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 :(
Thanks to having a late flight, we actually had a bonus day :) After some stress because the online checkin wouldn’t let me check in, and then the silly man on the phone last night didn’t get us seats together even though we could see they were free… we were eventually all packed and bags placed in storage at the hotel so we could enjoy our last day.
We headed over to Hash House a Go Go for some brunch – as the first time, there was loads of food, and yummy scone with strawberry jam :) The waitress said “Awww, you’re so cute!” when she handed us the bill because we were holding hands… that might have increased her tip slightly ;)
After a quick trip to Gold Coast to enter their winning Wednesdays, we headed to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s a plain building, a simple sign confirming you’re in the right place. Inside there are rows and rows of pinball machines :D Old ones, newer ones, all sorts to entertain :) We wandered a little to see what would tempt us and then lost the whole afternoon! Popeye, Adam’s Family, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spiderman, Austin Powers and Shrek machines were all played :) Some were more fun than others… though mostly fun was had when crazy multiballs were activated ;) The Pirates machine had a ship you could sink!
Then it was time to leave Worcle in a cache here so he can find his own way home. Our hope is that he will have a bit of a travel around and eventually get back to us… fingers crossed! It was hard leaving him behind as I’m used to him being in my bag for silly photos!
Finally we headed to the airport and said goodbye to the Vegas weather as we checked in and went through security. There’s no lounge for Business Class here, so we had a little bar all to ourselves. Not overly comfy, but snacks and drinks to keep us quiet whilst we caught up on laptop things :)
The flight was long. It seemed to take them ages to serve us dinner (we managed a whole episode of Scrubs between main course and dessert!) but finally they turned off all the lights. Despite the space and (almost) flat bed, I struggled to really sleep. Except, apparently, when breakfast came, which I missed. I was then grumpy as I was very hungry! :(
We got to London to be told that we had missed our connection, despite no one ever mentioning we were running late :( So we had to get booked onto the next flight to Manchester, which at least gave us time to hunt down a seat in the very busy BA lounge and have some food! Yay for food :)
We finally got back to Manchester where my Mother collected us and, after managing to squish everything into her little car, we returned home to be greeted by our adorable kittens :D They make being home rather better ;) Plus, we seem to have brought the sunshine with us, which is good :)
Today we actually managed to get up early and have a breakfast buffet! :) This was something Chris had been looking forward to, but our mornings seemed to all vanish to either swimming pools or sleep and we kept missing out. So regardless of both getting to bed late, we managed to drag ourselves downstairs for a big tasty start to the day :)
Since my feet/legs/ankles/knees were still all so very sore we opted to view Red Rock Canyon by means of the scenic drive :) We stopped at almost every parking place to take photos (and a few other places too!) and did a little geocaching as well :) There were many photos taken, so here’s just a few…
There was also much messing around with Worcle whilst waiting for Chris to take photos ;)
Next up was a bit of gambling. We stopped by Palms for their swipe and win where I won a Palms bottle opener and Chris got a drink :) Then we headed over to Bellagio to play some Spin Poker, which was fun :D Admittedly, it was probably fun because we were actually winning (for the first time in a while!) but the machine is rather fun :) Chris wants me to tell you all that he got a royal flush ;)
Then we went to Caesars to collect a free medallion and then stopped by Serendipity 3 for some dinner. Chris flashed his (expired) diamond card and not only got us seated very quickly but got us a little VIP sign for our table, though it didn’t seem to do anything but make us feel like everyone was looking at us! The food was good, but served on silly plates! :)
Then we had to go back to the hotel to get packed :( Chris did bring me a nice strawberry daiquiri to make the packing more fun :D Plus we celebrated completing the packing with yummy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream :)
Today was a very slow start because I’m feeling rather broken. My feet are too sore for me to stand for long, and my legs and knees are hurting too. A combination of excessive walking and the extreme heat vs. the icy cold air conditioning is not doing me much good! :( Still, Chris went and fetched a hotdog and Cinnabon for brunch which helped encourage me out of bed ;)
We went shopping and bought new shoes, random gifts, and purple dice. This seemed to take most of the day! Not quite sure how! :)
We collected our tickets for Blue Man Group and then went to In-n-Out Burger for a quick dinner before heading back to Harrah’s to put all our shopping in the room and get changed before walking over to the Venetian for the show.
The show was awesome :D It was funny, entertaining, and musical :) There were drums, pipes, twinkies, paint, paper streamers, a science lesson, and more :) It was most enjoyable :) When it came time to finish I hadn’t realised time had passed, I was so enjoying it! They could have continued for hours and I would have happily sat and watched :) I have a cool tshirt and Chris has some paint covered drum sticks :)
I stopped for a photo on the walk back through the Venetian because they have a canal… and it’s not the ground floor!
