Just a noteâ€”I have been reading these boards on and off since 2001 and I really appreciate all the trip reports and great conversation that goes on here. This is my first one, be gentle! Monday 5/5 Iâ€™ve been to Vegas 6 or 7 times now, with my most recent trips being last June and this past week. I had some vacation to burn and was in dire need of some R&R away from work, so I decided to plan a trip and do lots of things Iâ€™ve never been able to do beforeâ€”focus on dining and taking in a show and going off-Strip. I landed in Vegas after a long flight, grabbed my tiny rental (I didnâ€™t know it was possible to drive a car smaller than my Sentra, but this Cobalt sure felt like it was!) and headed to NYNY to check in for 2 nights. I was in the New Yorker tower on the 12th floor, alllll the way down the maze/hall. The room had a view of the roof, MGM Grand and the big NYNY sign. I thought it was pretty and enjoyed it quite a lot. After freshening up a bit, I went downstairs, lost some money on WOF and decided to head over to Planet Hollywood, which was one of my favorite casinos on my last trip. I gambled around there and hit up the Spice Market buffet around 4:30; I was starving and it was close. I think Iâ€™m pretty much over buffets, even though I love having little tastes of lots of things. Iâ€™d rather take my money and get a quality entrÃ©e somewhere, though I will say that the gulf shrimp at Spice Market are still really good. After my early dinner, I jumped on a dice table and had a great time with the dealers and other players. I held the dice for about 30 minutes and made a lot of people a lot of money, which was a blast. When the table turned cold, I decided to wander down to Paris and see what I could see, taking some pictures and sending them to the poor fools back home along the way. One of my friends texted back and said, â€œIs it true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?â€ I laughed at him and told him I might go looking for a little trouble of my own. Little did I knowâ€¦ Tuesday 5/6 I got a full nightâ€™s sleep on Monday, which is lucky as that would be the last nice chunk of sleep Iâ€™d see until I got home. On Tuesday morning, I called the Spa at NYNY and scheduled a pedicure for the early afternoon and then decided to drive to the Venetian. I gambled a bit and broke even and then decided to walk around the Canal Shoppes. While I was wandering aimlessly, a whole crew of contestants for the Amazing Race passed me by! They had on matching denim shirts and yellow arm bands and looked pretty lost themselves. I donâ€™t watch the show much anymore, but I might tune in just to see how Vegas treats â€˜em. I managed to snap a picture as they headed down the stairs to the casino. Grand Luxe had been on my restaurant list for awhile and Mikey has raved about the Asian nachos for a long time on his blog, so I decided to give it a try for lunch. My service was way, way spotty. The waitress was apparently near the end of her shift and spent lots of time chatting other tables up, but was really slow to greet me, get me my beloved Diet Coke, and managed to mess up the order of my courses fantastically. The nachos were great, as was the people watching, so all in all, it was a good experience. I decided to head back to NYNY and walk across the street to check what shows were up for the evening at the half price booth. Iâ€™ve wanted to see a Cirque show for a long time (and had purchased a ticket to Mystere in December, but had to cancel the trip) and had never been able to convince any of my fellow travelers, so I figured it was about time, dammit. I bought a ticket to Zumanity for that evening, upper orchestra, and headed back to NYNY to gamble and get ready for my pedi. I used to live in Arizona and so really appreciate a good pedicure. Theyâ€™re practically a necessity when you live in the desert, and mostly a luxury when you live in the Midwest like I do now. But I find them relaxing and again, this trip was about taking time for myself and doing a little pampering. My nail chick was sweet, but the regular pedi room was under construction so we were in a small makeshift room with sorta janky makeshift equipment. It was alright, but probably not something Iâ€™d repeat again for $100, as Iâ€™ve had way better pedis at the $20 shops in Tucson. After the pedicure, I felt pretty refreshed and wandered around the casino for awhile. I knew I didnâ€™t want to have dinner before the show at 7:30, so I picked up a cone at Ben & Jerryâ€™s to tide me over. I headed upstairs to check my e-mail and get dressed for the evening. While checking my blog reader, I saw that Mikey was having a pretty shitty day. Iâ€™d considered contacting him before I