Just back from Vegas...we were supposed to go in April but things happened and we had to postpone. By "we", I'm talking about myself and Hunny (also known on these boards as RaeJ). This is me talking. This is Hunny (RaeJ) talking. We decided we'd make one report together. Sorry if this is a little long, but I've categorized it, so hopefully it'll be an easy read. FLIGHT From Nashville...Southwest via DEN on the way there, n/s on the way back. I had purchased the "Early Bird check-in" option and got "A" boarding passes for all three flights. Though not great, we were in the first 30 for all of them. We had exit rows for two of the three flights. All three flights were completely full. And I cant believe the way some of those people actually dress to fly anywhere .. Who they trying to impress ??? Not me that's for sure ... We left Nashville just a few minutes late and got to Denver with plenty of time to make our connection, even had it been on time. It wasn't. The connecting plane was late getting in from LAX and we left about an hour late. We subsequently got to LV about an hour later than scheduled. I rather like DEN, I found out. They must be one of the few remaining airports still with a smoking lounge...even McCarran has removed theirs. Denver still has smoking lounge - good thing - gotta buy something tho which isnt really all that bad .. Share a soda .. Have a drink - relax and wait for your connect flight. It may be the only airport in the country that still has one! Yeah for Denver !! The return flight left McCarran about 15 minutes late and landed in Nashville right on time. Save for the approach into DEN and again into LAS (normal turbulence), the flights were smooth and uneventful, just the way I like them. CAR The ride to the the consolidated facility was fine. There was a pretty long line for the buses, but once we got in line, we were on the bus within 10 minutes. I had reserved an Economy from Payless, which turned out to be a Toyota Yaris hatchback which, for those of you that don't know, is about the size of a Hot Wheels car. We were able to cram our luggage (we didn't have a lot) in the hatch and fit comfortably in the front. And when I say "cram", I mean it. The agent tried so hard to sell us the "extras" including a prepaid tank of gas. No thanks. Just give me the car and let me go help build up the economy of the city. The Bug - - embarrassing But it got us where we needed to be ! Actually, most bugs are bigger than the Yaris hatchback. The total price was higher than when I booked. Apparently there are new fees, efficeive the beginning of October that weren't noted with my reservation since I made them before that date. There is something called "RSP" which was $14.95 and a "concession fee" which is another $10.30 (may have been calculated as a percentage). Despite my protests, these fees couldn't be waived. All that said, the car was ok. It certainly was not fancy, but it got us from point A to point B as efficiently as any other rental car would have. HOTEL This was our first time at the Rio, and it was nice, just as I expected it would be. We checked in about 4:30 and there was no line. We had reserved a smoking king and at check-in asked for Ipanema, high floor and pool view. There apparently is only one smoking floor at the Rio, and there were no smoking kings available. We rather would have had a smoking room than a king, so we settled for a room with two doubles. And there was nothing pool-view, or so we were told. I did not try the $20 trick. We got up to room (suite) 1334, yes, lucky 13th floor, and found it to be clean and comfortable. One thing...one of the beds seemed like it was sinking in the middle. But the beds were comfortable. Impressive - always cleaned when we came back in the afternoons. Surprised that they have a fully stocked bar and munchies .. But don't dare touch em .. Bring your own or go to a Liquor store like we did !! $ 15 litre bottle of Cap Morgan beats a $80 half pint in the rooms anyday Hunny liked that there was a Starbucks at the base of the Ipanema elevators. This meant I didn't have to go far to get her coffee. Table games weren't cheap. We were there from Sunday thru Thursday and never saw less than $15 BJ and never saw more than 1/2 the tables open. There was a conference involving the USAF going on while we were there...I saw every rank from SSGT to a 3-Star. Some may question whether the govenment was wasting money sending them to Vegas, but they probably got meeting space and rooms for a comparable, if not lower, rate than most other places. And the way I