After a long day at work, Matt and I got on a plane at 9:15pm Minneapolis time, and showed up in Vegas around 11:30. After a far-too-long delay at baggage claim, we hopped in a cab to our hotel.
It didn’t occur to me to tell the driver to take local streets, so of course he went the long way around on the freeway. When I asked him why he went that way, he said there was construction. Yeah, right; construction and $15 extra fare.
We checked into our room at Bally’s and promptly began the celebration. (Please note we only drank one bottle; the other was for the next night when Steve and Colleen arrived.)
We needed some food, so we set off from Bally’s into the concourse at Paris. Everything there was closed, since it was after midnight on a Wednesday, so we headed out onto the strip. The next casino was Planet Hollywood, which I was not thrilled about, since I loved the Aladdin. But we went inside anyway, and were instantly impressed. It actually looked awesome! The decor wasn’t hideous! And there was a gigantic photo of Justin Timberlake overlooking the casino floor! You can’t go wrong.
We sighted a Mexican restaurant called Yolos, and headed that direction. The bartender said they weren’t serving food anymore, but listed off a few places nearby that did. We decided, since we happened to find ourselves on bar stools there anyway, that we should probably get ourselves some margaritas. They even put them in to-go cups for us, so we could take them to dinner/breakfast.
Across the casino, we found Planet Dailies. It looks like a coffee shop, but it’s a full-service, 24-hour restaurant. We were thrilled, and ended up just ordering appetizers: some kind of bruschetta with the best dipping sauce ever, and giant nachos. After finishing that and paying up, we headed to the center of the casino, completing our tour of Planet Hollywood at the Heart Bar. It was very swanky, with low couches and expensive martinis. We hung out for a while, enjoying the ridiculousness that is Las Vegas. And Justin Timberlake, looking down on us benevolently.
After that, we set off in search of cheaper drinks and entertainment. We headed over to the other side of Bally’s, to Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon (which was until recently the Barbary Coast). We had another drink at the bar there, the scene of one of our favorite Vegas moments ever, that of the cover band playing Journey with a keytar.
Then suddenly we realized it was 4:30am Minneapolis time, and that meant it was time to sleep.
Thursday morning, we got up bright and early late and went to Paris for breakfast. There’s a little cafe I’d stopped at on previous visits, and knew it to be good. Which is to say they’d have pastries and coffee. I think Matt died of awesome over his bacon and cheese roll.
We took our ghetto iced coffees with us, and headed out the north side of Bally’s. I don’t know exactly how hot it was, but it was definitely mid-90s. And, you know, we were in the desert. The coffee only helped a little.
this is apparently one of klein’s favorite spots in vegas. they have $1 hot dogs.
We headed east, toward the National Atomic Testing Museum. I knew it was ‘just past’ Terrible’s Casino, so we were very excited to see that in the distance. It couldn’t have been more than a mile from the strip, but, holy crap, walking any distance like that in Vegas hurts.
The museum was fantastic. I’d been to the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, and was even more impressed with this one. My favorite part was the little theatre with the nuclear explosion simulation that ran every 10 minutes. The loud blast didn’t scare us that much, but the giant rush of air did.
Having gotten our culture in Vegas, we headed to Terrible’s and played some video blackjack.
We watched the end of a division series game with the people at the sports book there, then decided to get our wander on back toward the strip. Matt talked to both Pete and Klein to determine everyone else’s whereabouts, and we figured we’d meet up with them later. Since Hard Rock was sort of in the general direction we were headed, we stopped there to check it out.
As we walked in the door, sweating our asses off, the first thing I heard was Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages. I knew that place was going to be awesome. And THEN:
We stopped at the Hard Rock gift shop, obtained the required souvenir shotglasses, and then decided there was no point in waiting for dinnertime to go to the Pink Taco. We went in and had us a margarita. Then we had us another margarita. Then we went back outside, and headed back toward the strip. You know how usually if you’re drinking, you don’t mind that it’s either freezing or the middle of the desert? Not so much. I was pretty sure I was going to end up laying on the side of the road.
We ducked into the mall attached to Planet Hollywood right as Colleen texted that their plane had landed. I figured we had half an hour, so we did some shopping at ABC Stores (because I’m nostalgic about Hawaii) and a shoe store where I found the awesomest Ed Hardy shoes on earth.
We got back to the hotel just as they were arriving. We went to our room, grabbed the other bottle of champagne, and went to celebrate their arrival. They’d never been to Vegas before!! We were very excited to show them around.
