A Travellerspoint blog

Las Vegas - Day 4

Viva Las Vegas

Check out was set for 11am on our last day, but even a late night yesterday couldn't stop us from visiting the famous Garden of the Gods pool deck at Caesars before we left. Julie and I grabbed our complimentary coffees and took in some early morning pool time. This pool area is without a doubt one of the nicest I've seen in person. A large lap pool, a circular pool complete with columns and fountains, and several other smaller pools made it all very unique. Even though we were there early, it started to fill up fast. If you want a full pool day with a good spot I'd recommend getting there no later than 9am.

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After that refreshing start we packed our bags and checked them for the day, as we were not flying out until that evening. We met up with Phil and headed next door to The Mirage for breakfast. You wouldn't think it would be hard to find late morning breakfast in Vegas, but it is actually a bit of a challenge. However, Pantry in The Mirage just opened recently and serves breakfast 24 hours a day, so of course that was our destination. BACON! It's a neat restaurant set up to look like a family kitchen and has a fairly decent menu. Though there were what appeared to be several available tables, the wait to be seated was much longer than expected. Since we were starving, we decided to sit at the bar area which had immediate seating. Breakfast was good, and I was happy to discover they serve La Colombe coffee (we love the show Dangerous Grounds!). I had the white chocolate brioche French toast with berry compote and whipped mascarpone. Julie had the Black Forest sandwich with scrambled eggs, truffled mushrooms, and smoked Gouda on toasted ciabatta. I thought Julie's was much more flavorful than mine. Though breakfast was fine it was overpriced, which is sort of the theme for Vegas.

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We left The Mirage and hit the strip for some gift shopping back at Margaritaville, The Sugar Factory, and inside the Paris shops. Of course we weren't going to miss out on the ice cream sandwiches at The Sugar Factory this time! You get to pick what kind of cookies you want, as well as the flavor ice cream. We chose the s'mores cookies and sea salted caramel ice cream. WOW! Messy but worth it!

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Since we still had a lot of time left in our day we headed back to The Mirage to see the tiger and dolphin exhibits at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden. At first, the $20 admission seemed a bit much. However, it turned out to be much more interesting than we had expected it to be. There was a short dolphin show soon after we arrived, and there was also the ability to view them underwater. The young dolphins (which had their own habitat) were extremely playful and fun to watch. Though the tiger and lion exhibits weren't huge, it was still impressive to see these enormous creatures up close. With it being mid-day and super hot we didn't expect to see them doing more than sleeping. However the tigers were very active, and we even got to see them playing with each other. It was just like watching our dogs play at home, if our dogs weighed 600 pounds that is. Their growl is so loud it's quite startling. We also got to see one of the 5 month old cubs that were recently brought there from South Africa. One of the trainers was trying to get him to play, but he seemed very uninterested. Probably the coolest part of our visit though was getting to meet Siegfried in person. Apparently he is there every so often to visit the animals.

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We left the tigers and stopped in the Forum shops to see their animatronic show that plays every hour. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill was close by, so we stopped in for one final drink and appetizer before officially saying goodbye to Caesars and to Las Vegas.

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After a shared taxi ride to the airport, we said our goodbyes to Phil. We were so thrilled by his surprise visit and so happy at the chance to spend some time with him. In Julie's first ever post here she said that part of us doing this blog was to share our moments with family and friends and that hopefully they would get excited enough by it to join us sometime. So glad Phil was the first to do so. So ends the latest edition of the TIMMY TAKEOVER, and we look forward to our next adventure. Who knows, next time YOU might the one to join us!

Posted by juliejakicic 17:00 Comments (0)

Las Vegas - Day 3

"Did Caesar live here?"

After a late night, some extended sleep time was definitely in order. Julie was up and at 'em early again, but only had to work a few hours before she closed up shop at the conference. Since her time was now up at The Venetian we had to switch venues for our last night. So we packed up and hoofed it over to Caesars Palace. We were able to check in early and even received a complimentary room upgrade. Talk about being spoiled this week!

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Once settled in we met up with our newest travel companion Phil, who was also staying in Caesars. We hit the casino floor for lunch at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. The place is really cool. It has a European pub feel, but includes typical household furniture like lamps and lounge chairs. Lots of great beers on tap as well. The wait staff was very helpful and service was prompt. I had the pistachio pesto chicken sandwich on zucchini cheese bread and Julie had the BLT. The homemade ketchup that was served with the fries was fantastic.

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From lunch we decided to head to the Miracle Mile Shops, which is a part of the Planet Hollywood resort. Our goal? Magic. Tricks to be exact. There's a Houdini Magic Shop there and we were looking for a birthday gift for someone. After sampling a few tricks from the resident magicians, we made our selection and headed for the Sugar Factory. This store is wall to wall candy and candy themed merchandise. They also create made-to-order ice cream sandwiches the size of hamburgers. We were still full from lunch, but might keep this in mind for later. From there we decided an afternoon nap might do us some good, so we headed back to Caesars to rest up for the evening.

