Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Vegas 2013 – Day 6 – Bellagio Badness

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Today we spent the morning eating Pop Tarts and creating our fabulous Coupons! app :) Chris entered all our vouchers into a database with locations and then I made an app to plot them all on a map. This means when we’re out and about I can just ask my phone which coupons are nearby and we can see what we’ve got without having to try and remember them all, or having to look through them each time! Hooray! :)

Once it was working, we decided it was time for some proper food and headed over to Bellagio to redeem another MyVegas voucher for a free lunch buffet for two. Another queue but thankfully not too long, and then the queue jumping ability which came with the redemption didn’t help all that much either, bah!

There was a reasonable selection of food, some breakfast, salad, sushi, fish, pasta, etc. I had some beef ravioli in a creamy mushroom sauce which was so scrummy I had seconds! :) The other extra tasty part was the bread and butter pudding, which I seem to have regained a love for :) Yummy!

Unfortunately, the service was pretty terrible. Plates weren’t cleared between courses, drinks weren’t refilled. Given this is one of the more expensive buffets it was a little bit disappointing really.

Then it was back to the Rio for some more video poker :) We had a fairly good sitting with my first (and second!) quad aces! :)

We played about half way through the required points and then decided to take a break. We went over to Palms for their gas card swipe and win – earn 100 points and then random freebie. Amusingly, we both got air fresheners! “Random” is always a touch suspicious when we get the same ;) Then we drove over to one of the Maximum Comics stores hoping for more games. Guess we chose the wrong one of their 3 stores as they didn’t have any, but I did get the next True Blood book :)

On the way back Chris started to feel unwell, so we stopped at Walgreens to get him some medicine. We played a little more video poker but not enough as Chris got worse. It would seem something from the Bellagio buffet has given him a very nasty case of food poisoning! :( The rest of the evening was spent in the room and a very restless night :(

Vegas 2013 – Day 5 – Pandas!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

This morning breakfast was easy as we used the Palms buffet coupon we couldn’t use yesterday :) There was plenty of choice at the buffet and after a plate of cooked breakfast (with random mexican bits!) we each had some fruit and yogurt and then some desserts. I kind of wish they didn’t serve dessert with every meal as I can’t resist having at least a little! ;)

After our tummies were full we headed over to the Orleans as they had a promotion to earn points for a panda! :) We played enough to get our points and then headed over to the desk and saw no sign of the pandas! :( Spotted the time and dashed back to Luxor to check out, realising on the way that the promo ran from 11am til 7pm and we were just too early!

We checked out of Luxor and said farewell to our room in a pyramid.

Then it was off to Rio to check in. We stood in the normal line for a bit, but after hearing 2 groups get turned away as there was no early checkin and being told to come back at 4, Chris decided to try being cheeky! We headed into the VIP registration lounge, admitted that our Diamond card was expired but could we maybe check in here please? Once again, awesome service :) We had to pay a $10 early checkin fee, but we were given a room straight away, and way up on the 31st floor with strip & pool views! :D Hooray!

We needed to collect a parcel from Chris’ virtual office, which is conveniently close to the Rio, so we walked over and had a nice chat with the lady there who runs it :) Then we headed over to the Huntington Press building to collect our second coupon book. Another case of things looking closer than they really are and it was an awfully long walk on already sore feet! It was also very windy and our hats kept trying to blow away! Eventually we made it back to the Rio and then headed back over to the Orleans for our pandas! :D

Aren’t they cute? Worth coming back for I reckon :D

Given the awesome service we’ve had from the Total Rewards chain, we’ve decided to get Diamond with them. Chris did the maths and worked out, thanks to daily bonuses, it would only require 2 long sessions to earn. We needed to play through 2,500 points on 2 days and we’d be there. After a bit of a hunt, we found the machines we wanted to play at the Rio and settled down to play :) We had quite a nice upswing to start with :) Then stopped for some dinner from the cafe nearby. I had some buffalo tenders and garlic parmesan fries, and Chris had a Rueben sandwich with onion rings.

