Self-indulgent Aria trip Jan 16-20 Summary: Thu –Julian Serrano Fri – Veronic Voices, Bouchon Sat – L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Sun – Jaleo, Rose.Rabbit.Lie, Hakkasan Mon – missed flight, six quality hours in McCarran Low-level gambling, couple of shows, fancy dinners and cross-dressing at night. Traveling solo while the wife was visiting her folks in warmer climes. I’ll just say that after my October trip I was very excited to visit Vegas again and have been planning for these four days since then. I said in my previous TR this is a board about Vegas and not cross-dressing, so Vegas is the main focus of the TR … but know that I’m in a dress each night. And I look and feel fan-freaking-tastic (if I say so myself). Thursday Uneventful flight, though about 15 minutes late. Took a shuttle from McCarran to Aria, $8.50 and I only had to wait about 10 minutes. Did the $20 trick at check in, asking for a high floor with a nice view. I had a corner suite booked through MLife, and I got 28th floor, looking at Cosmo and PH, and later in the night some strawberries dipped in chocolate were delivered to me. The view was great and the berries appreciated, so I would say the trick worked I've since determined I was upgraded to a panoramic suite. Unpacked in the room and picked up provisions at CVS, then cleaned up and dressed for dinner. Sat at the bar at Julian Serrano and enjoyed cocktails and four small plates. Honestly can’t remember what I did after that! Friday In the AM I walked the strip down to Wynn and back, grabbed a bite to eat at Bouchon bakery along the way. Refreshed in the room and then did some low-level craps at Aria and Cosmo, lost a bit ($10 tables). The vibe just wasn't with me at the Aria casino, not sure if it was the crowd, the dealers, or a combo of the two but I just didn't get my gambling jonze working at Aria for the whole trip. Guess I should have sought out UKFanatic since I've since read he was around, winning! Aria’s $10 craps tables didn't open until late morning/early afternoon and I didn't see a BJ table for less than $25 all weekend. At some point during the weekend I watched the Popcorn Craps at Cosmo, there was a very boisterous, fun group of people playing as a group, a woman was passing out baby bottles of shots she had in a bag, they were infecting the entire game, really making it a fun vibe. I’d prefer the live version any time and was more interested in seeing how the thing operated but this group made it a really fun atmosphere. I could see if you had a group and there were several spots open at the game you could make it a fun time. Cleaned up, dressed and cabbed to Bally’s for Veronic Voices (thanks to whomever posted the $2.50 ticket code). I liked the show, especially for the price. Lots of Canadians and French Canadians in the audience – I mean, it seemed like there were so many they could keep the show running based on those visitors alone. I liked the 80s portion of the show the most and the Dolly part the least, but everyone in the crowd seemed pleased at one point or another so if you’re considering the show (especially at $2.50) you’ll find something to like. If anything I enjoyed the show (and Vegas in general) more from a cultural studies standpoint, the odd things that people will laugh at or respond to, etc, etc, never ceases to amaze me. After the show I walked to the Venetian and had dinner at the bar at Bouchon: a very delicious, pricey pink champagne, oysters, mussels and fries. Great conversation with the bartender and sommelier, the staff was sampling a new beer they just got in and generously offered me a taste as well (Frank Boon geuze, matched perfectly with the mussels). Walked back down to Cosmo and threw dice for a while ($15 tables) to middling effect… who am I kidding, I lost lol but had some of their delicious cosmos. God bless the Cosmo and their CWs for plentiful, strong, delicious cocktails. The place was hopping but didn't feel like a zoo. After a while a group of young Latino kids from Texas rolled in, they didn't know how to bet/play and the vibe of the table totally changed (not for the better), so I bailed vs. sticking it out. Put $100 in video BJ and lost half of that in about 30 minutes: that stupid max bet button mixed with the strong drinks bit me in the ass. Normally I don’t play machines but I figure it might look good on my Identity account. Saturday Guiltily slept in and did nothing for a long time … my wife is a saint for letting me take this trip. Coffee from Sbx at Aria then headed over to MC, I was hoping to find a $5 craps table, I thought they usually have one open after the daily 11am lesson, but overheard a pitboss say not on the weekends. I have been following threads on BJ at various properties, and saw at MC all weekend: $10, 3:2, surrender, 6 deck, DAS, hit on soft 17. Now, there were 6:5 tables there too, but plenty of the 3:2, and the 6:5 were busier. People. Bought in at a table and played a bit but left after hitting my three-in-a-row loss limit, down $70 or so. Walked around MC and then Aria, pussy betting/not betting and