This trip was to celebrate my friends 30th B-day. We were joined later by her brother and sister-in-lawâ€¦ Getting There: The morning began in semi-panic mode when I heard the news that American Airlines had grounded all its MD 80â€™s. Even though our flight was scheduled on a Boeing 757, I knew that a few of the earlier Chicago to Vegas flights were on MD 80â€™s, and was unsure of how this will affect our flight. To be on the safe side we decided to arrive at the airport by 7:00 PM for our 9:50 PM departure time. As we were taking the tram from the economy parking lot to the terminal we received a flight update text informing us that our flight was delayed about 45 minutes. Once we got to the terminal it was surprisingly very quiet. We very checked our bags and we through security in about 10 minutes. Now what to do? After almost 3 hours of walking around, sitting, and watching Airport CNN we were off. Other than the delay, the flight was uneventful. We landed about 1:00 AM Vegas time, grabbed out bags and cabbed it to the MGM Grand. HOTEL: We were in a Grand Tower room. The first night they did not have any 2 Queen rooms, so we were put in a King and given a rollaway. The next morning we called the front desk and the keys for our new room were brought up. Both rooms were fairly nice, and pretty roomy, and the bathrooms were a nice size too. Plus, the bed and pillows were very comfortable. I would stay here again without hesitation. The hotel and casino are very large, but pretty easy to navigate. Once we got a sense of where everything was it did not seem to take long to make it from the room to the strip, pool etc. Wednesday Once we were up in the room and freshened up a bit we went down to the Casino. At this point it is almost 2:00 AM, so we just hung around the MGM playing a few slots. While my friend won a few bucks I did not hit a thing. One thing that surprised me though, was that the MGM had more than a handful of dollar and five dollar slots that were not TITO. We were playing a $1 â€œPinballâ€ slot when I heard dinging down the row and saw this woman cashing out in coins, and slipping them back in. After about an hour or so, we called it a night. It was a little after 3:00 Vegas time, 5:00 Chicago time and having been up about 24 hours we went to bed. Thursday After showering and switching rooms we hit the strip. We walked to Planet Hollywood with the intention of doing the buffet. However, when we got to the bottom of the escalator we encountered an odor. Kind of like someone broke wind, but it seemed to cover the entire line to the register. Not sure if it was isolated, we left and went to PH Changâ€™s instead. As in the past, the food and drinks were very good. After lunch we played in PH for a while. No luck, but had a few â€œfreeâ€ drinks and a good time. After a few hours we made our way down the strip back towards the MGM stopping at Walgreenâ€™s to get some water, cranberry juice and snacks for the room. Once in the room we washed up, changed, had a few cocktails then headed to Mandalay Bay. The first order of business was to pick up the Mama Mia tickets at the box office then head to Red Square for a few martinis. I was hoping to take advantage to the special I did in November where you received free caviar with two Imperia Vodka drinks. However, the special ended at 6:00 PM, and it was close to 6:30 when we sat down. Oh well, upon the recommendation of the waitress I tried a Russian Standard Vodka martini. It was very good and very smooth. After we finished the drinks it was off to Mama Mia. The show was very good. This was my third time seeing it. A few months ago I had gotten an e-mail offering Â½ price tickets, so for $55.00 it was well worth seeing again. After the show we had dinner at Trattoria del Lupa, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Mandalay Bay across from Red Square. While the food was good, I felt it was overpriced. We each had a pasta dish and 2 drinks and with tax and tip it was $70.00 per person. The rest of the night was dedicated to drinking and gambling. We made our way through the Luxor, New York New York and then back to the MGM Grand and called it a night around 3:00 AM. Luxor side note: The remodeling of the Luxor Casino seems to be coming along, I have to say the new changes look sharp. However, I can not help but to feel that many of the casinos on the strip are starting to look the same. While cool, sleek and contemporary is nice and all, it is not very exciting. Half the fun of Vegas is the outrageous buildings and themes, I think they could have freshened up the place while keeping the themeâ€¦ Friday I thought lunch by the pool would have been nice this morning seeing how it was such a nice day. But, we were not want to pay $16 for a hamburger so we ended up at the food court at MGM and had Nathanâ€™s Hot Dogs. No Vienna beef, but not too bad. Afterwards we walked up to Paris for some afternoon cocktails and gambling before making our way back down to the MGM Grand. I had wanted to take a quick afternoon nap, so I hard down to the pool for an hour or so. Very relaxing. It does not get much better than a nice breeze under the shade of a palm tree. By about 3:30 or so I felt well rested and headed up to the room. We were waiting for a few more people whose flight was due to come in around 2:00. They were delayed, and were checked into their room by 4:00. Once they freshened up we made our way to Margaritaville. Good food, better drinks. A few hours later we were stumbling out of there and went to the dueling piano bar at Harrahâ€™s. The twins were up. When they sing, they are great. However, in between songs they do a lot of â€œB.S.