First TR on this board. Hope I do OK. The first day is a little long winded since it was pretty hectic that day, but I try to speed things up afterwards. 12/30/03-1/1/04 Tuesday 12/30 This trip was not like my usual trips since I planned not to do too much gambling. I was going with a first timer and figured that he'd want to so some site seeing and that the minimums would be high. We booked the trip a week before so there weren't a lot of cheap choices. At first my friend Andy and I had decided that we would save money by only booking the night of the 30th and leaving early on the 1st, thus saving money by not having to pay NYE rates on the 31st. We had one night at Bourbon Street for 50 dollars courtesy of AANhotels which we found using Travelaxe. We then decided that leaving on the morning of the 1st meant that one of use could not do any drinking on NYE so we decided to stay until the 2nd. We booked for the 31st-2nd for 130 a night at the Algiers using PlacesToStay, also found through Travelaxe. However, it turns out that my friend is unable to stay until the 2nd and I have to cancel the reservation. Although it says that New Years is non refundable, I am able to cancel w/o penalty. I receive an email saying that there is no penalty, but that the Algiers might charge a seperate penalty. It has been over a week and still no problems. I canceled within 24 hours of making the reservation and that may have had something to do with it. Anyways, we are unable to find a hotel that will let us only book the night of the 31st. So we decide to book for 2 nights; the 30th and 31st. Again, I used all the methods of searching for a good rate including Travelaxe, hotels directely, etc. I finally found the Casino Royale for 130 a night using The Reservation Company link on the Travel2Vegas homepage. I really enjoyed my last stay at the Casino Royale so I decided to go ahead and book there. My friend Andy wants to cancel the one day reservation at Bourbon Street. However, there is a 30 dollar penalty so we would have gotten 20 dollars back. I decide to ask around. My friend Rob agrees to take the room for 50 dollars. He plans on spending the 31st with his friends, but decided that he'd leave on the 30th with us. Out of curiosity, I check Travelaxe on the 29th just to see what was available and found the Flamingo on Orbitz for 130 a night. Must have been last minute cancelation or something. I decided to stick with the Casino Royale since I'd been through 3 different hotels already. Besides, I really enjoyed my last stay at the Casino Royale. On the 30th I drive from Orange County to Las Vegas. Andy is unable to get off work early so I leave with just Rob at 8AM. It was an uneventful drive except that there was snow between Baker and Stateline. We stop by the National Vitamin Company for their free self guided factory tour. We each receive one free multi vitamin, one packet of lotion, and a $1 dollar off coupon to their smoothie bar. The tour is interesting and worth the 15 minutes we spent taking it. The gift shop has every type of dietary supplement imaginable. I wanted to get something kitschy, but all their tshirts are white and I am not a big fan of white tshirts. We then went to the Albertsons on Flamingo to get some snacks and drinks for the room and also so I could use their Coinstar machine. The one near my house was broken and the other surrounding markets closed early due to the strike so I had to take my coins to Las Vegas. The prices for food and drinks at the supermarkets in Las Vegas were not lower than in California. I made a mental note that there was a Walgreens pharmacy by the Albertsons since I had forgotten my perscription medication. I would have to wait until the next day since my doctor was not in his office that day. We then checked into Bourbon Street and had a look at the room. It was nice, not quite as nice as Casino Royale, but much better than we deserved for 50 dollars. I then checked into my room at the Casino Royale. The desk staff was the same people that were there on my last trip. I was surprised how well staffed the place was. There was a long line to check in, but it went quickly. They only had 4 computers, but they had extra staff behind the desk that would get room cards ready while the clerk took your information down. It worked very well and check in was fast despite the long line. I had a non smoking room this time. The non smoking rooms face a sidestreet that connect to LV Blvd and is a lot more noisey than the smoking rooms which face the parking lot. I would probably choose to have a smoking room again in the future even though I do not smoke since it is more quite. We decided that we were hungry and head to the Mr. Lucky's at the Hard Rock since I had a 10 dollar food coupon I got in the mail. My friend had the steak and shrimp special and I had the Watermelon Sauce Ribs mostly out of curiosity. The sauce was really good and the ribs were good but not cooked to the point they fell off the bone. I ended up sharing them since the portion was huge. Rob signed up for the slot club and got a free dessert. We gambled a little. Not as much as I had hoped to do since we were tired. We went back to our respective rooms and fell asleep. Around 9PM, Rob's friend from Arizona showed up and they went to take a look around the Strip. I'm still sleepy and agree to meet them at Harrah's later on. About a hour later, I go to the front desk to ask if there was any mail for me (I had arranged to have some coupons mailed to me). The clerk looked confused, asked around, and told me they had no mail. I was a little upset since they never bothered looking for it, but I decided to let it go. I then went to Harrah's to find some coupons that had been requested. I walked to Carnival Court. It was pretty dead and I could not find any coupons. I then went to the Total Rewards desk to ask and was given a $5 dollars off the buffet. I met up with Rob and his friend and we went downtown. We parked at the Golden Nugget and we ate at the Bay City Diner at the Golden Gate. I had wanted to eat at the Deli, but Rob really wanted the chicken dinner special. I had the steak and eggs and his friend had the sphagetti. All three were good. I had a great session at the blackjack tables. It was great to be treated so well playing $10 dollar minimum 3:2 single deck BJ. I did so well that I took Rob and his friend to Mermaids and bought them each a