losing out on good rolls. This is the story of my trip… Picked up the 50 pizza comp I had via MyVegas. Bit of a line at MLife in Aria but otherwise fine. The MyVegas offer gets you a slice and tap beer (Bud Light or Goose Island 312). There was a Green Flash pils at the bar that appealed to me but I was told the comp only gets you the two taps on offer at the slice counter. And if you want to sit at the bar to eat your slice, no joy, use the standup tables near the can. I would say the pizza was as good as Secret Pizza, i.e., the better one is whichever is closer to you. Having said that, if you wanted to sit down and have drinks/beer/pizza, 50 would be the clear winner. I found myself returning to Cosmo over and over again. For some reason I had convinced myself that I am in love with Aria, and I do like the rooms and had no issue with the staff or property in general, but this trip I think I fell in love with Cosmo. What do I love about them? The property is gorgeous, the music they pipe into the casino is exactly what I like, the restaurants and bars are fantastic, the cocktail waitresses appear regularly and frequently, the drinks are strong and filled with quality booze, the staff and dealers are very friendly, helpful and fun. They offered me the standard two night weeknight comp, twice, on my low-level pussy play. I know they offer horrible BJ rules and the weekend can bring in a crowd of DBs but to me the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Having said the above, I think Aria is starting to show some age. People say/threads are posted about the magic of Wynn and that he runs the property so tightly and that’s why it shines. I would have to agree. Everything in the small area I went in during my brief walkthrough on Friday AM looked spotless and fantastic. Aria, on the other hand, is starting to show some dents and dings, scuffs and marks here and there. Nothing major, but a little bit of touchup paint or a quick inspection for dust bunnies would go a long, long way. I guess when a property isn't run by fiat, these things happen. I never visited Bellagio when Wynn ran it, but I have an idea of what it must have been like then vs. now. Now, then about my room. The view was fantastic and overall I had no issues except for the following. I don’t know how to put this gently, so apologies in advance. We’re all adults here and aren't naïve as to what happens in hotel rooms, much less hotel rooms in Vegas. So there I was, sitting on the heated-seat toilet, looking at nothing in particular when I happened to glace at the door to the bathroom. It was open and catching the light at an angle where one could clearly see an area … where it was quite evident that some dude had shot his load onto the door. There was the ‘target’, as it were, which you couldn't really see if you looked directly at it but it was clearly evident in the reflected light; and then a dribble, dribble, dribble, going down, down, down to the bottom of the door. So what does one do? It’s a no-win situation: you call down to housekeeping because “somebody” did this to the door (“riiiiight, we know it wasn't you, sir”), ignore it (yuck), or clean it yourself (gross). I elected for the latter, judge me as you like. In addition to the above, there was a toenail clipping that remained on the carpet for the duration of my stay. Not as disgusting as the above, but still. I chose to ignore it as an experiment to see if it would get vacuumed at some point (it didn't). Completely unrelated to any of the above, I got a Jambox Bluetooth speaker for Christmas, expressly for traveling, and it didn't disappoint. Last couple to trips I've had to fight the in-room entertainment systems to get my laptop or device plugged in and working, and even if it did work it was always going through crappy TV speakers. A friend of mine showed me his Bluetooth speaker and I thought it’d be perfect for hotel/traveling etc. I really love it! Saturday night I cleaned up and dressed, and I have to say I looked like a million bucks. I had a fantastic outfit planned for every night, but Saturday’s outfit just rocked. And it didn't disappoint. I’m sure the booze was telling me I looked great, but based on the looks I was getting from several people throughout the night (literal jaws dropping), the booze was right. So with that going for me I walked to MGM for my dinner at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. I got there early for my reservation and they asked that I come back. The place was packed, really hopping. I made it to a $10 craps table and bought in for $300, leaving about 20 minutes later up $80, but very thirsty, no CW came by the entire time. Instead I had to settle for a negroni at the back bar at L'Atelier – there was a seat open at the bar for dinner, but it was at the very end of the bar and I didn't want to be tucked away with no view into the kitchen. Chatted amiably with the bartender about Vegas, the Cosmo and RRL and realized the negroni I make back home is as good as the one at L'Atelier; so I got that going for me, which is nice. Seats at the main bar were