Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Vegas 2012 – Day 13 – Back to Vegas

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

We had a fairly slow start to the morning whilst we packed up everything and eventually checked out of our hotel to head back to Vegas. There were a few things to do on the way, the first being in rather the opposite direction :) We had a massage class booked (to learn how to massage, not to receive one) in Beverly Hills. So more fighting with the traffic and then hunting for some lunch led us to Taco Bell. I love their array of sauces and the tasty foods :)

20120605-211539.jpg

20120605-211548.jpg

Taco Bell is one of those places I just have to visit every time we come to the US :) I love the idea of Mexican fast food and it’s always so tasty :)

We had some time to waste before the class, and were still a little peckish, so we went hunting for donuts. Only, the closest place didn’t sell donuts, nope, it sold fonuts…

20120605-211557.jpg

These are baked, not fried! I’d like to say healthier, but given the fillings and toppings I’m not so sure ;) I had a salted caramel followed by a caramel apple which had chunks of apple in the donut – yum! :)

20120605-211604.jpg

No photos from the massage class I’m afraid. It was run by Berora and it was a very nice way to spend a couple of hours. The girls get to learn first, and then the process repeated by the guys. You work only on your partner so no need to worry about strangers hands in strange places!

Now that we were all relaxed, it was time to start the long drive. Not a very exciting drive, although we did stop in Baker to buy some Alien Fresh Jerky :) Resisted the temptation to buy this:

20120605-211614.jpg

Once we finally got to Vegas we checked into the Plaza. This hotel is downtown, not on the strip. We do have a rather nice view of the Stratosphere though :) We’re also above the Greyhound bus station!

20120605-211624.jpg

We finished the day with a trip to Tony Roma’s which was a little disappointing as despite checking the menu earlier online, it had changed, and the starter I wanted no longer existed :( Still, we had good food, tasty ribs, and left satisfied :)

20120605-211632.jpg

Vegas 2012 – Day 12 – Hydro Biking & Stinking Rose

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

We had a fairly slow morning whilst we caught up on some computer based activities. Breakfast was a challenge as we had no forks for our cheesecake :( Chris went on a mission for coke and a spoon/fork but couldn’t find one, so I hacked up a plastic cup into something kind of usable…

20120604-234212.jpg

We eventually headed down to Long Beach stopping by In and Out burger for some lunch.

20120604-234219.jpg

They may not have the most inspiring menu (burger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger) but the food is good! :)

Once we’d eaten that we headed down to the docks to find the hydro bikes. We’d booked it with Groupon some time ago as it seemed suitably random and has good reviews. Basically, it’s a bicycle held between two canoes, and you pedal to propel yourself. Cycling on water!

20120604-234251.jpg

20120604-234300.jpg

It was good fun although rather tiring! The little canal around Treasure Island was much easier pedalling than out in the water with other boats where there were more waves to contend with.

20120604-234404.jpg

The bikes are nice and stable and have a cubby hole for keeping things dry. I ended up with a wet foot from catching waves whilst pedalling but Chris didn’t seem to have that problem. We were glad it was quite a cool day as it would have been much harder work in heat!

20120604-234307.jpg

After hydro biking we went on a bit of a donut hunt. The closest place according to Google maps was closed :( So we decided to try a Yum Yum Donuts which we’d seen a few of in our travels. They cook the donuts fresh on site (now a requirement of our donuts!) and were very tasty :)

After a quick change it was time to head out again and up to Beverly Hills for our annual trip to the Stinking Rose :) This restaurant is known for garlic and lots of it! I’m not quite sure why the new vampire themed cocktail and steak menu – surely they’d repell vampires?!

20120604-234417.jpg

20120604-234433.jpg

20120604-234449.jpg

One tasty cocktail ordered, and then time for some garlic! We started with the Bagna Calda which is soft stewed garlic cloves to smoosh onto their freshly baked garlicy bread, with some raw garlic on top if you want ;)

20120604-234424.jpg

We were seated down “Garlic Lovers Lane” which is a series of little tents! A little odd but nicely intimate :)

20120604-234441.jpg

For a main course, I had ribs and Chris had a steak. All with plenty of garlic! It was, as always, very tasty and much enjoyed :)

20120604-234458.jpg

Amazingly, we squeezed in a little chocolatey dessert. No garlic for this course (though they do a garlic ice cream for those so inclined!)

