John’s 30th birthday was on July 26th and to celebrate we went to Vegas. Actually it ended up being quite the bash because in addition to John and I, eight of our friends from all over the country (DC, Arizona, California, plus a few from Boston too) came too.
Our flight was alright. I get really restless on flights longer than 4 hours but I was distracted with the TV and these incredible views from my window seat:
When we arrived in Vegas we checked in to our hotel. We stayed at the Paris (after getting a great deal on Kayak) and it was a great choice. The location right in the middle of the strip can’t be beat and Paris is home to the best buffet in Vegas.
In fact, right after we checked in we headed to the buffet – it was 2PM and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast at the airport in Boston.
I knew our trip would be buffet heavy so I opted to load up on equal parts veggies to equal parts meat/carbs. John went right for the creperie. It was his birthday after all.
After our late lunch we hit the casino for a little gambling. We aren’t big gamblers at all but do like the entertainment of playing the slots for a little while. Even if we lose money (we limit ourselves to $10 or so a day or slots), we still have fun because the stakes are pretty low.
I cashed out with 10 cents left, John was up $4. See? Small beans.
After gambling we decided to walk around the casino for a little bit.
Being in Paris, we came upon the Paris Eiffel Tower Ride and hopped on. The ride is basically an elevator that takes you to the top of the Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The observation deck is 46 stories above city level and has amazing 360 degree views of the whole Las Vegas Valley area.
You won’t get a view of the strip like this anywhere else:
It turned out that we were on the top of the Tower at the best possible moment – right when the Bellagio fountain show happened! We were able to see it from above which was truly fantastic. We’ve seen it from the street dozens of times but the viewpoint on top of the Eiffel Tower is absolutely the best place to see it.
We decided to stay in the hotel and go to the gym for a little bit. We knew we were going to have a buffet-heavy couple of days so the gym was a really good idea. We actually bought a 5-day pass to the gym and managed to go every day. Even in Vegas, you have to have some balance.
After a workout, shower, and change of clothes, we headed to Old Vegas to check out the Fremont Street Experience. Overall I’m glad we went but it’s not something I ever need to do again. It was really cool to see all of the old casinos (Golden Nugget, Binion’s, etc.) but the vibe of Old Vegas is really different from New Vegas. It’s a little seedier, run down, and shabbier. It can’t even compare to the sleek, glamorous, and opulent atmosphere of New Vegas.
The old fluorescent signs were pretty amazing though:
We had dinner at the Golden Nugget buffet and then walked around the casino. I told John that he should try his luck on the enormously huge novelty slot machine. He was skeptical but ended up turning his $1 into $10. Birthday luck!!
We headed out to the street where there is a music and light show every hour on the electronic canopy that covers Fremont Street. The streets were packed as everyone inside came out to see the show.
You can imagine how psyched we were when we realized the light show was Bon Jovi themed. NJ represent! It was basically a 10 minute long medley of all of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits set to crazy lights and projections of the band on the overhead screens. Pretty cool.
After the show we headed back to our hotel to crash.
On Day 2 the guys all got up early to go to The Gun Store to shoot machine guns. I opted to go to a fancy salon to get my hair done. I decided to walk from the Paris to the Mandalay Bay where the salon was because at 9AM it wasn’t too hot to walk.
For someone who doesn’t really gamble or drink I really do love Vegas. It’s like a concentrated little paradise – fantastic shows, amazing restaurants, high end shopping, lovely spas, great weather.
It is funny to walk down the strip so early in the morning – it’s pretty dead!
I got to the Robert Cromeans salon at Mandalay Bay right when they opened.
It was a lovely salon. I got highlights, a shine treatment, and cut. Because they offer a first-come-first-served walk in service I was able to get all of that done at a fraction of the price.
Two and a half hours later, I walked out feeling like a new woman. I was extremely happy with the results!
