Just kidding! Will continue in next post because I am very long winded.
Just kidding! Will continue in next post because I am very long winded.
Pre-trip Saturday Night:
DH and I are in our mid-40’s and were going to Vegas to celebrate our belated 20th anniversary and the end of tax season (I do taxes for a living and had worked 7 days a week since early February so I was ready to party!). We decided to start our vacation a day early. We went out for a nice dinner at the Tuscany Bistro (DH had won a $25 go at a fundraiser) in Pluckemin and then headed off to the Springhill Suites at Newark airport. We decided to stay there overnight since our flight was so early. I am always paranoid of the car breaking down or a major traffic jam on Route 78. My husband is a Quarter Century Club member with Marriott (this means he has worked for them for 25 years+). One of the perks of the club is free rooms on weekends when available and this was the first time we took advantage of this since he is a new member. Nice room, nice comfortable beds, impeccably clean. I could hardly sleep and kept waking up because I was so excited, but as usual, DH slept like a giant baby with a huge snoring problem. Rather than continue to poke him and ask him to roll over I just got out of bed at 4:30am moved to the living room area of the suite, made a pot of coffee and waited until it was time to rouse him.
7:20am Continental flight out of Newark. Smooth flight, no delays, although the seats do seem to be smaller than the last time I flew. Hmm, are the seats or me? Perhaps it is time to go back to Weight Watchers. DH likes the window so I was in between him and a very nice guy. I do not mind the middle seat but the armrest situation is a little awkward so I made a mental note to myself to request aisle seats in the future. Why the need to sit next to DH? He sleeps the entire flight anyway.
We arrive in Vegas! We had checked one bag and collected with no problems. Jumped on the cab line that moved very quickly. We were assigned the cab at spot #17. Ha! A sign! Our anniversary is the 17th and it is one of my favorite numbers. I tell the driver, Flamingo, no tunnel. And he says “Ok, Flamingo tunnel” “No” I laugh, “Flamingo no tunnel!” He replies “Ok, Flamingo tunnel” I then realize he is joking. He was a very nice kid from Michigan and we discussed the abundance of unscrupulous cab drivers ripping people off by taking the tunnel unnecessarily. I can’t remember the exact amount, but I think the trip was about $15 and I tipped him $5. I appreciated his honesty and he was a very nice kid.
There was a line at the Flamingo, but it went quickly. It was probably 10ish at this point. We had four comped nights but I asked if we could be upgraded to a Go room and what the difference would be. The desk clerk said $40 a night for a garden view, $50 for a view of the fountains. We took the garden view. We are credit card free in our house so I had my debit card out. The desk clerk suggested we pay the full amount for the rooms right then and leave a $200 cash deposit for incidentals, this way our funds would not be tied up. Sounded good to me so I paid $179.20 in total for the four nights.
The room was cool. 24th floor. Nice big flat screen TV, plus a small flat screen that was part of the mirror in the bathroom. Buttons on the wall to make the drapes and sheers open up. Nice view of garden and pool area. Coffee maker, refrigerator and safe in room. Ironing board and iron (not big on ironing, as we would soon find out when I had the setting too high and burned a giant hole in DH shirt. LOL. Oh well, I guess that will be the last time he takes me up on the offer to iron.)
We unpacked and headed over to the Bellagio for the Sunday Champagne Brunch. I have not been to Vegas for 10 years, and I don’t recall all the walkways being in existence then. They are good for safety, but seem to be a big hangout for panhandlers. I do admire the tenacity of the panhandlers in Vegas, because rather than a sob story about their sick cats or whatever, they come right out and ask for money for booze. As we were walking some 20 something kid yells out to us “Hey you look like a couple of stoners. I’d like to smoke some marijuana with you!” We laughed and said no thanks. Now, I could pass for someone who likes to indulge in a little weed now and then, but DH looks like a cop so we found this amusing. I wonder if he was going to supply us with the pot, or take us to the dealer. Was he then going to ask to go to our room, smoke some pot and then rob us? I was trying to figure out his angle and if he was ever successful with it. Hey, it was our first day and I had not had my first cocktail yet so I let my imagination run a little. Then I thought, maybe he is a cop.
