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TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

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Charlottesville...
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TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Just came back from a 6-night (sort of, left on a redeye on the last night) stay in Vegas. My 27th trip to Las Vegas overall, and my seventh trip to the geeky chaos of CES. A great, if exhausting time. Oh, and I had a birthday along the way, beginning the final year of my 30s (sob). TR begins in the reply.

Pictures are here:

http://tinyurl.com/EJR-CES2013

Here we go……

Charlottesville...
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209 posts
10 reviews
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1. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

MONDAY, JANUARY 7

A nonstop Southwest flight from Birmingham got me to LAS around 2PM in the afternoon, around 30 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time. Baggage claim was crowded, and there were of course several limo drivers holding signs with company names and last names. I didn't see my Presidential Limo driver, so after I claimed my suitcase, I called the driver (Presidential sends an email when the driver is dispatched, with his name and direct cell number, which is helpful.)

Got a hold of the driver right away, and he told me he was just approaching the airport. I rode the elevator down to level 0 and found him pulling up in a white stretch limo. I'd only booked a sedan, so it was nice to have the free upgrade!

I have to say, though, this is the second CES in a row where the Presidential driver isn't at baggage claim waiting for me. I understand CES is a zoo, and I understand sometimes flights are early -- though Presidential had my flight number, so that should have been easy enough to check. I didn't really need assistance with my single rolling suitcase of course, but it's nice to see your last name on a sign as you descend to baggage claim; and it's nice to be escorted out to the limo, rather than having to go down to level 0 on your own and find it.

Regardless, a limo/car service during CES or any other crowded Vegas time is much better than standing in the taxi line for 45+ minutes. The driver was polite and friendly, and we headed out towards Paris. We made conversation along the way, and he invited me to open the bottle of champagne if I wanted, even though my originally-booked sedan price didn't include that. Being by myself, I declined.

As we approached the Strip, heading west on Flamingo Road, I noticed the driver was in the right lane, rather than the left. I verified my hotel with him, making sure he didn't hear "Harrah's" when I said "Paris." "No," he said, "Paris. I got it. Up here on the right-hand corner, correct?" he said, gesturing at Bill's.

Seriously? He thought Bill's was Paris? What did he think the hotel with the giant Eiffel Tower was, then?

I corrected him, politely, and he got over to the left lane and made the turn on the Strip, then the turn into Paris. No big deal, but kind of strange that a limo driver would make that mistake.

Anyway, he dropped me off and I headed inside to the check-in desk. Line was moderately long, maybe about 15-20 people ahead of me, but Paris had 5 or 6 clerks on duty, so it didn't take too long. When it was my turn, I approached the clerk with a smile, and handed her a $20 bill along with my license and my credit card. She thanked me for that, and I asked her to just give me the nicest room she could. (I'd booked a standard, bottom-rung, no view room, but at a GREAT rate -- average of $60/night, almost unheard of for CES.)

She asked if the number of beds was important -- I said no, but it had to be non-smoking. She found me a fountain view room on the 17th floor with 2 queen beds. She warned me that I might get some club noise on Wed-Sat nights, when "Chateau" at the front of Paris was open. Given the upcoming cold weather, however, she said the balcony doors might not be open, so the noise would be diminished. More on that in a bit.

I thanked her, and headed upstairs to check it out.

I haven't stayed at Paris in about 5-6 years. Since my last stay, they've "refreshed" the rooms a bit. Nothing too different, except that there's now a flat screen HDTV mounted over the desk. The giant armoire/dresser/closet piece of furniture is still in the room, and the middle section (where the tube TV used to live) now holds a small refrigerator. Always nice to have. Beneath the fridge are three drawers, and to the left and right, there's a section with a hanging rod for clothes inside each. The left side section also had an iron, ironing board, and on the top shelf, a safe. This is a smaller safe than many hotels -- in all of these trips to Vegas, this was the first room safe that couldn't hold my 13" MacBook Pro laptop.

I guess they can't remove that armoire from the room, because if they did, there'd be nowhere to hang clothes. The room has no closet.