I hopped in a cab at Mandalay Bay and headed over to meet up with our whole group for lunch at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian rodizio of all you can eat meat. Well, they serve a variety of delicious food but they are known for their expertly cooked meat on swords that the waiters come around and freshly carve for you. The whole meal was delicious but their cheesecake was the only thing I snapped a picture of. We all had a great time and toasted to the birthday boy.
Right across the street from Fogo was the National Atomic Testing Museum. Somehow John and I convinced the whole group to go so we could be on our feet for a while after such a big lunch.
The museum documents the history of nuclear testing by the US, specifically highlighting the testing sites in Nevada. It was pretty cool and I’m glad we got to include something educational in our visit to Sin City.
After the museum we all parted ways to rest up for later. John and I headed to the gym, relaxed for a bit, and got ready to go out for the night. Dinner was at Max Brenner in Caesar’s Palace. It was just average, I do want to try the one in Boston now though.
After dinner we walked around on the strip for a bit and then headed to Bally’s for some black jack. We did that for a bit and then we turned in for the night.
Day 3 started with a trip to the Paris buffet and then to the Paris pool. It was so nice to sit in the sun and go swimming. However, at noon when the temperature reached 108 degrees, we’d had enough and headed in to the gym for a workout.
After a workout and shower, we got ready for the rest of the day. We headed next door to the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood for some shopping. We opted for a smoothie for lunch at Jamba Juice. I bought a really pretty Eiffel Tower dress from the Bettie Page shop at the Shops.
After a quick stop back at our room to drop off our bags and to change, we headed down to the black jack tables at Bally’s to meet up with everyone. After an hour or so of gambling we all headed over to The Venetian for dinner a Bouchon. I was really looking forward to this meal at Thomas Keller’s famous restaurant.
The meal was definitely the highlight of our trip and I’m going to write a separate blog post about it.
Sufficed to say that the 10 of us ate like kings and had a great time chatting, drinking, and eating.
John even got a special birthday dessert!
After our delicious dinner we walked over to Caesar’s to see Absinthe. The venue for the show was actually a circus tent set up outside in front of Caesar’s, it was a very cool place for this show. The seats inside were set up in a circle with the stage at the center. There isn’t a bad seat in the house! Absinthe, one of Vegas’ most highly reviewed shows, was part vaudeville, part acrobatic, part burlesque, part comedy.
It was probably the best show I’ve ever seen in Vegas. It was hilarious, a little dirty, and the acrobatics were so incredible I had my mouth hanging open in disbelief for the majority of the show. I would highly recommend this show to anyone (who isn’t too uptight or easily offended).
Night/day views of the Paris:
On Day 4 we got up early and headed to the Caesar’s buffet. We then proceeded to spend 4 hours at the Qua Spa at Caesar’s. The spa is always one of my favorite things to do in Vegas. I worked out, read a ton of my book, alternated between the hot tubs, Roman baths, sauna, steam room, ice room, and drank a lot of tea. So relaxing.
John and I met up after our respective spa trips (the men and women’s spas are separate at Qua). We went to our room and got dressed for dinner. We, yet again, met up with everyone at the black jack tables at Bally’s. We had a few hours to kill so I thought I’d finally play. After three days of watching everyone, I had the game down. John loaned me $20 and I sat down at the table. About 10 hands later I was up to $80 – it was time to quit while I was ahead. How’s that for beginners luck!
For dinner the group headed over to the MGM Grand for our reservation at Fiamma. The meal was delicious but the service was awful. Oh well!
We decided to walk outside from MGM to the Luxor…
…to get Nutella milkshakes at Burger Bar. We love Burger Bar and weren’t able to get there for actual burgers on this trip. We thought milkshakes for dessert was a good compromise.
On Day 5 we had a quick breakfast and then headed to the airport for the flight back home to Boston. The trip was awesome – totally relaxing, so much fun with all of our friends who came, a great way to celebrate John’s 30th, and the perfect last hurrah before starting my new job (I started the day after we got home).
The second we got home John asked when we could go to Vegas again. It probably won’t be long. Viva!