We went back to Planet Hollywood, and stopped at Yolo for drinks, as one should not wander the strip sober. We then headed down toward New York New York, to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas. It’s not that it’s great, but it’s a tradition. I’ve gone there every time I’ve been in town. Also, they have margaritas in yards. You can’t go wrong.
note steve’s statue of liberty yard!
Full of Mexican food, we went to play video poker for a while. Colleen and I smartly hid our yards on the floor next to the machines, so that the drink lady would come around and give us free cocktails. Win.
Once we blew our $20 on poker, we went upstairs to Coyote Ugly. The place wasn’t too busy yet, but the ladies were already dancing on the bar. One of the bartenders marched right up to us and demanded a dollar for the jukebox. I went to give her one, but she insisted that it come from one of the boys. They refused.
A few drinks and some awesome music later, we watched a girl take a nose-dive on the bar, then be hauled back up by her fellow dancing-ladies. We decided it was time to go. We headed across the bridge to MGM, to another of our favorite bars.
steve’s yard: for AMERICA. (he used it as a drinkholder all night.)
steve took this with his VERY LONG ARMS.
This is where it all becomes kind of blurry, but we remember Steve being really excited about the lion habitat at MGM, and then going to have a drink at Rouge. We left shortly after that, and headed over to Excalibur, because Matt’s friends were going that way to go to a club.
We met Andy and Christina on the monorail to Mandalay Bay, and introduced them to Colleen and Steve. We then headed downstairs to what seemed like the furthest basement corner of Mandalay, to the Forty Deuce. Which, you know, is an awesome name for a club, particularly one that features burlesque dancers. There was no cover at that point, so we went inside.
There were only a few tables, though, and they were already full. The drinks were approximately $400 apiece (I’m only exaggerating slightly!). And apparently the dancers weren’t even starting til midnight. We milled around, disgruntled, and finally decided to take off for cheaper drinkin’ spots, even ones without half-naked ladies.
We took the monorail back to Excalibur, then walked up the strip toward our hotel. Steve and Matt dubbed the massive construction project south of the Bellagio ‘Australia: the Casino’, then talked about it so much I was convinced it was real the next day. Steve collected hooker trading cards, and within a few blocks had a substantial collection.
We decided to head for Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall again, as it was the crappiest nearby strip casino we could think of. The outside advertised $1 margaritas all day long, but we’d already searched for them to no avail. However, at one point I wandered off, and found them at a bar in the back. There was a frozen drink machine with the mix, and then the bartender would pour a shot of god-knows-what-brand tequila on top. Cringing, I watched a group of dudes ordering two apiece, and asked them if they were any good. They told me they were terrible… what you’re supposed to do is suck the tequila off the top, and throw the rest away. That’s so awesome. (And: GAG.)
Steve and Colleen were sleepy, so they went back to the hotel while Matt and I continued onward. We wandered through the Flamingo, then O’Shea’s, just for the fact that we’d heard there was a midget bartender there. My image of O’Shea’s is sort of like a warehouse full of table games, with fluorescent lighting and not a single midget. I went to the bathroom (it was a life-threatening experience), and we kept walking.
Somewhere in the vicinity of the Imperial Palace, we found the Rockhouse. Between the crappy hiphop blasting out onto the strip and the $5 cover, we knew we had to go in. And dance, for what seemed like 10 minutes, but was apparently more like three hours. According to Twitter, we were still going strong at 3am. Round about the time the bartenders were standing on the bar pouring Jagermeister into people’s mouths, we knew it was time to go.
I walked back to Bally’s at an angle. I wish I could explain this, but Matt will just have to demonstrate for you. All I knew is that the next morning, one side of my back was hella sore.
Sunday morning, very close to afternoontime, we dragged ourselves out of bed. I hurt from dancing. We had layers of stamps on the back of our hands. In short: we were doing Vegas right.
We met Colleen and Steve in the lobby and went to get food at Paris again. This time, we went to Le Burger. Everything on the menu had a corny french name. Our favorite item, which we were unfortunately too hungover to be able to consider, was the Eiffel Tower of Power. It was a giant tube of booze, for you to share with your friends.
Le Gardenburger and Le Fries were rejuvenating. We headed out onto the Strip to do some touring.
We crossed to the Bellagio, and went in to see the fountains. I didn’t realize they did seasonal displays; the fall getup was hokey and terrifying:
We crossed into Caesar’s Palace and decided to look for the sports book. We all wanted to bet on games, but had no idea how one did that. The thing about the sports book, though, is that they have comfy chairs and many, many TVs showing sporting events. We sat down to watch another one of the playoff games, during which I took a nap. It was awesome.