Huge amounts of food! All paid for with comps :) Free food always tastes best ;)

Then it was back to the machines to finish the days play. It got a bit boring for a while as the machine just kept eating my money, taking back all the earlier winnings. Apparently we still ended the day ahead of expectation but it’s not much fun when it stops making the happy noise! Finally we’d played enough points and headed back to our room for sleeps :)

Vegas 2013 – Day 4 – Comics & Coupons

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Today’s first hurdle was that we forgot it was Sunday! Our Palms breakfast voucher we earnt yesterday isn’t valid for a Sunday Brunch buffet so we had to do a bit of a rethink!

Since Sam’s Town had a 7x points promo we headed over there instead. Chris paid for our buffet with his comps and we had a very pleasant meal whilst we discussed a new app idea :)

After a leisurely breakfast we sat an played for a while to earn some more comp :)

We started heading back to the strip, but stopped at Cosmic Comics for a bit of shopping along the way ;) A little light reading for my holiday and the start of 2 new collections! I’ll definitely be back for the next True Blood book too now I’ve checked which one I already own ;)

Once we were back at the Luxor we headed off on a coupon gathering adventure! All our MyVegas redemptions needed exchanging at the MLife desk in the relevant casino to be turned into coupons we could actually use. Here came a sad discovery that my shiny Gold MLife card means nothing to the queues at these desks, and we had to wait 45 minutes in Excalibur behind a whole lot of new player signups and had a similar wait in New York New York! Ugh!

One of the many reasons we won’t be playing to renew the gold status with them this year – it hasn’t yet allowed me to jump a single queue or made me feel in any way special. Unlike Chris’ (expired) Diamond card which has been serving us very well! So we’ll be working towards a proper, new Diamond card with Total Rewards instead :)

We then headed down to Aria to collect our Zarkana ticket – my word it’s a long way from the entrance to the box office! At least they had some pretty butterflies! :)

Since we were so far down the strip, we headed over to the mall with the V Theatre to collect some more tickets, and then we were finally done with the coupons :) Time to head back. Everything looks so close in Vegas, but it’s just big, and so very far apart! The walk back took rather longer than the walk down as by now I had sore feet and there were no distractions! :(

Back in our room we had another long hot soak in our bath with a view :) Then it was time to consider dinner. We were both exhausted and didn’t feel like going far, so we found another coupon for Original Chicken Tenders which was just downstairs, and for actual chicken this time :)

For a “fast food” place, we were very impressed! The chicken was big breast pieces, breaded fresh for us, and then cooked, and the chips were fresh cut and cooked too! The chicken was really tender and the coating so very crispy! It was scrummy and great value with our BOGOF voucher (it would have been good value even without!)

Then we did a little work on our coupon map app thingy before collapsing into bed :)

Vegas 2013 – Day 3 – Games!

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Today started even earlier! Chris was awake at 4am and I only lasted until 5:30! Obviously not a whole lot to do at that time of the morning, so we spent some time learning some of the strategy for a new type of video poker and trying to plan the day.

We hunted through our piles of vouchers for something breakfasty and found a “second item free” for Original Chicken Tenders. Amusingly, their breakfast menu contains no chicken!


We each had a platter, except apparently Chris’ bacon didn’t fit on with the French toast and required a second plate!

After food we headed out to Terribles and then Palms to check out the promos. We were tempted by a gig at Palms tonight but figured we’d probably be asleep before it started! They did have a play 4 buffet promo on though, so we spent a little while on some 50 line Jacks or Better to earn tomorrows breakfast :)

Then it was off for a little shopping. I’d found a place called Little Shop of Magic which claimed to sell board games so we headed there :) It was a nice little place with lots of tables set out which were slowly filling up with people playing Pokemon. We spent about an hour looking over the games, working out which ones we couldn’t get from our local shop, and which ones wouldn’t be too heavy to take home.