Anyway, we made our way to the Bellagio Buffet. There was a line. I planted DH in line and ran out to lose 10 bucks in two minutes on that friggin penguin diamond machine. I love penguins, but they do not love me obviously. First gamble, first loss. Went back to the line. Got through it in about 15 minutes. We opted for the champagne option. $62.59 and we were on our way to chowing down. All we had to eat all day was a bowl of cereal and a muffin on the plane so we were hungry. The food was very good, not superb, but better than most buffets. There was a lot of variety. There was an omelet station, a carving station with prime rib and lamb. I think they were carving turkey as well. There was a salad bar (bypassed that, did not want to fill up of the green stuff). There was an Asian station, some nice looking fruit. DH and I really liked Lyonnais potatoes. I had some smoked salmon that was very good. The prime rib was juicy and not overcooked. The lamb was tasty. They had some interesting looking pizza and I had a slice of that as well.
We asked the waitress to keep the champagne flowing and got two big glasses of oj as well. DH sipped his champagne and tried to pour the oj into the champagne glass and made a mess. I chugged ½ the oj and just poured the champagne into the oj since the glass was much bigger and the chance of spillage was slight. Then we just kept ordering more champagne and pouring it into the oj glass. Pretty soon the ration was overwhelmingly in the favor of champagne.
They had a sushi station with a sign that indicated it would be open at noon. I wanted to wait although I was full. They opened and it was disappointing. Not really sushi, but California roll with crab and vegetarian roll. That was it. I guess that is to be expected at a buffet.
We waddled back in the direction of the Flamingo. We went to the store next to Battista’s hole in the wall behind the Flamingo and picked up a jug of water, a 30 pack of Miller Lite and some hot peanuts. Went back to the room and I got out my index cards.
I had prepared index cards for the trip. I am really into preparing for vacations and find that process almost enjoyable as the actual trip. I had been researched this site a lot. I had the ACG and several restaurant.com coupons as well as some destination.com and other coupons. I had 4 different florescent colored index cards. Each card had the name of a casino and the appropriate coupons were attached with a paperclip. On the front of each index card I wrote the name of the casino, what coupons I had and other points of interest in each location. I then rubber banded the cards according to location. Mid strip was green, downtown was pink, north strip orange and south strip yellow. I had made arrangements for the Casa Di Amore limo to pick us up at 6:45 so we had some time to kill mid-strip. I took out my center strip green cards, put them in my organizer bag and set off to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island was an easy walk from the Flamingo. It did not seem “sketchy” or a dangerous at all. Ellis Island itself was a little sketchy. I did not feel unsafe, but it was dumpy. I signed up for a card, got our 4 drinks with the ACG coupon. Played a little VP at the bar, some slots and some BJ. Used my ACG match play and won the first hand. I think I wound up losing a little in the end. I should have kept notes, there has been a huge amount of alcohol consumed since then and my brain is a little fried. I told DH about the steak special and we kept the option to come back another day as a possibility. I normally would not have considered it because it did not seem to be a place with the highest cleaning standards, but it got decent reviews here. We never made it back though. You do have to wait 24 hours for the free $10 in slot play that you get for signing up for a card so we missed out on that too. Oh well. Too much to see and do in Vegas that sometimes you cannot get everything you want done.
We went back to the room for a power nap. I set the alarm and had a wake up call because on a previous trip to Vegas, our “powernap” lasted until the next morning. Got up, showered and went downstairs to wait for Ray and his limo to pick us up. He was prompt and we were on our way. Ray was great, very chatty and cool. We tipped him $10 bucks as we got out of the limo. There is also a female driver there, and it is not guaranteed that you will get the driver both ways, so I definitely would suggest tipping both ways.
We got to Casa Di Amore and were seated right away. I ordered an appletini and DH had a beer. Our waiter was great. We decided to order the fried sampler. I don’t know why we did this. We know better. It was ok, but nothing special and too filling. I stopped myself from eating because I did not want to waste my stomach space on something like this. For entrees I had the Chilean sea bass special and DH had the Osso Bucco. Both were very good. My entrée also came with sautéed spinach that was so good I ate every bite! It was sautéed in tons of garlic and oil and was great. We also took advantage of the ½ price wine night and polished off 2 bottles of Chianti. The singer was great, very old school and he was accompanied by an older guy playing the violin. When I originally made the reservations the website had asked if we were going for a special occasion, and I said it was for our 20th anniversary. The waiter came out with a very nice surprise of a complimentary piece of tiramisu with a candle in it and the singer sang a song for us. This was a lovely touch and the tiramisu was good. I am not a big fan, but DH is and he enjoyed it. We had a $25 restaurant.com coupon so our total came to 85.84 after the discount. We tipped 30 bucks and were on our way. Having both worked in the service industry before we do sometimes tip a little heavy, especially after 2 bottles of wine! We tipped Ray another $20 when he dropped us off back at the Flamingo.
