All good things and great vacations come to an end. Tripping Down Memory Lane Spring Break Trip Report Part III winds down our 2008 spring break trip to Las Vegas in getting back to Vegas basics style.
Filling In The Vegas Days and Nights: Hotels, Casinos & Restaurants
Spending the afternoon at Venetian surrounded by copies of and renditions of famous Italian works and decor was the plan for our Thursday afternoon. The machines, bonus rounds and green felt covered tables will take a backseat to sightseeing and lunch at Grand Lux Cafe at Venetian.
I get into the theme of it all and appreciate it for what it is- a gorgeous imitation of inspired artistic works of architectural wonder.
People often comment negatively in regards to Grand Lux as a dining choice while in Las Vegas. “It’s a chain. Why in the world are you eating at a chain restaurant?”
How do we love Grand Lux Cafe? Let us deliciously count the ways:
The food is always excellent. See images above.
The menu offers a wide variety of delicious something for everyone dishes.
The dining room design and decor is lovely.
The price is right.
If it ain’t broke…
I did not break with my dining at Grand Lux tradition ordering the seafood salad and a shared order of double-stuffed potato spring rolls. Dave ordered the fish and chips and gave it 4 forks out of a possible 5 review. The casino at Venetian was packed. I played $1 Top Dollar slots with no big wins. Dave didn’t fare too well at the tables so he was in hot pursuit of a $1 Double Top Dollar slot machine to play. We both love Top Dollar and Pinball. I did not receive an ounce of respect, love or pay from the numerous Top Dollar or Pinball machines I played during this session. I now fondly refer to them as “sucker machines” and Dave now fondly refers to me as a sore loser. If it was in the cards for me to be a loser, at least the rocking band playing at La Scena (casino floor lounge that sadly is no more) was churning out some fantastic music. Win, lose or draw I like to get my boogie on. We have boogied to really fantastic lounge acts playing the casino lounges. That part of old Vegas is slowly going away too. My parents tell of the now famous singers they saw years ago in Las Vegas when the entertainers were up and coming lounge acts.
I got it together earlier than usual so we could be on our way to lunch at the Paris Le Village buffet.
Le Village Buffet at Paris
I knew I would want to play before lunch and also figured the line to be seated could be rather long on a Friday afternoon. I could not squeak out a win, but left the casino floor for the buffet line even. That’s always a win in my book! The lunch at Le Village was good, but this is a buffet that shines at breakfast. Dave pointed out the French onion soup and I informed him I had worked the French onion soup enough for a while. However, the crepe station did call out to me and I answered apple with raspberries, blueberries and crème fraîche, se il vous plaît. 5 forks out of 5 very French c’est si bon forks.
Moving Day: From Treasure Island to Rio We Go
I packed the room up with a cup of in-room brewed strong Louisiana coffee in hand. Traveling with a coffee pot isn’t for everyone, but we do it for two reasons. In extremely short order after my eyes pop open in the morning and my feet hit the floor or carpet I need coffee- hot, fresh and Louisiana strong. I also like to have a cup or two in the afternoons or early evening when we are relaxing in the room before dinner or a show or just regrouping. The other reason is pure economics I swear we would go broke by the third day in town feeding our coffee fix. A fellow Vegas travel nut cued me in on a coffee pot travel tip.
There are several Walgreens and CVS locations up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Pop in a pick up a coffee maker and supplies and ignore the initial sticker shock investment. It will pay for itself within the first day. If you don’t want to contend with packing it up and carting it home, simply leave it in the room. Easy peasy. It is ridiculous what hotels charge for coffee ordered from room service or in the coffee shops, and speaking of coffee shops- coffee shops are quickly becoming an extinct dining option on the Strip. I am not the biggest fan of the buffet, but for breakfast dining the beverage selection and cost included reasons this to be a reasonable option. Dave went down to visit with the host with positive results. We checked out over the television and said goodbye to Treasure Island.
Our host at the Rio met us at VIP-Diamond check in and assigned us a room in the Ipanema Tower. The room reminded me of the suites at the Stardust we loved. These rooms impress me more in terms of size and layout vs decor. Various tell-tale signs give the age of the property away, but nothing we can’t live with for five nights. We got our gambling on for about an hour, and finally I declared victory with a $$$ win on a five-line .25 3X 4X 5X machine in front of the performing stage. Cocktail service at Rio was fast and frequent. My server took my Coke order. “Is Pepsi okay?” My “not in this lifetime” answer produced a chuckle on his part. I changed my order to a Shirley Temple (I was on the hard stuff this afternoon) and returned to my play. In a flash he returns with his own version of comedy with a “You had the ice-cold Pepsi?” I spun my seat around to find him standing there holding my ST with the biggest grin on his face. We both laughed and he became my cheering section for a big win. The time clock was ticking for me to be back to the room to get ready for Cher. Time clocks can be a good thing or a very bad thing when gambling. It was a good thing this go round and the $$$ win money made it to the room.
