Adult's Disneyland, Air Canada, Bellagio, Bellagio fountains, Best steak Vegas, Caesar's Palace, Casino, clubs in Vegas, Cocktails, Deacon's Corner, Golden Nugget, House of Blues Vegas, Las Vegas, Lobster Bisque, Luxor, m&m world, Mandalay Bay, Mandarin Bar, Michael Jackson One Cirque Du Soleil, multigrain pancakes, Pyramid Cafe, Steakhouse Vegas, The New York hotel, The Strip, The Venetian, travelling, Vic and Anthony's
It’s been a fair bit of time since my last blog post therefore I wanted to get back into it and thought a good way would be to document the trip Craig and I just took for his 30th Birthday.
Being a huge fan of Poker since he was about 15, Craig had always wanted to go to Vegas so before coming out to Canada we were planning a trip we would do together that would hopefully involve Vegas and we managed to work out a great 14 day trip which not only included Vegas but meant that he could be there for his birthday! The trip we planned included Vancouver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle and finally Portland.The country I was most excited about visiting was San Francisco but I was surprised to find I actually preferred the others, I think solely for the food!
After having a couple of days in Vancouver which started off amazingly with a trip to Kitsilano beach followed by a friends bbq it was overshadowed slightly by a stressful day of moving house therefore the knowledge that we were going on a ten day adventure soon after helped ease the stress from that day.
So to begin with, destination one, and the place where we celebrated Craig’s 30th birthday it would have to start in Vegas! You might either love or hate Vegas but you most certainly will never forget it. I stayed two nights there five years ago when I did Trek America and I can still picture vividly driving through the city and looking up at the all the huge billboards, the vast amount of hotels, casinos especially the New York hotel with the roller coaster coming out of the top and Statue of Liberty replica. Vegas is as some people call it “An Adults Disneyland”.
We flew out on the 1st June and had a quick and really good experience with Air Canada. I had previously called up to see if they could possibly make an announcement to say Happy Birthday to Craig on the plane and spoke to this lovely woman who said she would work something out. She kept me on hold for 15 minutes so in the end I had to cut her off and then I thought to myself I probably should’ve just waited however a few minutes later she called me back and said that she would try her best and would email me when she had found out what they could do. Unfortunately I never heard from her again, however, on the plane I spoke to the flight attendant and they were extremely accommodating. As Craig was taking out his wallet to order a rum and ginger and I was trying to persuade him to just buy a coke the lovely ladies brought over a little bottle of prosecco and wished him Happy Birthday. Soon after an announcement was made which was pretty hilarious as lots of people on the plane turned around and were staring and wishing Craig Happy 30th.
We arrived in Las Vegas after a two and half hour flight and stepped off the plane into 32 degrees heat. Our hotel was fairly close to the airport so we just jumped in a cab and were at Mandalay Bay within twenty minutes. The shiny gold beautiful building was big enough to simply stay in for a week! Decked out with four swimming pools, a wave pool (we tried this and it had one wave very 90 seconds -crazy!) a nightclub, casino, restaurants, bars and more it was incredible value for money and a fantastic choice to stay. Although located at the end of the strip we found it was close to many of the other bars and restaurants we wanted to try out (with the exception of Craig’s birthday dinner) so it worked in our favour.
The first day was spent exploring and we decided to book tickets for the Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil show, which was simply one of the best shows I have ever seen. I really didn’t know what to expect and when Craig suggested booking a show I was a bit reserved about the whole thing as wasn’t fussed however it was incredible. The show covered the best of Michael Jackson songs as well as several I have never heard which were played along to incredible dancing and acrobatics which really took your breath away. I found myself saying “wow” out loud more times than I can remember. After the show we had just as good a time in the gift shop trying on different Michael Jackson jackets (well Craig did) and then finished the night with a few games on the 25 cent roulette machine with a huge mai tai frozen cocktail where our server had thrown in an extra shot of rum for Craig’s birthday after looking at his ID. It was definitely a first great night.
The next day was Craig’s 30th and was a wonderful day. We started it off with breakfast at pyramid cafe, which is in the Luxor. I went for the multigrain pancakes, which came with honey, maple syrup and banana and were delicious. We had been eating a lot of buttermilk pancakes which we both love so decided to go for something a bit different. Craig went for the eggs benny which he liked but he said wasn’t the best. We had an incredible breakfast at Deacon’s Corner in Vancouver on the Sunday after he arrived so he has set a standard now for breakfast!