I pulled the curtains open and checked out the view. In a word, stunning. I was directly facing the Eiffel Tower, with the pool deck below. Beyond the tower, the Bellagio and its fountains were clearly visible, as was the Octavius Tower at Caesars, and the smaller tower at Rio. To the left, I could see the Cosmopolitan, Vdara, the Veer Towers, Mandarin Oriental, and just a bit of Aria. A gorgeous view, one of the best I've ever had.

The room itself was fine -- as mentioned, two beds, the armoire, a small desk, and two side chairs with a table between. The bathroom was large, with a big vanity, and a separate shower stall and tub.

So I unpacked my things and cleaned up a little bit, then headed downstairs to the casino. I played some video poker at "Gustav's Bar," and then decided to go somewhere for dinner and to watch the BCS title game. Although I'm not an Alabama fan (I went to Florida), living in Birmingham I'm obviously surrounded by 'Bama fans. I was pretty certain they'd take care of Notre Dame, though I expected it to be a close game, a good one to watch.

I walked over to "Le Burger Brasserie," in the corridor between Paris and Bally's. I was able to get a seat at the bar, next to some ND fans, and also found out it was 2-for-1 drinks from 4-7PM. Sweet!!

I had several beers, an order of potato skins, and some sliders while watching the first half of the game, and listening to the ND fans next to me curse and curse and curse some more. At halftime, I realized the game was over, so I paid my check and headed out to Bally's casino. I dabbled on a couple of slots, then went outside and crossed over the Flamingo Road bridge. I poked my head into Bill's for a few minutes, just so I could see it one last time before it closes for renovation. It's never been one of my favorite casinos, though I have been in the lounge several times, when Big Elvis used to play there. I also like the Victorian Room for late night steak & eggs, though I didn't get there on this trip.

I played some slots at the Margaritaville casino for a while, then headed next door to see "The Quad," formerly Imperial Palace. When I was in Vegas in August, the IP had a temporary pedestrian entrance in front. The entire front side is now closed off, and pedestrians walk beneath a scaffolding tunnel in front of both The Quad and the former O'Shea's. At the Harrah's entrance, Carnaval Court is closed (I assume just temporarily, due to construction?) and there's now an entrance to the Quad to the right of CC. A very nice and modern new taxi/valet porte-cochere has been opened, and all pedestrian traffic goes through these doors (for now). Eventually, I know there will be a Quad/Linq entrance on the south side, to/from Flamingo, and I'd think there will be a direct Strip-side entrance as well.

The new entrance puts you into the casino roughly where the old check-in desk used to be. To the right as I walked in, the entire front section of the Quad was boarded up, encompassing the former front entrance and the old poker room. The "Sake Bar" (I assume they have to rename these Asian-themed bars at some point?) remains open. As I'd seen in August, the check-in desk (new and modern) is now relocated more in the center of the casino, adjacent to the Rapid Roulette table. I've spent many hours at that RR table with the "Dealertainers," and I paid a visit again on this night.

The front desk is almost uncomfortably close to the RR table now; when there's a long line for checkin, people standing in line with their luggage are very close to the table, making it hard for passers-by to squeeze through. I've heard that the Dealertainers pit will eventually be relocated to the Strip edge of the casino.

Anyway, IP/Quad is a work in progress. Along the right side of the casino, past the Total Rewards desk and the cage, the back corner (which used to hold restrooms) is closed off, as is the area immediately to the left of the escalator to Hash House. Again, I believe all of this will be a corridor connecting the Quad to Linq and the Flamingo. The only casino restrooms for now are down the hallway towards the back, across from Fat Tuesday's. But they are new and remodeled, very modern, fitting with the overall theme being developed for this casino, it seems.

I played RR with the Dealertainers for a while, before the long day caught up with me -- still on central time, I was yawning by 10PM, so I headed back to Paris and called it a night.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 8

Elvis' birthday. He would have been 78 on this day. And also my birthday, at exactly half that. Yes, I turned 39 on this day, entering the final year of my 30s. Sigh.

It was also the first day of CES. Knowing I needed to fortify myself for the day ahead, I decided to go have breakfast and a couple of drinks at Cafe Vettro, the coffee shop at Aria. I also had a "MyVegas" award for two free bloody marys at Vettro. ("MyVegas" is a Facebook game, affiliated with the MGM properties, which lets you win real prizes for use in Vegas. Probably everyone reading the TA Vegas forum knows all about it!!)

