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Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Wales
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Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

We had three nights in Vegas as the final part of a West Coast tour of the States, taking in San Francisco, LA, Yosemite and Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Most people in our group of seven (late 20’s- early 30’s mixed sex) were Vegas virgins, or like myself had been years ago when the idea of round the clock drinking and gambling was entirely alien.

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Wales
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1. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Day 1:

Left La Quinta and Lake Cahuilla RV Park early am for the 4 hour drive to Vegas. Some stunning scenery along the way and aside from a hairy 30 minute window where we almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert, a smooth trip.

Dropped the RV off at the depot and enjoyed our first Vegas beers (Busch) in the Camping World courtyard sunshine, soundtracked by Elton John and Jackson Browne. Excitement palpable.

Nice smooth cab ride. Everyone in awe at the sheer scale of the casino hotels we pass on the way in to the strip – Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand especially, as they were the first on-the–strip ones we passed.

Don’t think we got stung on the cab, we were told to expect $35 and it was just that.

Dropped off at Harrah’s (we aren’t fussy about where we stay, just wanted affordable mid-strip, and we got a good deal). Check-in wasn’t too bad and we were offered an upgraded room for $50 over three nights. We took it.

Nice, spacious clean room in the Mardi Gras Tower with huge bed, small balcony, nice flat screen TV and a small TV in the bathroom. Myself and the OH were very happy. However, views weren’t great – mainly of the pool below and Caesar’s/IP opposite.

A quick freshen up and while the OH slept, I was off for a quick explore before the others were ready to hit the strip for our first night in Vegas.

More to follow....

Wales UK
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2. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

I've got the Popcorn at the ready..........................................

Welshcakes :-)

Wales
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3. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Day 1 continued:

I got as far as the Harrah’s casino before the slots drew me in and I lost a quick $10 (I’m a definite low roller) on Wheel of Fortune while I waited for the others. Got my first Cocktail Waitress drink though – the first of many White Russians, for which I tipped $1 – so not all bad.

Had a quick wander around the Sportsbook and instantly felt at home.

People were hungry so our first port of call once we had met up was food. We decided pretty quickly on the Flamingo buffet as we had some 20% off vouchers and as all the males in party are big drinkers, we paid the $9.99 addition to have unlimited alcoholic drinks.

A good move. We began with a round of champagne – ok, so it wasn’t really champagne, but it tasted ok and the glasses were huge. Then dug into the buffet.

The food was ok without being spectacular. I would possibly go back. God crab legs and some Asian dishes. A few more drinks orders while the food settled, then we were off to gamble.

Headed down to Bill’s Gamblin Hall and got a quick beer and had a wander round. I like Bill’s. My kind of divey place. Not too dirty, but lived in. Nice size too and the right amount of busy.

Found the $4 roulette table and sat down for my first Vegas table gamble. Disaster! I had brought the OH’s passport from the room so wasn’t allowed to play.

(As an aside – I had used the passport only moments before to buy a beer at the bar. The bartender checked it properly too. I am a balding, late 20’s male. The other half is a female 25-year-old brunette. Go figure).

Anyway, the others hadn’t all brought their passports either so back to the hotel, beers in tow to get ID’s. Thankfully the OH had awoken from her slumber and was getting her glad rags on, ready to join us.

Take two: This time straight into O’Shea’s. Again, a nice divey feel – this one a little dirtier and decrepit. It looked on its last legs, but in a good way. I for one am sad to see it go. Dollar beers purchased, time to gamble.

Second time lucky on the roulette. Won $20 in two hands and cashed – great start for me. The others watched before playing and won small too. More White Russian’s ordered as I joined the $5 blackjack table and was in luck straight away. Got on a nice role and was $60 up in the first 45 mins or so. Hovered around this mark for a while, before we decided to take a break and head for a drink. Cashed around $80 up.

Unfortunately the OH’s luck was just the opposite and she lost some dollars on the first night.

We headed off strip to a recommended dive bar and found the Stage Door without any trouble. Loved this place. A really rough and ready feel, with some friendly, if a little intimidating, regulars. Great jukebox and cheap, cheap, cheap drinks.

We all forced down the $2 beer and shots combo – possibly the worst whisky Ive ever tasted – a few times over, and the drinks were really hitting home at this point. The OH ordered some wings for $3 and was very happy. Stayed for a while before heading back to the strip.

Brief stints in Bills and O’Sheas before some people called it a night around 2am and a few of us carried on up the strip.