After breakfast we went for a wander and then decided to go swimming for a couple of hours where we discovered the wave pool! It was so hot just sitting down that you really did need to jump in and out of the pool every fifteen minutes! For the evening I had booked a table at Mandarin Bar for drinks where you can get a great view of the strip. Craig ordered a very similar tasting to Pimms cocktails and mine was a twist on an old fashioned bourbon. Both were pretty strong and delicious. After this we got the bus to the other end of the strip as I had booked a table at Vic and Anthony’s steakhouse for dinner. Luckily we gave ourselves a fair bit of time to get there as it took us an hour to get to the other side of the strip. I had no idea it was even that long! In a car it would take about 15 mins but the bus driver’s seem to enjoy stopping for 10 minutes at a time. We arrived on time to Vic and Anthony’s and despite havig a bit of a frosty waiter Vic and Anthony’s was one of the best dining experiences we have had. Located in The Golden Nugget hotel, the dark lit restaurant takes you away from fact you are in a hotel casino and makes you feel like you are somewhere else. As you walk in there are several pieces of raw meat on display to allow you to see the different cuts as well as live lobster (definitely not a place for vegetarians!). The steaks range in price from $45 all the way up to $150 or you can have the option of going for a pre fix menu which is three courses for $49.95. I didn’t paritulcar want or need three courses but seeing as the steak alone was $40 I figured I might as well go for the pre fix menu and it was the best option I could’ve possible gone for.
For starters I went for the lobster bisque finished with cognac which was the tastiest starter I have ever had. I went to use the washroom and when I came back the starter was on the table and Craig informed me that it was incredible and had already had a few spoonfuls when I was away! Honestly, after eating it I turned around to him and said shall we order another one. Sweet, fresh lobster and not too creamy it was simply heaven in a bowl. For our mains Craig went for the prime New York strip, which was enough to feed two and I opted for the fish. Both were lovely and I was very happy with my choice as although I do enjoy steak I don’t love it so it was a good decision to steal a few mouthfuls of Craig’s which was delicious but I preferred mine. For dessert I ordered the chocolate mousse which again was incredible, Rich, thick texture, and plenty of it, one would have been enough to share between us but luckily they brought one out for Craig as well, free of charge for his birthday.
Finished off with a lovely glass of wine and some Amaretto, Craig and I simply couldn’t move we were so full but we were still chatting on about how incredible the meal was. We jumped in a cab back to Mandalay which took hardly any time at all and finished the night with a few drinks back at the casino. Just writing about it now makes me want to go back for that meal!
The final day in Vegas was spent with breakfast at The House of Blues, a wonderful bar/restaurant that on a Sunday plays gospel music during brunch and has bands on pretty much every night. I opted for the oatmeal as fancied something a bit lighter (it was huge!) and Craig went for a fried breakfast which came with a big buttermilk pancake. We spent a bit of time by the pool and then Craig went off to play a tournament and I spent the day walking up the strip. I think I was on my feet for about 5 hours! There is so much to see and nearly not enough time to visit every casino. I managed to visit a good few shops, see the fountains at Bellagio, look at the beautiful chandelier bar in the Cosmo, listen to people singing on the gondolas in The Venetian and enter Paris all the space of four hours.
The Venetian was one of my favourite hotels because of how beautiful it had been designed. Caesar’s palace was just so big I walked in and straight back out again. You notice when walking around Vegas by yourself that there aren’t many individuals walking around solo, it’s mainly groups, friends or couples but there’s plenty to keep you occupied. I went into M & M world and bought a big bag for us to have as well as got some tasty and cheap tacos from a little stand. I found an incredible shop with hundreds of paintings of Disney characters however unfortunately they were all too expensive, plus I only had hand luggage but they were lovely to look at. I got back to the hotel around 8.30 and was hoping Craig was there which he was, however I was so exhausted from the day we literally spent an hour or so having a couple of drinks and then I think I fell asleep! Not exactly a crazy night and earlier in the day I was actually contemplating the club however it really takes it out of you especially walking for so many hours in the heat! I am officially old!
On our final day in Vegas we had to leave the hotel at 11a.m. We went for a buffet breakfast, well more of a buffet lunch as it was after 11 and therefore there were no more cereal or breakfast items. I found myself eating cake and a crepe followed by some rice, chicken and kale salad which was the strangest combination but when it’s a buffet you somehow find a way to eat things even if you’re not in the mood for them. We finished our last hour with another quick walk down the strip, popped into MGM and then had to come back. Before I went to Vegas I said three nights would be more than enough and it turned out to be a really good length of time but I can actually understand how you could easily spend five days there, as there is so much to see. Craig said he could’ve easily stayed a week and is already planning another trip back so I’m guessing this isn’t the last time we see Las Vegas!
Happy birthday Craig. I am glad you two enjoyed Vegas – can’t wait to read about San Francisco trip.