I walked over to Aria and headed to the MLife desk to redeem my award. They were quick and friendly, and wished me a happy birthday. I verified that my MLife Gold card would allow me to skip the line at Vettro, as I'd walked past and seen a long line! They assured me it would, and indeed, I walked right up the VIP line and was seated immediately.

I've been to Vettro a couple of times before while staying at Aria, and I really like it. Good food, modern decor, and huge two-story windows with sweeping views of Aria, Vdara, and Cosmo.

So I had my two bloody marys and a three-egg breakfast, which were great. An interesting MyVegas side note -- the comp slip I got from the MLife desk had a maximum value of $17. I guess the bloody marys used to be $8.50 each? When I got the menu at Vettro, I noticed they were now $10 each. A little annoying, but I wasn't going to complain over three bucks. But, when I paid my bill and gave the server my comp slip, he took both bloody marys off the check without me saying a word. Not sure if that's there standard procedure, or he did just did it to be nice, or he made a mistake.

Either way, MGM and MyVegas should get that fixed -- if the award is for two bloody marys, they need to adjust the value accordingly. (The MLife desk also told me I didn't have to order bloody marys -- supposedly, I could have used the comp slip to simply deduct $17 from the bill, whatever I ordered.)

Full of breakfast and vodka, I headed off to CES. The show now fills the LV Convention Center and the meeting space at the Venetian/Palazzo. I decided to start at V/P, figuring it might be less crowded on the first day. So I walked down the street in that direction.

Venetian was crazy crowded, but I got down to the bottom level and picked up my badge, then returned to the upper levels and meandered the halls.

I escaped the chaos in early afternoon, and wandered back down the strip. When I entered Caesars near munchbar, I decided to stop in for lunch. Had a good Philly cheesesteak and a great beer (Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss) that I'd never had before.

Poked through the Forum Shops for a bit, then headed back to Paris. Housekeeping was still working on my room, so I dropped off my CES stuff and headed outside to the pool area on the 3rd floor. Water was cold (though there were some people in it!) but the air temperature was a pleasant 60 degrees or so. I sat in a lounge chair and answered some emails for a while.

Afterwards, I headed back up to the room to clean up, and rest for a bit. Around 5-ish, I met a local friend downstairs at the Central Bar for some birthday happy hour drinks. Once he headed home, I went back down to Flamingo and had dinner at the bar at Margaritaville, a Vegas tradition for me. Had some great quesadillas and a few Landsharks.

After dinner, I walked back to Bally's and Paris, and played some more slots and VP before calling it a night.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9

Day 2 of CES. I walked next door to Bally's and grabbed a quick coffee and a muffin from the coffee shop across from the front desk. They don't have any seating, so I took my breakfast over to the high-top tables outside the Tequila Bar and ate it there.

I walked downstairs, intending to catch the monorail to the LVCC. I'm quite sure the monorail gets more use during CES than any other time of the year. Last year, they had a pretty organized system in the mornings, where they'd let only a certain number of people on at each stop. This ensured that there was still room for more passengers at each of the four stops before the LVCC (MGM, Bally's, Flamingo, and Harrah's/Quad). Not sure if they did that this year, or not. When I got down to the lower level of Bally's, the monorail line stretched all the way back past the spa/salon.

And in 10 minutes of standing there, it never moved. So I bailed out. I exited Bally's by the sports book, and crossed the street to the Westin Casuarina, where I could catch one of the free CES shuttle buses.

Side note: for some reason, for the past 4-5 years, the Caesars properties have not been "official" CES hotels, unlike pretty much every other property on the Strip. So there are no CES shuttles to/from the Caesars hotels. From Bally's, the Westin was the closest stop; to/from my room at Paris, it was closest to use the Bellagio tour bus lobby.

Anyway, the bus pulled up in a few minutes, and dropped us off at the LVCC 10-15 minutes later.

