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April 4 - 11, firstimers trip, Bally's & Golden Nugget

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by abbbygirl, Apr 16, 2010.

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  1. abbbygirl

    abbbygirl Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    April 4 - 11, firstimers trip, Bally's & Golden Nugget

    I thought the theme of this trip report would be Gambling, Baseball, and the Travel Channel/Food Network, but it turns out the theme is Standing in Lines and Poor Service. However, we had a fun trip and now I’ll explain.

    Sunday

    On Sunday, April 4, we started out from Tallahassee, Florida in a rental car driving to Jacksonville, Florida at 5 am. Three hours later, we roll up into the rental car return and drag our bags to the terminal. We wait for an hour and a half before boarding begins. Southwest (SW) has this assigned boarding number thing down to a science. We quickly find a window seat and within probably 20 minutes they pull out of the gate. The flight lands in Birmingham, Alabama and as quickly as folks depart, more folks enter. A full flight from what we can tell. Four hours later, we land in Las Vegas.

    We have to wait about 15 minutes for my brother’s plane to arrive. He was also flying SW from Baltimore. We all exchange stories about the rough landings due to 30 mile an hour winds. But we’re soon quickly on our way to baggage claim. Dh and my bags are waiting at the SW office b/c we didn’t get there quickly enough. A few minutes more and my brother’s bags appear. We take off for the car rental counter. And here’s where we encounter our first lines. My goodness! There must be more than 100 people waiting to board shuttle buses to the rental car building standing in those inny-outy lines like Disneyworld, not a rental counter at all. We catch the fourth bus. The rental car building is 7 minutes away we learn. We arrive and find that Dollar has the longest inny-outy lines! Wow…there are about 40 people ahead of me. 45 minutes later, we have a car. In a few days, we’ll be hating this rental car.

    Now we head down an escalator to yet another line where a rental car worker checks the papers and assigns us to another line behind 10 people. At the front of the line, we’re told our car will arrive in a minute or two. They don’t even clean those things anymore. They drive them from the drop off point to the pick up point. We’re assigned to a Subaru Impreza. It’s not very impreza-ve at all. We’re not even sure all the luggage will fit. But this is mid-size. Some of the luggage must be put in the back seat. Oh well, at least we have a car. We’re now instructed to walk around the outside of the car and inspect for damage. I’ve never been subject to that practice before. But I surmise that rental car drivers in Las Vegas are hard on the cars. We find at least 10 deep scratches and two dents. We drive to the exit and are stopped again in another line of about 5 cars. We turn in the forms and after the next worker checks our papers we’re dismissed.

    Be warned, Dollar has about the best rates in Vegas for a national chain, but apparently everyone knows this and the resulting lines are long. Other rental car counters had few customers, if any.

    Finally, we’ve now made it onto a city street!!! And the first sight we see is the south part of the strip and is it….could it be? Yes…a 7-11. We stop for our first vacation slurpees. What? $3 for a Sunday newspaper? Geez…oh wait, it’s two newspapers together for the Sunday edition.

    We drive up the strip to Bally’s seeing LOTS of folks walking on both sides of the street. I was thinking there’s a recession going on, but we certainly see a lot of tourists. We reach Bally’s, but the onslaught of pedestrians won’t let us through the opening to the driveway of the hotel entrance. After inching our way through the crowds, we finally reach the valet. All the luggage is put on the cart. I wonder how three people could have that much stuff. Ahhhh…another line to check in. At least 30 people in front of us. While my brother waits in another inny-outy line to check in, Dh and I go to the Total Rewards desk to get players cards. I realize that I don’t have my license. Ugh…must run to the valet b/c I think it may have fallen under the seat after getting my papers back from the last rental car person. The car is gone. Oh noooo!!! The rental car is brought back to us very quickly and phew…my license was under the seat. We return to Total Rewards, get our players cards and by now, my brother is at the front of the line. He secures two rooms for us across the hall from each other. North Tower, 16th floor. These are very nice rooms. We took the suggestions from the Vegas Message Board (VMB) on which hotel to select from. Love the size of these rooms and no resort fees (HET properties). Spacious! Two queen beds, though we weren’t picky about that. Marble tiled bathrooms with quartz countertops. Our view was somewhat obstructed by the roof below, but it was the only time we ever looked out the window. My brothers room faced the side of Bill’s Gambling Hall and a printed notice advised that the city would be doing construction work on the road below all night long. Ugh…that turned out not to be the case while we were there. His room also overlooked the monorail and the mountains.