20120604-234504.jpg

After a fairly early dinner we fought through the traffic back to our hotel to watch some TV whilst I made a new inside for Chris’ iPhone case to stop him complaining about it falling apart ;)

Vegas 2012 – Day 11 – Knotts Berry Farm

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Today was a day of coaster based fun :) A nice early start with Poptarts for breakfast before walking over to Knotts Berry Farm. Amazingly the main gate is actually by the road, unlike many other theme parks, almost like they expect people to walk there! :)

We arrived just before they opened. We’d bought tickets online to save money and whilst the lady at the gate looked a little confused, her machine scanned the barcode from my phone screen with no problem and we were inside :) A short wait and then we were allowed into the park properly.

We noticed almost everyone went straight to Ghostrider, the huge wooden coaster which was closest to the entrance, so we walked on to the next big coaster – Pony Express. As the name suggests, rather than a normal coaster car, you sit atop plastic horses, in a leaning forward position held in strange ways! This was the only ride where glasses were not allowed, even with our funky straps. So Chris was rather blind for it (I had contacts) but seemed to enjoy it anyway and we went round twice in the front row before the crowd caught up and we had to move on :)

Next up was the mine train… If we’d seen the train before getting on we would probably have skipped it. It was actually a little driven train through areas with animatronic people mining. It was a little weird!

After that was Boomerang :) As the name suggests, this is a coaster which reverses rather than looping. It was good and fast :)

Random flower photo
20120601-101858.jpg

Boomerang
20120601-101905.jpg

Why have teacups when you can have hats?!
20120601-101911.jpg

At this point we discovered Xcelerator was closed :( But we have now discovered it has been closed a while and wont be open till later this month so we didn’t miss it specifically.

On to Montezuma’s Revenge, a Thunderlooper type of coaster hiding in amongst two larger ones. High speed loop forward and then reversed :)

We declared it lunch time so we could hopefully skip the queues. Their menu hurt our head and eventually we shared a chicken tenders combo and then got a souvenir Snoopy cup and paid $5 to have unlimited refills all day (which we made good use of!) and a churro each :)

20120601-101916.jpg

20120601-101922.jpg

20120601-101934.jpg

We went on Windseeker whilst letting our food settle which is a nice gentle rise to 301 feet and then a spin round to enjoy the view before a gentle drop :) Very nice and repeated later on too :)

Since we were near it, we then tried Jaguar which was a long but strangely slow coaster, very gentle and just kept going!

Then it was time for another good view as we went up Supreme Scream, which had both a fast ascent and descent, both very smooth.

Then time for Silver Bullet which was awesome! Long, smooth coaster with great twists and turns :)

Time for a bit of a break and wander through some shops on our way back to Ghostrider. This coaster was very, very long! It is also wooden and hence rather juddery and I came off feeling rather bashed and bruised! That said, it was a very impressive wooden coaster and good fun :)

Amazingly at this point it was still fairly early afternoon and we’d done all the big coasters! It was a lovely quiet day with a number of school trips there but very little queuing. It was great! Just how a weekday trip to a theme park should be :)

We wandered round some more, repeated Silver Bullet and Windseeker and once I eventually found a coin squishy machine with Snoopy, we declared it time to go home so we could get changed and go out for dinner before it got too late.

We’d decided to go to Cheesecake Factory, thinking we were headed to the super romantic one we went to last year. Alas, we were wrong. Still a lovely place but by the time we were seated (I think we got forgotten!) it was too cold to be outside by the dock and I requested we be reseated inside!

Eventually we got some very tasty food which I seemed to manage to eat all of :)

20120601-101940.jpg

20120601-101944.jpg

We took our cheesecake back with us as we were too full to enjoy it there. Only realising after the 40 minute drive back that we had no fork! D’oh!