Wow, shortest entry yet by far! Must do more and take more photos tomorrow! :)
Today was an early start… an alarm we couldn’t ignore followed by a thorough application of P20, the eating of the last few donuts, and then dragging ourselves downstairs to wait for a pickup. We joined two other couples and the driver and were mostly quiet for the 45 minute drive (the couple at the front were chatting with the driver… I never caught anyones name). We arrived and were given helmets, goggles and gloves, a brief safety talk, and shown how to make the ATV stop and go.
Then, without any particular guidance… we were off! Some quite slow, scared movement, in a nice line, trying to work out how to steer and such whilst getting further out into the unknown desert! This started off kinda scary… I didn’t feel exactly in control and seeing the gravelly tracks made me wish I was wearing jeans not shorts. I was pleased the girl in front seemed equally scared and we pootled along slowly.
We all came to a stop to a scene of badness :( One of the girls had come off her quad bike, though no one saw how. She was clearly in a lot of pain, but still talking and even joking. The decision was she’d bruised a rib. She was quite insistent her partner should continue (the excursion was his Birthday present), but eventually conceded to them both going back to the start and getting her to a hospital.
This turned what was scary into terrifying, as we were reminded that we were in the middle of nowhere, no chance of an ambulance or help at any speed, and nyargh! I wasn’t feeling too great as we sat and waited for the buggy to take her back and then return to us (it was carrying all the water so we couldn’t go far without). Whilst we waited I took a few photos…
Everyone decided we should continue, even though we’d lost quite a lot of time so it was getting hotter. We then had some difficult rocky hills to deal with. There were a couple of times I felt out of control and lost the path we were following, but nothing bad happened. The second time I sorted myself out without assistance too. We stopped for lunch on a little rocky bit where there was still some shade. A sarnie, crisps and cookie later and I was feeling a bit better.
The journey back started with some more difficult rocky bits, but then it was easy. We were all feeling more confident and the tracks weren’t too hazardous, so we picked up some speed and actually had some fun :) By the time we were back on the “road” I was actually wishing the girl in front would hurry up a bit as I wanted to go zoom ;)
I’m still suffering the aftermath (my wrist/thumb is extremely sore from holding the accelerator, and my shoulders ache from all the bumps!) but it was good fun :) I’m sure I would do it again given the chance :)
The drive back I mostly slept and then there was a shower needed as we were completely covered in dust (trainers definitely not black anymore!) After a bit of a relax in the room we went out for some food. We went to the Silverton for a yummy buffet…
Then lost some time watching the cute fishies! :) (First video with new camera and first video upload to Flickr, ooo!)
We finished the day with some shopping. First in M&M World and then in the giant coke bottle. I bought a couple of random gifts for people and enjoyed the bright crazy colours, if not the crowds!
The plan today was to go to Red Rock Canyon… but apparently I slept! We did do an awful lot of walking yesterday, so it was hardly surprising. Once we were finally up and had eaten some donuts, we headed over to The Mirage to play a little more on my MLife card. It didn’t go so well, so it wasn’t long before we headed over to Palms for some free frozen yogurt. You fill a cup with any of the many flavours of frozen yogurt and then cover it in your selection of toppings (there was fruit, sweets, chocolate, nuts, sauces), then pay for the weight of the cup! A fun creation process and very yummy :D
We then headed out to Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden. I was somewhat confused by there being a chocolate factory which owned a cactus garden… the tour didn’t explain the collaboration either! ;) We had our free sample of chocolate and pecan brittle and then spent some time in the garden taking photos…
Worcle joined in for some silliness too…
Having only eaten sweet things up to this point we decided it time for some food. We were headed to Sam’s Town for a free buffet, only to discover that our voucher wasn’t valid on Saturday, phooey! So we decided to find a Sweet Tomatoes instead having been intrigued enough to look them up when we drove past earlier.
The food was great :D It calls itself a salad buffet, which doesn’t sound very exciting… but it was gooooood! :) They had a few premixed salads, then lots of freshly chopped veggies (lettuce, spinach, carrots, courgette, cauliflower, brocolli, peas, celery, beetroot, green pepper, dill pickles, peas, chickpeas, and more!) and a good selection of sauces too :) Then there were 8 home made (from scratch) soups to choose from, jacket potatos, fresh bread, freshly baked muffins (including corn bread), and a number of desserts. Oh, and the drinks were self service too and they had strawberry lemonade – yum! :D
Obviously I ate more than that, but it was too good to stop and take photos! I wish there was one in the UK, but alas not. There are, at least, a number in Florida, so I’m sure I’ll be suggesting it on our next trip there ;)
We were rather late eating, so we decided we weren’t going to make it out to Red Rock Canyon much before they closed, so instead did a little geocaching near dinner. Had a good view from one of them…
Then it was time for me to collapse in the room and catch up on blog writing and arguing with Flickr whilst Chris went and played some poker :)
Today was a day of hotel moving, but the final one at least! After our late night we failed to get up for the pool, thus instantly ruining the planning we had done after dinner ;) We packed up and checked out of Tropicana and headed over to Harrahs. After standing in the check in line for quite some time, we finally get to the desk to be told we could have used the priority check in, phooey! Still, we checked in and are in our final room of the holiday. It’s large and comfy though the least interesting one we’ve had in Vegas.
