I just returned from a five-night trip and thought I’d write a quick report. This was my fifth time visiting LV and although many things are much the same, some were different. Getting there: I have to say that was the most painless trip I ever hope to have. Westjet direct flight, leaving at 1630 my time, arriving 1830 LV time. No lineup at Customs, no lineup at the luggage, the shuttle, or check in. The Showtime shuttle was included with our package (through Sell Off Vacations). I’ve had lousy experiences with the shuttle when they have to stop at many hotels before mine, but this was quick and efficient. Check in at Paris was painless. I have tried the $20 trick with no success in the past and was prepared to try again, but the clerk solved my problem by saying ‘I don’t have a single King non-smoking available right now but I can get you in a double Queen and move you tomorrow.’ As it happened, we wanted a double Queen room and all I was hoping for on an upgrade was a decent view. So I said, tell you what, if you have a double Queen room with a nice view, we’ll just stay there and never mind moving us. He tapped away and we ended up with a room at the very end of the hallway with a view of the Bellagio and overlooking the Arc de Triomphe. Win-win situation there. The room was great. The stand up shower was perfect for me although you’d have to be pretty desperate to bathe in the tub as it was pretty shallow. The only thing I didn’t get was a coffee maker. Housekeeping said they were only for suites and rooms on the twenty-third floor, or something like that. Oh, well. Weather was pleasant, at least for those of us who left -30 temperatures at home. It was 3 or 4 degrees (Celsius, around 38 F) so you wanted a light jacket. I openly laughed at some people, obviously from warmer climes, who were actually bundling up at the MM doors, wrapping scarves, pulling on hats, and so on. First stop was dinner so we hit up Cabo Wabo as I’ve found it to be pretty consistent, plus it was very close. Service was so-so, our server was hustling but had too many tables it seemed. Food was good, beer was cold, tunes were excellent. We hit up the Walgreen’s at MM for a few items, including beer. There was a whole walk-in cooler filled with great beers. I’m a beer hunter and get very happy when surrounded by many craft beers. I picked up a couple of six packs and we headed back to the room, where we drank beer while flipping through the publications and coupon books from the Desk. Next morning we zipped over to the Hash House a Go Go at the Quad. There was a lineup (no surprise) but the bartenders were hustling up business so we had breakfast at the bar, which suited us fine and the service was great. I’m sure there are areas of the Quad that are new, but I’m thinking it was mostly an exterior reno for now. I wanted to go to the car museum since we were in the hotel anyway. I had a BOGO so it was cheap. I always enjoy that museum although it seems most of the collection is pretty much static, even though they’re for sale. For me, if you’ve seen one old Bugatti or Rolls or Dusenberg, you’ve kind of seen them all, and most of the collection is those old huge cars. We spent the day doing some shopping around the strip, playing a little VP as we went. My friend booked an appointment with Hart and Huntington for a tattoo at the end of the week, which meant a cab ride to the Hardrock. I am glad we hopped in for the $11 cab ride. The Hardrock doesn’t look like it’s far away, but like everything in LV, it is far away, and it’s pretty desolate once you get behind the MGM. I really enjoyed the vibe at the Hardrock as I love all the guitars and memorabilia. From there, we took another $10 cab over to Hooters. The Wings We go to Hooters for the wings. The place was full of cowboys (National Finals Rodeo was in town) and everyone seemed to be having fun. The wings were awesome, as always. At least three servers were in the advanced stages of pregnancy – I’m not sure why that struck me as funny but it did. I guess I didn’t think they made the little Hooters outfits in maternity sizes. Special note to fans of Hooters wings: I purposely didn’t want to get anything really hot as I knew my guts would pay for it the next day. There was a flavour called ‘Spicy Garlic’ that only had one flame next to it, so I thought those would be fine. After getting part way through, I realized sweat was pouring off me – these wings were ferocious! I mentioned to the server that I was surprised because they only had one flame, and she said “Yeah…they made a misprint on the menu. They’re the hottest wings we have.” Terrific. Oh, well. Nothing a little more beer can’t solve. And I was glad I had picked up a large bottle of Pepto from the Walgreens. The Drunk Guy: After wings I drifted over and found a $10 BJ table. I’d been reading Wizard of Odds so was keen to know if it was a 3:2 or 6:5 table. It turned out to be a 6:5 but there was no other option so I played. BJ is always more fun if you can chat a bit and have some fun, instead of just sitting there staring at the cards. There were two ol’ boys from Texas at the table and they were a lot of fun, cracking jokes and giving the dealer a friendly hard time. Her name was “Jenny” and to my ear the Texans sounded just like Forrest Gump when they said her name. It made me smile every time. I had noticed a guy playing at the next table appeared to be bombed. He was barely conscious and I was surprised they let him keep playing. Then he came and sat next to me. Oh, super. He could barely speak he was so drunk, never mind play cards. Then (of course) he wanted to make friends with me. The dealer was giving him the fish eye and the pit boss was too, but they just let him head bob and slush his way along. Finally he lost a hand and decided in his owlish drunk way that he hadn’t actually asked for another card and the dealer was trying to cheat him. Here we go, I thought. They