Vegas 2012 – Day 10 – More Travelling

Friday, June 1st, 2012

A very early start today as we have a busy day planned! Step one, checking out of Caesars, which was very easy as the TV checkout worked :) Then off to M for a Hash House breakfast (thanks to another Groupon) :)

20120601-113923.jpg

Now starts the long journey up to LA with a number of distractions along the way. First up, some geocaching. There are a number of trails to follow down dirt tracks out into the desert, so we chose one at random and off we went. This one was a little more enthusiastic than most and required us to actually walk away from the track a few hundred feet for each cache. Not quite what we were hoping for and we were glad when we found the end of the trail as I was beginning to fear sunburn! Geocaching results in a lot of photos like these…

20120601-114222.jpg

20120601-114238.jpg

Look, we were out in the middle of nowhere:

20120601-114256.jpg

Surrounded by cacti:

20120601-114323.jpg

20120601-114309.jpg

Now that I was fearing burning it was time to stay indoors. We drove up to Primm and then leapt inside their shopping mall of outlet shops and went a wandering. We bought random things like 3D jigsaws, kitchen gadgetry and shoelaces. Whilst Chris was eyeing up more shoes, I played with my camera…

20120601-114341.jpg

Who knows which brand of shoes he was looking at? :)

Then, the reason for all our dawdling ;) Time to get to Baker for some lunch :) We knew we needed a late lunch after all that breakfast, although 4pm is impressively late even for us! Time for some Mad Greek goodness :)

20120601-114349.jpg

20120601-114428.jpg

A tasty gyro followed by some tasty pastries :) All very good :)

Then came the boring part of the drive where there was nowhere interesting to stop :( A couple of hours later we were at our new hotel :) A little place right next to Knotts Berry Farm – I can see coasters from the windows!

20120601-101851.jpg

Bet you can’t guess what tomorrows post will be about ;)

Vegas 2012 – Day 9 – Swimming & Shopping

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Today we got up bright and early to enjoy the pool :) Again, no photos as we took only ourselves and a room key! We had a nice swim and float around until we started getting too warm and worrying we might be burning.

Then it was off to Todd English PUB to meet with Eric for lunch. We worked with him on Poker Buddies and have been close to meeting a few times (actually at the same football game in Tampa but didn’t realise it till after!) Mostly I sat quietly whilst Chris and Eric talked app marketing and monetization ;)

20120601-104019.jpg

After we’d eaten we had a bit of a wander around. We went into the Cosmopolitan which has a big chandelier thing, and got a bit lost trying to get out again! Then we went to the Forum Shops in Caesars for an explore. We saw a lovely photography gallery – Peter Lik and a lovely art gallery – Vladimir Kush. Then we found ourselves in the Apple store, and buying things, oops! ;) I am now owner of an Olloclip which is a funky little piece of gadgetry containing three different lenses which clips onto the corner of your iPhone. I can now do macro, wide angle, and fish eye shots, all with my phone, hooray! :) Now you can expect slightly sillier photos from me ;)

The shopping centre has some odd escalators… they go round corners!!

20120529-204740.jpg

20120529-204749.jpg

We had quite early dinner reservations, so we had to get back and get changed and then head out to Marrakech. Thanks to Groupon we had a 6 course meal booked with the promise of bellydancing whilst we ate :) The restaurant is well themed inside so you feel like you’re inside a tent. It is also very dark lit by some funky lanterns in the ceiling and candles on the tables.

20120529-204757.jpg

After we were seated we had our hands washed with rose water, which smells lovely! We were encouraged to eat with our fingers, which we did :) The first course was shrimp in a lemon and garlic sauce, served with lots of fresh bread. I’m not generally a fan of seafood, but this was very tasty :)

20120529-204805.jpg

Next up, a small bowl of soup was delivered to our hands (hence no photo!) It was a lentil soup which was very tasty, lots of flavour :) The third course was some homous, an egg plant dip, and some salad veggies to dunk. In this photo you can see my soup too.

20120529-204811.jpg

Fourth course was a beef kebab which was again delivered to our hands so I couldn’t take a photo. It was really tasty and all to soon our plates were clear and waiting for the next course :)

The fifth was probably the least tasty, it was chicken and vegetables with couscous. Unfortunately, the majority of the vegetable was cabbage, which Chris doesn’t really like and I’m not a huge fan of. It was nicely seasoned and the chicken was very soft, but the cabbage was a little overwhelming!

