Archive for April, 2013

Vegas 2013 – Day 9 – Recovery Take 2

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Today it was my turn to sleep a day away. Chris set me up with Amazon Prime Instant Video on his iPad and left me watching Dr Who and Buffy for the day… except I mostly slept! A whole day of sleeping whilst Chris went out and played Poker. Eventually woke up and unlocked the door so Chris could get back in! Oops! ;)

We had a game of Rivals of Catan in the evening. This feels very similar to the board game Settlers of Catan but using cards and just 2 players. Obviously 2 players suits us and I was impressed by the use of square cards you rotate to indicate the amount of a resource you currently own :) The game is split up into Eras, so you play a more basic game your first few times and then add in different cards once you are familiar with them. This should give us some variety to our play for a while, which is nice, and meant there weren’t too many confusing rules to start with :)

It is a little deceptive on space required – starts small but you can expand quite a way! :)

Vegas 2013 – Day 8 – Cactus Gardens

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

After Chris spent all of yesterday asleep, he woke up at about 2am wide awake! Then I woke up shortly after and couldn’t get back to sleep! Oops!

So there we are at a silly hour of the morning and Chris, after quite some time of not eating, declares he’s hungry! But where will feed us at this hour? At about 4am we wander over to the Gold Coast to TGI Fridays in there and use some comp to get us a free breakfast. A tasty omelette :)

Rather impressively, Chris ate almost the whole thing! :)

We wanted to get on and earn Diamond with Total Rewards, but the day resets at different times, some time early morning, so we had to wait for a while to get started. So we headed over to Walmart to get some more drinks first. Then we spent a couple of hours playing some more video poker and getting us about half way there.

We thought we’d go for a bit of a drive and a shop for a break. We headed out to another of the Maximum Comic stores hunting for more boards games, and found one :) The store was bigger than their other location, but still didn’t haven’t many games. We bought “The Rivals of Catan” – a 2 player casual card game version of Settlers of Catan. Our board game pile is now looking pretty impressive :)

Next up was a trip to Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden. A slightly weird combination ;) I’ve actually been here before, but our last trip was on a Sunday and the factory wasn’t actually doing anything! Today we got to see some chocolate making in progress and wonder why on earth it goes through a metal detector just before packing?!

The cacti were pretty as ever :)

Then it was over to Angelicious Popcorn to spend a half price coupon on some tasty flavoured popcorn :) A helpful guy let us try some of the flavours and then we chose 4 small bags – white cheddar jalepeno, smokin hot, black cherry and white chocolate :)

Over the road was a Quiznos and a chance to use another Groupon we’d bought for half price, and tasty lunchtime sandiwches :)

We returned to the hotel with our purchases and then it was my turn to feel unwell. Oh so unwell :( A whole evening and night of unwell! Thankfully Chris went out and finished our day’s video poker playing to get us enough tier credits to get up to Diamond, otherwise we’d have wasted another day of play!

Vegas 2013 – Day 7 – Recovery

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Chris was not well. Today was spent by Chris mostly asleep and by me mostly reading.
We moved down to the pool area whilst the room was being cleaned and ended up with some random silly sunburn (the back of one of my hands, and one side of Chris’ nose!) but mostly the day was spent in the room.

An unexciting day thanks to illness. Ho hum! :(

Though I did read my way through the second half of Cloud Atlas which was awesome! Looking forward to watching the film soon so that I can discuss all the thoughts in my head with Chris :)

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!

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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:

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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!

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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!

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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 ;)

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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.

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

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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 :)

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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! :)

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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!)

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

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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 :)

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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 :)