    We put our stuff down and head out. We took the free shuttle from Bally’s to the Rio and enjoyed Easter dinner at the Carnival World Buffet. We’d prepurchased 3 American Casino Guides (ACG) from overstock.com and were trying to figure out how to use the B1G1F coupons. We found another group of three and offer to give them one coupon if they’ll adopt my brother to check out at the cashier. Not only did this save us $25, but you go to the front of the line when using a coupon. Cha-ching! The inny-outy line for folks without a coupon is insane…maybe 75 deep?

    We are escorted to a table and thank the other party of three. Our server is quite busy and were it not for ordering extra glasses of tea and lemonade at the outset, we would never have gotten refills. He’s probably taking care of 30 tables. We try to get a tea refill from the bartender, who declines to assist. Thus begins our theme of poor service. The buffet is huge! The Extreme Vegas show on the Travel channel does not do this place justice. There are buffets for salads, breads, asian, mexican, carving, seafood, sushi and dessert, etc. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. They do great sushi! The desserts are pretty great also, including the gelato. We all agree that this was a great choice for our first night since none of us had eaten since 5 am, EST.

    After dinner, we walk through the Rio and Gold Coast casinos, then across the street to the Palms where we played blackjack. Everyone is up for the session and we decide to get $1 souvenir casino chips from all our stops this week. We walk back to the Rio and we take the complimentary shuttle back to Bally’s. Trying to get ourselves onto Vegas time. So, we force ourselves to stay awake and walk from Bally’s to the Bellagio. A bad session of blackjack at Bellagio and we decide that some of their dealers are just about as sour as can be. More poor service. But is this place hopping after midnight!!! Table games are all busy and crowded, but slots are quiet and lonely. We seem to find this trend everywhere we go. The Palms was just quiet overall. I think the Rio’s casino was busy just from folks going there before or after dinner. Bally’s table games are busy and again, slots are quiet. We have to walk through the casino to get to and from the elevator and the cigarette odors are strong. Coming from Florida, where smoking is nearly outlawed except for a person’s home and front yard is such a contrast to Las Vegas where the casinos are just overpopulated with it. Some hotels and casinos do decidedly better with air freshener and ventilation than others. On the good side, our hotel rooms themselves have no cigarette odors.

    It’s probably 2:30 am, and I realize I’ve been up about 24 hours. So, we finally hit the hay. Staying on the 16th floor is great. In the bank of elevators, we’re the first to be let off. And Sunday draws to a close.

    Monday

    We got about 5 hours of sleep and decide that we’ll be seeing some of Las Vegas by car today. I stopped by the front desk to let Bally’s know the phone on the desk (one of two in our room) isn’t operational. Not that I care, b/c we have cell phones and the one on the nightstand works. Frankly, I don’t care if they fix it at all, but I figure I’m letting them know as a courtesy that the phone isn’t working to help out the next guest that may want to use the phone. There’s no one waiting in line at the desk, but this overly plastic-surgeoned male has the most sour expression like we’re making him do something! Geez..it’s not like he has to fix the phones himself, all he’ll do is make a call to hotel maintenance. Again, poor service.

    Our first stop is Hash House A Go-Go on Sahara. After seeing this place on Man v. Food, we cannot resist. I’d purchased a gift certificate from Restaurant.com, so that would bring our cost down some. We decided in advance to order two entrees and split them between the three of us. They do charge for an extra plate, but don’t if you order a side of fruit. Done. We got the chicken and waffles and a roast beef/portabello mushroom quesadilla. What’s wrong with us? Three people cannot finish two entrees? We hang our heads in shame, until we realize that most people at this restaurant have the same dilema. Highly recommend this place!!!! Excellent fried chicken and I can’t say that I’ve ever had a waffle with bacon built into it. Service is okay, not anything special. We have to wait for drink refills, getting the bill and getting the credit card back.