Again, didn’t get far. Found the $1 Margaritas and low rolling tables in Casino Royale (yes, another divey place – we like them) and stayed here for a couple of hours. I think we all lost slightly here on roulette but memories are foggy.

Decided on a late night visit to a Gentleman’s club (I’d had permission from the other half) and wound up in Sapphire’s till first light. Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was bed at 730am.

First night in Vegas. Done.

Brisbane
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4. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Sounds like a good trip so far..looking forward to more!

Wales
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5. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Day Two:

Barely managed three hours sleep – excited and didn’t want to waste any time snoozing – so was up and out of the room at 1015am.

Luckily, before alcohol had gotten the better of me the night before I gave the OH the $80 I’d won and made her keep it for me till the next day. Collected that and left her to enjoy some peaceful sleep while I went in search of a discounted ticket to the Mike Tyson show at the MGM Grand that night.

Tix4Tonight had some for about $40 less than face ($80) and so I bought that and went for a (long-ish) walk up to MGM Grand to redeem the ticket.

Temperatures were pretty high – around 30 Celsius – and my hangover was threatening to kick in. So I necked a couple of litres of water sharpish and that warded it off.

Loved the walk down to this part of the strip. A cleaner feel than where we were staying and the Aria, Bellagio, Paris and NYNY were all great sights. I think I will definitely stay more this end on my inevitable return.

Into the MGM Grand, and I was very impressed. My favourite so far and I spent a small amount of time wandering. Great décor and nice relaxed atmosphere at this hour. Planned on a quick gamble but I’d be back later to do that so held firm.

A longer than expected queue for ticket redemption and so by this point I needed a sit down and a beer. Found the sportsbook and was in my element. Ordered their largest beer ($11, less for refills, in a nice commemorative Maximum Vegas cup that I have kept) and drank half while watching Madrid v Bayern in the Champions League.

Figured I should head back to the room and so walked along the opposite side of the road back, slugging on the beer in the heat. Perfect.

A quick freshen up and a call to the OH to meet. She told me she was “in Venice” so I headed to the Venetian. Wow. But also weird. Couldn’t quite get used to the imitation sky ceiling, but overall I was impressed. A stroll through the shops and watched the gondolas with the OH. Not sure whey we didn’t have a ride. Next time.

Enjoyed a great gallery by coveted photographer Peter Lik then wandered back out to the strip in search of some cheap snack food and drinks. Some snack pizzas and the good ol’ Casino Royale $1 Margaritas did the job.

Down to Bally’s next to enquire about some lessons for the OH who wanted a freshener lesson on Poker. No lessons on there but a very helpful dealer gave us a quick one while the table was dead. Bally’s itself was fine. Although I wouldn’t hurry back as nothing really stood out.

Back to the room for a quick freshener and our second night ahead of us. Cannot get enough of this place.

More to follow…….

Wales
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6. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Temperatures late afternoon were perfect (I’m guessing mid 20’ Celsius) as we strolled up the strip heading North. A quick foray into Casino Royale to load up on $1 Margaritas – I went for strawberry this time - and we were off, passing the Venetian and Palazzo then marvelling at the Wynn and Encore.

Despite having been warned that everything in Vegas took longer to get to than you would expect, I must admit that the size of everything, and consequently how much walking we were doing surprised me. But it was a nice surprise. Vegas walking is the best kind of walking.

We carried on ambling along for another 20 minutes or so, taking everything in before arriving at the Peppermill Lounge where we had arranged to meet the others for our early evening meal. I had read a lot about this place – Vegas institution, old school Vegas etc – and am a big movie fan so knew that some of Casino was shot here, so was pretty excited about eating here.

Really impressed. Loved the feel of the place and over-the-top neon lighting that was simply everywhere. We had a nice booth in the corner and the waitress was very attentive.

The food was tasty and portions huge – I went for the spicy chicken wrap and curly fries and could only finish around half. It was seriously enough for two and for $20 (including two Budweisers and my share of the tip) a real bargain. Everyone seemed happy with their food and good moods all round because of where we were.

Unfortunately I was in a bit of a rush to get over to the MGM Grand to see the Tyson show so I had to leave the others. I was hoping for a couple of drinks in the adjoining Fireside Lounge, but time got the better of me.

Instead I just popped in with my camera (loved the place, wished I could’ve spent more time there) and asked one of the bartenders to show me which tables they used to shoot the scenes from Casino. Got a couple of quick snaps and she told me that De Vito (she meant De Niro) and Scorsese plus other cast members used to drink most nights in the lounge when they were shooting in the Riviera across the street.