got to Vegas to offer a drink for all the great reading heâ€™s given me over the years, but weâ€™d never really talked and I know he gets called on to play Cruise Director for a lot of people who come into town. Nonetheless, it seemed like the right time to offer that drink, if only to cheer him up a bit. I dropped him an e-mail, left my number, and headed to Zumanity. I loved Zumanity, as I knew I would. I had heard that people either loved it or hated it. Mikey later told me the only people who love it tend to be freaks in the bedroom (youâ€™d have to confirm that with him, though). It was a good intro Cirque show, as there was a fair amount of comedy, some great acts, and of course, it was sexy as hell, which when youâ€™re drinking alone in Vegas is something of a curse. Alas.. I got out of the show and saw I had a voicemail from Mikey who said heâ€™d be up for drinks. I settled in at the Lobby bar to play some VP and have a few more drinks while Mikey and I made plans to meet up. A half hour or so later, the man, the Legend, THE Hurricane Mikey was standinâ€™ next to me, ordering some fancy pants rum drink, of course. We chatted for awhile and he filled me in on the events of his day and, of course, made me laugh. Iâ€™d never played Pai Gow and thoughtâ€”what better way to learn than from a man who deals it several nights a week? So we headed to a $10 table in the casino. We were drinking at a pretty steady clip, enough to be loud enough to attract some other fun folks to our table and we spent a couple hours playing with a fun couple in town for the produce show. They were a blast and especially loved Mikeyâ€™s jokes and shit talkinâ€™. When they left, we bailed shortly thereafter. I think I was up some money at that point, but the details are hazy due to the Captain and diets I was drinking. Rob was working that night and I figured it was another chance to meet yet more blogging royalty (though I spit on the Buckeyes, being a Badger myself) so we headed off to his joint. Robâ€™s table was crazy busy and he wasnâ€™t breaking for awhile so Mikey just introduced me as â€œone of his lurkersâ€ to which Rob responded with a knowing grin. We headed to the IP (why, I have no idea. Seriously. Why did we think that was a good plan?) to play some dice. Drink service was slow and the place was a hot mess, so we bailed after a few winning rolls. All good nights end at the Peppermill, and Iâ€™d never been before, so we headed there next. The atmosphere there was like no other and the neon was great. I loved our waitress and the food was good (though I thought seriously about the poor starving kids in Africa. I mean, I had about 3 meals remaining in front of me when I waved the white flag at my pancakes and eggs). We kicked back in the lounge, which was a FABULOUS retro throwback, after our meal. I was done drinking for the night, but Mikey ordered a chocolate martini that took about 30 minutes to get to him, during which time he did an impressive impersonation of that famous piece of art. Youâ€™re probably familiar with itâ€”whatâ€™s it called? Oh yeah, Roman Hands. Thatâ€™s the one! We were both getting tired, so we grabbed a cab again and headed back to NYNY as the sun was starting to come up. Somebody elected to accompany me back to my room and check out time came way too quickly the next morning. Wednesday 5/7 After checking out of my beautiful room at NYNY at the very last minute, we made a plan to hit up a new-to-both-of-us restaurant on Dave Pâ€™s recommendation: Jammâ€™s and eventually make our way back to the strip to check in to my room at Ballyâ€™s. Jammâ€™s is way the hell out in actual, livable Las Vegas but it was totally worth the drive. I had an amazing Panini sandwich with turkey, tomato, bacon, and real mozzarella. It was honestly one of the best Iâ€™ve ever had. Mikey had the chicken fried steak and eggs, which he purposely ordered over easy just to make me squirm a bit (uncooked yolk and I are not friends). Our waitress was a total sweetheart, the service was fast and good, and the food delicious. Even better, Mikey picked up our tab. Thanks again, friend! One of the plans on my list for the week was to make it out to Red Rock casino (and the canyon area, but thatâ€™ll have to wait til next time!), so since we were practically there, we decided to go check it out. It is freakinâ€™ gorgeous and like I told Mikey, I think at least half the reason I love it so much is their signature font (which totally reveals me as a complete nerd, but at least Iâ€™m an honest nerd). It was nice to be off strip and in a slightly more chill place. We won some money at dice and sat down to Pai Gow, where I think we both won there, too. I had the illustrious experience