I wandered the Central and North halls at the LVCC that morning. Close to lunchtime, a friend of mine from high school (also in town for CES) texted me. We'd originally intended to have dinner the night before for my birthday, but he got pulled into a work function. He was free for the afternoon, and we decided to meet for lunch. He was at the Mirage, and so I decided to head that way, for better restaurant choices. Rode the monorail (not very crowded at mid-day) to Harrah's, then crossed the street and met my friend at BLT Burger at the Mirage.

We each had a burger and a couple of beers (a bit of a "hair of the dog" solution for him, as he was pretty hung over) and then caught a cab back to the LVCC. (No mid-day shuttle service to the LVCC from many hotels, including the Mirage.)

We wandered the North Hall and the parking lot exhibits for the rest of the afternoon, before he had to meet his work crowd again. I headed back to the Paris, dropped off my CES swag, and then headed downstairs to meet another local friend for some drinks. He's a Total Rewards "Diamond" member, so we met at the Paris Diamond Lounge and had some free cocktails from a very surly waiter, and chatted for a couple of hours.

After that, I headed over to Cosmopolitan to get some dinner. Was planning to sit at the bar at either Holstein's or China Poblano, but both were packed to the gills. (Yahoo! was having some CES event at Poblano.) The entire second floor of Cosmo was pretty crazy crowded, so I went upstairs to the "secret" pizza place. Only a few people in there, I had a couple of great slices of pizza and a beer, sitting at their simple white tile counter. It's still interesting that this place remains sort of a secret -- never too much of a line, even when the other restaurants at Cosmo are bursting at the seams.

Thus fortified, I headed up to the fourth floor and out to the Boulevard Pool. I wanted to see the ice rink out there -- I'm no skater, but I wanted to see what it was like. There were a dozen or so people out on the ice rink, and more gathered around the small fire pits up there. The bar was making wintry cocktails. I ordered a hot chocolate with kahlua, and sat in one of their super-comfy chaise lounges in front of the flatscreen TVs, watching some NCAA basketball. Really nice area, and it's cool to see the Cosmo finding interesting ways to use it during the non-pool months.

Some VP downstairs at Book & Stage, and some random slots at Cosmo and then back at Paris, closed out my night.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 10

Started out this day with breakfast at the Cabo Wabo Cantina, at the edge of Planet Hollywood closest to Paris. I'd noticed a sign advertising $6.99 "bottomless mimosas," which sounded pretty good to me. Had breakfast and a couple of mimosas, and when the waitress offered to get me another one for the road, I didn't say no. Sometimes, restaurants (even in Vegas) are funny about to-go drinks if it's an open bar or unlimited sort of situation. Cabo Wabo didn't seem to care.

Breakfast was good, not fabulous, but relatively inexpensive.

I walked across the street to catch a CES bus to the convention center. Not a bad walk from Paris -- and since I was already at PH, even closer. Just across the Strip, then down the moving walkway. The tour bus lobby at Bellagio is right at the end of the moving walkway, just past the rental car desk. So I didn't even have to enter the casino.

Obviously, I'd have preferred a bus stop right at Paris. But Bellagio was an easy alternative.

I spent the morning at CES in the "HigherEd Tech" conference. Since that's my industry, it was relatively interesting, though they've introduced more and more K-12 educational information each year. I get that K-12 professionals need to focus on what their students will need to (eventually) succeed in college. But those of us already working in higher education don't really need (or want) sessions focused on K-12 education. I'd like to see them split these conferences into two separate tracks.

After that, I saw the "Last Gadget Standing" presentation. This is always one of my favorite CES events. A team of tech editors and other professionals picks 10 favorite gadgets from CES. Then, representatives of each of those companies make a 4-minute presentation shilling their product. At the end, audience applause determines the winner. It's hosted by Gary and Jon from the "Howard Stern Show," and they tell jokes, give out prizes for trivia answers, etc., etc.

The winner this year was a keyboard from a company called "Luminae." It's a translucent acrylic keyboard that you can customize with your own overlays. You can also use the entire keyboard as a touchpad -- pinch and zoom like on a mobile device, etc. Since it has no physical keys, it's simple to clean. The company reps said medical institutions are very interested, as the keyboard -- normally a petri dish of germs -- can be sanitized with rubbing alcohol.