football of beer. Andy and my friend Stan then called. They had just arrived from California and would meet us at the Rio. We went to the Rio and couldn't find any tables with less than a $15 dollar minimum. So we decided to head over to the Gold Coast. This was my first time in the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast treated us just as well as the Golden Gate. Excellent service there. I will definately be back. After another great BJ session we decided to check out the Palms. I lost a bunch of money at the craps table and we decided to leave. It is now 4AM and Stan decides to go to his friend's house in Las Vegas. I was supposed to stay there too, but decided to get a room since I did not want to impose. The rest of us go to the Westward Ho and lose some money before heading back to our rooms at 6AM. Rob pays me back for the football from Mermaids with a half yard from the Ho. We eat at the snack bar. I have the Mega Dog, which is surprisingly good and my friends have the shrimp cocktails which are hald shrimp and half lettuce. Andy, who has gone to the Golden Gate with me many times before on past trips was disappointed, but Rob, who has never had Golden Gate shrimp cocktail, loved it. As we drove back, they were setting up the New Year's Eve barricades. Andy decides he needs a phone card to call his girlfriend and we walk around looking for a gift shop until we finally give up and ask a nice Harrah's security guard who points us towards the Jackpot Shop. Wednesday 12/31 I slept at 6AM and woke up at 8AM to the sounds of Andy watching Stuart Little on television. He then falls asleep and I am unable to go back to sleep. I decide to shower and head up to the Walgreens to get my medicine. I notice that the Casino Royale parking lot is now full of portapotties. Maybe it is a good thing we got non smoking rooms. When I get back, I am still unable to fall asleep so I decide to go next door to McDonalds for a Big Breakfast. The line is long, but I return, eat the Big Breakfast, and watch the full season of Newlyweds on MTV. After the last episode at 2 PM they start a Rich Girls marathon. Andy wakes up and starts watching it and I fall asleep. Rob comes over at 6PM and I finally wake up. Rich Girls is still on. We decide to get dinner. We decide to try Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian since we enjoy the Cheesecake Factory so much. It was very good, but I think the Cheesecake Factory is better. My friends had various specialty burgers and I had the Indoasian Chicken and Shrimp. At first I thought it was too sweet, but then I realized you had to mix it into your rice and it was really delicious. We left the Venetian and noticed a large crowd was gather in front of a large stage in front of the Venetian. How we missed this stage when we went in is still a wonder. A lady tells us that Metallica will be performing. We go back to the Casino Royale to get drunk. The Casino Royale really makes an effort on New Years Eve. They set up booths that sell beer, shooters, Subway sandwiches, and noisemakers in the street in front of the casino. While that may sound oppurtunistic, it is really convienient. We see guys wearing Mardi Gras beads and that is when I remember that the beads I had from my spring break trip to Mexico are still in my duffel bag. We go back to the room and get beaded out. Stan meets up with us along with his friends from UCLA and we decide to drink. However, we realize that we could save money by buying our own liquor instead of going to a bar. We can't drive anywhere since parking is so sparse we didn't want to give up our spot. Andy then remembered the Jackpot Shop at Harrah's sells bottles of hard liquor. We part ways with the UCLA group, buy plastic bottle of vodka and hit the street. We're all faded by 8:30. Rob gives the first girl who asks all his beads and gets really upset at himself so we go back to the Casino Royale to get more beads. We then head back to the Venetian before 9 to see if Metallica is performing. They are, but at the Hard Rock. We watch them on the Jumbotron at the Venetian. What was the huge stage for? To our dismay: Ryan Seacrest and the Chippendale dancers. At 9PM they showed the Times Square countdown on the Jumbotron. There is a confetti drop and Ryan Seacrest wishes us all a goodnight. We then go to the Mirage to meet Stan. We're all really drunk and decide that we want to see the Danny Gans theater. We stare at at couple of non descript doors that lead into the theater for a while and then decide to use the restroom. We do a few shots in honor of Roy and hit the streets again with Stan who has lost his UCLA group. The rest of the night is a blur of women, booze, conservative Christians, fights, and fireworks that must forever be kept secret from Andy's girlfriend. The fireworks are a little disappointing because there is no music. We get back to the Casino Royale and all fall asleep by 2AM. Thursay 1/1 I wake up at 8AM. No one else is awake so I go to McDonalds for a Big Breakfast. I normally avoid fast food in Las Vegas since better food is so cheap there, but I ate at McDonald's twice this trip. The line is a lot shorter today and there is a guy passed out in front of the McDonalds. I play some slots at Harrahs and go back to get ready to check out. Everyone is up by 10 and no one can fall back asleep. Andy and Stan leave and a hour later Rob and I leave. Checkout is easy and there is no line. We drop his friend from Arizona off at Luxor and Rob gets his stuff from out of his friend's car. We decide to eat a buffet before we leave. We are not hungry but we just didn't want to leave without eating a buffet. We decide to find a cheap one. My mother liked the Orleans on the previous trip so we decided to go there. On the way, Rob mentions he wants to buy a pack of playing cards as a souvenir. He had meant to buy one at the Hard Rock, but forgot. I decide to take him to the Palms since new slot club members get a deck of cards. After getting his cards we eat at the Palms buffet. It is very good for the price, but not on the same level as Bellagio, Paris, Aladdin, etc. We started to head back to California. The traffic was light the whole way back. We made such good time that we stopped at the Calico Ghost Town and then regreted it. They do not sell jelly there. We got back to Orange County around 5PM and as of today, his free Palms playing cards are still in my car.