Eventually we chose two: Food Fight and Legendary. The first is a very silly card game where you have to battle over meals with your food based troops. The second is a deck building game like Dominion but with a Marvel comic book theme, so has Spiderman and Hulk :)

We found a nearby park and a shaded picnic table and sat down to play Food Fight. Despite the breeze trying to steal our cards and the fairly long rules, we did manage to complete a game :) Chris won by using this wonderful card:


We decided not to battle the breeze any longer and headed back to our room to play Legendary. This game has many cards to sort before first play and an awful lot of rules! Plus the box isn’t as awesome as Dominion’s so it doesn’t sort so nicely into it. It also has a rather large board! Only just fit on the little table!


We found the artwork on the cards made it hard to see what anything was at a glance, and playing sideways clearly didn’t help. That said, the theming is good fun, and the way the game fights back is good too :)

After a couple of games it was time to head downstairs for some dinner. Thanks to playing MyVegas on Facebook, we had a free buffet for 2 to redeem and we made the most of it :) Oddly, downstairs in the buffet, the original Egyptian theming remains!


Whereas elsewhere you’d not really know you were inside a pyramid shaped building if you didn’t look up! The food was all tasty and a number of courses were consumed ;)


After dinner we were pretty tired, but managed another game each of Food Fight and Legendary before bed :)

Vegas 2013 – Day 2 – Food & Shopping

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Thanks to time zone confusion, day 2 started early. Since we knew we wanted breakfast at Hash House and that they didn’t open till 7am we had to waste some time reading about the various players club promos for a bit.

Then it was off to the Quad for breakfast. This place is currently undergoing major renovations
So major that we never even saw a casino and missed Hash House entirely the first time! Very bad mess in there at present :( However, HH was wonderful as ever :) Chris used his (expired) Diamond card to skip the line and we ended up in a room we’d never seen before – VIPs only maybe?

Aware that we never manage to finish the food there (portions are HUGE!) I suggested we order a little differently. Rather than a hash each, we shared a hash and a smaller item – a flapjack.


I know what you’re thinking, that’s a pancake ;)


Then again, that’s corn beef – not what a British person would expect ;)

Both very tasty and for the first time ever, we cleared our plates! :) Service was great and friendly too :) Used our first coupon – $10 off a $25+ spend :)

After breakfast we went to do some shopping. We needed some supplies from Walmart (drinks, snacks, etc) and Chris got a haircut (ridiculously long time to make hair short!) Plus a trip to T-Mobile to get SIM cards for our phones. Conveniently, they had just today started selling iPhones! So it was very quick and easy to get us each a 1 month plan with unlimited data – hooray! :)

Then it was back to the room to make the most of the bath with a view whilst we planned more of the holiday :)


Gold Coast had a 7x points promo so after a long soak we headed over there to spend an hour grabbing some points (as points turn into free foods!) and then it was time for dinner :)

Our first proper dinner choice was easy – Hooters! :) Whilst I have been making similar wings ever since our last trip, we were both craving the real thing! :)


20 medium wings and 10 spicy garlic, plus chips and celery :) Amusingly, I’ve been increasing the heat in mine over time, and always add a lot of garlic, so the latter tasted more like what I now make :) Next time we’re going to try hot ones ;)

After dinner we were exhausted! All attempts to concentrate failed so it was a very early night!

Vegas 2013 – Day 1 – Travelling

Friday, April 12th, 2013

On Thursday morning we headed off to Manchester airport after a little last minute packing. Dave kindly gave us a lift and we made it there with plenty of time :) Once settled in the lounge we grabbed some breakfast (at midday this was really lunch #1) and wasted time on the Internet until our flight.

