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Long trip report, Dec. 6-10--finally--better late than never?

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Coecat, Jan 6, 2003.

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  1. Coecat

    Coecat Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2001
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    My Trip Report

    Transportation:

    Flew Chicago Midway to McCaran via Southwest, ~$183pp. Flight there uneventful, on time, arriving 5:15pm. Flight home delayed somewhat due to our plane late coming in from elsewhere. Flight attendants had passengers playing games as described in a previous post--nice to see some airline employees having fun on the job.

    Had reserved a mid-size car from Dollar. No line at aiport counter and shuttle bus there to take us to car without waiting. At the car lot, they inform us they are out of mid-sizes, so they offer convertible, several available, just choose color (red). We accept eagerly, thinking, "wow, free upgrade" and not thinking that it's December and chilly, and no one in their right mind would be driving a convrtible this time of year. Hey, we're from Chicago and the temperatures at home the previous week were in the teens, so it felt warm to us (LV temps were in the 50's for highs and around 40 for lows). Never had a convertible before so weren't sure how to get the top up (eventually figured it out)! Spent most of the time driving around with the top down and the heat on full blast, especially one memorable night, our last in LV, going up the strip from Mandalay Bay to the Sahara. Always wanted to do that! We valet parked everywhere with no problem. No line to check in car upon return to airport.

    Lodging:

    We stayed at the Sahara, our second time there, 4 nights for $180. Long check-in line moved quickly (10 min. wait). Got room in Tangiers tower with western exposure and view of mountains, north end of strip, water park, and neon Sahara dome/Speed roller coaster tracks (far enough away that we didn't hear it). Room is basic, 2 queen beds, 19" TV, hairdryer, iron, ironing board, but clean. It could use some updating and bathroom tile needs maintenance, but it meets our needs for a place to sleep and shower.

    Companions:

    We usually travel to LV alone, in celebration of our anniversary (#22 this year). We never thought we would want to be there with anyone else, thinking it would cramp our style. We were wrong! This year our friends, Nick and Dori, arrived the day after we did. They are frequent LV visitors and were on their fourth trip of the year at that point. (We just found out they're going again in February--true Vegas animals!) We did several things with them that we wouldn't have done on our own, and had a fantastic time! They stayed at the Mirage.

    Gambling:

    I played nickel and quarter slots, mostly at the Sahara with my slot club card. I really enjoyed the variety of machines at the Strat, however.

    My husband played mostly craps. A thrill for him was having the Sahara pit boss offer him a player's card on our first night there, especially since he is a low roller! He and Nick had fun trying out dice strategies at the Casino Royale. He also played some blackjack, since that is one of Nick's favorites.

    Other casinos to which we donated, besides the ones mentioned above, included the Gold Coast, the Orleans, the Suncoast, Arizona Charlie's West, Golden Gate, Terribles, and the Palms.

    Overall, neither of us won, but we didn't lose all of our gambling funds either, so I guess we did ok. We did gamble enough at the Sahara to get one night of our stay "comped," so we were thrilled, considering what low rollers we are! Dori doesn't gamble much and Nick wasn't doing too well until the morning we were leaving when he started turning things around. That makes you really hate to get on that plane!

    Dining:

    We had 3 breakfasts at the Sahara's Caravan Coffee Shop. Good food and good service. Yummy eggs benedict. Weekday special of 2 eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast for $1.99. One morning we just had pastries from Jitters, in anticipation of a big lunch. Every morning we had Jitters coffee. Regretfully we didn't get to the Peppermill--something to try next time!

    Lunched at Saigon (Vietnamese restaurant on Sahara and Arville where we had eaten last year, now under new management, but still good), Makino (awesome Japanese buffet ($12.95) on Flamingo/Decatur, described in previous posts), and Landry's on Sahara (more on this later).

    Had late dinner on Friday at Caravan Coffee Shop (steak and roast chicken specials for under $6 each--pretty good). On Saturday, we met Nick and Dori at the Mirage's Samba Grill for the Brazilian Rodizio Feast ($29.95pp). You get salad, bread and vegetables, then they start bringing around skewers of grilled meat (2 kinds of beef, turkey, chicken, pork with pineapple--my favorite, sausage) and a plate of poached salmon. You have them give you what you want of each kind. They keep coming around until you signal them to stop, using this wooden device on your table that is green (keep it coming) on one side and red (slow down or stop) on the other. It was a different and unique dining experience and fun to do with friends. Sunday night we ate at Battista's, on Flamingo, east of the Barbary Coast. Nick and Dori had been several times before but we never had. They were disappointed that the accordion player was off that night. He always asks them where they're from and plays "Chicago" for them but never seems to remember them from their multiple visits there each year. It was a neat place, dark and cozy, steeped in LV history with lots of pictures on the walls of the celebs who have dined there over the years. While the price for pasta seemed a little high (~$19pp), it included salad, garlic bread, red and white wine served in big carafes and cappuccino (more like a tasty hot chocolate). It was very good, and we consider ourselves Italian food snobs. We will go back on future trips, I'm sure. Monday night we were downtown, so since Nick and Dori hadn't spent much time there before, had to have the shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate. We had dinner at Binions coffee shop--my husband's idea, to give our friends a feel for old LV history. Next time we want to try the Bay City Diner at the Golden Gate, or one of the places at the California people here have recommended.

