying.  My food arrived.

MAC CON QUESO -  Choclo corn, fresh hearts of palm, blanched spinach topped with Mornay sauce, Parmesan, baked with panko breadcrumbs. $13  

 GRILLED PERUVIAN OCTOPUS - Grilled octopus, crispy quinoa, ají amarillo sauce, blistered shishito peppers, spicy guasacaca pico $18

The "mac con queso" was like mac & cheese but with Peruvian corn.  I can only compare that to hominy.  It was very much like that in taste and in size as well.  Very carby, starchy and filling. I could only get through half the side.  The octopus was delicious.  Loved it and cleaned that plate up.  My server brought me a dessert bite which was a churro pop (ice cream).  She said it was to welcome me to Chica and she hoped I returned.  I'm sure its standard for every guest.  I don't eat dessert, but it was damn good, and I finished that bite.


I left the Venetian through the main lobby.


I walked over to the Mirage.


I like hanging out there and usually have a good time.   Today was no different.


I finally got my first win of the trip with the bonus round...the "fantasy suite" to be exact.  Haha.



I donated it back, but did stay and play with that win all afternoon.  I got really good drink service too.  I was tipsy when I walked back to Bellagio.  I went to my room and had a nice hour long nap.  I had dinner plans at Craftsteak tonight, but I cancelled the reservation.  I didn't feel like going back to MGM or having steak.  So, I decided to go back to Bardot Brasserie.

AND GOD CREATED WOMAN $17
ford's gin, byrrh, st. germain
lemon, bitters

ESCARGOTS BARDOT $23
wild burgundy snails wrapped individually in puff pastry, toasted hazelnuts
chartreuse-garlic butter

DOUBLE CUT PORK CHOP $42
oak smoked duroc pork, bacon lardons, root vegetables
horseradish pomme purée, grain mustard beurre blanc

I didn't love what I ended up ordering.  The escargots were tasty, but not what I was feeling for.  Same with the pork chop.  I wished I read the descriptions as while I love pomme puree, I wasn't loving the horseradish in it.  The pork was cooked well but was really smoky and I had smoky last night.  I got through about half and wished I sat in the bar and had the burger again!  I used my express comps which was almost $9, lol.

And then I went to gamble, and the losing streak continued.  Started at Aria, ended at Bellagio.  I put my last $20 in after starting the day with $400 for gambling.  I won $80 on that so cashed out so I'd have money for the airport.  I went back to the room.  As I don't have a soaker tub at home, I filled it up and used a "Lush" bath bomb I had brought with me.  It was a nice soak.


I checked in for my flight and packed most stuff and then went to bed about 1 am.  12,000 steps walked or about 9 km today.

Friday, May 18th:

I slept shitty.  Woke up every 15 minutes it felt like.  I was up at 5:30 and finished the report.  My hotel room phone rang at 6 am but my wake up call was for 7.  But, it was not that, it was some man calling me to check his messages, lol.  Said he pushed the message button and it called me.  Weird.

I showered, finished packing and checked out on the t.v.  I caught a Lyft to the airport.  I was ready to go home.  The usual "I need a vacation from the vacation" thoughts.  As always, I had a good time, even with all the loss.  There's always next time... 😉  That's what Vegas is...hope for that "win" though that win is different for all...