I left the LVCC and rode the monorail (again, not too crowded) down to MGM, in search of some souvenirs. I eventually found what I was looking for down the street at the Hard Rock Cafe, and decided to have lunch there as well. Had a couple of beers and some great fajitas sitting at the bar.

Walked back down to Paris, and packed a small bag. On a whim, I'd double-booked this night and decided to spend a night downtown at "The D." I like downtown, but I'd only spent the night once before. I hadn't seen The D since its transformation from Fitzgerald's. I also made plans with my friend from high school, who planned to meet me down there for dinner, and then go play some video games at Insert Coin(s).

So I walked out to the front of Paris, bought a 24-hour bus ticket, and waited for either the Deuce or the SDX, neither of which I'd ever ridden before. Google Maps told me that the Deuce would take about 38 minutes to get me downtown (makes a lot more stops), while the Strip-Downtown Express would take about 28 minutes. I figured I'd just get on whichever showed up first, and that was the Deuce.

Sat up on the second level, and headed downtown. The Deuce, of course, makes a lot of stops. A LOT. But eventually, it dropped me off on the corner of 4th and Fremont, right next to The D. I headed inside and checked in. The clerk got me a room on the 25th floor, facing west. I was looking out over the 4 Queens, towards the Golden Nugget, with the Fremont Street Experience canopy off to my right. (The clerk told me I wouldn't hear any FSE noise from my room, and he was right.)

The room itself was very cool and modern. Small, but more than enough space for 1-2 people. King size bed, flat screen TV, individual pod-style coffee maker (they charge for the pods, of course). Small bathroom, but plenty of space for me.

Back downstairs, I played some VP at the "Longbar," turning a little bit of profit, until my friend showed up. We headed next door to Four Queens for dinner at the Chicago Brewing Company. As a beer geek, I'm a little embarrassed that it took me this long to try CBC.

My friend got the beer sampler, while I tried pints of their light, their red, and their IPA. All were good -- the amber was my favorite. The food (I had a muffaletta, he had a Chicago-style hot dog) was OK, not great. And I prefer the beers at Triple 7 at Main Street Station. But still glad we tried it.

Next, we headed down to Fremont East and Insert Coin(s). I'd been once before, but he'd never been. I love this place. Classic video games lining two walls, with modern gaming systems connected to flat screen TVs behind the bar and in a few private booths.

We split $10 worth of quarters and had a good time playing Tron, Galaga, Gauntlet, Joust, and some other classics. Afterwards, we sat at the bar for a few drinks and caught up. The crowd was decent-sized, growing larger as the night got later, and the DJ was pumping out some great (if loud!) music.

We left IC(s) around 11, and my friend hopped in a cab to head back to the Strip. I returned to The D to play some more VP and Wheel of Fortune slots, and ended the night well ahead of where I started.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 11

Last day of CES. I woke up around 8, and packed up and checked out of The D. Walked outside onto Fremont and found it was COLD -- in the 20s!!!

Hurried down the street, to the Golden Gate for breakfast at Du-Par's. I've heard people rave about this simple diner, and it was great. Pancakes were awesome (and huge -- order 2, it's plenty!) and the coffee was excellent as well. Much enjoyed.

Walked back to Casino Center Blvd, and caught the bus -- this time the SDX -- for the ride back to the Strip. Exited at Bellagio and crossed the street to Paris. After dumping my bag in the room, back across the street to Bellagio for the CES bus. (The SDX does serve the convention center, but it stops at the very periphery, outside the North Hall, and so it wasn't particularly convenient.)

I finished walking the South Hall this day, grabbing a hot dog from a vendor for lunch. By mid-afternoon, my eyes were glazed over, and I'd seen just about enough of CES. (As always, by lunchtime or so on the final day, some vendors are already starting to pack up their booths.)

Rode the bus back to Bellagio, and walked back to Paris. Caught up on some emails, made a few phone calls, and took a nap for about an hour.

Despite the cold, around 7PM I walked over to the Bellagio to see a couple of fountain shows. I had seen the fountains from my room, but of course that isn't the same as seeing them in person. I even saw a brief wedding ceremony taking place in front of the fountains.