20120529-204816.jpg

The final course was dessert :) It was filo pastry filled with banana, chocolate and almonds, covered in icing sugar and cinnamon. I’m not usually a fan of warm banana but this was very good :D Amazingly, we cleared the plate, despite being very full! ;)

20120529-204820.jpg

There was some belly dancing whilst we ate which was fun to watch, though we were sat on the emptier side of the restaurant as there was a large party arriving (just as we finished thankfully) so she mostly danced too far away for us to see. The food was excellent and the service was great too :) Definitely somewhere to try if you’re in Vegas! :)

Having had such an early dinner we still had quite a lot of evening, so we headed over to the Orleans and saw Dark Shadows in their cinema. A very silly film with Johnny Depp as a vampire, obviously we enjoyed it :)

Vegas 2012 – Day 8 – Caesars

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Today was a day of hotel moving. We had a fairly leisurely packing session and then a fight with the TV which wouldn’t check us out! Apparently everyone was busy trying to do the same thing, so we had to use the express checkout forms by the elevators. At least we didn’t have to go to the front desk and queue! Bye bye lovely suite on the 20th floor of a pyramid!

Then we bundled everything into the car and headed over to Caesars. Chris used the power of his (expired) Diamond card to jump the queue and got us checked in pretty quickly. Only a normal room on the 8th floor here, and the annoyance of no bathroom door. On the bright side, lots of free toiletries:

20120529-204106.jpg

By this point, it was lunch time and we’d not had any breakfast! So we wandered over to Hash House a Go Go in Imperial Palace to get some food. There was a huge queue and we almost considered a change of venue, till Chris flashed his (still expired!) Diamond card and we were seated immediately, hehe :)

Hash House serves too much food. We have never, and I kinda hope will never, eat an entire meal. Whether you order breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s just too much! We ordered from the “Farm Benedicts” section, I had the Sage Fried Chicken, and Chris had the Hammered Pork Tenderloin. Huge pieces of meat served on top of a split biscuit, on top of mashed potatoes. Loads of really tasty food :D

20120529-204115.jpg

Now that we were really full we thought we’d go check out the pools at Caesars :) They have a very impressive looking pool area with a number of large pools. There’s a big round one with fountains! :) I didn’t take my camera down though as we were swimming! Had a nice splash about until we declared the water too cold!

Next it was time for the final play session to get me up to Gold with M Life :) This was preceded by a trip to the Paris hotel to get me a silly drink in an Eiffel Tower glass :)

20120601-102058.jpg

Alas, it only lasted as long as we needed to play, as it then kinda collapsed under its own weight, slipping out of my hand and spilling my lovely frozen strawberry daiquiri all over the Bellagio carpet with piece of plastic Eiffel Tower going everywhere too :( Much sadness :( Cool though the glass looks, it’s very flimsy and doesn’t cope with the weight of the drink. I would recommend avoiding these ones! :(

Moving on, yay gold card! :) Hopefully this will mean more awesome room offers :)

At this point it was kinda late and we needed dinner but didn’t know what. Then I remembered I’d had a text from Sonic for 99c hot dogs! So we headed over there and had something to eat :)

20120529-204126.jpg

This wasn’t quite enough, so we headed over to Palms for a comped frozen yogurt based dessert (though mostly mine was toppings, hehe!) :)

20120529-204140.jpg

Vegas 2012 – Day 7 – Donuts & Geocaching

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

We had a fairly early start over to Ronald’s Donuts to get some breakfast. I had been hunting the internet for a local Krispy Kreme which still baked their own donuts and came across a number of people claiming these the best donuts in Vegas, so we had to try them!

It’s a little shop which you’d never stop at without knowing about it. They have an impressively large counter filled with amazing looking donuts! We came away with 6 ‘donuts’ for less than $8 and they were fab!