A quick, easy flight down to London and it was time for lunch number two, accompanied by some wine :) Then more Internet before a mad dash to the gate having realised we were late! Arrived to find lots of people hanging around and an announcement that we would be delayed at least an hour :(

So we found a seat nearby so we could hear the announcements. Chris did some more work and I kept myself quiet with some colouring :)

The captain gave a few candid announcements about the problem – there was a dent which hadn’t been spotted and it needed to be checked, either 1 hour or 4 hours or a new plane! Thankfully it was the former and it wasn’t too long before we were onboard and then in the air :)

At this point we were given lunch #3 according to the menu (though even if we’d been on time, it would have been late for lunch!)

A strange cream cheese pans cotta to start which didn’t really taste of anything :( The salady bits were all good though :)

Then some beef with garlic mash. This was followed by a little ice cream :)

The flight was fairly uneventful. We watched some Futurama and then dozed to some music. Woke up just before they turned lights back on and grabbed a little chocolate snack before they served us afternoon tea (tiny sandwiches and tiny cakes!)

So that was 3 lunches and an afternoon tea! It was now 8am UK time and bodies thoroughly confused!

We got out of the airport, grabbed our rental car, and then to the Luxor :) Checked into our pyramid suite :)

We headed down to the food court to grab a burger as it was already too late for a restaurant and we were exhausted, and then slept :)

Vegas 2012 – Day 18 – Johnny Smalls & Bite

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Having asked my friends what they wanted bringing back from Vegas, this morning was spent shopping for various food items – maple syrup, sugar free maple syrup, twinkies, pop tarts in unusual flavours and Cheetos :)

All this food shopping had made us hungry and the closest place was Del Taco.


We’re not sure why you’re given (extremely salty) chips with a mexican meal, but the rest of it was tasty.

After that we headed over to Gold Coast for their swipe to win offer and each got the lowest point prize, bah.

Then we headed over to the Stratosphere to buy tickets for the evenings show. An uneventful trip except for some walking in circles hunting down the box office, so it took a bit of time. We’d wanted to go ooo at the view too but it was quite expensive and we couldn’t find a 2 for 1 voucher quickly so that’s been added to the list for next trip :)

Oddly, we were hungry again! So we headed back to our hotel for some food. Our Groupon had included $40 food credit which meant we had to eat at one of their restaurants. We chose Johnny Smalls as it offered an interesting sounding tapas menu.


You got to order two plates each from the menu at a time, as many times as you needed to be full :) This meant we got to try lots of things.


Some were things we’d had before like corndogs.


These deep fried green beans were new to us but very tasty! Not sure they still count as a good for you vegetable though!


“Flatbreads” turned out to be pizzas (tasty but kinda filling when we wanted to be trying lots of different foods).


Tasty meatballs :)


Some sliders. This wasn’t the entirety of our food, because I didn’t manage to photograph all of it! But it gives some idea of the selection :) The food was all very tasty and freshly prepared – a buffet cooked to order and brought to your table! A fine way to try different things and eat a little too much :)

After eating we went back to our room for a bit to start sorting out some of the many bags we had. When in Michaels, Chris had bought some fabric paints and neon tape so we could make our suitcases unique. I spent a while making sure mine would be recognised :)


For our evenings entertainment we went to Bite. A show promising topless vampires and rock music. There was good dancing, some impressive acrobatics, a bit of magic, and a flimsy storyline. It was a little odd sharing a booth table with two strangers! But the show was enjoyable and I got a strawberry daiquiri in a Stratosphere shaped glass :)

After the show we refilled my drink and headed over to Hooters for a bit more gambling :) We wanted to get a few more of the freebies :) We didn’t manage a huge amount though as I was rather tired and giggly and the money was vanishing a tad too quickly!

Vegas 2012 – Day 17 – Hooters & Criss Angel

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Today was our penultimate hotel switch. Time to check out of the Plaza and leave behind the pretty view of the Stratosphere.


Whilst driving over to our next hotel we went past this and I managed to get a photo. It’s a McDonalds, but it doesn’t quite look like one!