    After a breakfast, which will count as lunch too, we drive to Gold and Silver, the pawn shop where the History Channel films Pawn Stars. We weren’t planning to purchase anything, but Dh had recently become a fan of the show and wanted to see the location in person. It’s actually drizzling right now and there are at least 30 people in line to get inside. Due to the rain and another line, we keep driving.

    Next stop, the Gamblers General Store. What a fun place to get souvenirs! We find interesting chips, cancelled casino card packs, and a lot more. We used a coupon in one of the Las Vegas guidebooks for 15 percent off. After that we stopped at a grocery store for snacks and refreshments. A bottle of water at Bally’s costs as much as a 24 pack purchased outright from the local grocery store. Another 7-11 brings us our second vacation slurpees. Yum! And we drive back to the hotel passing all the quintecenntial wedding chapels on the way.

    We spend the afternoon at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Dh wants to purchase Giada DeLaurentis’ new cookbook and wait in line to get it autographed by her. A few hours later, we get the autograph and some pictures. A friend noted that she looks like a Blythe doll and I can’t argue with that!

    Time for dinner, so we walk from Planet Hollywood to Caeasar’s Palace. This hotel, shops and casino are massively huge. We ate dinner at the Palm Restaurant. Worst service of the week and we’re only on day 2. *sighs* At first, the bartender says that the bar area is closed due to a private party arriving in more than an hour. I can’t imagine that we’re going to take that long to eat dinner, but we go over to the host stand anyway. The host agrees to seat us if we can finish dinner in an hour and a half. I’ve never eaten any meal for that long, but we agree to vacate before the party arrives. The server greets us and takes our drink order. Possibly the best amaretto sour I’ve had in years, but no smile and he gets the dinner order wrong too. We ordered mini crab cakes, kobe beef sliders, filet mignon capri sandwiches, chicken strips, calamari fritti, and prime cheese steak. The server omits the cheese steak saying he didn’t hear us place that order. He asks us if we still want it. Umm..yeah, we do. And I must admit the cheese steak was worth the wait. Delicious! Actually, the food and the price at $3.50 for each appetizer, made this meal for three. The server never checked back to determine if everything was cooked alright. We had to wait for our check. We had to wait for the credit card. It was just a matter of waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Again, the food and price were the best thing about this restaurant. I’d never go back to that location again.

    After dinner, we went back to Bally’s to change and drop our packages. Now a night of gambling…back to the Bally’s casino and then onto Bellagio we go. We started with craps. Dh decides he no longer likes craps. Basically, craps is crappy. My brother is an avid poker player, but there was either an obnoxious or drunk (or both) guy at his table…so we all decide to go over to Bellagio. We find better dealers than the previous night and Dh finds that he prefers roulette. He seems to have a knack for picking the numbers and is up by $100 before too long. Fun to watch him play and I’m thinking I may have to call that 1800 gamblers number before long! Ha! About 12:30 a.m., I decide I’ve had enough. We find my brother in the poker room and he can’t believe we were still there. Everyone calls it a night.

    Tuesday:

    We check out early from Bally’s and no line! Probably before 8 am. Rarely a wait for the valet…that’s a good thing! A quick stop at McDonalds and we find the interstate. We arrive at the Hoover Dam and there’s no wait or backup. We pull off the roadway and take some photos. No time for a tour, since we have to get to Phoenix for a baseball game!

    Here’s when we really decided that the rental car is a piece of crap! The 7 hour drive to Phoenix is filled with mountains and hills. I thought the desert was flat and sand as far as the eye can see. Actually, Arizona seems more like Tennessee and Kentucky with mountains at 5,000+ feet in elevation. The crappy car can barely get up the mountain, but what’s worse is that you have to pump the breaks to descend. To actually brake hard or fast makes the car shake violently. We realize early on that we’re just going to have to go slower than the 75 mile an hour speed limit permits. And what’s with a 75 mph speed limit? I know folks that drive that mph regularly, especially in and around Atlanta, but I didn’t realize that there were signs permitting that speed in America!

