In the words of the great Dr. Suess, â€œDonâ€™t cry because itâ€™s over, smile because it happened.â€ Coming home from a Vegas trip is always a bittersweet experience. On one hand sad because your vacation is over. Back to the grind at work. Back to reality. Back to March in Chicago (read: Cold!). Yet, on the other hand coming home means sharing your memories with family and friends and the opportunity to look forward to and plan your next Vegas adventure. Having just bought a condo in January I had no immediate plans for a Vegas trip. But my friend called with an offer too good to pass up: Three free nights at the Mirage. His wife was going to a conference and I was invited along for the fun. All I would have to do is cover my airfare as the hotel was being picked up by her company. As plans began to unfold and offers came in we ended up booking three free nights at the Bellagio and two free nights at Paris. We departed Chicago-Midway on Southwest Friday the 6th. After a thirty or so minute delay we were off for an overall uneventful flight. My only qualm would be the plane seemed really warm. Once we landed and out bags arrived we hopped on the shuttle to the car rental facility. We found a decent deal for Payless, and ended up with a 2009 Camry for just under $200 all in for 5 days. This was our first time renting a car since the new facility opened and I have to say it is very nice. Everything went smoothly and we were in the car heading towards Tropicana in about 15 minutes. Our first stop on the way to Bellagio was Vons, on Tropicana about a mile our so East of the MGM Grand. We stocked up on the essentials: 1.75 L bottle of Kettle One, 750 ml bottle of Bacardi, case of Coke, cranberry juice, a few limes, case of bottled water and some assorted snacks. By about 10:30 PM or so we pulled up the Bellagio valet, had a bellhop take the bags and checked in. The check in clerk was very friendly. For a $20 gratuity we were upgraded to a Lakeview room and were given a free refrigerator. This was my third time staying at Bellagio, but the last time was a few years ago. The room was very nice. Just as I had remembered it, but with new furniture and carpet. The bathroom was very spacious with a large soaking tub and separate shower. The beds and pillows were very comfortable, when we called to ask for a few extra pillows we were offered feather pillows, which we accepted. There was also a decently stocked mini-bar with a variety of liquor and snacks. Even a $30 Bellagio martini shaker (we passed.) After getting settled, the trip beganâ€¦ Friday evening. After getting settled in we headed down to the casino. I think it is around 11:00-11:30 or so at this point. Bellagio seems to have a decent crowd. However, buy about 1:00 AM things seem quiet. You could even get on a $10 blackjack table. Around 2 AM, we head over to Caesars. Nothing exciting. Again, it seemed a bit quite. The hordes of people you often see outside of Pure were not there. It could have been it was 2 AM on a Friday night, or by product of the economic slowdown. Overall, we are down a bit gambling wise and decide to call it a night. Rather a morning I guess around 3:00 AM. Saturday. By 11 AM or so we are up and out and cab it to NY NY for breakfast at America. Standard breakfast fare for the most part. We all enjoyed are meals then headed to the daiquiri bar at Coyote Ugly. By now, it is close to 1:00, a perfectly acceptable time to enjoy a 42 oz pina colada with an extra shot of Bacardi! From here on out the rest of the afternoon is gradually making our way back to the Bellagio for dinner via MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, and Planet Hollywood. Dinner was at the Bellagio Buffet as my friendâ€™s offer came with two free buffets. I had a $25 MGM Mirage certificate from my Chase card points, so the meal cost the three of us about $15.00 total. Everything was very good. I had some King Crab legs, prime rib, veal picata, Veal Marcela, rigatoni with Bolognese, rack of lamb, mini potato au gratin squares and a few other things. For dessert a mini cappuccino mouse and carrot cake. All of it was very good. I am getting hungry right now just thinking about it! When we arrived for dinner at 5:30, there was no line. However, by the time we were leaving, the line was all the way down the hall (from the entrance to the registers). After a brief walk around the Bellagio to check out the Conservatory