Walked down to Mirage, to cash in my other "MyVegas" award, this one for a free buffet at Cravings. MLife was quick, and again my Gold card let me skip the long line at the buffet. Ate my fill of Chinese cuisine, prime rib, barbecue ribs, and plenty of other good stuff.

Did some gambling at Mirage, some VP at the sports bar, and some slots. Headed across the street to Harrah's, where I briefly watched "The Twins" perform a bit at the Piano Bar. Always fun. When they took a break, I left as well, and went back to The Quad for some more Dealertainers. Had a nice run of luck with the "Garth Brooks" dealertainer at Rapid Roulette; when he was replaced with a much-more-friendly-on-the-eyes Beyonce dealer, my luck unfortunately headed south.

Also, there wasn't much singing on the part of the dealtertainers that night. I saw the Michael Jackson and the Prince impersonator perform on stage just after I arrived. After that, nothing for like the next 90 minutes. Even though there were plenty of impersonators in the pit -- Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Garth, Beyonce, etc. -- I guess I hit a dead zone or something.

Again, the proximity of the RR table to the front desk is a bit annoying. There was a long line for checkin, and at first I was sitting at the stool nearest the front desk, and was getting constantly bumped in the arm by suitcases. Eventually, another seat opened up and I was able to move away. It will be nice if/when the RR table is relocated.

The Quad still has so much Asian imagery inside -- the casino ceiling is very intricate, with inlaid patters, dragon heads on some of the beams, etc. It will be interesting to see how fast they are able to change over to the new, modern, "non-Imperial" theme. Certainly, the new sections of the casino won't feature dragons on the ceiling, so they'll have to get everything consistent, I would think.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 12

Last day of the trip, and with a redeye flight at 11:30PM, not even a full day. Still, I was determined to make the best of it! I also had the room for the entirety of this day -- when I originally booked it, I didn't know I would be leaving on the redeye. Once I had the plane reservations, I kept the room anyway, for a couple of reasons. First, it just seemed easier to have the room, so I could take my time packing, come back and take a nap if I needed to, etc., etc. Second, my room rate was so good, I was afraid if I started messing with the reservation, I'd lose those rates!!

I'd called around a few places the day before, trying to find the best place to watch the NFL playoff games on this day. Being solo, I didn't want somewhere that had a huge food/drink minimum, didn't want to sit at a table by myself, etc. Considered Lagasse Stadium and Sporting House (NYNY), but eventually decided to try Blondie's at the Miracle Mile shops, primarily because it was close to Paris and also because unlike the other two places, I'd never been there.

First, breakfast. I went over to the coffee shop at Monte Carlo, and had a nice steak and eggs meal, and a bloody mary. Afterwards, I wandered through NYNY and MGM Grand, looking for "MyVegas" posters. The FB app has a companion iPhone app with a QR code scanner. If you find the MyVegas QR codes posted in various casinos in Vegas, you can scan it and win either points for the game or real-world prizes.

I found two posters in each of those casinos. I won some points, and also earned a free pair of dice from MGM and a deck of cards from Aria. I claimed the dice from MGM, and thought about whether or not I wanted to bother to walk back to Aria to get a free deck of cards. In the end, I did, because I'm a sucker for free swag.

Rode the tram from Aria to Bellagio, and walked through the conservatory. Earlier in the week, it had been closed, as the Christmas display was changed over to a Chinese New Year display. On Saturday, it was open, and I walked through and checked it out. Gorgeous, as always.

Crossed over to Planet Hollywood -- it was about 45 minutes until kickoff, so I figured I'd better go claim a seat. Was able to get a seat on the end at the back bar, giant TV screens around me on all sides.

Watched the first and half of the second NFL games at Blondie's. Had a great time. Drank many beers, ate some potato skins and wings, chatted with the people next to me -- the Broncos fans were devastated at the result of their game, of course. Waitresses are cute and dressed as cheerleaders, bartender was quick and friendly (even plugged in my iPhone for me behind the bar!)

Walked over to the PH sports book (5 minutes away) and placed a couple of parlay bets, neither of which paid out, unfortunately.