see it, the brave men and women that serve us deserve something fun. GAMING For the first time in a LONG time, we played no live poker. Usually we make a point to play some 1-2 no-limit hold-em, but this time we didn't Mostly we played slots. We played a couple of small-dollar hold-em tournaments (Luxor, Tuscany) and one BJ tournament (Cannery). We got into a few small dollar NLHE tournaments at Luxor or Tuscany. Hunny did much better than me...In the first one we played, they paid the top 3...I went out in 4th (of course!) and Hunny finished with the second most chips. Once heads-up, she and the other player chose to chop the pot....very nice of him, considering he had her about 4-to-1 in chips. Poker is luck of the game, I got lucky and cashed in my first tourney - I took a gamble and it paid off on the guys who thought a girl didn't know how to play the game .. Hehehehe teach them wont it !! I realised I prefer video slots and I don't like at all ones with letters (A, K, Q, J, etc). Hunny found a machine she really liked. She'll tell you all about it. Sweet nickle slot at the Rio .. Always hit for me - double and triple my money every time .. Yet no one else played it - it was always avail when I felt like hitting a jack pot!! I called it MY machine. Found the same machines at other casino's and same thing .. I found a penny Dean Martin slot that I liked. They had this one in most of the casinos we went to, but the one at the Rio was pretty good to me at first, though the honeymoon ended after a couple of days. I had a coupon from the ACG for $10 free play from Palms, along with a coupon for another $10 from their fun book and $5 more for giving them my email address, which I put in a Three Stooges machine. Nice machine, I must say. The free play turned into $49 in real money, nyuk nyuk nyuk. We had coupons for a free Miller Lite from their fun book, so we got a beer and walked around for a bit before going to eat. We spent our last night (Thursday) downtown where we played BJ for the first time of the trip. Freemont had $3 BJ, unlike the Strip and Rio which was either $10 or $15 at a minimum, regardless of the time of day. We also played slots at several places. BJ at Freemont was a nice evening downtown - changed dealers and luck changed also .. Sahara BJ was brutal tho .. Even for $1 - couldn't win a hand if I had my own cards .. They would somehow find a way to beat it. Never again play there. The Sahara was 6/5 and under $5 paid even money for BJ. We tried a BJ tournament at the Cannery on Monday. I was out of chips early. BJ tourney was a interesting first for me ... I came in 2nd in the prelims .. They drew tickets for the 2nd place finishers at each table .. If your lucky to get picked for the semi's- you get to play another round ... 2nd again for me .. Another ticket to hopefully have your # drawn for the finals ... Not to be this time .. Felt good about my play and finish there . No $$ but had fun. And we had a nice lunch in their buffet. Certainly this wasn't all the playing we did. DINING (in no particular order) In homage to Westie, I'll use a numerical scale to rate restaurants/buffets we hit during the week. (1 to 5 burps) The one place I was most looking forward to eating at was Hash House a Go-Go. We went there Tuesday morning for breakfast, arriving at a little after 9:00. The wait was just a few minutes. We liked their coffee, me a little more than her...very srong. We both had their hashes, hers with salmon, mine with meatloaf. Why not, right? It's in the name of their restaurant, and she likes salmon, and I, meatloaf. I must say, we were quite disappointed. While portions were large, neither hash was very tasty. Some basic seasoning (salt, pepper) would have improved both hashes greatly. I had the smoked salmon w\ cream cheese ... The cream cheese was the best part .. Smoked Salmon was so dry - inedible I don't know what all the fuss is about this place, but I ddnt like what I had ordered at all. Don't think I will give it a second chance - kinda hard to mess up a simple dish like that. I even ate a bit of the meatloaf by itself, without having some of the egg, cheese, pepper or potato with it...it was so bad that I spit it back into my napkin. Beginning a week or so before we left, there was some debate on whether HHaGG was worthwhile. This puts that debate to an end, in my mind. We would absulutely NOT go back there, nor would we recommend it to anyone who wants to eat a good meal. 1 burp (mainly for the coffee) Monday night we walked around loking for something for dinner and ended up at JJ's