I covered the Cher experience in a previous installment. We hit The Cheesecake Factory in The Forum Shops for our post show dinner of a shared pepperoni pizza, strawberry shortcake and two glasses of Riesling. Very tasty.
Happy Birthday, Dave! Shopping for birthday gifts and perhaps something new for both of us to wear to the birthday celebration dinner this evening is the plan, and Vegas knows shopping. Dave was a sport and kept me company while I spent the afternoon shopping at the Fashion Show Mall. Starbucks supplied our very light lunch break of shared pastry and coffees- just a quick bite of something to keep a headache at bay. Our plan for the birthday celebration evening was for a quiet and relaxing dinner at the Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s (presently Ruth’s Chris). We enjoyed dinner at The Range so much on our last trip. We were seated by the window and with James as our waiter (requested). His personality and professionalism adds to the evening. Dave started with the lobster bisque and I selected the blue cheese and fresh apple salad. For our entrees we both ordered the 12 oz. center cut pork chop and shared Yukon gold mashed potatoes. The manager knew we were celebrating Dave’s birthday and sent over the most fantastic chocolate cake with strawberries and coffee for two. The food presentation and preparation was done very well. The service and the wait staff could not have been more professional or friendly, and it all equaled a memorable birthday meal in Vegas.
We were dressed and waiting in the Rio valet at 8:15 AM Wednesday. Trust me, I am not the up and dressed and ready to greet the day while on vacation kind of girl. By the time of day and level of enthusiasm, Dave realized I was serious about this slot tournament. I grabbed the keys, gave the valet a good morning hello and it was touchdown Flamingo events area.
The tournament was open to all Total Rewards card holders so Dave put down a few $20’s and we were registered for 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, and finally 2:00 PM. Wow! That’s a lot of hope and fun packed into a late morning and early afternoon at the dirty bird, and you would think we had a snowball’s chance in the desert of winning. Goodness knows as many times as we entered we sure thought we did! We didn’t even come close to placing, but we had an absolute ball trying.
The last day in Vegas gives me a pit in my stomach no words can describe. Staying busy cures it. Gambling for this trip was officially over. I had not been able to win enough to make it accumulate over what I started with, and the wins were too far apart from each other to save me. I find it is easier to swallow if I quit without too much damage to the initial bankroll. The suggestion of In-N-Out Burger for lunch and a business mixed with pleasure venture was met with no complaints. We headed out to dine in style and visit a few design and antiques shops.
We saw parts of Vegas new to us, and I lucked up on a few items I could easily pack. We grabbed a couple of coffees, parked and watched the airplanes landing and taking off from McCarran International. I must admit after nine full days and nights in Vegas this was a nice change. We caught a couple of afternoon fountain shows at Bellagio and it was Monte Carlo time.
Dave and I discovered the Wizard of Oz penny slots complete with flying monkeys, the yellow brick road and the wizard himself. The graphics and sound effects are amazing, and Oz turned out to be a magical place. I put in a $5 voucher and cashed out with $$$ for a nice win. The beautiful Glenda appeared to me in bonus round goodness resulting in the big hit. I could become addicted to these machines with no problem. There’s no place like home and Vegas on a sunny winning afternoon.
The Friday going home wake up call came at 5:30 AM with coffee shortly after. We checked out of Rio and at the car rental return by 9:15 AM. We were through security and to Continental gate D 20 with fifty minutes to spare. I took in the final sights of the Strip from my window seat on the airplane. I settled in for the three-hour flight with good tunes, better memories and big plans for our next trip. Getting home to a full house of family and friends on Hurricane Gustav alert and all he dumped on Central Louisiana naturally put priorities where they should be. Normalcy is back in our reach and has allowed me to share with you my trip report. The overall casual tone was the right way to go for us this Vegas trip. It was easy on the schedule, expectations and the wallet. I wasted no time bringing to Dave’s attention with all the money saved this trip it would be stupid not to book another trip out to our desert oasis within the next six months. My logic has him thinking about it. Then again, my logic always has me thinking about Vegas.
Thanks to all who have stayed with the reading.
images: The Cheesecake Factory, Grand Lux Cafe, Rio All-Suite Hotel, Google