One caveat of watching games there, though it didn't affect me, as I wasn't at a table. The table reservations were separate for each game -- meaning that if you wanted to stay at the same table for both games, you had to make two reservations, at $25/person minimum for each game. And, because the first game went into overtime (and eventually, a brief second overtime) the second game had already started and the reservation times overlapped. (Reservations for the first game ended at 4:45pm, and the game itself probably wasn't over until close to 5:30).

What that means is people were showing up for the GB/SF game, and people were still at their tables watching DEN/BAL. I saw some groups sort of make the best of it, sharing their table, etc. But I saw some other groups where the hostess had to tell them, hey, you have to leave -- the next reservation is here. So those people had to watch the conclusion of the game standing somewhere, behind those of us at the bar, etc. Sort of a weird setup, but not sure what else Blondie's could do. Without the OT, it would have worked out just fine.

I headed back to Paris at halftime, as I hadn't packed my suitcase yet. Did that quickly in a beer-fueled haze, then headed back down to the Paris casino, and watched the conclusion of the second game (which wasn't nearly as interesting as the first) while playing VP at Gustav's Bar.

At 9PM, headed out to the front entrance, where a Cadillac Escalade from Presidential Limo was waiting for me. Driver took me to the airport, which was eerily quiet. Even the driver remarked on how strange it was to see only 5 cars curbside at departing flights.

Inside, it was by far the quietest I've ever seen McCarran airport. No line at the Delta counter, about five people ahead of me at security, a lot of the bars/shops/restaurants closed, etc. Slot machines were still in action, though -- of course!!!

Flew out at 11:30, and after a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, got home to Birmingham around 9:30AM central time. Nice to get home so early -- on the other hand, I was pretty sleepy all day and even took a nap in the afternoon, so I wasn't too functional. Couldn't take a redeye home and then expect to go to work, for example!!

FINAL THOUGHTS

A great time, as always, in Vegas. Got to do a lot, and see a lot. CES is always fun, even through the chaos. Was fun to be social and hang out with some people, but still have plenty of solo time to do my own thing too.

Paris is nice -- as I mentioned, only the second time I've stayed there. Location is perfect, easy access from the room elevators out to the Strip. Room was great, view was gorgeous. The club noise from Chateau was a bit of a problem that one night, but I didn't hear it again on Friday night (probably because it was so cold, all the doors were closed.) Chateau noise is more of a problem in the warm-weather months, I bet.

Still can't believe the TR rate I got at Paris, and it stunned everyone I mentioned it to as well, including the check-in clerk. A minor inconvenience that it wasn't an official CES hotel, but well worth it for the savings. (Although work will reimburse me for this trip, I have a set travel budget each year, and I try not to blow it all on CES!)

Tried some new places, always fun -- Blondie's was great, loved staying and playing at The D downtown, really liked the Mirage buffet as well. Of course, nothing wrong with all my old standbys, either -- Margaritaville, Insert Coin(s), Cafe Vettro, etc.

Can't wait to go back, maybe in the spring or early summer, depending on a consultant friend I do some work for.

Anyway, thanks for reading all this!

Orland Park...
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576 posts
39 reviews
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2. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Nice report! Thanks!

Brighton
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247 posts
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3. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

That was really enjoyable,thank you .

Oregon
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4. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Sounds good. Happy Belated B'day! Thanks for sharing.

Benbrook, Texas
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2,197 posts
110 reviews
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5. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Enjoyed the TR and Happy Belated Birthday.

Los Angeles...
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4,331 posts
25 reviews
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6. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

That was a great read. Thank you.

Fort Worth, Texas
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452 posts
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7. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Good observations made. Thank you!

calleefoneeya
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3,983 posts
29 reviews
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8. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Interesting report! Thanks for the insight into CES...

California
Destination Expert
for Las Vegas
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41,915 posts
4 reviews
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9. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Combining work with Vegas is just not something I want to do. But you make it work,and thats all that matters.

Thanks for the report.

Charlottesville...
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209 posts
10 reviews
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10. Re: TR Jan 7-12: CES, birthday, Paris, The D, MyVegas, and more!

Thanks all for your comments!