and what not (to aid in the digestion) we relaxed in the room a bit then headed back out. We stopped at the Flamingo for a round of drinks at Margaritaville, played there a bit, then eventually ended up at Ballyâ€™s. I played a bit on the new Star Trek machines. Fun, but I had no luck where the guy sitting next to me was hitting bonus round after bonus round. By 10 PM we were back in the room getting ready to head out to Studio 54. This was a good time. As we did the last time we were in Vegas, we bought club passes in advance. The line to get into Studio 54 was fairly long. With the passes we were able to walk right up to the bottle service line and were at the bar within 5 minutes. After a few cocktails we were on the dance floor and did not leave until close to 4:00 AM. Good time. There was a sense of excitement in the room when Bow Wow made and appearance. Apparently it was his 22nd birthday. I am not a fan. I kind of agree with this woman who was next to me who told the bar tenderâ€¦ â€œWho is Bow Wow? Are they going to make this big a deal for my birthday??â€ However, it did create a good sense of excitement in the room. There are a few blurry moments, as after a few Vodka cranberryâ€™s, I switched to Kettle One on the rocks with a twist and had a few of those. But, to the best of my recollection we head back to the Bellagio around 4:30 or so and spend a few more hours down in the casino. It is just me and my friend as his wife went to bed. Even though we are pretty lit, we have a quick drink in the room then head back down to the casino. After a while, I am not sure how long, I win a few dollars which puts me about even for the day, and decide to stop gambling. I also start to feel a bit sick and use the restroom. I felt better after that and began to sober up. I was also hungry. I tell my friend I want a slice of pizza. He is a degenerate gambler that can give many on this board a run for their money and does not want to leave his machine, so I walk over to Ceasars myself. Much to my surprise once I hit the Bellagio shops I fully realize I am awash in daylight. Whereâ€™d the night go? Take a look at my watch and see it is 7 am. Anywho, I walk over to CP with the hopes of getting a slice. The previous night I noticed an â€œOpen 24 Hoursâ€ sign by the food court. I get there and it is closed. The sign is still there touting it should be open, but its not. So walk walk back, slice-less and find my friend still on the lots. I hang out with him a tad longer and decide its time for bed. He told me he would be back in the room when â€œIâ€™m at zero or two hundredâ€¦â€ So I head to the room and go to bed, at about 8:15. Now things get interesting. I get up to go to the bathroom. Look at the next bed. Heâ€™s not there. Look at the clock 10:30 AM. I call him on his cell. He said he is walking back from Bills. OKâ€¦ When I am in the bathroom, the phone rings. His wife answers. I hearâ€¦ â€œWhere are you?â€ â€¦ â€œDo you see any hotels?â€ â€¦ â€œCan you ask someone for directions?â€ â€¦ â€œHacienda?â€ â€¦ â€œIâ€™ll get the carâ€â€¦ then his cell phone diesâ€¦ Apparently in his drunkinâ€™, delusional state he left Billâ€™s and went for a walk. A long walkâ€¦ then got lost. He was able to tell his wife he was at the intersection of Rogers and Hacienda. All I knew was that Hacienda was down by Mandalay Bay. Had no clue where Rodgers came in. So, with the assistance of the cheap, incredibly undetailed rental car map we make our way to Hacienda, on the East side of the strip and could find no Rogers. Finally we remember we have a navigation unit and punch in the intersection. It is on the other side of the strip, in an office park maybe 1.5 miles West of Mandalay Bay. We drive up and down looking for him for about an hour. Worried. His cell battery was dead so there was no way to get a hold of him. We notice you can easily see Mandalay Bay from the intersection of Hacienda and Rogers and surmise that maybe he had a moment of clarity and began to walk towards it. Luckily, that was the case. As we began to drive towards M-Bay, he called from the room to say he was there. (He made his way to M-Bay, then cabbed it back to Bellagio.) About 20 minutes later we were in the room and found him put cold, still in his jean and Sketchers. By now it is about 12:30. I think I was out before my head hit the pillow. Around 6:00 PM, we get up shower and decide we need dinner. Weâ€™re a little slow moving, but we make our way to Planet Hollywood and have dinner at PH Changs. As always, the food was pretty good. I felt the service, however, was a bit slow. After dinner, my friend says he wants to lay down for a bit. So I go on to visit the Mirage. I had wanted to see the new volcano. The past few times I was there is was closed for renovations. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The old volcano was much more of a â€œrealisticâ€ looking eruption. Or, at least as realistic you could make a fake volcano in front of a casino in the middle of the desert look. The new show is more of a choreographed pyrotechnic show set to a Polynesian drum beat sound track. Certainly something to check out, but not as enjoyable as the original. When is was all over I went in the Mirage and enjoyed a $20 â€œfreeâ€ pina colodas. (The show did put me in the â€œspiritâ€ and I have to say the cocktail service pina colodas at the Mirage were pretty tasty). I then call the Bellagio from the Mirage house phone to see how my friend is feeling. He tells me he is ready to go out and to head back to the room. When I get there he is still in bed. I wait a bit for him to get up and then make the mistake of lying in the bed to watch TV. I was still a bit tired and feeling the effects of Saturday night, but when I was moving I was fine. Once I got in the bed that was it. Out. Before we knew it, it was Monday morning. Sad, I knowâ€¦ Mondayâ€¦ It should go without saying we were all pretty well rested when we woke up Monday morning. We had to get our bags together as we were spending the next two nights at Paris. I am a bit hungry when I wake up so I head down to the â€œSnacksâ€ cafÃ© (by the sportsbook). I get down there at about 8:40, and see it does not open until 9:00. This turns out to be a very expensive breakfast. Not only because the food is not cheap (my hot dog and cheese fries set me back almost $15.00, but I proceed to drop $60 in the slots in the 20 minutes I am waiting for the place to open. But, the hot dog was pretty good. By 11 or so we are picking up the car at the valet and make out way across the street and checked into Paris. We were offered a free upgrade to a â€œPâ€ or a â€œRed roomâ€ from what I recall, but we had to turn them down as they only came with one king bed. We could have had a 2/bed 2/bath suite for $89/night, but turned it down. A great price for the room I am sure, but we felt that extra $200 would be better spent on gambling/food/booze. So, we are given a standard room on the 22nd floor, with a view of Ballyâ€™s and Flamingo. The rooms at Paris did not look as nearly as nice as they probably were, had we not just come from the Bellagio. Overall, however, they were not bad. The bathroom had a separate tub and marble shower. The room is self was standard in size, but had decent furniture. The TV, however, was a pretty crappy 19 or 20 inch tube that was very likely original to the room. And, you had to open and close the curtains yourself! But, we enduredâ€¦ After getting settled in we headed out to Margaritaville for lunch. It turned out to be mostly a liquid lunch as the only eating we did was splitting an order of nachos. And, the cherries and orange slices that accompanied the drinks. The rest of the afternoon was spent gambling between Flamingo, Oâ€™Sheaâ€™s, Harrahâ€™s, Ballyâ€™s and Paris before heading downtown for the evening. We drove downtown and made it under the canopy just as the light show was beginning (Queen if I recall correctly). One thing I had wanted to do, was to get some frozen goodness from LaBayou or Mermaids. That did not happen, however, as we casino hopped we were able to get our booze on from some decent drink service. At some point in time we decide to eat. We try to get into Tony Romaâ€™s but the wait is too long, so we end up at the Four Queens where we dine at Magnoliaâ€™s Veranda (right above Hugoâ€™s Cellar). The intent was to take advantage of the Prime Rib special, which per the sign, is $2.00 cheaper with a players club card. So we sign up, get a free deck of cards, then kill a few minutes in the casino before our table is ready. It is only after we are seated that we are told there is no more Prime Rib. However, my friends wife got a buy one entrÃ©e get one free coupon with her players club card as March is her birthday month. So we all had the steak! It was the NY sirloin, and it was much