Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Happens in Vegas...

We went to Vegas for my Birthday! It was a last minute decision. We booked our tickets Friday evening for a Saturday morning flight. It was an absolutely wonderful trip.

We stayed at the Palazzo and loved it. Stay in one of the hotels on the strip. You can walk on Las Vegas Boulevard to the other Hotels and Casinos. Our favorite places to stay are Venetian, Palazzo, Paris, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay. On the list of places to try are Bellagio, Aria, and Wynn. Do not rent a car if you are planning to stay only in Vegas. You will be spending most of your time on the Strip (Las Vegas Blvd) where the traffic is always bad. It is best to walk or take a cab.

Walk around the various Casinos on the strip each of which has a theme of a particular city. If it’s your first time in Vegas it is fun to see the Dancing musical fountains outside Bellagio, take the Gondola ride in Venetian, check out the white tigers/dolphins at Mirage and the Shark reef aquarium at Mandalay bay.

Next let’s talk about FOOD. For a special celebration or a romantic dinner there is no better place than the Paris restaurant on the Eiffel tower. The food is just amazing, and the service is great. Bellagio buffet is one of our favorites. It has lots of veggie options, and the desserts are decadent. The Bacchanal Buffet is a new buffet that opened at Cesar’s palace.  It took $17 million to build, has some of the best chefs, and has a super chic interior. However, none of these could justify a 3 hour wait for us. Seriously, I cannot understand how people can stand in line for so long for food, no matter how good it is. I like some of the Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, and Bobby Flay restaurants on the Strip. Do read yelp reviews as some are better than the others! Some of the restaurants in the Venetian/ Palazzo by the canal are also good. For a late night snack try “Earl of Sandwich” at Planet Hollywood. It is a great sandwich place to grab a quick bite.

 Birthday buffet at Bellagio:

Catch one of the Cirque de Soleil shows when in Vegas. Each show has its own theme.
-      Mystere – This is still our favorite one, probably because it is the first one we saw.
-       “ O” - The water theme show at Bellagio is also great
-       Ka – This show at MGM grand is based on Fire. We absolutely loved it the first time in around 2006. However, we were underwhelmed when we went back in 2012. The quality has really gone down.
The troop has many travelling shows and some of them that we have seen in San Jose and San Francisco have been really good. I would highly recommend this troop, the music is awesome and they put on an amazing show.

When we have nothing planned for a long weekend, we fly to Las Vegas! At one point we had become Poker addicts and would be out all night, and return to the hotel room only when we realize that we were making stupid decisions due to lack of sleep. These days we do gamble, but Vegas has become a hub to go to many more interesting places. On our last trip we went to a State Park called Valley of Fire. We had never heard about it, and are go grateful to the security person at our hotel who suggested that we go there. Our plan was to get up early and go to the Grand Canyon. As usual, we woke up around noon and were told that starting a day trip to Grand Canyon at that time was a little too ambitious. It turns out that was the best thing that happened on the trip. Here are pictures to prove that:

We had a wonderful day hiking around the park, and were ready to head back to Vegas. It turns out there was more adventure in store for us. We had just entered the Lake Mead recreation area, and parked our car to take one last picture before sunset. When we got into the car, it wouldn't start. The Cadillac that we had rented had some bug in the security software, and an alarm was activated. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere and it was getting dark. None of our phones had coverage, but luckily the Cadillac had On-Star that we used to call Hertz. They had no idea where we were and we had no address or cross street for them. They sent out 2 tow trucks that could not find us for about 6 hours. It was getting cold and we could not turn on the heat. The battery was dying and we needed every bit of it for the On-star satellite phone support. Finally around midnight we were so happy to see headlights after was seemed like ages. People usually enter the hotel drop off in fancy limos or cabs, and we made a grand entrance in a massive tow truck that night!

Other trips that we have taken from Las Vegas are to Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Red Rock Canyon State Park. I will write in more detail in subsequent posts. 

- Yam

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