We then wandered over to Bills to sign up for my players card. I sat down at a sad looking roulette table. There were 2 guys with a few chips. I bought in and asked for pink chips. They were dollar chips and I think it was a $5 minimum table. I started hitting. The two guys started betting along with me. I know that roulette odds suck but I love playing and sometimes I just get really lucky and have won on several occasions. My rule for roulette is that if I start losing right from the beginning I split. This was not the case and as the alcohol flowed I wanted to be careful I did not give all the money back so I asked the dealer for $25 chips every time one of my numbers hit. He ignored me and for some reason refused to put my chips on 7 and 9. One of the other players who was enjoying the luck I brought to the table graciously placed the bets for me. Finally they changed the dealer to a woman and I had to keep asking for the $25 chips every time I hit although I specifically asked her to pay me that way. I did not get mad though, because I was hitting and every time I got one of those $25 chips I put it right in my purse. The CW was very present and I tipped her every time. I finally hit the point when I knew my liver had had enough and I walked away with $200 in $25 chips in addition to my initial buy in. Wahoo! Back to the room and off to bed.
Reading back I forgot to mention I tipped the buffet waitress $10 and that the hotel in Newark provided a free shuttle to the airport. We were allowed to leave our car for $5 a day (employee rate) so that was awesome.
great TR - more please.......:)
Woke up 5:30am with a pounding headache (big shock), popped an Aleve and went back to sleep. DH started stirring around 8ish. We relaxed a little. He started his morning Vegas ritual of a miller lite, bag of hot nuts and the can. I started mine of another Aleve, cup of coffee and several glasses of water. I felt much better by this point. Our plan for the day was to walk to the Sahara then catch a cab downtown. I was concerned because DH had been suffering a lot lately with three herniated disks and some nerve damage in one of his legs. I was prepared to cab it early or perhaps take the monorail depending on his condition, but I guess the recent physical therapy sessions he had been attending must have done the trick because he was fine.
Downtown is hot pink index card day, so I pulled those out along with the Sahara and some destination coupons for slots of fun. We used to love slots of fun, but I have been reading here that it has gone downhill but we were going to stop by for some $1 Heinekens. I also had coupons for the Riviera but decided to skip it.
We headed over to the IP for Hash House a Go Go. I figured the after breakfast walk to the Sahara would help burn off some of the fullness of breakfast. There was a short wait but we were seated in the bar area in an adequate amount of time. I had prepped DH ahead a time that the portions were huge and perhaps we should split a dish. I told him he could pick it. As we were guided to our table, we walked by a couple with the Andy's sage fried chicken w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs special and it was HUGE! The platter practically took up the entire table.
We ordered HH Bloody Mary’s and DH decided we would try the same dish as the other couple. The Bloody Mary’s were awesome. They came with a green bean (weird I know), a skewer with olives stuffed with jalapeno and a gherkin pickle. The food arrived and we dug in! The fried chicken was so good I am drooling thinking about it now. It was really, really tasty. Perfect hangover meal. The couple at the table were replaced by another couple who apparently were not well versed on portion size because they practically shrieked when they got their 2 orders. Tee hee. We finished up, paid the bill $42.10 plus $8 tip. I wanted to keep track of my food spending so I put everything but the tip on my debit card. We always tipped cash. I also had them run my rewards card because you get points for dining in certain HET properties.
Good trip report thus far. I was actually excited thinking you had purchased a time share. I wanted to read about the experience, because we would never do it. LOL. Oh well. Thanks for the tip to use your TR card at Hash House. We plan to go for breakfast next month and will do the same. Every point counts . . . LOL.
Sounds great so far. You were SO lucky at roulette! We bet all our birthdays and sometimes it just works out, but not as good as you did!
Thanks for the tip about running the HET card at HET restaurants - I always forget to do that. Maybe that's why I only have $5 worth of points to spend :(
Yes, good tip. I didn't know that.
I love to go to Casa Di Amore. Their portions are huge too, but oh, so good!
LOVED the title of your TR -- I was laughing as we DID buy a time share our first visit in 2004!!! Never been tunneled but we LOVE our time share - bought at HGVC up north past Circus Circus (too far away for our liking) and a few laters bought another week at HGVC Flamingo as that is where we always stay.
but.....we've never been tunneled. :)
Day 2 (continued)
Started walking up the strip. Saw actual construction work going on at the Encore Beach Club. Some scary looking cranes (heard later on the news that a crane had hit the building) There were other seemingly abandoned construction sites as well.
Wanted to check out the Peppermill for a drink but DH vetoed it.