Boulangerie at Paris. Basically this is a little place that has pre-made pizzas and made-to-order salads and sandwiches. Hunny had the chicken Caesar salad and I had the Italian sub with turkey, cappicola and salami (I think). I wasn't hungry so I just had a salad .. Nothing spectacular - tasted like it would anywhere else - lots of chicken and home made crutons - a plus.. I felt sorry for the chef tho .. She was slammed - the only one working making sandwiches .. But she kept her cool .. Smiled at everyone that came up to her asking when their number would be called .. And for her being the only one there .. I didn't mind waiting. Regardless, the sandwich was good and other than needing a bit more dressing, Hunny enjoyed her salad. 3 burps We went to Ellis Island for dinner on Wednesday night after graciously accepting the donation the Palms made. Used the ACG coupon for four free drinks while we waited about 45 minutes for a table. We both had a couple of Bloody Marys. I'm no lightweight, so these must have had a decent amount of vodka in them, The beer at Palms and two Marys made me glad I didn't have to drive again until I ate something. I'll say this...the Mary mix was quite spicy...I'm of Indian heritage, so I know heat...and these had some heat to them. Hunny didn't want steak and ordered the Philly French Dip. I ordered the steak special. It was a perfect medium-rare, just as I ordered it and really did the trick. I chose mashed potatoes as my starch...if you get the mashed, know that they put brown gravy on them unless you ask them not to. That was fine with me as I like gravy on mashed potatoes, but for those who don't, you should specify. Philly Steak French Dip .. Very good .. Most everyone goes there for the steaks ... Again , I'm not that hungry to waste a good steak . So I ordered what I thought I could finish .. Well ... The sandwich was huge .. Needless to say .. No nuker at the Rio . So couldn't take it with me to finish later on in the evening. Sigh ... I wish I could remember the name of our waitress...she was a hoot. We wondered while waiting how many people order the $6.95 steak special and she went and found out for us. About 25% of their customers order it. She said her manager told her that they sell about 500 of those a day out of the about 2,000 customers who eat there. 4.5 burps Our first night we decided to stay close to home and walked over to the Gold Coast. Had a coupon for a couple of free drinks, so we got some Marys and sat and watched the Titans embarass themselves against the Colts for a few minutes. I think they were practicing embarassing themselves so they could do a real good job of it against the Pats. Another coupon was for 2-for-1 on their Ports-o-Call buffet. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. I am not a connesouer of any sorts .. But I know what I like .. And the mussels at the GC were amazing. Cooked perfectly - garlic butter sauce - yummmmy. I went back for seconds ... Something I usually don't do at a buffet cuz I always get more than I can eat .. But I made a second trip just for those. I really was not expecting much in the way of food, variety or service, and in honesty, I don't know why though I believe it was quite unfair of me to think this going in. Really, I don't remember what all I had here, but I remember enjoying it very much. Our server kept our glasses full of their very good raspberry tea. 4 burps Thursday afternoon I ate lunch at the Noodle Exchange (also at Gold Coast). I sat at the counter and ordered one of their lunch specials, which is advertised as coming with one of 8-9 entrees, fried rice, soup and eggroll, for $6.99. The beef w/ broccoli was pretty good, though not near the best I've had. The fried rice was average. My problem was that I had to ask for the soup several minutes later when I realised she had forgotten to bring it. And you have a choice of soups here...egg drop (with corn) or no soup. Corn. Really? Who puts corn in egg drop soup? Maybe it's done in other places, but I've never seen it in Nashville, and we have a Chinee takee outee on every other corner it seems. And it was really not good...had virtually no flavour at all. Then I'm told they have run out of egg rolls. How do they run out of egg rolls? Can they make some more? In a couple of hours, I'm told. I'm given a couple of fried dumplings that were not very good. After the good experience we had at the buffet, this was a major let down. 1 burp Another place I was looking forward to was the French Market buffet at Orleans. I've eaten here many times and found