We headed over to Circus Circus under the intention of checking out the Adventure Dome… but I got scared by the sheer number of people and children everywhere! We bought rather a lot of Krispy Kreme… two dozen in fact! Chris got a txt offer for a second dozen for 99 cents and how can you refuse 24 donuts for $12? ;)
We spotted a Tix 4 Tonight booth, which does half price tickets for shows, so decided to get some for Absinthe that evening and then headed back to the hotel. Since we’d already spoilt the planning, I suggested we continue and do Tiger Magic (The Magic & Tigers of Rick Thomas) in the afternoon. We had a brisk walk to the closest booth to get tickets and were told to head straight there since we were technically late already (the cheap tickets have to be collected an hour before show starts and it was only 50 minutes from starting!) So we then dashed across town, as fast as one can in this heat and around the crowds! Got there in time and upgraded to the VIP seats, so we could have the tiger encounter at the end :)
The show itself was okay… perhaps watching Penn & Teller earlier in the week has spoilt magic shows for a little while, as I was spotting how he was doing things, and finding it difficult to just sit and enjoy. There was also a lot of random dancing which was odd! The tigers didn’t feature as much as I expected either… but apparently it depends on the tigers mood as to how much they use them… don’t want grumpy tigers on stage which I get! The VIP upgrade got us some time with Rick Thomas talking about the tigers, answering questions (I didn’t actually know that white tigers are manmade!) and then a photo with him and a tiger, plus the chance to take photos, which obviously I did :)
Then we headed back to the hotel to get changed for the evening. Realising we hadn’t yet eaten anything other than donuts we headed to the Outback Steakhouse for some dinner. There was a bit of a muddle over the starter, but everything was very tasty! I had some lovely ribs :) Alas, I kind of forgot to take a photo…
We had a while before Absinthe so we stopped to watch the volcano erupt…
Then we watched the Bellagio fountains twice…
Finally it was time for Absinthe :) This is a new show at Caesars Palace, in a little tent. The venue only seats 600, in a circle around a small center stage. We were a couple of rows back so couldn’t see things happening lower down, but they raised the stage when exciting things were happening anyway! :) The show is definitely 18+ thanks to rather a lot of swearing and offensive jokes! The acrobatics were astounding!! :D
They started with a man creating a giant, precarious stack of chairs to climb up and fetch the green fairy…
Next up were four male acrobatics climbing up on one another, and jumping in the air landing back on hands, and all sorts of craziness! Remember, this is all mere feet away! If they’d fallen, it would have been into the audience!!
There was some singing, some silliness, some awesome skating to a Muse song (the second one of the day – Tiger Magic had used Super Massive (Magic) Black Hole!) which involved spinning the girl round at high speed over the audience (the front row was warned not to stand up due to the fact they would get kicked in the head!!) There was another pair of acrobats doing some awesome and beautiful balancing…
Then some tight rope madness!
This required audience silence as they performed! Much baited breath as we all watched in amazement at what was happening, so close that no one dared make a sound! They walked to the middle and then the guy on the chair actually stood up! :)
As you can probably tell, I was impressed! I was glad not to be in the front row when they were “joking” with people, but the acrobatics was astounding! :)
We started the day with a trip to the pool here at the Tropicana. Whilst their pool area contains only one pool and a spa, it was actually nicer than Mandalay Bay in a number of ways. There was shade, plenty of free loungers, the loungers had cushions, there were water fountains for drinking, and it was quiet! There were some children there, but everyone was just chilling out and enjoying the sunshine and the water. The whole time we were down there I think we only heard a whistle blow once! Not like the constant noise in the wave pool at Mandalay! It was a lovely relaxing start to the day :D
Once we’d come in and had a shower we headed over to Palms for some lunch. Their free swipe prize draw rewarded us each with a car sunshade :) Then some yummy Panda Express foods…
Next we headed over to Mandalay Bay to get me signed up to MLife in the hopes that we can convince them to send me some good offers ;) My $10 free slot play for joining vanished quickly, and I’m not sure I really enjoyed the brief sitting at a blackjack table. Not quite knowing what was going on and there being random strangers there expecting me to understand was perhaps a little daunting. We played on a couple of video poker machines to try to rack up some points, but it’s slow going in there and no particularly great machines.