better than we expected. Actually pretty good. I also tried the Louisiana Gumbo which was also very good. I would put it on par with gumbo I have had at Heaven on Seven here in Chicago. After dinner we gambled a bit more then headed back to Paris. My friends wife had her conference in the morning so she was in bed by midnight. My friend and I were out a few more hours then called it a night a little after 2:00. Tuesday. Our last full day. Often bittersweet. Exciting in that you have a full day ahead of you, yet depressing as you know youâ€™ll be on youâ€™re way home the following afternoon. Given this, we tried to make the best of it. For the better part of the day it was just me and my friend as his wife had the conference. As he was dragging his arse I grabbed a quick bite to eat at Sbbaro down in Ballyâ€™s. A slice of stuffed pizza and and iced teas that set me back $9.00. And it did not even tastes that good. After a short while we cabbed in to NY NY where we refilled our Pina Colada containers from the other day. Breakfast of Champions! We made our way to MGM Grand, then to the Tix 4 Tonight in the giant coke bottle where we bought tickets to Legends in Concert. While there we also bought half-off entrÃ©e coupons for the Range Steakhouse at Harrahâ€™s. The Legendâ€™s tickets were about $28.00 and the 1/3 off entrÃ©e tickets were only $3.00 per person, which proved to be quite a bargain. We then made our way down the strip to Harrahâ€™s where we exchanged our vouchers for the actual show tickets. At Harrahâ€™s we parted ways. My friend wanted to visit an off strip massage parlor. I guess his muscles were a little tense after 4 days of hitting the â€œmax betâ€ button. We agreed to meet back at the room in a few hours and I went on to Wynn and Encore. Encore was very beautiful. I liked how it is laid out. It seemed no matter where you were in the casino, you were in a small intimate gaming establishment. Everyone seemed very friendly and drink service was pretty good as well. I was there around 3 in the afternoon and it was fairly quiet and not very crowded. I played a few slots, had a few drinks and before long it was time to head back. Once back in the room we got ready then headed towards Harrahâ€™s with a quick detour to Margaritavilla for a drink before the 6:30 Legendâ€™s show. This was my 5th or 6th time seeing the show, and it was very good. Tonightâ€™s performers were â€œJay Lenoâ€, â€œGarth Brooksâ€, â€œWhitney Houstonâ€, â€œThe Temptationsâ€ and â€œElvisâ€. All were very good. Although I have to say â€œWhitneyâ€ and â€œElvisâ€ really nailed it. This was my first time seeing it since it moved to Harrahâ€™s. The show is very much the same, just in a nicer showroom with nicer finishes. From what I recall the layout and size of the showroom at Harrahâ€™s is very similar to that of the old one at IP. However, at the IP your ticket price included a free drink and there were waitresses to get you more. At Harrahâ€™s there is a bar in the back of the theater, and no drink included. Still, for the price ($28) it is hard to beat and a great time. After the show we went to dinner at The Range Steakhouse. With the coupons from Tix 4 Tonight, we each received 50% off our entrees. I had the NY Strip which ran $42 if I recall (before any discounts.) I also had the lobster bisque. We split two sides, garlic streak fries and potatoes au gratin. The au gratin were just so-so, but everything else was excellent. The total bill, with our discount was $157. (That included 3 steaks, 2 sides, 2 soups, 1 salad and a round of drinks.) The rest of the evening was fairly low key. From Harrahâ€™s we went to Treasure Island and gambled and had a few drinks. By 2:00 AM we were in bed. Wednesday. Time to go home. After we were showed and packed we called the bell desk to get and stoe the bags. We had lunch at Mon Ami Gabi then tried for one last time to bring home the bacon. Unsuccessfully. Although I did win a quick $100 on a nickel slot before we left for the airportâ€¦. If only that would have happened everytime! Now, to plan the next trip! Overall another great time in Vegas! Gambling wise I lost overall, but donâ€™t think I did too bad. I started out trying to track what I won or loss but I soon lost track. What I can say is that I got off the plane with $1450 and got on the plane with about $220. So thatâ€™s about $1,230 spent on gambling, eating, drinking, and the show tickets.