    We also see signs for ram crossing and elk crossing. Cool! I’m used to seeing deer crossing signs.

    Arizona is cool. A mountain that we think is Kendrick Peak follows us as we drive. Snow capped and beautiful! There really are purple mountains majesty like the song says. Two hours later and you’re out of the mountains and onto rolling hills filled with cacti! Like in the east where you see trees and evergreen everywhere..there are just all these saguaro cactus on the side of the road.

    We arrive around 3:30 and after a few wrong turns, we found Alice Cooperstown, yes, owned by THAT Alice Cooper. We ordered cheese fries and a 22†hot dog, known as Randy Johnson’s Big Unit. The servers ring bells and bang on a drum whenever that item is ordered. Our order is taken quickly enough, but getting drink refills, the check or our credit card back is a lengthy process. We had hoped poor service would be exclusive to Vegas, but it seems that its moving across the American Southwest.

    After a late lunch, we drive a few blocks to the baseball stadium. Found great parking and entered the stadium. Chase Field is where the Arizona Diamondbacks play. Dh is trying to see every major league baseball stadium and after this game, we only have 6 more to see! I head to the fan shop to purchase a pennant. Finding none, I ask two staff members if they have any in the back. I am advised by the manager that the shop hasn’t received any for the season. I ask him if I might find them at the kiosk shops throughout the stadium. He says if his store doesn’t have it, no one will. Well, he seems pretty convinced, but I’m not. I head over to the kiosk counter shop about 30 yards away and what’d I find? Pennants! They’re pricey at $10 each, but I’ll get reimbursed. I’m now reminded again about the poor service at the fan shop. The kiosk worker makes up for it though by suggesting his favorite snacks to purchase at the stadium.

    Diamondbacks lose to the Padres 6 – 3, but what a gorgeous baseball stadium. Nice evening and the retractable roof is open. Early April is a great time to visit Phoenix. After the game, we drive to Scottsdale to try to find our hotel, which is poorly marked and terribly lit. After driving around the property twice, we find the registration building for the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. Nice spacious room found on priceline.com, but they charge for everything and I mean everything. Robes $45, toiletries $20, candy bar $2.75. We didn’t even bother to figure out how much internet service was.

    Wednesday:

    We’re up early and take some pictures of the various cactus varieties outside the room. Load the car back up and we’re off to Lo Lo’s Chicken and Waffles. We drove through old town Scottsdale, which is a very quaint area filled with small shops and boutiques. It’s a shame we can’t spend more time here. This part of Arizona must be dry. We find no grass and most yards consist of rocks, some shrubs and cactus. And some of the cactus are pecked to death and have lots of holes in them. The chicken at Lo Lo’s is terrific, though I probably preferred Hash House A Go-Go’s better. The waffles are better here though.

    After breakfast, we drove through Scottsdale’s residential area and wound up at our next destination, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home: Taliesin West. Dh takes the hour long tour while my brother and I take pictures with interesting cactus. It’s a nice day, but getting hotter by the minute. We don’t have much time here b/c we’re trying to get to the Grand Canyon to view the sunset and it’s a five hour drive from where we are.

    We make haste and we’re back on the interstate. Another oddity of the Southwest…pot holes are large and unrepaired. AZ has signs that warn drivers of the rough road. So, I guess they’re saying that it’s less expensive to make a sign to warn drivers than to actually repair the road for the next 60 or so miles. AZ must definitely be having money problems b/c every rest area is closed with large orange signs telling drivers of the closure. Must be less expensive to close than to staff and maintain. Such a contrast to Florida, where most of the rest areas are open and the interstates are constantly under construction.

    Back through the mountains with the crappy car, but we’re better about how much pressure to apply to the brakes on the decent and we suffer little shaking.