After that we returned to the hotel room to chill for a bit and decide what to do for the rest of the day. We decided to go down town for the evening light show, stopping by the 777 brewery pub for dinner. Chris had a beer sampler to drink which was a little glass of 5 different beers… after trying them all, I still don’t like beer ;) The food was tasty – I had chicken tenders and Chris had a BBQ Chicken pizza :)
Unfortunately the service failed when we needed the check, which was nowhere to be seen after 30 minutes of trip planning with pieces of paper all over the table. Then they wouldn’t let Chris pay with his points even though he clearly had plenty. So they got a measly tip and we dashed off to watch the light show with mere moments to spare.
The light show is cool and I took rather a lot of photos! We saw Queen first and then KISS…
Then there was some photo taking, and a little free slot play in another casino (my wallet is beginning to bulge with players club cards!)
We headed back to Tropicana, stopping at a craps table since apparently our room number is significant… but it didn’t seem to help. It’s a strange and complex game, but people seem enthusiastic… just wish there was a seat ;) Oh, and that we could actually win something ;)
Today we had a bit of a slow start due to changing our mind about going to Grand Canyon and getting distracted by the internet. Eventually we wandered over to Excalibur for some Krispy Kreme based breakfast…
Then we headed over to Gold Coast to enter their Wednesday every one’s a winner offer and played through 400 points on video poker to get three entries and another 15,000 points. Then into TGI Fridays for some lunch :) The donuts had made us realise we were hungry so lunch followed shortly after! I had an Ultimate Salad and Chris had a pecan encrusted chicken salad…
Next up was a trip to Palms (since it’s over the road) to see what their promotion was. It wasn’t very exciting so we just played through our free slot play from the previous day and then left. We headed over to Terrible’s to get me signed up to their players club :) For signing up I got a free tshirt and then 1000 points later a free sweatshirt plus my 1000 points doubled :) Woo! :) Oh, and $3 free slot play too! I do like the little Terrible dude, though find it an amusing name for branding – who wants a Terrible car wash, or Terrible petrol, etc.
Then we came back to Tropicana to sign me up here. The coupon I had for double points they couldn’t do, so gave me $10 free slot play instead, and would match up to a $200 loss in your first day… a short while later I had lost $200 of Chris’ money… but he told me to! Playing video poker at $15/time is weird… though I did have a nice win at one point… it just all went back into the machine! The first half of the match we didn’t lose all of at least… but I left feeling glad it wasn’t my money! I don’t see myself getting into this gambling things like Chris does – I understand it’s long term, and that it basically evens out with all the comps… but still!
Next up was dinner! Time to head over to Tony Roma’s for some ribs :D Though we got slightly distracted by a starter too!
Then there was a little more photo taking on the way back before heading to bed :)
Today was our final morning at Mandalay Bay so we got up early and made use of our VIP entry again to grab some good seats. We played about with Worcle for a bit before heading into the pools…
We had a good splash about in the waves and then much floating round and round the lazy river many times :) For a lazy river it has a couple of good, fast corners :D We spent about an hour and a half enjoying the water before heading back to the room for a quick pack, jacuzzi, shower, and check out by 11. Obviously this meant me messing around with my new camera to enjoy the view we won’t get again (not this trip at least)…
We headed over to the Tropicana but were too early to check in, so we left our bags there and headed over to The Orleans for a buffet lunch using the points I’d won at Gold Coast last week – woo, free food! :)
After that we headed over to Palms to play in their swipe and win and each got some free slot play for the next day. Then we headed over to the Sahara for the sale. The hotel & casino have been closed and they’re selling off everything. Literally! Carpets, lights, signs, everything. It was bizarre being in a basically empty, silent casino. Obvious damage on walls where signs and posters had already been removed, price stickers on everything. Chris was clearly upset to see somewhere he’d enjoyed playing being sold off piece by piece. So we spent a long time wandering and taking photos and then purchased some glasses, cards and slot signs.
After that we finally checked into Tropicana and are rather pleased with the room. It’s only 7th floor and one room ;) But we have a good view, and the room is large and comfortable. It’s been recently redecorated and the theming is really nice – lots of bamboo and palm trees/leaves. It’s also the first hotel room with non-abstract art on the walls! :o
Once we had settled in a little, we decided it was time for dinner but I was exhausted! So we went to Sonic and enjoyed having our food skated over to us! ;) The burger (Blazin’ BBQ) was rather hotter than I expected (I had missed the second helping of in jalepenos the description!) but very nice. I was surprised how good the tots were as an alternative to fries, and the strawberry slushee was awesome :D
Then we went for a drive around so I could test out my new camera by taking photos of neon signs :) Here’s a little sample…
If you want to see more, I have uploaded a lot more photos to flickr than I am sharing on here! Just click through on any photo to get to my account and see more :)