We had a Groupon for our last hotel in Vegas. To stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in their new all suite tower. We used the valet and had a bellman take our bags and then found the check in queue. We finally get to the front to be told that the new tower actually had its own checkin desk we could have used (if only it were signed or we’d psychically known!) but she checked us in anyway. Then we walked over to the tower and grumbled as it has a fancy smancy check in area with comfy seats! Dang!


The suite was very nice. A lounge area with plenty of seating and back to back TVs plonked in the middle of the room to provide separation. The bed was huge and smooshy. The bathroom large with everything you’d expect :)

After we’d settled we decide it was time for some lunch. Being Wednesday and my following of Hooters online meant we had a magic word which could summon up 10 free chicken wings, so we headed over there. After nomming rather more than the free wings, and stealing another pen, we checked out the players club.

For those who aren’t familiar with Vegas, every chain of casinos has their own little club. You get a card which you put into the machine (or hand to a dealer at tables) every time you play and it tracks your play and you get rewards. Most of these clubs have new player offers :) The good ones give you your money back if you lose within 24 hours, and Hooters not only had that, but also cool free prizes for earning a number of points!

So I signed up and we headed over to some video poker machines to see how many points we could earn whilst losing the $100 they would give you back. Only, we didn’t lose! We did rather remarkably well and lost our whole afternoon to playing :) Turns out, I rather like Hooters. Not only do they have awesome chicken wings and pretty waitresses, they play good music :) So we were singing along whilst we played, quite content :)

When we realised it was time to go, we went and collected our loot so far :) Alas, they’d run out of blankets :( But it did mean Chris got a tshirt too, oh, and another voucher for free wings ;)


We had no time for those, it was back to the hotel to get changed before heading out to our dinner reservations. We had a table booked at Origin India to have our only Indian food of the trip :)


The place was very quiet so the waiters were a little hovery whilst we were trying to read the rather long menu! But once we’d ordered it was all relaxed and the food was very tasty :)

Our entertainment for the evening was Criss Angel. I’m not sure how much I should write here as its going to get very ranty! First up because the tickets have an original value marked on them which was half what we paid! Really shouldn’t pre-order Vegas show tickets unless you’re desperate for a specific performance!

We did at least get a free upgrade – the place was rather empty and they didn’t want everyone sitting at the back so we all got moved forward many rows. Then I took a sneaky photo of the stage as it looked pretty cool!


The mechanical rabbits occasionally pulled a human head out of their hat. This was the kind of pretentious nonsense I was expecting. Criss Angel is known for levitating above the Luxor hotel, for walking on water, for doing rather over the top magic. This was also a Cirque show, which should have added to the pretentious nature. Even without watching any of the trailers I was expecting big. Acrobatics, awesome magic, music and entertainment.

I wish I could say I wasn’t disappointed. I really do. But it was terrible!

When he wasn’t shouting at us and complaining we weren’t clapping loud enough, he was showing video clips of the kind of magic we’d been expecting. The only magic he did was disappear himself, or his assistant, and then reappear himself or his assistant. Every time he picked up a piece of fabric you knew what to expect!

He did a piece with some birds, which had a little more of the pretentious theatre I was hoping for, but come on, it was birds! Surely one of the first things magicians learn!

He seemed to be impressed with himself for performing others tricks slightly faster or for using smoke instead of a curtain, but you know what? It’s still someone else’s trick!

There was nothing unique, nothing really wow worthy, and nothing I hadn’t seen done before and better! Even Rick Thomas with his afternoon tiger magic last year had presented these same tricks better, for a family show!

Oh and everyone left going “Wow! That was the best magic I’ve seen!” – then go watch more magic shows! Any one of the other Vegas shows would have shown you those tricks better, and included something unique. Nyargh!