    We arrived at the Grand Canyon about 5 pm. Perfect timing! $20 for car entry. Difficult to find parking, but after a few rows, we’re good to go. We change to warmer clothing at the car. The temperature has dropped 25-30 degrees from Phoenix weather. Snow! We found snow…and a lot of it mounded up to clear the pedestrian areas. Dh and I haven’t seen snow in person in 20 years. But my brother has experienced about 80 inches in Baltimore this past winter so he could care less. We board the shuttle buses that take the tourists to various viewing spots. We selected the most popular spot and after a bus transfer we get our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. Oh my…how breathtaking! I’ve been to Niagra Falls on the Canada side, which until now was the most spectacular sight I’d seen, but this takes the cake! Everyone should see this natural wonder once in their life!!!!! There’s snow on some of the canyon walls. I’m not sure I ever expected to see snow in Arizona, but how cool! Sunset is breathtaking and happens in an instant. As soon as the sun sets, the temperature probably dropped another 10 degrees. At least we’re dressed in layers, but I’m worried about returning in the morning to watch the sunrise.

    More lines to wait for the shuttle bus back to the parking area, but we got on the second bus and it’s heated! We find the car and after a two or three mile drive, checked into the Canyon Plaza Resort hotel. Take the name for granted. It’s hardly a resort, but certainly worth staying nearby to return to the canyon the next day. We heard folks on the shuttle bus regretting that they are staying in Williams, AZ, which is a 60 mile drive away. We couldn’t afford to stay in the canyon lodge or hotel, but Tusayan hotels are less expensive and in close proximity. If you’re planning to see a sunset and a sunrise, it is a big mistake to stay so far away in Williams.

    Our room is okay, Best Western-ish for sure. The free internet access isn’t operational. Oh well. We’re hungry and we want dinner. The restaurant: We cook pizza and pasta. No that’s not their motto, that’s the actual name of the restaurant. Got a large pizza and we’re good for the night. It’s late and we’re tired from the driving.

    Thursday

    Yes, we actually got up at 3 am. We learn that the Grand Canyon shuttle buses start running at 4 am. So, we get back to the parking area by 4:30 am. And there’s not a soul in sight. The sky is pitch black, but they have the greatest number of stars I have ever seen in the sky. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the Milky Way! It’s 25 degrees outside. We’ve taken the blanket off one of the beds, but I’m sorry we didn’t take them all. Again, we’re dressed in layers, but coming from Florida, I didn’t think to bring a winter coat with me. And I wonder how we’re going to suffer through the cold and darkness for an hour and a half. We walk around to try to keep warm, but it’s really cold. Sunrise is at 6:05 and it’s really pretty to see the western walls of the canyon illuminated by daylight. The sun rose exclusively for the three of us b/c no one other than the bus driver ever showed up to the viewing platform we selected. We stay for a little while after and quickly catch the shuttle bus back to the parking area. We decided to take another trail first to see Mather Point. I’m amazed how little of the canyon viewing areas have protective railings. We get some fun pictures of us looking like we’re falling over the ledge. We saw an elk!

    About midmorning we decided we had enough pictures and decided to hit the road. We return to hotel for the complimentary continental breakfast. More poor wait service trying to get coffee and even worse to get a second cup. As we checked out, we realized the internet service was now operational. Oh well, too late for us.

    The check air light on the crappy rental car is now illuminated and we can’t find a place to check the air. We take our life in our hands after paying $3.69/gallon and head out of the Grand Canyon area. The road in and out is one lane in each direction. We’re fortunate that there are few travellers at this hour and what we find are going toward the canyon. I can’t imagine how backed up this place might get during the height of tourist season. We stopped about 25 miles from the canyon to check the tire pressure and find that the tires were appropriately inflated. Guess we’ll chalk that check air light to the elevation and the cold weather.

    We arrive back in Vegas about 3 pm, but not before hitting terrible traffic five miles before the Hoover Dam. Be warned, it’s stop and go for at least 45 minutes.

    On the way to the Golden Nugget we decided to make a few stops. My brother wanted to see the Southpoint Casino where Poker After Dark is filmed. Apparently, they don’t film there anymore and are now filming at the Golden Nugget Casino. Southpoint is a nice property, but the ventilation system in the casino is awful. Though there are few gamblers, the cigarette odors are making my eyes water. Good table limits though. We play some low limit blackjack and color up ahead.