taking a while to open up and the bartender offered to serve me at the back bar, and I don’t think it was an effort to hide the freak crossdresser away from view, but that he thought I wanted to start eating. Eventually I got a decent seat in the middle of the bar and ordered a four course menu. The four course menu had specific items to choose but I was able to substitute from any part of the menu without any issue. I don’t remember the exact details, but there was the fried langoustine which I ordered on the recommendation of the couple to my left and it was very, very good. Orecchiette with lobster, the proportion was way too big/out of whack and I didn't finish it all; Quail stuffed with foie, orange chocolate dessert. I think there was one additional course in there somewhere that I can’t remember. Ended up having a lengthy and very pleasant conversation with the couple on my left, they were in town from New Jersey for his birthday, and we talked restaurants in NYC/Napa/Vegas, foodie talk, Vegas talk, and the fact that I’m a crossdressing freak. I was not fishing for compliments when I told her she looked fantastic – she really did look great, with delicate, subtle makeup that I can only hope to someday achieve, and she returned the compliment even stronger, so maybe I do know what I’m doing. Highlight of our conversation was when they asked what I do when I’m back home, to which I replied “I dream about coming to Vegas and going out dressed like this.” Laughter and then the three if us toasted to Las Vegas. After they left I eventually struck up conversation with the couple on my right. He was in his 30s/40s, from California and his younger companion was from Romania. They were an interesting pairing, he was in sloppy jeans or maybe even sweatpants and a rumpled sweatshirt and she just looked … young. I get that people can wear whatever, wherever these days, but you know? A nice place like L'Atelier? I’m not saying there should be a requirement for jackets, but, people, can’t we put in a little effort? I got the distinct impression that he was a regular at the restaurant and loved it and high-end dining in general, though he hadn't heard of é in Jaleo. The story I invented for them was that he made his living in silicon valley and she was, shall we say, along for the ride. The four course menu was a perfect amount of food and booze, I left not overly full or drunk. Walked back through MC, Aria, and ended up at Cosmo, having a drink in the Chandelier bar, then playing some craps and video BJ, ending down a few hundred and calling it a night after several delicious cocktails. Sunday I returned to MC for some of their $10 BJ. Wasn't playing for very long when I split and hand, doubled down on one and lost all when the dealer pulled cards to 21. Walked as I hit my three in a row limit. Walked back to Cosmo, picked up my ticket to RRL and played at a $10 craps table, the tables were pretty dead as everyone was watching the playoff championship games. As I bought in at a table the pitboss (F.) saw my ticket and asked if I was going to RRL that night. I said yes, he said he was going too and he’d see me there. I told him I’d be there wearing a dress and he laughed, disbelieving, but I said I’m serious, and I’ll see you there. Played for a while, up a small amount but again I was pussy betting or not betting and lost out on some really hot rolls. Picked up a sandwich at Walgreens, ate in my room and watched the end of the NFC game before taking a catnap. After waking up I found my balls and went back to Cosmo and bought in for $500 at a $15 craps table. Four shooters, including myself, held the dice for about 90 minutes and I cashed out with a $480 profit, after tips – basically this was enough to wipe out my earlier losses from pussy betting, and it put me in the black, gambling-wise. Obviously I felt great about the win, but I felt even better that I finally found a groove and that I was comfortable with my betting strategy for the first time. I was using my modified version the Dice Doctor’s right-way passline betting strategy (parlaying naturals on the comeout, single odds, progression betting) and placing numbers/converted come, pressing a unit on each hit. The dealers caught on very quickly and at one point advised to press more than one unit when a particular number was hitting often, smart and appreciated advice. I also hedged my passline bet whenever the amount got above the $25 level, and I tipped often, either via passline or hardway bets, and I tipped again when I colored up. One thing I did not do was wait for the qualified shooter. I had been doing that all weekend, resulting in my pussy and/or non-betting and losing out more often than not. What I ended up doing on this last session was a passline bet with no odds or place bets until the shooter qualified, which put me in at least a minimal amount of action when the shooter was hitting. Cleaned up for the night, dressed and returned to Cosmo for a drink at Vesper. Small disappointment there, I told the bartender I love the gin and bitterness in a negroni and asked for something