Grabbed a quick beer to go and headed over to the Riviera where I asked one of the pit bosses if he could show me where exactly they shot in there, but he said that the casino had changed so much since the movie that it was virtually irrelevant.

Was slightly disappointed with the Riviera. We had considered staying there, but I’m glad we didn’t. It was just too far out of the way. Too far from the action of mid strip. Plus the casino seemed pretty dead and lacked any sort of vibrant atmosphere. Of course, I’m sure it’s better on weekends and one thing I did like was the faded grandeur décor.

Found the taxi line, but it was huge so ran across the street to Circus Circus where it was just three deep and had a short wait for a cab. Would’ve liked to have walked to MGM Grand, but time was not on my side.

Anyway, the cab ride was enjoyable. Had a nice driver who also happened to be a big fight fan and had been to many of Tyson’s fights when he was at his peak. He used to work at Caesar’s and when Iron Mike’s fights were on he would just wear his work uniform and blag his way in. What a touch.

Cab came to $16 and I gave him a $20 and thanked him. Another nice Vegas experience.

Entered via the main hotel foyer at the MGM Grand and, wow. Stood there for a couple of minutes sipping my beer, just admiring the place. Stunning. Had a small amount of time to wander before the show began so found a video poker bar and ordered a beer and slowly lost $10. No matter. I was simply enjoying being in the MGM Grand.

Headed into the Hollywood Theatre and took my seat. Happy with the size of the place and my view - dead central, about halfway back. I happened to be sharing a table with a Canadian family and we shared some small talk before the show began.

Bizarrely, none of them said they were really fans of Tyson when I asked them. They just wanted to ‘see a show’ while they were in Vegas. I found this very strange. Still, each to their own.

Ordered a bucket of Budweiser from the cocktail waitress – it was a two hour show, they had a deal on, and she talked me into it (any excuse) – and Tyson came onstage.

Now for me the show was great (and reviews have generally been favourable) but I would suggest it would only really appeal to big fight fans or specifically fans of Tyson himself. He talked openly about his troubled upbringing, fighting career, Robin Givens – for whom he had a few choice words, Don King (same), his conviction and court case (maintains he is innocent), the Buster Douglas fight, Cus D’Amato and current family life.

It was quite an emotional experience, with a few odd moments where Tyson danced awkwardly to the tune of the onstage backing band, and just about worth the ticket price. I got some good snaps before the show was out, and Iron Mike left the stage to rapturous applause.

More to follow….

Prescot, United...
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7. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Hurry up pleas.............

Wales
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8. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

A quick txt to the others to find out where they were and discovered they were Downtown. So I grabbed a quick drink and wandered out on the strip towards NYNY heading for the express bus stop Downtown. Enjoyed the views from the walkway between MGM Grand and NYNY and stood there for a while just taking in Vegas around me.

Wandered into the Nine Fine Irishmen for just a look, as no time for a drink – next time there will be and then back across the street to wait for the bus. Thankfully it arrived on time and I managed to have a much needed power nap on the way Downtown. This was great as I was fully energised by the time I was off and heading to meet the others.

I have read lots of debate about the merits of Downtown but for me, I thought it was great. A nice atmosphere and the more dated casinos are a nice change from the shining diamonds on the strip. Would I stay there? Not until I’ve stayed a few more times on the strip, but in the future, sure. It’s cheap too.

Met the others at a bar called The Griffin, just off Fremont Street which was pretty cool and drank a couple of stiff vodkas and it was good to be back with the rest of the group. They all seemed to have had a great night, drinking and gambling downtown. People were in good spirits. Especially AJ who was leaving us tomorrow for San Francisco.

Moved on to a place a little further down called Beauty Bar and there was a big party atmosphere in the back yard so we settled in there for some dancing and drinking. They cut the music after an hour or so and some local Burlesque dancers came onstage, which was a pleasant surprise.

Lots of good natured banter and thoroughly enjoyed their short set before we left to hit a few more casinos to gamble.

First port of call was Fitzgerald’s which was pretty rowdy at this time of night (around 130am) and suited our merry mood. Thankfully the tables were paying too. I quickly got on a hot streak on the $5 Blackjack and was around $50 up within 40 minutes or so.

The cocktail waitresses were around whenever you needed them and though the OH and friends didn’t have the same luck I did, the losses were nothing to write home about.

I cashed the $50 and wandered over to join the others on the roulette table. A few spins yielded nothing and I decided to quit ahead – though not so one eager member of the group who promptly blew $100 in three spins. (Huge for us). Anyway, small wins for some others and we decided to move on to the more upmarket Golden Nugget.