actually argued with this clown and checked the Eye to convince him he had asked for the card, even though it was painfully clear he was way too drunk to be playing cards. Finally, buddy started to yell at the pitboss which finally got him punted. It kind of ruined the fun mood so I left. I couldn’t believe they let this guy go for so long. The BURGR: Next day we had breakfast at La Salsa Cantina at MM – at $4.99 you can’t go wrong. It was perfectly decent breakfast. Then hopped the bus and went up to the North Outlets. There were a lot of pre-Christmas sales on so I actually bought stuff. It was a fun day up there with the sun shining and the VISA getting a workout. We bussed back and dropped our stuff at the hotel, then went over to Gordon Ramsay BURGR for dinner. We got there just after five and got the last table. Half an hour later there was a long lineup. They had lots of excellent craft beer, which made me very happy. We each ordered a burger and shared a sweet potato fries. The burger was outstanding, as were the fries. Service was great and we split a milkshake for dessert, which was also excellent. Highly recommended. After dinner I found a $10 table at Paris, again, a 6:5 game. The mood was good and there were lots of laughs. After going up and down for a few hours I decided I wasn’t getting rich that night so cashed out about 2/3 of what I walked in with. Wandered down the hall to find Le Pizza, selling late-night pizza by the slice. I could have cheered. Nothing like a piece of pizza when you’re full of gin. Next morning we had crepes in the hotel, from the Creperie. My friend really wanted to go to the Zombie Apocalypse store, which was another $10 cab ride you’d never want to walk. The store was OK – I’m a fan of the Walking Dead but they only had a couple things from the show. The rest was pretty mundane stuff, but good on them for making a theme store out of the zombie fad. Then it was time for my friend to hit the Fashion Show Mall. I spent many hours I’ll never get back in “Forever 21”, being a good sport and bag-holder. A little Starbucks got me through to the end of the afternoon. I found a $10 single deck table (another 6:5…grrrr) and played a while. I ended up being the solo player and bailed early as the pace was just too fast for me. Plus the dealer was kind of annoying. After dealing my hand she’d say out loud what to do: “thirteen that’s a hit”, “eighteen stay on that”, this sort of thing. I thought maybe she was new at the job and wasn’t realizing she was thinking out loud. Either way it was disconcerting, so we went upstairs for a bit. We decided on dinner at Joe’s Seafood, which of course was booked solid, but they were offering first-come seating in the lounge and the area around in the entrance, so basically in the mall. We had the best service I’ve had in a long time (Bridget) and the food was terrific. We staggered back down the strip, full of our dinner, and thought about what to do next. We were pretty beat from all the walking we had done and from a late night the previous night, so put our feet up in the room and listened to the water fountain boom outside the window. Friday there was shopping at MM for a while, after breakfast at Cheeseburger (second cheap breakfast of the trip and again, it was just fine). We explored the shops at Aria for a while – where do these stores come from? I’d never heard of them and I’m pretty sure my VISA would self-destruct if I even set foot inside. I had a coupon for a free beer with a lobster roll from LobsterME. Good thing the beer was free because the sandwich was $23.00. It was a terrific sandwich though. We cabbed over to Hardrock in lots of time for my friend’s tattoo appointment and had a beer while checking out the displays. The place was rocking as the Black Crowes were playing that night. After the tattoo was complete (nice job by Hart and Huntington) we wandered over to Culinary Dropout for dinner. Again, some great beers and good service. Meal was pretty good but nothing special. We went back to Paris where I found another BJ table, 6:5, but this one had a scantily clad woman dancing on top of it, which sort of made up for things. The CW was swamped and I don’t think I ever got a drink, but I did have fun and made (and lost) some pretty epic hands. Our plane left the next day at 1130, so had to be up at 0800 for the shuttle. It’s always hard to leave LV. There’s just so much more to do. HIGHS: Gordon Ramsay BURGR, Joe’s Seafood and Crab, room 625 in Paris, shopping at North Outlet, actually getting and using a Total Rewards card, actually getting and using coupons and saving a bunch of $ with them, taking cheap cab rides instead of walking extra miles and pretending it’s worth it. LOWS: Hopelessly drunk guy at Hooters, 6:5 BJ, losing a 4-4 split doubles against a 6 (drew a 5 on the first 4, doubled to a 20, drew a 6 on the second 4 then doubled to a 20, dealer drew a 3, a 6, then another 6 for 21. Boooooo.), no coffeemaker, $4.00 coffee at Paris, sore feet, sidewalk guys asking “How long you in town for??” for the millionth time (I had almost decided that Thursday would be ‘punch a timeshare guy’ day). WTF and things Vegas could do without: Aggressive rappers trying to sell their CDs on the bridge, Pitbosses who wait way too long to toss the hopelessly drunk guy, $14 gin and tonics, lack of CWs, people blowing money playing BJ when they have ZERO idea how to play the game, and the girl who not only sat next to her boyfriend at the BJ table, taking up the only empty square and chair, but ordered drinks! I couldn’t believe the dealer or pitboss didn’t tell her to move as there were people around who were looking to play. I thought maybe someone had gone to the rest room or something but no, she was just sitting there, drinking for free. Unreal. You know it’s been a good trip when you’re planning the next one before the plane leaves the ground. Thanks for reading! Cheers friends.