After a while, we went off in search of drinks to fix the remaining hangover. Steve found a bar on a boat, but Matt and I had no such luck; we went to the lounge right by the Pussycat Dolls club (which advertised Nicky Hilton’s birthday party tomorrow!), and our tiny little drinks were $11 apiece. SCREW YOU, CAESAR.
caesar telling us to shop at the forum shops. not that his drinks are too expensive.
We decided to move on, lest we become broke at the bar. Matt and I wanted to go to Diesel and the Nike Store in the Forum shops, plus there was this bar in the middle of the mall I was kind of obsessed with, due to the fact that I’d never gotten to go there on previous visits. I don’t know… I fixate.
That bar was the right one. Colleen and Steve split a half-yard of Mai Tai that contained 13 shots of booze. The guy behind the counter even warned them about it. I got a giant Long Island, and Matt got another drink. By the time we’d walked about 20 feet, we were already feeling it. And that’s when I realized I was standing right outside Shanghai Tang. I just stood there in shock.
I’d discovered Shanghai Tang many moons ago when I came across a Deng Xiaoping clock they made. The couple of times I’ve been to New York since then, I’ve made a special trip to their store. It’s probably one of the most expensive places I’ve ever set foot in. Everything is gorgeous and ridiculously overpriced. However, I managed to find a purse there for a hundred bucks, and fell in love with it. So it became mine.
colleen and steve modeling sunglasses at diesel
We went to the Nike store, where Matt found a pair of awesome kicks. Since our shopping was a huge success, we decided it was time to head back to our hotel pool for a bit.
We changed, then headed downstairs, only to be told that the pool closed in 20 minutes. Did we care? No way. Matt and I went and jumped in, hoping that Steve and Colleen would make it in time.
They showed up a few minutes later, carrying ice cream cones. When we told them they only had a few minutes to swim, they scrambled to find a place to put their ice cream. Steve chose the little intake vent next to the pool, because it was the perfect size to hold it upright.
It was fine until Michael Vick walked by.
OK, it was really just a dude in a Michael Vick jersey. A dude who stepped on Steve’s ice cream cone!
We managed to get decent pooltime in before the lazy teenager in the lifeguard chair started making moves to close up. We went inside and stopped for food quickly, then went to our rooms for napping/changing.
Then it was time to go downtown!
Fremont Street was swarming with bikers, who were there for a big rally. It was awesome. The Jack Daniels bar facing the street in Binions had Jack cocktails for $2. Thanks, bikers!
We went into Binions and found one of the few $5 blackjack tables. Sadly, our old friend Robert Milligan wasn’t dealing. Matt and I each put down $100. His didn’t last very long (even though he was playing well), but I kept going for quite a while, always hovering around my original stake.
Pete, Christa, Klein, Stephanie, and Andy showed up, and a few of them sat down to play at a different table. They raised the minimum bet to $10 (though we were allowed to keep playing at $5), and I started betting $10-15 a hand. Since my chip stack still didn’t change much, I decided to quit while I was ahead. I cashed out at $105, and I was very happy with that. We wandered around Binion’s for a while, went to see the million dollar display, and then stood around talking with Matt’s friends. We made tentative plans to get together later, depending on where we were.
We had all planned on dressing up and going out somewhere nice, but it was getting late, and we were hungry. To change, we’d have to take a cab back to our hotel, then another cab to wherever we were going. We decided to stay in our regular clothes and just go over to Hard Rock for dinner. At the PINK TACO, of course.
We had an awesome dinner, and what seemed like 40 margaritas (but I believe was actually two). Our server took forever getting new drinks and bringing the tab, but we didn’t mind much. After that, we decided to look around Hard Rock to see if we could get into any of the clubs. It seemed unlikely, since Matt and I were casually dressed, but the first place we approached didn’t really care. We paid our $10 cover and headed into Wasted Space. Based on the decor, I half expected Bret Michaels to be there.
There wen’t many people there at first, but the drinks were pretty cheap, and the music was entertaining. We hung out, talking and watching the people who paid way too much in the table service section. The DJ would put on a good dance song for about 30 seconds, then do an awkward transition into something like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’. It was unusual, though entertaining.
Since we had to be up at 9 the next morning, we headed back to Bally’s around 1am, and crashed hard.
Saturday morning, we got up painfully early (i.e. 9am), checked out, said goodbye to Colleen and Steve, and went to get a shuttle to the airport. We stood around for what seemed like forever, as several shuttles pulled up, dropped people off, and headed off without picking people up. Finally, we gave up and got a cab.
The flight was uneventful, and I was happy to have a window seat, because I was dying of sore. We got home and promptly took up spots on the couch to watch football. I couldn’t have been happier to have almost the whole weekend to recover, because we needed it.
Man, I love Vegas.