of visiting the Man Cave while Mikey showered and packed a bag for the evening. It was all I hoped and dreamed it could be. Well, actually, I mostly sat in the worldâ€™s most comfy chair and slept while he puttered around. We were getting way tired by then, having only caught a couple hours of sleep (at best) the night before and were really looking forward to checking into a cold, dark room at Ballyâ€™s and getting some sleep. Alas, the Harrahâ€™s gods hate me (though they do keep offering me free rooms, which frankly, Iâ€™ll keep taking advantage of as long as theyâ€™ll let me. Itâ€™s an abusive relationship, really.) and the surly clerk I found told me there was no way we were getting into a room for at least an hour (it was 3:30 at that point). Downtrodden, we headed to the casino. Now, my first response to feeling downtrodden is to try to get a few good drinks in me, so we headed to the VP bar where the bartender gave me run of the shelves once he saw the $20 I was putting into the machine. I had no problem drinking on 25c, one credit VP all week (and have done it on previous trips, too), but Mikey tells me this is rare. Must be the girls. Anyway, my Tanqueray and tonic hit the spot. Mmm, pine needles. Mikey lost at dice and we were tired and cranky at that point, so decided to try for the room keys early. Luckily, the room was ready. We headed upstairs, called for the bags, and rested for a couple hours. Again with the alarm, again with the too early. Mikey had plans to meet up with Habana Man Chris at Firefly for a Wednesday night soiree and I politely declined the invitation to join them in favor of sleeping a bit more and knocking another restaurantâ€”Mon Ami Gabiâ€”off my to do list. Mon Ami was fabulous, though I wish I had been in the mood for steak frites. Instead, I went slightly lighter with the soup of the day (cream of asparagus) and the lemon chicken paillard. I just adored the carrot salad they brought out with the baguette. The soup was hands down one of the best Iâ€™ve ever had. The asparagus really shone, it wasnâ€™t too rich, and the parmesan crouton was good but not intrusive. The chicken was great, too, though the sauce was out of this world and you better believe I made sure to devour every bit of it using their delicious baguette. The haricot vert were perfectly al dente, as well. I had a house Chardonnay which was okay, but Iâ€™d likely ask for a different recommendation next time. All in all, it was a terrific meal and I was not disappointed. Back to the room to sleep a bit more before getting ready to meet Mikey and Chris over at the Mirage for cocktails. I got there around 10:30 and they were both already on their way to blotto. There would be no catching up for me, as it seemed like a Herculean task. Dave P joined us for awhile, too, and it was great to meet some other T2Vers! At one point, Mikey disappeared to the bathroom for a suspiciously long time and just as I was about to say something to Chris, reappeared claiming to have locked himself in the stall. Mikey was, as he later put it, in rare form that night (though also in total drunken denial. It was amusing) and I insisted on driving the truck back to Ballyâ€™s, where I promptly ran over the curb near the valet lane (Iâ€™m short! The truck is tall!). Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™ll never live that one down! At any rate, we headed up to the room for another night of not enough sleep. Thursday 5/8 On Thursday, we woke up hungry, got showered and dressed and decided to try our luck at the NYNY Pai Gow tables again, which were so kind to us the other night. We stopped at America for some sandwiches (good but not great, although I have to say that â€œpretzel breadâ€ is just about the best invention ever) and a kooky server named Willie. The Pai Gow table was treating us well when Chris wandered along, having randomly stopped into NYNY and spotted us from across the casino. Talk about amazing! He joined us for a bit before we colored up. Mikey had to head to work and invited us to visit him at his casino later in the evening, so Chris and I exchanged numbers. My car was still parked at NYNY, but like a moron, Iâ€™d forgotten the valet ticket that morning. No problem, theyâ€™d just pull up the car, take a little extra info, and then check the rental agreement. Apparently, this was not the trip for me and vehicles because again, like a moron, Iâ€™d accidentally grabbed the rental agreement in a rush to clear the front seat of my bags the day before, so there was no agreement to be found in the car. My valet was really sweet and said heâ€™d just repark it and when I came back later that afternoon, he checked to make sure someone was helping