    Shows:

    We saw Danny Gans at the Mirage on Sunday night. He is very talented, but sounded hoarse that night, like he was getting over a cold. Nick and Dori had seen him years before at the Rio and didn't think he was at the top of his game that night. Unfortunately we missed Big Elvis and the Sunspots (sounds like a new group, doesn't it?), but did hear a bit of the Sunspot's relative as we walked through the Plaza on our way to the FSE. All the FSE shows were Country/Western in honor of the rodeo, which was a little disappointing--I was hoping for more variety for Nick and Dori's first time seeing it--like the Motown and Christmas shows. The bands on Fremont Street were all Country/Western too.

    Other:

    Dori and I felt pampered after having pedicures at the Mirage, and my beautiful toes are still a reminder of our fun trip.

    The four of us also spent time driving around neighborhoods in LV since we are all toying with the idea of retiring there someday.

    Special events:

    Lunch at Landry's: Nick and Dori had arranged to meet a friend for lunch here and graciously invited us to join them. Their friend is none other than Barney Vinson. For those of you not familiar with him, he has been in Las Vegas since 1967 and has worked at several different casinos in different capacities (dice dealer, boxman, floor supervisor, gaming instructor--which is how our friends became acquainted with him). He has authored several books on Las Vegas and gaming, and has just completed his first work of fiction. He also writes a humorous column in one of the LV magazines. His stories of life on the other side of the tables and behind the scenes were fascinating, especially given the span over which it occurred. It was slso interesting to hear his perspective on the dramatic changes that have taken place in LV since he's been there. There is a nice interview with him on www.dicedealer.com if you're interested. He is very charming and we really enjoyed meeting him! Thanks to Nick and Dori for including us!

    Whew! If you've made it this far, thanks for reading this long report. It was a wonderful trip and we're ready to go back anytime, but probably won't make it until the fall at the earliest. We hope to rendezvous with Nick and Dori again so we can get to all those things on our "must see" list we didn't have time for this trip! In the meantime, we'll live vicariously through these trip reports!

    Nick, if you read this and have anything to add, please do! I'm sure I forgot things!

    Debbie
     
  2. Billy from TX.

    Billy from TX. Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Messages:
    1,363
    Location:
    Wylie, Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Coecat

    Enjoyed the report. I'm glad to see a fellow member have such a good time. Its trip reports like yours that gets me all pumped up and ready to go.

    T-19........ [​IMG]
     
  3. Lmadrid

    Lmadrid Tourist

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2002
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    Location:
    Boston, MA but originally from San Antonio, TX
    Sounds like a great time. Also, congrats on the 22 years!! [​IMG]
     
  4. bigdogmom

    bigdogmom VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
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    Location:
    Aurora, CO
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Nice report, Coecat! I'm a low roller, too, so I can relate.

    I never did make it to Makino during my trip; maybe next time, though.
     
  5. Buckeye Bob

    Buckeye Bob Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Chicago
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    27
    Great report. I too am from Chicago but do not have any upcoming trips planned so I have to live vicariously through reports like yours. Glad you had such a great time.

    Bob
     
  6. Booger

    Booger Tourist

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2002
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    So.California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    000
    Enjoyed your report!The Samba Grill sounds like
    fun. Thanks!!

    Booger
     
  7. schirkai

    schirkai Tourist

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2002
    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    London, UK
    Great report, sounds like a fun trip !

    Just curious regarding the "Sahara Players Club card", isnt this the normal points accumlation card like One Club at Mandaley Bay ...etc..? I.e. free to anyone who registers ?

    Thanks
    S
     
  8. Coecat

    Coecat Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2001
    Messages:
    395
    Thanks to all who took the time to read and who responded.

    Billy, I know your trip is coming up soon. Hope you have a great time!

    Bigdogmom, you MUST do Makino. It is so awesome!

    Schirkai, yes, the card is just the "Club Sahara Players Card" that is free and you just stick it into the slot machines. The card my husband got at the craps table was different. I also heard, I think on their website, they have a card for the sports book, but we forgot to check into that. My husband did place a few small sports bets but I don't think it was enough to have entitled us to anything more than we got, but it might have looked good added to the slots and table gambling. We'll check that out next year if we stay there again.

    Thanks again everyone.

    Debbie
     
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