it to be very good, expecially for the price. Yes, another 2-for-1 coupon. First, I have always loved their Chinese station...even for breakfast. Something has happened to this buffet. It was not good. Nothing tasted fresh, in fact, everything tasted like it was pre-made at a factory somewhere or was from a mix. They had a sign by the Chinese station, "because of repairs, our Chinese selections are not available". Worst breakfast buffet yet ... No cheese eggs anywhere .. Unless you wanted to stand in line for 20-30 min to get a fresh omelette . ... No thank you - we have better things to do than that ... Last trip a few years ago, it was from my memory a good buffet .. Its gone down hill. I'm glad this was a 2-fer. I'll avoid this in the future. 1 burp (and that may be generous) Got a text coupon for the buffet at Paris, 20% off, which we used for our last meal (lunch) in Vegas. I think it depended on what you got ... But for a fancy French buffet they don't know how to cook mussels .. Very disappointed in that aspect - I tried several things that had my 2nd favorite seafood .. And all of them were over cooked to the point where the poor critter wasn't even to be found. And they weren't empty shells .. Just so over cooked there was nothing left of the meat. My expectations of this were let down. There were a few dishes we didn't care for, but for the most part, it was ok, especially the desserts (which is to be expected there, I suppose). 3 burps I had read good things about the M buffet and saw it listed on LVA's top-10 values. They even say, "it's that good." I say it's not all that. Don't get me wrong, the selection is great. More food to choose from than you could ever imagine. And you get all the beer and wine you can drink with lunch and dinner. The three beers offerred included something I'd not heard of, Pabst Blue Ribbon and some hard cider. There were two choices of wine...red and white. I drank a half glass of the PBR, which is more than I could stand of it. Free wine or beer with your meal !!?? I liked that .. But the wine I chose was not to my liking .. All you had to say was red or white wine and they had house wine to offer- I don't know what it was .. But ill get tea next time. Yeah, beer and wine are free with the buffet, but it's not beer or wine I'd want to drink. The food? Well it wasn't bad. It wasn't "that good" but it was pretty good. I had three very good shrimp dishes, and dessert included a dozen gelatos (mango was awesome) and a coffee bar. 3.5 burps Lunch on Monday at the Cannery buffet. Really, I think this was the best buffet we visited the whole week. We had a 2-for-1 coupon and put it to good use. I found their Chinese section to be really good...some of the best Chinese I have had in a while. I feasted on beef w/ broccoli and their chicken chow mein. in my opinion this was one of the best yet. Nothing real fancy - but downright good eats for lunch. BBQ Ribs were on my plate and pretty good too! Everything tasted so fresh and i just can't say enough about it. Again we had some nice raspberry tea. 4.5 burps Main Street Station buffet was our last dinner in town. We went for the steak and scampi buffet on Thursday night. Once again, we had a 2-4-1 coupon, after having printed oune out from the FSE website and presenting it and our players card at the BConnected counter. This is another place I was looking forward to, having heard so much about it. Except this time, we were not disapponted. There was a line to get in, but it was moving pretty well. Once in, we found a larger-than-I-expected selection and everything I had was very good. Really good - - Steaks and Scampi night The steak part of this was a pretty thin cut of sirloin, but it was cooked well. The scampi part was also good, though I would have used a little more garlic...but that's just me. 4.5 burps The one place Hunny wanted to eat at was Carnegie Deli at Mirage. She had been looking forward to a "real" pastrami sandwich. She got one. We went on either Tuesday or Wednesday, I don't remember, for lunch and there was no wait, though they were busy. Service was pretty good. We were offerred a bowl of pickles when we sat down and our drinks (tea) came quickly. We split a pastrami on rye (there is a $3 split charge) and each ordered a side of potato salad. It was all very nice, though not "Subway" cheap. But the Sammie was one of the best ... Take my advice .. Don't ask for side potato salad .. $5.00 for a small portion ... Not worth the money there .. Seemed like a very popular place to eat ... We got right in .. And didn't have to wait long for food to arrive. Total for one sandwich, two sides and two teas...