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After some needed recoup time, we were ready for dinner. We met Phil and headed to Trevi, an Italian restaurant located in the Forum Shops adjacent to Caesars. We had a table reserved, so we were able to sit on their patio next to one of the large Forum fountains. It was a great outdoor-like setting to enjoy dinner. The food was delicious. We shared some fried eggplant chips while we waited for our entrees. Julie had the Italian chopped salad and I had the penne diavolo. Our waiter was great, sharing stories and funny banter. We really enjoyed the meal. We then explored Caesars for bit, including one of their roulette tables.

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Since it was quickly evident that luck wasn't on our side at Caesars we headed over to the Margaritaville Casino located inside The Flamingo. Maybe some of our Florida mojo would surface and bring us some luck. After trying out a few different tables we settled in at blackjack table with five dollar minimum bets. FIVE DOLLARS! That's almost unheard of in Vegas anymore, especially during peak evening times. Julie was tired from her early start that morning, so she did a lap through the Margaritaville store then called it a night and headed back to the hotel room. Phil and I stayed for quite a while playing. We had some really great dealers and some fun table mates that came in and out through the night. One British couple in particular was very friendly and spent most of the night there with us playing and chatting. After our time in Margaritaville we checked in with Julie to see if she wanted to rally and meet us for a drink. She was still exhausted, so we spent the rest or our night/morning at a blackjack table in The Flamingo main casino.

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Another late Vegas night in the books. Tomorrow we check out but since we have late flights we have a whole day of Sin City left to enjoy!

Posted by juliejakicic 17:00 Comments (0)

Las Vegas - Day 2

Surprise!

This is still a work trip for Julie and she had a super early start, so I joined her for a quick breakfast at Cafe Presse near the conference area of The Venetian. Very basic counter service breakfast with baked goods, fruits, and a limited sandwich menu. Though breakfast was lacking, the delicious Lavazza coffee made up for it. After I had the chance to catch up on some sleep, Julie was able to meet me on a break and we explored some of the shopping areas in and around The Venetian.

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After Julie was hard at work again, I headed to the casino floor to grab some lunch. I decided to try out B&B Burger & Beer, the collaboration restaurant from Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The food was excellent. Apparently the burgers are made from ground choice steaks that Batali has in his other restaurant here called Carnevino. I had the beef burger with Robiola cheese, caramelized onions, grilled treviso, and parmigiano-mascarpone cream. Even the shoestring fries were good, and there were a great selection of beers on tap.

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With a belly full of beef and beer, what better thing to do then hit up the pool next! The pool deck at The Venetian is pretty ordinary as far as Vegas pool standards go. One large lap pool, a small shallow pool, and a separate "beach club" pool connected to Tao nightclub complete with order minimums and European sunbathing. Julie's work day ended, so she was able to join me poolside. It was a scorcher today so we only stayed a short while.

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After some post pool primping, we headed out for the evening. First up was dinner at Grimaldi's. This Italian restaurant is known for their coal brick-oven pizzas. They started in Brooklyn and have opened several more spots all over the country. We got a small (actually the size of your standard large pizza) "quattro formaggio" pizza. It had Romano, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and Asiago cheeses on a thin crust. It was delicious and reasonably priced (especially for Vegas). We were delighted to find out that there is one located in Denver, so future visits are very likely.

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From dinner we headed to Madame Tussaud's which is actually located right outside The Venetian. Though the price of admission was a bit high in my opinion, we had some coupons (thanks taxi driver!) and were intrigued. It was worth every penny! We spent a little less than an hour walking through, but had so much fun in the process. The detail of the wax figures is amazing. Since the place is very pro cameras, we took absolute advantage of it by posing with almost every figure in there. They allow you to be very hands on, and even have themed staging around and some props for you to use which was a nice touch.

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When Julie was here before she didn't get a chance to see the Bellagio fountain show at night, so that was the next stop for us. It was a really windy evening, so we took quite a bit of spray from the fountains during the show. From there we checked out Rhumbar at The Mirage. It has a small indoor bar and then a slightly larger outdoor patio which is where we chose to sit. They did a great job in creating a Miami vibe, and even had hookahs available complete with several flavor choices. Though we didn't partake in hookah time, we did partake in their signature rum drinks which were very good.

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Since we were already at The Mirage we decided to check out their outdoor volcano/fire show that plays every 30 minutes. It was an entertaining show, and further proof of how much effort casinos put in to grabbing your attention. Throughout the show I was receiving some cryptic text messages from our friend Phil who lives in Philadelphia. It started as a funny back and forth about how Phil was going to meet us for a drink later, but quickly turned into a mystery of whether Phil (who we assumed was sitting in the comforts of his home) was actually in Las Vegas at this very moment to surprise us and hang out for a few days. "There's no way" we kept saying, but we decided to call his bluff and wait in a spot we designated for him to meet us if he was in fact here. SURPRISE! He actually decided last minute to hop on a flight from Philly and come hang out with us in Las Vegas for a few days. Probably the coolest and most impulsive thing I've ever known someone to do. So we caught up with each other for a bit, but it was getting late and Julie still had one more early day at her conference. Since Julie was more than ready for bed, she was extra excited that Phil was now magically here to babysit me for the evening so she could get some sleep. So the boys were set free to hit the town.