Made it to Slots of Fun. Oy, what a dump! I know it has always been, but years ago it was fun, now it was just depressing and smelled bad. And the $1 Heinekens were now $2! My husband was outraged. I reminded him it had been some time since he was last there. He immediately began texting the guys from his last guy’s trip about the change in price. LOL. We did drink a few, but I will not be going back here again. Creepy old geezer sat right next to DH on bench outside and freaked him out a little. LOL.
Proceeded onto the Sahara. I signed up for a card, got a voucher for a free drink and proceeded back by the NASCAR bar area for $1 days at the Sahara. I played my ACG match bet on red at a roulette table and lost then found a $1 BJ table. The payoff was horrible, even money for a BJ, but it was a $1 table and we sat down, played awhile, and drank. I sat in between a very nice couple from southern Illinois on one side and 2 young guys from San Diego on the other. They pay even money for BJ but if you get a BJ you also get a slip that you trade in for slot play. I think you needed to accumulate 5, I only got 3 so I gave it to the lady from Illinois because I was not going to be coming back. It was fun. I lost a few bucks and the kid on my right split tens when the dealer had a Jack showing. I have never seen THAT before. It was fine though. Everyone was good-natured and laughing at the table. Dollar days included $1 beers and shots, as well as $1 roulette (only had $1 chips though) and the aforementioned $1 BJ. Good way to spend some time and get a good buzz. There were probably about three $1 BJ tables open.
Left Sahara and hailed a cab downtown. DH reminded me that about 15 years ago we walked downtown. I remember we were staying at either the IP or the Marriott near the convention center, walked to the Sahara for the breakfast buffet and then walked downtown. It was very windy and desolate. It seemed a little more active this day, but I am glad we cabbed it. The weather was absolutely perfect! 80’s, no humidity, gorgeous! When we had left NJ on Sunday, it was pouring rain so this was very nice.
We walked over to Hennessey’s to sit outside and eat lunch (I had a $10 restaurant.com coupon). We sat outside. Very nice and mellow. The service was a little slow, but we were on vacation so who cares. There was only one waitress working the patio and a lot of tables filled with customers, so she was a little in the weeds. I ordered the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger and DH the Pastrami Burger. Both good, pub sandwiches. The French fries were very good. We each had 2 large beers. After the food we were finishing up our beers when this old grizzled homeless man came up to me. He held 2 shiny quarters towards me. I said nicely “What is this for?” He replied, “Can I have a taste of your beer?” We cracked up. I chuckled” No, but I will give some money to buy your own.” We gave him 2 bucks and off he went. You gotta admire this guy’s style! After the $10 coupon the bill was $46.21 before the tip. Tipped $11 bucks and were on our way.
We then went down one side of Fremont hitting all the casinos I had ACG coupons for, gambling a little, drinking a lot, picking up free decks of cards. We were sitting in a bar at the end, can’t remember what casino it was, maybe the Vegas Club, but the bar was right when you walked in. Hit a few bucks on VP. Had a couple and who wanders in, but my homeless friend. He pulled out 2 bucks and bought a beer! What are the odds? It was good for a laugh.
We decided it was time for more food, and it was Happy Hour so we went to Firefly’s. We sat at the bar. I thought I remembered reading here that they give you free apps sitting at the bar, but we did not get anything, but that was ok. We ordered the stuffed dates, empanada and artichoke toast, along with a couple Sangrias. Decent food. The place was pretty empty. Bill was $26.05 before tip.
We went onto to other side of the area under the canopy and hit the casinos on that side. At the 4 Queens (this casino smelled really nice) there was a take-out window. The bartender was making a drink in one of those tall plastic souvenir glasses, so of course I had to get one. I said it was called a Mother something or other, so I said “a F-you Mother-F-er, but pronouncing all the words. This cracked him up. It was good, and I believe it was 90% alcohol. Cost 15 bucks and I tipped him $5 because he made me laugh and proceeded to all the other casinos. We finished up at the El Cortez and played there for quite sometime. My DH won about $150 there I found out later, which is why we probably lasted so long there. I wanted to go to Flame for dinner, but by that time we were pretty trashed and not in the position to sit in a restaurant for any length of time. Hailed a cab and went back to the Strip. I realized after we left we missed the light show. LOL. Bunch of drunks.
Great TR so far, thanks for sharing.
I did the index card thing too for all of the food deals and buffets (with all of the prices listed). I love to plan, so that was fun for me too.
It was very helpful to know exactly where we wanted to go and how much we were going to spend! :)