me. So, curb, losing valet ticket, doing dumbass things with the rental agreement. I swear Iâ€™m smarter than this in real life, yâ€™all. I relaxed for awhile before deciding to head downstairs to play a bit in the casino. Chris texted that heâ€™d lost his ass and was done gambling, so he wasnâ€™t up for a visit to Mikeyâ€™s casino. I was feeling only half human, running on little sleep and it being way past dinner time, so I grabbed a sandwich at the Paris bakery and some caffeine and instantly felt better. Mikey told me heâ€™d be on dice at 11, so thatâ€™s where I met up with him. The other dealers on dice were fun and I hit a couple points and made somewhere around $50 before he got early out and I colored up. Green Valley Ranch is one of Mikeyâ€™s favorite casinos, and it was on my list of places to visit, so we headed over there to play some more Pai Gow. The casino felt nearly empty and it was strangely quiet. We got our asses handed to us at the Pai Gow table for the first time all week, which was sort of a bummer. But the surroundings were so beautiful that they almost made up for the loss. We got a comp to the cafÃ©, which is equally as gorgeous as the rest of the joint, and had a nice, relaxing meal. My car was still parked elsewhere, so we headed back towards it. We were both exhausted, with busy days ahead of us, and Ballyâ€™s seemed a long way away. Mikey rallied and decided to head back with me for my last night in town anyway, though weâ€™d have to be up earlier than ever before due to an event I was attending at Bellagio the next day. Weâ€™d agreed to hit the hay by 3, but a certain someone is a comment slut and needed to check for any action on his blog (as though there were none in his hotel room, jeez!). Itâ€™s all good, though, since I took advantage of the situation and introduced him to some lovely products from the Body Shop while he used the laptop. I called for a late(r) check out so Iâ€™d have some time to pack my bags and we eventually fell asleep after some good conversation. Friday 5/9 Morning again, too soon (I hope youâ€™re sensing a theme hereâ€”my running total of sleep for the 4 nights I spent in Vegas was about 16 hours, which includes that first glorious night of 8). Bon Appetitâ€™s Vegas Uncorked event kicked off on Thursday evening, and I had a ticket to a pastry workshop with Jean Philippe Maury at Bellagio for 10 AM Friday. Stupidly, I didnâ€™t do my research before planning this trip because I had to leave town just hours before the Grand Tasting event on Friday. Next year, though! I said a much too quick goodbye to Mikey, who was a total sweetheart to me the whole week, at the entrance to Ballyâ€™s. I was determined to get to the workshop despite dragging ass all morning and made it only 5 minutes late, during which time Mikey called to curse my existence for the second time that week due to his lack of planning and thus, sunglasses. That desert sun is a bitch so early in the day. The workshop was great, as were the sample pastries and fabulous truffles I received. I was really glad to have taken time for it and only wished Iâ€™d done some better planning to be able to attend more of the events (I mean, honestly, who can pass up a $150 dinner at Guy Savoy? It was sold out by the time I knew about it!). I hurried back to Ballyâ€™s, wishing Iâ€™d taken time to play at Bellagio during my trip because it seemed so peaceful and Iâ€™d stayed there last year, so it felt homey. I needed to pack up and check out and do something with my life for my last few hours in Vegas, which involved wandering around Paris and PHo, being disappointed by Le Village (again, Iâ€™m over buffets. The quality last trip was a lot higher than it was this time around, but even then..nah) and doing some window shopping in Miracle Mile. I slept like a rock the entire flight home, and then again for 9 hours after getting home. Iâ€™m still running a deficit, but thatâ€™s what weekends are for, no? In sum: I never go to Vegas expecting to win, so I wasnâ€™t disappointed to come back without anything in my pockets, though I was pleased that I didnâ€™t withdraw all of my bankroll, either. I loved Zumanity and would see another Cirque show again. I didnâ€™t get out to Ethel M or Red Rock Canyon or the Valley of Fire like I thought I might, but believe in having dreams and aspirations, so those are saved for future trips. I ate at some quality new restaurants and had some great meals and on top of all that, made a sweet new friend, to boot. This trip was all about having new and fun experiences in a city I just love and I gotta sayâ€”it was one of the most unexpected surprises of my year so far and provided exactly the infusion of fun and relaxation that I needed.