I was surprised to discover that there was no $5 blackjack in here, Fremont Street being the haven for us low rollers after all. So I mainly watched as others got lucky on the roulette. Small bets, but plenty of wins soon added up and there were high fives a plenty.

One thing I wanted to do on this trip was learn how to play Craps. I never got around to it but figured I’d have a single bet on the table anyway just to say I’d played. Still not sure what I bet on – 3,7,9 rings a bell. But a $5 stake turned into $20, so I cashed right away. I had officially beaten Vegas craps for this trip.

People were ready to go now so we got a couple of cabs and headed back to the Strip. Most wandered off to bed but I decided to carry on with a bit of solo gambling before bed. Headed to Bill’s, where I hadn’t had much luck so far and this continued. Lost about $30 at Blackjack in half an hour or so and decided to call it a night.

Not before I had answered my stomach’s call for some late night feeding however. Headed to the Victorian room in Bill’s for their $6.99 Steak and Eggs special and, while I’m sure it’s not nearly as good when eaten sober, I thought it was very tasty at 5am.

Shattered yet happy, I headed back and hit the hay.

Last day to follow…..

Jersey UK
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9. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Hi

Really enjoyed your TR, been to Vegas many times still not got to the Stage Door, a must on my next trip..

Mims

Wales
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10. Re: Trip Report - 16/4 to 19/4

Day Three:

A lay in till 11am today and was most needed. But still, being in bed that late feels like such a waste in Vegas – especially during such a short trip. Still, I was feeling refreshed and left the OH to continue napping while I popped downstairs to try and watch the Chelsea v Barcelona game in Harrah’s Sportsbook. Had casually arranged to meet the others here the night before, but there was no sign of them and with my mobile dead I had no way of contacting them.

Sadly I was informed the Chelsea game was ‘blacked out’ so put a couple of small horse bets on with the first beer of the day and when these both lost, wandered around the casino for a bit before heading to the pool where everyone had congregated.

I figured a swim would be a nice way to relax, but I was too eager to get back on to the strip and back into the mix. So I left the others – one of whom headed back Downtown to get a tattoo – and arranged to meet them in a couple of hours beside the midget at the front of O’Sheas.

Did the usual crawl – Casino Royale first: Another Margarita but zero luck at Blackjack. Also I didn’t like the style of the single deck BJ in here. The dealer positively hurls the card at you in an aggressive manner and the emphasis seems to be ‘play-as-quick-as-you-can-we-want-all-your-money-asap’. Plus the dealers, without exception, were miserable.

I lost about $20 sharpish before heading over to the $5 roulette where my luck changed slightly and I managed to claw the $20 back. Headed out of there evens and down to O’Sheas. My lucky casino.

Not so this early afternoon however. The only luck that came my way on the BJ tables was the cocktail waitress with a White Russian. The table was so cold, and I got rid of $50 in no time at all. Knew it was time for a break so headed to the Video Poker bar and grabbed a beer. No luck here either. I was about $65 down for the day now and it was far too early to be losing like this.

Had a small amount of time before the others arrived and so tried some roulette. At last. My luck had returned. A couple of small wins on the corners and then a straight up 28 black plus on the corners and I had recouped all of the $65. Pheww. A nice feeling and I could properly enjoy the final day now, safe in the knowledge I would almost certainly be up overall.

Met the others and we had a quick drink before we all went our separate ways and myself and the OH had a nice wander around some of the casino hotels we were yet to visit. Our first port of call was Caesar’s and without question this was the favourite hotel that we both visited over the three days.

Had an extensive wander around and admired some views from the upper floors before heading down to the pool. Loved the fact that you could just wander in, regardless of whether you were staying there or not. We had a bit of a chill on the loungers but decided against paying the $16 for a frozen drink at the bar. Our warm cans of Busch would suffice.

Used the walkway over to Bally’s and down to Paris and then zig-zagged back over so the OH could admire Aria and Bellagio close up. A great part of the strip and we were in no hurry.

Made it to Planet Hollywood where we joined the others for some late afternoon food and to hatch a plan for the evening. We decided on some hot wings from inside Planet Hollywood which we ate in Pink’s food court outside. Incredible wings, but mid way through we decided we would eat properly in a couple of hours so left the remainder.

A couple of quick beers here and we arranged to meet the others later in Champagne’s Bar and Café on South Maryland Parkway. They headed off for a freshen up and gamble while we continued to wander down the strip towards Mandalay Bay where we had restaurant.com vouchers for Stripsteak.

More to follow: