Monday, May 4, 2015

Viva Las Vegas

Wow, what a whirlwind.  Last weekend I went to Vegas and it was pretty spectacular, as you're about to read...


Vegas all started from a dream.  A dream to see a music concert with my sister. 

You see, I found out a year or so ago that my sister had never been to a concert.  So, we started scheming.  But our scheming never worked out.  Justin Timberlake tickets were too expensive by the time we went to buy, a spare Pitbull ticket fell through, Pink was totally sold out every time she came to Minneapolis...

Then one day, I was playing around on Hotwire and looking at the "Flight + Hotel" option.  While I was actually looking for a vacation idea to pursue with my husband (this was prior to the Euro trip surprise), I figured out that I could go to Vegas in April.  And it would be cheap.  Like $500 per person for hotel and air, with breakfast included, cheap.

Wow!  Really?!  The deal seemed too good to be true. 

Why?  Well ... my favorite all time concert was from 5 or so years ago, back when Britney was doing the Circus tour.  It was fantastic.  And right when I found this Vegas deal, Britney's current Las Vegas show had just been extended at Planet Hollywood to preform through late spring of 2015.

I figure it must have been fate.  We had to go.  After clearing it with my sister, I booked the trip and Britney tickets, and hoped for the best.


Vegas, Day One (4/24/2015)

     - Wake up at 5am
     - Arrive Minneapolis airport terminal two 6:30am
     - Depart Minneapolis 8:00am
     - Arrive Las Vegas airport terminal three 9:15am
     - Let the fun begin!

As soon as our plane touched down in Vegas, it was party on: not even 2 minutes into our adventure, I had a text message from my limo service's driver (Chris) alerting me to his location in baggage claim. 

Yes, I did just say limo service. 

Prior to booking this trip, I found a special on the Presidential Limousine Las Vegas website called the "red rose special".  For a little over $100, I could book a stretch limo for up to 6 passengers, and would receive a red rose and "sparkling cider" prior to boarding.  Considering the cost of a taxi in Vegas, and the hassle that is finding a good taxi driver, this seemed like a reasonable deal.  And while I could care less about the red rose (which we didn't get), when you considered the inclusion of the "sparkling cider" (which was a little more than cider, as you'll see later), it actually WAS a pretty good deal.

But deal aside, let's get back to the trip. 

Presidential Limousine was fantastic!  Not only did Chris have the all important name sign when we met him in baggage claim (or rather, name iPad), he also grabbed our luggage off the carousel and towed it to the limo for us ... which just so happened to be upgraded free of charge to this:

OMG.  When I saw we were walking towards a stretch Escalade, and that it was marked Presidential Limousine, I died.  And yes, it had a color changing LED wet bar and surround sound stereo system installed.  I'm not lying when I say we turned on "Ridin' Dirty" and bumped it down the strip.

When we pulled up to the Paris hotel, we were quite the spectacle, and everyone turned to look.  I'm sure the loud bass and pearl white stretch Escalade looked much more exiting prior to us opening the door and stepping out, but whatever.  LOL!  After a quick thank you and a tip to Chris, we headed inside to check in (with a very bitchy front desk staff member) and drop our bags. 

(Seriously, the front desk people at Paris need an attitude adjustment.  The maids?  The restaurant folks?  All very nice.  Not sure what's up with the desk folk.)

Finally - after dropping our bags at the hotel, it was time to go!  We filled our first day in Vegas by touring the entire strip - Mandalay Bay to Treasure Island and everything in between.  While we were unfortunately surprised to find that MGM and Mirage no longer keep lions and tigers in the casino, and that Treasure Island no longer does their live pirate show, we were able to catch Cesar's Atlantis display and check out the gondolas at the Venetian.  We also tried to catch the Bellagio fountain and the volcano at the Mirage, but they were not functioning well due to high winds. 

Oh. And let's not forget food.  Because ... Vegas.

Day one lunch was at Pink's, which is on the front of Planet Hollywood, facing the strip.  After all, who can say no to hot dogs that look like this?!

Day one dinner was at Noodles in Bellagio, since we were still "hung over" from our late lunch, and a light miso soup with dim sum sounded good.  It wasn't terribly fancy, so no photo for that one.


Vegas, Day Two (4/25/2015)

     - Wake up at 4:30am
     - Eat included breakfast meal at Nosh in Bally's
     - Pickup by Big Horn Hummer Tours for Grand Canyon Diamond Creek tour, 6am
     - And of course, Britney!!

Wow!  On day two of our trip, I forgot that there's nothing quite like Las Vegas ... especially at 5:45am on a Saturday morning.  While we were bumbling around Paris, heading towards Bally's to find Nosh, even I was a little shell shocked by the drunken spectacle.  I mean, honestly, have YOU ever seen someone so drunk they almost belly flopped down a half flight of stairs in front of a casino attendant?

Thankfully, we found Nosh and got our breakfast without much further adieu.  And, timing was perfect, because as we walked to the north side of Paris to catch our ride, the tour guide was just pulling up - Scott:

Oh, let's put this tour in perspective, BTW:

Yes, everything is spectacular in Vegas.  Including tours to the Grand Canyon. 

Regardless of what you might think good or bad about that 'Murka hummer, though, Scott was fantastic.  In a matter of less than 10 hours, he got us through seeing the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon Diamond Creek area (including views at several different vantage points, a hike to a small water fall, a chance to dip our feet in the Colorado River, and a boxed lunch on the river edge), Hackberry General Store on Route 66, and a couple of gas station rest stops (to allow for bathroom breaks, of course).  The information overload was amazing; Scott was incredibly knowledgeable.  If you're in Vegas and looking to really see the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend this tour.  Especially because you can actually go to the bottom of the canyon without a helicopter ride, and there is essentially no one there besides you.

Oh, and the views were simply stunning, of course:


And yes, that last photo is slightly creepy.  If you're wondering, it's the ladies' room at the Hackberry General store.  Let's just say ... I've never peed so fast in my life.

Peeing aside, the Big Horn tour ended up getting done just after 4pm, so we unexpectedly had plenty of time to have dinner at the La Creperie in Paris and then get ready for the main event - Britney.

Ah yes, the "sparkling cider" from the limo ride was put to good use.

Since the show was scheduled to start at 9pm, with doors at 7:30, we hustled our way over to Planet Hollywood just after 7pm.  Since we had assigned seats, though, we came to find out that our scurry was totally unnecessary, so we had a little time to kill:

Oh well!  As you can see, we had no problem finding something to do until it was closer to the show's start time, and we eventually ended up entering the arena a little after 8:30.

Once inside, we were curious about the set and how it worked.  It was pretty interesting, with LCD screens tiled around the ceiling of the venue. 

During the show, we discovered it lit up in an interesting display.
Speaking of the show starting - true to form, it started late ... as most concerts do.  I think the lights finally went down around 9:15.  And I was a little shocked to find out that there was no opening act.  The lights dimmed, the screens lit up, and we were off - straight into Britney.

*And the crowd went wild ... !!!*

So ... I have to be fair here.  While I love me some Britney, this show was just ok.  And I definitely mean show, not concert.  If you go to this show, expect no opening act, fairly 'canned' dancing (very stiff arm movements, etc), and a quick push post show to get out of the arena.  The entire thing felt over choreographed and over executed, and didn't feel quite genuine.

Despite the lack-luster performance, though, Britney did cover all the hits and had some impressive costumes and sets.  Plus, there were several times confetti was dispensed, which is always fun.



In the end, I'm not sorry I went to see this show, but I wouldn't rush back for a second viewing, unlike Britney's Circus tour from 5 or so years ago which I would have seen 2 or 3 times without batting an eye had I the opportunity.  The comparison makes me feel like Britney has maybe lost some of her passion for preforming, and leaves me to wonder if she might need to hang it up for awhile just to regain perspective ... ?

Since the show let out in a paltry 1 hour 15 minutes (eek - makes the amount of money I paid for Big Hour's tour sound like a steal at 10 hours long), around 11pm my sister and I found ourselves wandering the strip and enjoying the Bellagio fountain show again.  Eventually, though, our early rise caught the best of us, so after a gelato stop, we tucked in to Paris for another night.


Vegas, Day Three (4/26/2015)

With two days straight of non-stop running, we were unbelievably glad to have our last day in Vegas without a schedule!  After sleeping in and grabbing another free breakfast at Nosh, the day was spent idly wandering the strip and checking out the last few things we missed. 

Somewhere along the wandering, we saw the flamingos in ... well, Flamingo casino, of course. 

Oh, and while there, I saw a very "exciting" show stage - Donny & Marie Osmond.

Eventually, we ended up finding ourselves down towards Treasure Island again, and it being a fairly nice day, we decided to just enjoy the weather and hoof it down to Stratosphere for lunch.

We definitely took our time at lunch in the Stratosphere restaurant, making a full rotation + almost another half (and 3 sky divers) before leaving.  At which point, we decided to pay $5 each to take the monorail from SLS all the way to the other end of the strip, exiting at MGM.

There, with less than an hour left of our trip, we killed some time souvenir shopping:

And then were surprised by another limo upgrade:


Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end.  So, finally, we found ourselves at the Las Vegas airport and heading home, where the trip ended just like it began - with another text ding, this time from my husband, showing me we had made it home:


  1. What a fabulous weekend!!! You got to see SO MUCH while you were in Vegas. Do you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation now? =D

    BTW - how cool that you got to stay at Paris Las Vegas! I've always wanted to stay at one of the European-themed hotels on the Strip.

    1. Funny you should say that because I was dragging all week long after that trip. On Wednesday night after I got back, I decided to lounge and read after dinner ... I laid down to do it and fell asleep almost immediately!! LOL! I'm like an old granny sometimes, I swear!

      As for Paris, it was a pretty ok hotel!! It's a more budget friendly location, so it wasn't SUPER fancy in the room we had and could use a few cosmetic repairs, but since you're usually unconscious once you get into your room anyway, who cares?! The location is great - right in the center of the strip and easy in/out (unlike some casinos there where you literally walk a mile to get out of the hotel and onto the street).