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First we hit The Bourbon Room in The Venetian, a bar themed after the fictional bar in Rock of Ages. It was fun, complete with a crude MC in cheesy 80's attire and a bad wig who led the crowd in chants and air guitar contests. After one drink it was on to the next place, The Rockhouse. Also in The Venetian, they promote themselves as an "ultra-dive bar". We did not take part in their beer pong or mechanical bull riding, just simply used the 2-for-1 drink vouchers we were given and headed on our way. After walking the strip for a while, we settled in at a blackjack table in Ballys where we spent the remainder of our evening (...ahem, slash morning).

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It was a full day that stretched into the wee hours of the next, but what a great and unexpected way to end it. At this point, who knows what the next two days will bring!

Posted by juliejakicic 17:00 Comments (0)

Las Vegas - Day 1

Livin' the "suite" life

Well Julie is technically working on this trip, so I'd say it's time for the second installment of the TIMMY TRAVEL BLOG TAKEOVER! And what better place to do it than VEGAS BABY! This is only my second real visit to "Sin City" and Julie's first time where she's not working every minute, so both of us have been quite excited to visit together.

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After arriving to McCarran Airport and waiting in the long and Disney-esque taxi queue, I was on my way to meet Julie at The Venetian. Both of us were more than a little excited to see our accommodations for the next 2 nights. The suite is beautiful and spacious. Tons of ridiculous amenities like automatic blinds and three flat screen tvs, one of which is in the bathroom!

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After taking it all in (including the pool deck), we got ready to head out for the evening. First up was dinner at Buddy V's, located in the Grand Canal Shoppes inside The Venetian. Since we were a little early for our reservation we were able to walk around the Grand Canal Shoppes and even see some of their stilt performers.

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Dinner at Buddy V's was delicious. Everything from the homemade bread with balsamic dipping sauce to Julie's sangria was full of flavor. I ordered the chicken rigatoni alla vodka, and Julie had the shrimp scampi. Both of us were happy with our meals. No trip to a restaurant of the "Cake Boss" would be complete without dessert, and "Lisa's Warm Nutella Cake" with salted caramel ice cream was just the exclamation point we were looking for on our visit.

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After dinner we headed over to The Mirage to see "The Beatles LOVE" by Cirque Du Soleil. Neither of us have seen a Vegas show before, or even any show by Cirque Du Soleil for that matter. I'm a HUGE Beatles fan and have wanted to see this show for years. I was so happy to finally be able to see it.

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The theater is not big at all. We were in the last row of the middle section, right below one of the two large video screens. Our seats were perfect. We were high enough that we could see everything going on, but were still close enough to see all the detail and feel a part of the show. I'd say there's no bad seat in the place. As I expected, the performance was fantastic. Great blend of acrobatics, dance, and special effects. The mix of the music and quality of the sound was superb. Julie really enjoyed it as well, even with her not being a big Beatles fan. I highly recommend it.

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After the show we stopped by The Beatles Revolution Lounge for some drinks. Small but cool bar. Really just the entry point for the dance club portion, which wasn't open yet.

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After some interesting people watching we decided to head back to our hotel. We took in some of the Vegas lights on our way back, and avoided the mass of quirky street performers.

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Though the Vegas nightlife was just getting started, Julie's work day was set to start in just 8 hours. Plenty of time, plenty of blackjack tables, and plenty of sights to see over the next few days. Stay tuned...

Posted by juliejakicic 23:10 Comments (0)

Mountain Vacation - Bonus Day/Outtakes

8/2/14

As I mentioned yesterday, on our way home today we detoured to Loveland pass. As we drove we were passing a ton of cyclists. So much so that we figured it had to be a race. It was the 78-mile Copper Triangle Ride. It took the riders from Vail Pass, to the Tennessee Pass, to Fremont Pass, with a 6,000ft gain in elevation - talk about dedication.

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On our way to Loveland Pass we drove through the Keystone ski area, which looks like it might be a good beginner place for us to try. We also drove by A-Basin ski area, which looks like they must drop you out of a helicopter and make you sign an accidental death and dismemberment release before you go. I think we'll skip that one.

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We climbed and climbed and finally reached Loveland Pass. Holy crap - it's really up there and it's such a cool site! There were so many people pulled over to take pictures. It was only 63 degrees - crazy how the sun was out and it's August, but we were scrambling for tennis shoes and jackets. What a great end to our vacation.

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And here are some outtakes and ridiculous photos from our week:

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Posted by juliejakicic 18:30 Comments (1)

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