    The next stop is the Las Vegas sign and there’s a line to find a parking space and a line to take a picture under the sign. Lines, lines, lines. We agree to take pictures for the family behind us if they’ll take pictures for us too. Awww…as we’re leaving, a wedding party arrives for photos. The sign is much shorter than I thought it would be. But impressive nonetheless.

    We drive to Terribles casino and use our free play and match play ACG coupons. They gave us free tee shirts too! This casino appears small b/c everything is very cramped inside. We didn’t spend much time here.

    Our next stop was the Hard Rock casino and hotel. It’s empty and the music is blaring. Maybe if there are more people gambling and milling about, the sound would be better absorbed. We got players cards and ate dinner at Mr. Lucky’s (as seen on Rachael Ray's $40 a day/Las Vegas). I had a gift certificate from restaurant.com. We ordered the Gambler’s special for $7.77, a steak, shrimp, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Best steak I’ve had in years. I recommend this one! Dh tried the all you can eat prime rib dinner for $9.99. He loved it, but one was all he could eat. And it was a thick cut too! We played a little roulette here with our match play coupons. Again, the slot machines were empty while table games appeared to be where the action was.

    It was time to leave and make our way to the Golden Nugget where we were staying for the next three nights. This must be a large property b/c we ended up at the Rush Tower valet, but we were staying in the Carson Tower. Makes no difference b/c any guest can check in the Rush Tower. There’s a great aquarium behind the registration desk. We get checked in quickly and only two people ahead of us. We did not try the $20 trick anywhere and I’m not sorry about that. The rooms we had were very nice, though we spent little time in them. We’re given our GN coupon book and it appears there are some good deals included.

    We find the Carson Tower and have two rooms on the 10th floor, both with widescreen televisions. I guess this should matter, but we only get to watch a few minutes each day while getting ready to go out. Lucky for us b/c we are always the first folks off the elevator. No one was ever stopping on the 9th floor. Separate elevator bank for the lower floors. And right outside the elevator bank are the four computer terminals to print your airline boarding passes. Although I think only hotel guests would find this area, anyone appears to be able to swipe a major credit card to print boarding passes. There was nothing to enter that said we were hotel guests.

    The Carson Tower is away from the casino floor, which I appreciated b/c I wanted to be away from the cigarette smoke. We passed several shops and restaurants along the way, as well as the pool area. Neat pool where the slide goes right through the aquarium/shark tank. One of these days, we might actually get to try the pool, but our schedules for sightseeing are just too aggressive. Let’s see, I think our view was a partial of Freemont Street with an overlook of the hotel roof. Again, it was the only time we ever had to look outside.

    We unpacked our bags and wandered through the GN casino, getting our players cards and using our GN match play coupons from the hotel. We went out to the Freemont Street area to watch the light show and check out the gift shops. If you’re staying on the strip, go here for souvenirs. The prices are much better. We then made our way to the El Cortez. Totally smoke-filled, but the lowest table minimums we have seen. Had much fun playing roulette here and my brother did well at the poker table. At the point my eyes were watering from the smoke, so we made our way back to the GN casino, which was better b/c the casino entryways are open to the street to allow for some air flow. More roulette and poker play for all before calling it a night.

    Friday

    We’re up early, but my brother stayed up playing poker til 4:45 am. So, Dh and I catch the Ace express bus to the strip by ourselves. $7 buys you a 24 hour pass. We get dropped off in front of the Bellagio. We stroll around the conservatory which smells heavenly. They have so many fresh flowers and spring décor that you just want to stay! But alas, we’re hungry so we decide to try the famed Bellagio buffet for lunch. The line is long long long, but moves quickly. There’s a great array of foods to try and they’re still serving breakfast on one buffet. They have the most smooth buttery tasting smoked salmon I’ve ever sampled. A definite must-try. The sushi consisted of five cooked rolls. Nothing to write home about. The sushi at the Rio’s buffet was better though. All the foods are well prepared, though the array at the Rio’s buffet seems more vast. The Bellagio has a great selection of desserts and the chocolate mousse, and macadamia nut squares are my favorites. They don’t have the gelato at lunch this day, but that’s okay. There’s so much to try, we didn’t miss it. We paid $12.50 for the Rio’s dinner buffet with the ACG coupon and full price at $19.95 for the Bellagio’s lunch buffet. Both were great, but if we went back, we’d return to the Rio.

