Thursday, July 5, 2012

Long Live Vegas

(Originally written March 2010)

Arrived in Vegas mid-afternoon on a Sunday. We stayed at Circus Circus, which I do not recommend. I selected Circus Circus based on kid activities. It has a 5 acre amusement park, circus acts, and a midway (arcade and state fair-like games). But Circus Circus is old. It feels old. It looks old. And it is a bit removed from the main action - the Treasure Island to MGM Grand strip of The Strip. The casino at Circus Circus is very drab and unimpressive, and has no "hotness" factor. When you are in a casino at night, you want to see beautiful people, dressing beautiful, and acting beautiful; it's part of the show! So, stop on by Circus Circus, if you are with kids in Vegas, but stay somewhere else.

On that Sunday afternoon we took in Circus Circus. Mapped out the path through the casino and shops to our elevators. Did a few midway games. Then hit the strip and headed south. Walked past about a mile of construction, and some shopping. Then Treasure Island and The Mirage. We then entered the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Toured it a bit then settled in for dinner at Trevi Italian Restaurant, the best meal we had in Vegas.

When we entered the Forum Shops is was still light. When we left it was dark. I told my kids that Vegas would change while we were inside and that we would see a new world when we made it back to the strip. And so it was. Neon, lights, and video billboards! We moved down to the Bellagio, and it's botanical garden, which is completely different at night than in the daylight. They had this Honey I Shrunk the Kids thing working that glows and lights up at night, with giant insects and plants, to go with all of the flowers. Then we headed outside and took in a fountain show. We headed back to Treasure Island to see the Siren show out front. Totally lame, except perhaps for the scantily clad women, but I was too far away to enjoy that.

Before we left for Vegas, I told Kate and Zach how there are all these people on the strip who pass out nearly naked lady cards and flyers advertising the seamier side of Vegas. How they attempt to catch your attention and hand you a card. Normally, you simply ignore them, or, I said jokingly, we can collect them all!! Like baseball cards (the girl's names are written on the cards). The first night I did collect a few cards, with encouragement from Zach. And there is the Hot Babes Who Want to Meet You travelling truck billboard that we saw the whole time, day and night, which was the source of many jokes.

That Sunday night we continued south, all the way to New York New York. Then across to MGM Grand and caught a cab back to Circus Circus.

Monday morning I purchased two day tickets with the open-top bus sightseeing tour. 100 bucks for the three of us. Not sure I can recommend this. It was great when heading south, but really slow, with too many stops, when heading north. A cab ride along The Strip was around 10 to 15 dollars per trip, so let's say 8 cab rides for 100 bucks. In two days? Not worth it.

Monday morning we checked out the Palazzo and The Venetian. Did a gondola boat ride. Then kept heading south. Lunch at the food court in New York New York. Then checked out Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. Kinda liked the vast, open interior of Luxor. At Mandalay Bay we took in the Shark Reef, an aquarium. Then walked down to the Fabulous Las Vegas sign.

The open-top bus stopped here, so we hopped on for the the long ride north.  At the MGM stop, which was long as it is the "hub", we moved downstairs for a bit to get out of the sun. Aside from the three of us, there was 1 other person sitting downstairs. We were sitting among these seats that face each other, for more leg room. Then, Miss Short Pudgy Riding Up Her Butt Too Tight Spandex Short Shorts boards the bus with her 10 year old son. Kate and Zach were sitting on the left in the seats facing each other row, and I was on the right. Miss Short Pudgy Riding Up Her Butt Too Tight Spandex Short Shorts looks over the multitude of empty seats and asks if they can sit on my row. Sure, I say, and move across the aisle to sit with Kate and Zach. Miss Short Pudgy Riding Up Her Butt Too Tight Spandex Short Shorts says I didn't have to move (oh, yes I did), and her son patted the seat next to him, saying I could sit there (oh, no I am not). After awhile we moved back upstairs.

That night we saw Blue Man Group, which I have always wanted to see, and thoroughly enjoyed. We had great seats. 6 rows up, stage right. But in that section the two rows in front of us had been removed (looked to be for wheelchair seating), so the 3rd row was 12 feet away, plenty of leg room.  As I said, really liked it. The music, lots of drums and percussions, and the antics, and they have a message with their show, basically about the trappings of technology. They moved into the audience, climbing around seats, then discovered a power breaker along the wall, not too far from us. One of the Blue Men flipped the switch, and in the darkness two of them had some fun with flashlights and then found the third Blue Man sitting in a corner eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. One Blue Man took the bowl away and then walked straight over and handed me the bowl, and both foot long, heavy flashlights. I leaned over and ate some Cap'n Crunch for an audience laugh, and the Blue Men moved two rows back and selected a woman to go on stage for a bit involving more food.

After the show we walked the Strip a little, and then had some indecision on where to eat. We settled on Le Burger Brasserie at Paris. A decent, if unremarkable burger, served by waitresses in red satin and black lace. Then back to Circus Circus.

Tuesday morning we started with breakfast at the world's most technologically advanced McDonald's adjacent to Circus Circus. Then we headed south, again. On this day we took in the Bellagio botanical garden in the day light, the dolphins and white tigers at The Mirage, and the courtyard at the Tropicana. Lunch at California Pizza Kitchen in The Mirage. That night we saw KA (Cirque du Soleil) at the MGM Grand. A great show. Action, a coherent story, rocking music, and wonderful use of that amazing stage which can spin, tilt, turn, and go vertical. Both Kate and Zach liked KA the most out of the three shows we saw. Dinner at Olives, in the Bellagio. Very nice.

Wednesday we stuck to Circus Circus. Lunch at the buffet - meh. Spent a few hours at the pool. Played midway games (Kate delights in winning stuffed animals - 6 in total, with a few smaller trade-ins for larger ones), a few arcade games, and spectated circus acts. That night we saw Mystere (Cirque du Soleil). An enjoyable show with plenty of comedy, very circus-like. Dinner that night at Khotan in Treasure Island. Basically Chinese food, or "pan Asian", but tasty, very tasty. Second best meal we had.

On Thursday our flight did not leave until late. We went up to Fremont Street, but then only wished we had headed up there at night to see the lights and get the most out of the "Fremont street experience". Lunch at Las Vegas Rocks Cafe. A "Vegas" theme, founded by Tony Sacca. This is where I began to think we stayed one day too long, as we were running out of things to do (really, sparse activity on Wednesday and Thursday). Spent some time at the Circus Circus midway, then to the airport early.

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