Okay, I know Penn & Teller have spoilt me. Criss did cut a woman in half quite impressively if you didn’t know where to look to know how it was done. No, wait, all he did was stand at the front and shout whilst some freaky rabbits cut the woman in half. *sigh*

Needless to say, I was not impressed. We were both not impressed. We were both ranting rather a lot about how bad the show was and what a waste of our evening and money it was :(

Vegas 2012 – Day 16 – Pinball Museum

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Today started with a little bit of gambling to do a swipe to win offer which got me a fabulous purple swim bag with the Palms logo :) Then some lunch which was supposed to be at a proper Chinese restaurant but their lunch menu confused us so we ended up at Panda Express instead ;)


Our plan for the day had included a whole lot of stuff. Foolishly, we started with the Pinball Museum and therefore lost the day!


It is a great place filled with lots of machines of varying ages. Some of them are disappointingly mean and just drop the ball down the middle without giving you a chance.

The South Park machine on the other hand was a special UK machine with skill bumpers which meant in theory you shouldn’t lose the ball!


There was a second set of buttons next to the flipper buttons which popped up bumpers to block the holes the ball usually escapes down. It meant that the game had a nice learning curve and you felt much more in control. It had great sound effects (mmm kay!) and kept us entertained for a very long time. Our $1 for 2 players lasted well over an hour!!


So by the time we left there it was rather too late for all the other things we’d planned and we decided it was about time for dinner.

Trip Advisor gave us this evenings choice. If you look for the top restaurants in Vegas the first is seafood (which I don’t eat), the second is basically just a bar with a great view, and the third is where we went :) “Off the Strip – Just Real Food” is rather a long but descriptive name.

We started with the wings which were tasty :) Very different to the wings we’ve been enjoying at Hooters but yummy nonetheless.


All main courses get served with a salad, so we nommed that down with rather a lot of the fresh bread they kept bringing us!


Then the main courses and a realisation that we shouldn’t have eaten all the bread! There was way too much food. Very tasty and we ate rather too much!


When we’d arrived we were asked if it was our first time. Trip Advisor reviews had mentioned that first timers were given a free piece of their homemade cheesecake. It magically arrived and amazingly got eaten despite our full bellies!


Vegas 2012 – Day 15 – Popcorn & Drive in

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Today was a better day :) We started with a bit of a drive to go and find Popcorn Girl. Thanks to “Kid in a candy Store” on Food network we had seen this place with their many, many flavours of popcorn made fresh on site and just had to go try :)

They’re very friendly and want to give samples of the flavours so you can try to decide between them all. Every flavour we tried was delicious! They make some crazy bright candy flavoured popcorn :)


Eventually we decided on these three – hot wings, Parmesan & garlic and white chocolate peppermint.


Luckily they warned us about not leaving chocolate popcorn in the car so we just got a little bag :)

It was about lunch time so we headed over to Sweet Tomatoes for some vegetables :)


Once our tummies were full we decided to go for a bit of a shop. We went to Luxor so I could buy a couple of tshirts, and to the sock shop in Mandalay Bay, and other random things. Finishing up with this…


There’s an apple underneath all that chocolate which makes it a healthy choice, right? ;)

Continuing the shopping we headed over to the zombie apocalypse store but despite having a fab leaflet and outside we didn’t buy anything. I didn’t think we’d get home with any of the weaponry ;)


Then we went to watch Sirens of TI stopping at SeƱor Frog for a frozen drink in a palm tree glass :) The show almost got called off because it was very windy, but they managed and it was rather fun :) There’s a good array of free shows in Vegas :)

After that we headed to the drive in to watch Snow White, stopping off at Dominos to grab a buffalo chicken pizza which was scrumptious!


The drive in shows double features, but despite it being very windy out we couldn’t keep the car cool with the engine off :( So we didn’t stay for the second show instead opting to go back to our hotel to set up our diddy projector.



We made our own private cinema and watched some TV whilst munching some of our tasty popcorn :)