$34.00. It was good, though. 4.5 burps MISC I like to visit at least one new (new to me) casino each time we go. This time the one was the M. The place is nice enough, but I'm not sure I'd like to stay there. I think everything in there is decorated in brown. For a new casino and resort .. The atmosphere is awesome .. But for gaming .. I was not impressed ... Very few machines actually worked .. If they didn't say out of order .. It wouldn't take your money .. I say .. If you don't want my money .. Fine .. Ill spend it elsewhere .. Which we did. We went to the Eiffel tower just in time. Had a text coupon for 2-for-1 and got there before 7:15 (day rate). But it was getting dark so we got to see the view at night. What can I say .. For my first trip up the tower ... Its breathtaking .. Got there right at sunset - still get the day ticket price .. Wait a few min for the sun to go down and watch the fountains at Belagio from a different view ... City Centre...I just don't know what to say about this. I'm not sure I like it. It seems too much...too much something...just too much. Maybe I'd change my opinion on it when it's done, but for now, I'm just not sure. I enjoy watching all the people at LV .... People doing bank books - the look of - " why did I just do this ?? " on their faces .. LOL The best drink service we experienced was at the Freemont. The cocktail waitress would come by and ask each player at our BJ table, "may I get you a drink?" and would be back rather quickly with it...very unlike pretty much every other casino where they walk by and utter "cocktail?" and are gone by the time you turn around. I was impressed with was the cocktail waitress there .. She actually took the time to go to each player at the table to see if they wanted a drink .. Didn't have to wait 30 min for her to come back either - - Not just a quick pass and you end up looking around to see where she went to .. The worst cocktail service we had was at the Rio. Several times our orders were taken and drinks never came. Once after getting tired of waiting for a drink we had ordered, we ordered from a second server, and HE never came back either. I don't mind the porn slappers NEAR as much as I do the people who assault you while you're just walking by and try to give you "free" show tickets or whatever. At least the slappers leave you alone...really all they do is hold out a piece of paper. If you don't take it, you are done with them. Porn slappers/timeshare people suck - and that's being nice Traffic on Flamingo and Trop was not as bad as I had expected. In fact, it wasn't really an issue at all. What is the deal with the singing/dancing cocktail waitresses at the Rio? Or the dancing girls at a couple of downtown casinos? Don't get me wrong...they look nice in their nothing little outfits, but I don't get it. Maybe it's just me. We thought we'd get a Subway sandwich for the flight, and we were both glad we did. Be warned, though...a foot-long ham & turkey was $11 + tax for what would anywhere else be a $5 foot-long. I realise this is an airport and prices may be a little higher, but that is a 220% upcharge from just about any other Subway. C'mon Vegas!!! Many other airports (ATL is one, I believe, and so may be BNA) force vendors to charge within a certain amount of what the same product would cost outside of the airport...why can't you? Remember when the FAA began advising everyone to get to the airport two hours early? Well, whether warranted or not, I still usually do. We almost needed it on the return. There was a 3-car wreck in the tunnel, on the end closer to the terminal, that turned our 7-minute ride from the rental centre into close to a half hour. But security was a breeze at McCarran as there was absolutely no line at all. While downtown, we took advantage of the free picture with $1,000,000, which turned out pretty good, and it is not a small picture. It's 6x8, a frame size not normally available. It took about 30 minutes after the shot was taken for it to be ready to be picked up. We killed the time by playing some slots and watching the FSE show. We saw three of them...American Pie, Queen and something with 60s music. Sax player down town - - since I played Sax in my younger days - I enjoyed his music - he is very talented ( I cant remember his name but he is a regular there ) and I truly enjoy listening to him play, while waiting for the canopy shows to start. I like downtown Vegas more than I remembered...I like the Strip less than I remembered.