    After lunch we played more roulette while waiting for my brother to meet up with us. His late night, all night poker sessions are tough on an aggressive daytime touring schedule. We spend the next 7 or 8 hours starting at Bill’s Gambling Hall working our way north in every casino from there to the Wynn and back down the other side of the road to Caesar’s Palace, in time to watch the Mirage Volcano show and the Treasure Island Sirens show after dark. I’m sad that I didn’t realize we had a $25 free slot play coupon to use at the Venetian from the ACG book, but it was cool to walk through the shops and see the gondola rides. We took a detour near the Venetian to see Madame Toussaud’s Wax Musuem and used the $5 coupons from the local tour book. I’ve never been to a wax museum before and this place was fun! There are so many figures to take photos of/with and I think we photographed 95 percent of them. Most were extremely well done and my brother had fun hamming it up for the camera shot. After 8+ hours of walking, we had to walk back to the Wynn to catch the bus northbound. Ahhh, it was nice to sit for a change.

    Back to the Freemont Street area and we’re all hungry. We had dinner at Mickie Finnz, a bar/restaurant near the GN. We used another gift certificate from restaurant.com. Again, poor service. A waiter/host showed us to the table and took our drink order. Drinks took a while to arrive. Said server said that someone else would return to take the order. About 10 minutes later, we saw the same server and indicated that no one had arrived. She begrudingly agreed to take our order. Food was good. Again, slow to get drink refills, check and credit card returned. I was tired at this point, but we managed to walk through a few casinos and watched the light show again. My brother played poker and after we called it a night, my brother decided to go to every nearby casino to get as many $1 souvenir chips as he could find.

    Saturday

    By morning, my brother had delivered 11 casino chips to me and advised me that there were certain casinos he just didn’t want me going to. Ha! But that was sweet of him to spend his time getting them for me. We decided to hop the Ace bus (our passes were still valid) back to the south part of the strip, but would split up to cover as much ground as possible and get more casino chips. We got off the bus at Excalibur and it was Dh and my job to go to the Luxor, MGM Grand, and NYNY casinos. All three casinos had few slot players but many table game players. These casinos are so spread apart…the walking! It’s endless. We liked NYNY and were it not for the resort fees, I might have liked to stay there. We used more ACG coupons for B1G1F hot dogs, pretzels and ice cream. Ahhhh…lunch!

    MGM was nice and I loved seeing the lion exhibit. Again, a quiet casino though. We decided to try the monorail to get a break from the walking. $5 a ride, was a great way to see more of Vegas, so we did it! Empty monorail though. Few riders. We got off at the Sahara and decided to get casino chips there and walk to the Stratosphere . I am afraid of heights, so we skipped the tower, but nice to see up close. Got our chips and found the Ace bus stop. We worked our way back to the GN and then started to pack while waiting for my brother. He decided to go to as many casinos as he could and after getting 7 or 9 more chips (and a ton of walking! from Mandalay Bay to Aria on both sides of the street) he met up with us at the hotel. Everyone packed as much as they could and we headed down to dinner. My brother suggested that we stop at the host office and it was a good thing b/c Dh had earned $40 in comps which offset our dinner bill at Lillie’s Noodle House. It’s a nice restaurant. I never thought of eating in a hotel restaurant, but we took the opportunity to dress up and have a peaceful family meal. Lillie’s Noodle House is elegant and had possibly the best service we’d ever experienced. Both wait staff and the manager checked on our table multiple times. The water glasses were never emptied and the check and change arrived most swiftly. I’d recommend this place to anyone!

    After dinner, we played more roulette and blackjack at the GN. I ordered an amaretto sour from the cocktail waitress and in stark contrast to the one I received at the Palm restaurant, this one was awful. Awful amaretto and awful sour mix. At this point, I downed it b/c I realized that I had a full blown head cold and needed something to help me sleep. Oh no, but there were more ACG coupons to use. So, we went from casino to casino on Freemont Street using the free slot play and match play coupons. Everyone had success with craps, blackjack and slots and at about midnight we called it quits.