along those lines. And he made me a negroni that wasn't any different than I would make at home. Interesting conversation at the bar with a group of Australians in town for a bachelor party, they just could not wrap their heads around the concept of crossdressing lol. Headed upstairs to Jaleo, sat at the bar and ordered their wonderful gin and tonic. I told the bartender I had a ticket to the 10pm show of RRL and would like three or four courses as he wished, and it didn't disappoint. (sorry I can’t remember exactly what they were, the scallops with romesco was one). Struck up a conversation with a couple next to me, they were co-workers in town for work and enjoying a cocktail before dinner at STK, and she was dying to hear details about RRL. I gave her my number and she texted me and said we should connect later in the night after the show. I put very little stock in this actually happening, but you never know, right? Rolled out of Jaleo and into RRL a couple of minutes after 10. Somehow I ended up in the ringside seat. Someone (cough, cough) posted a review of their experience at RRL and I’ll just say it matches my experience word for word. After the show I saw one of the dealers from my winning craps session and we grabbed a drink from one of the bars. He didn’t recognize me – not because of the makeup, hair and dress, but because I wasn’t wearing my glasses lol. While we were talking pitboss F. found me and let’s just say he was flabbergasted – “Hey! OMG you look amazing! Wow! I was telling my wife that a guy I met earlier today was going to be at the show tonight in a dress but she didn’t believe me! Meet my wife!” (handshaking etc) “Isn’t this great?!” etc, etc, we all laughed recapped how great the show was, personal highlights, etc. Very fun, funny guys, all of them. I quite enjoyed the show and am planning to do it again in April – got the 2 for 1 tickets via Living Social and am interested to see how the show develops (the show-proper as well as the marketing, word of mouth feedback, etc) in the next few months. So I’m shaking my booty in the post-show club thinking “what am I going to be doing a week from now?” Answering myself with “not this!” Seriously, as I write this, it is the fifteenth day in a row of below zero nights at home and all I do at night is wrap up in a blanket, cruise this board and dream of returning to Vegas in a dress. So while I’m there, in full-on form, I’m going to enjoy it to the hilt. And with that in mind, I replied to the text that girlie sent me earlier (I never did catch her name) telling her the show was fantastic, to which she replied “we have a table at Hakkasan, come join us.” Um, OK! I hoof it down to MGM and meet girlie. Not sure what the protocol is in re to tables/clubs, how she got this table, who was hosting, how am I getting in with her, etc I played dumb/along for the ride. After 5 or 10 minutes of back and forth, this line no that line no you need this stamp you only have that stamp, I saw the writing on the wall and said fuckit and paid the $30 to get in. When we got to the table – again, not sure who hosted this table and at the same time not really caring – the table service was trashed. I quickly found some RedBull, some ice water, and half a bottle of Crown Reserve. Glass of the first, glass of the second, and half a glass of the third and more booty shaking. It was fun – really, really fun. For these few hours on this night I felt like I was 23 again, drunk, dancing stupid with hot chicks all around me. Apparently Tiesto was at the table next to us, I couldn’t recognize him in a lineup, but it was obvious someone well known was next to us because a lot of people were holding up their phones taking pictures of whoever it was. And so the club closed, and I lost girlie in the mass of people leaving. It was a fun night, and it would have been nice to thank her in person, but alas. My head hit the pillow at 5:26am. In my regular life I would be waking up to take the dog for her morning walk. God bless Vegas. Monday Woke up, cleaned up, packed, made way to taxi line for airport. Very, very long taxi line that moved very slowly. Getting close to flight time, getting nervous. Get cab, only to learn there’s an accident en route to McCarran. Get to the ticket counter three minutes late, I have missed my flight. Luckily they book me on the next flight at no charge. And so I spent the next six hours laying low, making calls and napping occasionally, before catching the later flight for an uneventful trip home. So in sum: It was a fantastic weekend and I did every single thing I planned to do/hoped to do The nice win at the craps table on Sunday afternoon was a great way to end the gambling portion of the trip If you’re going to Vegas solo, sit at the bar at a restaurant, I think it’s a great way to either chat with others or not, depending on your mood Crossdressing is a non-event in Vegas. Nobody batted an eye at me, the only thing I got was positive feedback/compliments. Everyone treated me normally, as if I wasn’t dressed, which I guess is all I really wanted. Can’t wait to do it again!