â€ for lack of a better term. After about an hour a few wanted to gamble so we went out to the casino. The rest of the evening was casino hopping, drinking and gambling. As we made our way back to the MGM Grand around 3:00 AM, we stopped off at McDonaldâ€™s for some booze absorbing chicken nuggets. Saturday We were a bit slow moving this morning but we eventually made our way to the Ballagio, with a brief pit stop at the 32 Degrees stand at the MGM Grand for an early morning pick-me upâ€¦ a Pina Collata. Breakfast of Champions! Once at the Bellagio we played a bit then had lunch at the Buffet. As in the past, the food was very good. At this point we were stuffed, so we cabbed it to the MGM Grand, went to the pool for a few hours, then got ready for the evening. Dinner was at Delmonico. Excellent as always. We (5 of us) all had steak, a soup or salad, 2 drinks each, and split 3 sides. With tax and tip the bill was about $120 each. (A bargain compared to what we paid the other night at Trattoria del Lupaâ€¦. Iâ€™ll take Emeril over Wolfgang any day!) After dinner we explored the Venetian and Grand Canal Shoppes, then made our way to Treasure Island for Mystere. This was my third time seeing Mystere and it was again very enjoyable. I think this may have been the most enjoyable of the times I have seen it as I was not totally wasted, so I actually remember what I saw! After Mystere, my friends brother and sister in law, who flew in Friday afternoon, called it a night as they had an early flight in the morning. We all cabbed it back to the MGM Grand and went for some more gambling. We made our way to the Tropicana. What a sad sight on a Saturday night! No one seemed happy there. People playing slots all seemed to have a blank expression on their faces as they mindlessly hit the â€œPlay Max Creditsâ€ button. The table games had a bit more life to them, but if I did not know any batter I would have thought it was a 3:00 AM on a Tuesday. From the Trop we heard to Exclaibur and NY NY for a bit. By about 3:00 we were back at the MGM. Sunday Our last full day. The last days of Vacation always seem bittersweet to me. It is exciting to know you have a full day ahead of you, yet at the same time it kind of sucks knowing the next day you have to go home. With nothing planned we to a cab to see the new Palazzo and have lunch at the Grand Lux. I thought the new Palazzo was very nice. Although compared to the Venetian side, the casino was much smaller. While the hotel lobby, shops, and casino were very nice, I refer back to my comments earlier on the Luxor. The trend seems to be moving away from themes to some sort of generic elegance. From the Palazzo it was off to the Wynn, Maggianoâ€™s (for drinks), Treasure Island, Mirage (gambling and drinks) then back to the MGM Grand. We changed, enjoyed some good conversation and cocktails in the room, them went back up to TI for dinner at Francescoâ€™s. As when we dinned here last June, the food was excellent. I think it blew Wolfgang out of the water, and was a far better deal. After dinner we worked off dinner walking down the strip to take in a fountain show at the Bellagio. The rest of the evening was spent drinking and gambling. I was happy this night as I actually won a few bucks! So that was nice. Monday Time to go home. We had a 2:00 flight, so we had time to pack then head out for a bite to eat. My friend realized he had a $19 TI slot cash out ticket in his pocket, so the plan was to walk there to cash it in. However, by the time we left the room at 10 AM, we made it as far as the Monte Carlo before we realized we will never make it there and back to check out and head to the airport at noon. So we had an early lunch in the Monte Carlo cafÃ©. Then it was off to the airport, only to discover that due to bad weather, our flight was delayed 3 hours. It was after midnight in Chicago when I finally walked through my front door. I was very happy that I had taken Tuesday off. As it was I was unable to get to sleep until well after 2:00 AM, and did not get out of bed until after 11:00, only to make my way to the couch! Five days of little sleep, over eating and over drinking had caught up with me. Now to look forward to the next tripâ€¦ not quite sure when it would be. I am hoping for the fall.