20120527-224549.jpg

We took them with us to Bellagio to eat whilst we played. I had a ‘normal’ ring donut with a coconut glaze, followed by an apple fritter roll thingy. We both had an enormous cinnamon roll covered in maple icing and nuts which was crazy huge! Quite some sugar rush! They saw us through 3 hours of video poker no problem ;)

We decided it was about time we did some more geocaching and headed out of town and a little way into the desert to follow a trail down a dirt track. It was a little scary at times… The two people who started shouting at us from a distance, the tumble down house with a fairly new looking backpack balanced in the window frame, oh and the dessert animal we couldn’t identify but look kinda dog/fox like! But it was a fun game of driving a few hundred feet, jumping out the car and looking for the obvious hiding place (some not so obvious).

20120527-224659.jpg

We returned a little dusty! Time for some silly slots and a silly drink :)

20120527-225043.jpg

Then when my card stopped working, we went off to Sweet Tomatos for a very healthy salad based dinner :) Just what we needed after the donuts!

20120527-225226.jpg

Then a little more video poker until I couldn’t concentrate. A bit of arguing with my card and two trips to the players club so I could finish playing my freeplay in more silly slots. And then time for bed :) Last night in a pyramid :(

Vegas 2012 – Day 6 – Shoes & Le Pamplemousse

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Bit of a slow start today as it was cold outside and we’d had a late night. We spent the morning eating pop tarts and finishing blog posts and the like. Eventually we headed off to Bellagio for some video poker.

We stopped for a trip to Pink’s Hotdogs for lunch and each tried a special. They required a knife and fork to eat and were most tasty :)

20120527-223222.jpg

We played some more video poker and then went off in search of shoes! There’s a big Sketchers outlet here where my last pair of trainers came from. We’d both basically worn out last years purchased from excessive wear so we went back to find more. I seem to have four new pairs of shoes! Oops ;)

Then we headed back to get showered and changed before our dinner reservation. We were off to Le Pamplemousse which is a little French restaurant a bit out of the way. We had a restaurant.com voucher which had got us there, but actually decided to have the fixed price menu which that didn’t cover but was still a good saving :) The food was all scrumptious and the service good too. A very lovely intimate little place which I’m sure we’ll return to :) Read my review on Trip Advisor.

Here are some very dark photos of food!

20120527-223637.jpg

20120527-223645.jpg

20120527-223652.jpg

20120527-223701.jpg

Vegas 2012 – Day 5 – Incubus

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Another fairly early start, but with no hot air balloon ride to inspire us to jump out of bed we were a little slow. We eventually decided to head over to Palms for breakfast as Chris has lots of comp to use there, first buffet of the holiday :)

Then we headed over to the Bellagio to play some video poker. It took a while to find the correct machine (for those who don’t know, some machines have better pay tables than others, so you need to find the right one to get a much lower expected loss). We played for about 2 hours, clocking up tier credit points (lovely as my Pearl M Life card is, we want to get up to Gold, so we can enjoy priority parking and get more free room offers!) :)

There was a crazy vending machine…

We thought this was an awesomely huge LED sign when we walked past the first time… the second time it was displaying a Windows error message which spoilt the illusion :(

We wandered through the conservatory at the Bellagio to take some photos :)

Bellagio - Bees!

Bellagio - Balloons

Bellagio - Dwarf Sunflowers

Chris at Bellagio

Bellagio Conservatory

Plus, of course, the obligatory photo of the Bellagio ceiling:

Then back to the room to catch up on some work and blogging… at least, that was the plan, but as soon as we got there we realised it was 1pm and we were hungry for some lunch! After a little research we decided to go down to Tacos & Tequilas for some half price appetisers during their happy hour. We shared 4 starters rather than having any entrees, and they were very nice :) Then came time for confusion! The bill eventually arrived and everything was full price! We questioned it and the server vanished for a while. He returned and explained that we didn’t have the Happy Hour starters, which are smaller and have less garnish, but he had fixed the bill for us and removed one starter completely to apologise for the confusion as he’d never asked if we wanted happy hour appetisers. So wait, the half price starters aren’t really half price… they’re just cheaper alternatives! Very odd! We used some of my free comp to pay and left, having eaten well and for a very reasonable price ;)

After that we did actually return to the room to do some work, for a little while ;) Then it was off to Hard Rock for Incubus concert :) Neither of us were overly familiar with their songs, Chris knew a couple from Rock Band and I think I knew an earlier album, but regardless they were very good :) There were barriers to lean on which was convenient as we both had very sore feet!