    Sunday

    Up at 4 am to leave the hotel by 5:30 am. You can’t check out of the Carson or Rush Towers at that hour, despite us walking from desk to desk. The Gold Tower desk was also closed, so after another walk to the Rush Tower and a return, we saw someone else checking out at the closed Gold Tower desk. Dh got the car from the valet and packed the luggage. We made a last stop at 7-11 for the final vacation slurpee, a fill up on the rental car and since there was no traffic at that hour, we drove down strip for our final farewell. We dropped off the rental car and waited in the last rental car line for the return. Another inny-outy line to catch the shuttle bus to get to the airport, an inny-outy line to check the bags, and a line to get through security. We had an uneventful flight home and a final three hour ride home in a rented Jeep Liberty with only 5,000 miles on it. It was a shame we didn’t have THIS vehicle in AZ. We sure could have used it on those mountains! We want to go back b/c Vegas is a fun place for sure!

    Hope you enjoyed reading this long long long recap!

    Madison : )
     
  2. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    :nworthy: Great report, thanks for writing.
     
  3. zerofan

    zerofan VIP Whale

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    Thanks for sharing.......you like those Slurpees huh? They are pretty good but that damn brain freeze hurts....I drink them too fast! :peace:
     
  4. letsgo2vegas

    letsgo2vegas Tourist

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    Great report, I enjoyed reading it:)
     
  5. Jinx

    Jinx VIP Whale

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    Nice report, sounds like you were able to cram a lot in for the first trip, congrats.
     
  6. DinarPoker

    DinarPoker Tourist

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    Great report thanks for sharing
     
  7. Liondownnow

    Liondownnow Tourist

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    Awesome,,,thanks!!
     
  8. unomas

    unomas Low-Roller

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    If you want to use dollar again, I'd suggest signing up for their express membership (no cost to you), so when you get to the rent-a-car center you just walk right down the steps and show your card.


    great report
     
  9. dwood443

    dwood443 Low-Roller

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    very good trip report, fun reading too.
     
  10. ronc

    ronc High-Roller

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    Thanks for the report! Always enjoy reading about adventures in Vegas!!
     
  11. abbbygirl

    abbbygirl Tourist

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    Thank you, unomas for the tip about Dollar's card. I'll make note of it for our next trip : )

    Madison : )
     
  12. spartanmama

    spartanmama Tourist

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    Where do you catch the shuttle from Bally's to Rio? I've stayed at Bally's and never noticed it before.
     
  13. abbbygirl

    abbbygirl Tourist

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    There's a bus stop area on the northern side of the Bally's building, directly across from the side of Bill's Gambling Hall on Flamingo Avenue.

    At the Rio, there's also a bus from the Rio to Orleans, but we never got to that casino. :(
     
  14. Rick1323

    Rick1323 Low-Roller

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    Nice job Madison! That is probably the best "first timers" trip report I have ever read! It really shows that you did your homework....well done!
     
  15. abbbygirl

    abbbygirl Tourist

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    I just feel bad b/c there was so many more things on our to do list and we failed at getting to most of them. LOL!

    But we do want to return in the next two years. Problem is that Dh has required we see the last 6 baseball stadiums first and we only get two separate weeks of vacation per year. So, it may be 2012 before we return. :(

    Thank you for the feedback!!

    Madison : )
     
  16. jdub7

    jdub7 Tourist

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    Nice report. You did a lot! Your poor feet. What is a Blythe doll? That is what you said Giada looks like. Thanks again. Enjoyed every line. :thumbsup:
     
  17. abbbygirl

    abbbygirl Tourist

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    I always look forward to going back to work after vacation. I can put my feet up and listen to folks complain for 8 hours a day. Very relaxing and a rest for my weary feet!!
     
  18. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Thanks for posting your TR.

    later, GVJ
     
  19. garrman

    garrman Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the TR! You gave me some to-do reminders for my upcoming trip!

    Thanks again.

    garrman
     
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