Bought a tshirt on the way out (obviously!) and then off to find some food. On the way back to the car we noticed something odd about the new towers at the Hard Rock Hotel… you can see in the windows!

They look like the blackout windows on all the other hotels… the ones you can see out but not in… but these ones you could most certainly see in! I had to wait till there was no one obviously standing in a window so I could take that one. Must remember not to get changed in front of the window when we’re staying there later in the holiday!

What do you eat at almost midnight? Burgers delivered on skates, yay! :)

Then it was time to collapse in bed, after a little soak in the bath :)

Vegas 2012 – Day 4 – More Travelling

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

We woke up early (5am) and decided to make the most of it and headed straight back to the Grand Canyon. We wanted to try going on the red route shuttle buses to see the canyon from a different view. It’s an 80 minute round trip of you don’t get off the bus but it has a number of view points to stop at and take photos, with another bus in 15 minutes to hop back on :)

Even waiting for the first bus there was a pretty view :)

Grand Canyon

The first stop gives a lovely view of the Bright Angel trail which we had attempted yesterday. Now we could see where we got to and where the rest stop was… Glad we didn’t keep going, it was a long way still!

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail

We walked to the next 3 stops as it wasn’t far, taking photos along the way :)

Little Tree!

Grand Canyon

Little Tree Again!

Grand Canyon

Silhouettes

Hopi Point

At Hopi Point we hopped on the next bus and then off again at The Abyss cos it had a cool name. Chris made me sit on a rock for a photo!

River!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

IMG_6975

At this point we decided we had best stay on the bus as time was ticking by faster than expected and we really wanted to get to the end.

Hermit's Rest

View at Hermit's Rest

At the ‘end’ there’s a gift shop which has some tshirts you can only get there, saying things like “I hiked to Hermits Rest” – having used the bus for most of it we didn’t feel we’d earnt one of those! We did buy a cinnamon roll each from the snack shop to stop our grumbling tummies though as we’d skipped breakfast!

We then hopped on the next bus and back to our car, via Kolb Studio so I could adopt a lion :)

We bought some more souvenirs at the hotel gift shop and then back to the room to pack up and head off. The drive was rather dull, no exciting scenery at all! The best we had was “Ooo, there’s a wind farm” but it was too far away to photograph. We did get to laugh at occasional silly road signs:

Once my phone signal improved I started researching lunch options. The only town on the way is Kingman so I asked Trip Advisor where to eat and the number one place was Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ which was fab! You can read my review over on TA – Lunch Review

The next stretch was equally boring. There was one scenic view point:

Scenic View

ScenicViewPoint

Then we drove straight past the Hoover Dam without even seeing it! Apparently the new bridge doesn’t give you any view at all!

The view got more exciting once we got near Vegas and started playing spot the hotel through the haze :) Eventually we arrived at Luxor! Yay! :)

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that even at Pearl we could use the express check in line, rather than the ever growing normal line. Just one person in front of us before I did my first ever check in (everything is usually in Chris’ name!) It was very quick and easy and suddenly we were in this awesome pyramid suite for free! :) We have 3 free nights and then $112 for the last night, which is awesome since we were expecting to pay over $900 for the room!

After we’d taken some photos of the room and finished marvelling at the awesome view, we headed of to Walmart for supplies of the snackable and drinkable kinds :) This was followed by enjoying a bath with a view back in our room :)

Bath with a View

Then it was time for food. We had reservations at 9:30 but after walking across town too quickly (we were there before 9) and then realising the food we’d been eyeing up on their menu when we’d booked was basically what we had for lunch, we abandoned that plan. We walked a little slower back and stopped at Man Chu Wok for dinner in Monte Carlo. It’s fast food Chinese which was a quick easy dinner :)

Alas, when we returned to our room we called to check the hot air balloon flight time for the morning to find it was cancelled :( Time to collapse into bed and find a new way to spend tomorrow.