This was our 3rd visit to Vegas this year. However, it had been a couple of years since we had been in Vegas around Christmas. This would be the 1st time we were actually there on Christmas day. We did a bit of research before we went so we would know what to expect being there on the holiday. I really thought things would be quieter than a typical day in Vegas. Silly me… 12/22: We flew out of Minneapolis /St. Paul airport on NWA flight 197 @ 9:25 am. The flight was about 40 minutes late leaving. We used miles to upgrade to first class. Once you have flown first class it is really hard to go back to coach. The flight arrived at McCarren about 40 minutes late. We hopped the tram to the main terminal in hopes that the priority stickers on our luggage would speed up their arrival on the carousel. No luck. I swear that baggage claim in Vegas is the slowest anywhere. Or maybe it is just that we are so excited to get going that it just seems to be the slowest. Either way, it always feels like forever. When our bags finally made their way around, we grabbed them and made our way to the rental car shuttle. We love the ease of the all in one rental car center. We had a car booked through Alamo with a discount through the National Education Assoc. (NEA). I had entered all our info online to expedite the process. For some reason, I was unable to prepay, so we had to stop at the counter or kiosk. There were quite a few people in line, so I opted for the kiosk. I swiped my credit card and was then asked for my confirmation code. Darn… I forgot to print it out. I guess we will have to stand in line. After about 10 minutes, my partner says, “Why don’t you call and get the confirmation number.” Couple of minutes later we were driving out with our Chevy Impala. We pointed the Chevy east to take our traditional drive up the strip. We always drive up the strip as soon as we arrive in Vegas just to see how much it has changed. We were just there in July and couldn’t believe the progress at City Center. I didn’t think the strip would be too busy on a Monday afternoon. Wrong! We slowly made our way to Charleston and turned left/west towards Sumerlin and Red Rock Resort. We were spending our first 2 nights at Red Rock. They send us offers for comped rooms every month. We love their rooms and the casino is pretty good, so we started our stay at RR. I asked for an upgrade and the agent said, “we have a 2 room suite available for $100/night.” I told her I was looking for a comped upgrade. She said they were too full to offer anything. I guess it didn’t hurt to try. By the time we got to the room, we were both really tired. Shortly after getting to the room, I called house keeping and asked for extra pillows. I also needed someone to come up and move the nightstand so that I could access the outlet to plug in my CPAP machine. We waited forever for the pillows, etc. We had talked about going to LBS Burger, but decided that room service was much more appealing at that point. My partner’s tummy was a bit upset, so she had the chicken noodle soup. It was full of veggies and big noodles… just what her tummy needed! I order the Salt Lick pulled pork sandwich. The pork was sliced, not pulled. It was tough and full of gristle. I guess they missed the PULLED part of the pulled pork sandwich. The fries and bbq sauce were great. After eating, we watched a little TV and kept an eye out the window to the east. We thought that with the opening of Encore, we might get to see a fireworks show. Eight o’clock came and went with no fireworks so went to sleep. 12/23: The day started with a trip to Minute Clinic. My partner had a bladder infection. After getting some antibiotics, we were off to breakfast at Hash House a Go Go. http://www.hashhouseagogo.com I had Andy's sage fried chicken benedict w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs. My partner had the Farm Scramble with Sundried tomato, basil & goat cheese. The food was wonderful. My benedict was huge. There was a large helping of bacon mashed potatoes topped with a biscuit. On top of the biscuit was more bacon, sliced tomatoes, fresh spinach, scrambled eggs and a giant deep fried chicken breast topped with melted mozzarella and a wonderful chipotle cream sauce. It was enough food for a family of four. My partner’s farm scramble was filled with wonderful goat cheese and other yummies. The accompanying crispy potatoes were delicious. She also had a screwdriver made with fresh squeezed tangerine juice. I had the HH mimosa made with sparkling wine and fresh squeezed tangerine juice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Next we were off to Aliante Station. We had been in Vegas for almost 24 hours and we still had not set foot in a casino. We found our way to Aliante Station. The casino is laid out similarly to Red Rock and Green Valley. The casino was empty. There were not even 10 people at all the tables. We played some black jack and I tried Pai Gow for the first (and last) time. I really didn’t enjoy the game at all. Both of us wanted to play some craps, but don’t like to play at an empty table. We stayed for less than an hour and headed back to Red Rock. Back at Red Rock, we relaxed a bit and I headed down to try my luck. I lost a quick $100 at craps and I tried to move to black jack. No room at the $5 table, so I waited for my partner and we went back to try again at craps. We did ok, I won back the $100 and a little more. She was up over $100. We played a little BJ and headed out for dinner at Lotus of Siam. This was our first visit to Lotus of Siam. http://www.lotusofsiamlv.com We had tried unsuccessfully on other trips and were determined to finally eat at this well known restaurant. We arrived just before 5:30pm. I was amazed at how quickly the small eatery filled up. We started with chicken satay and prawns in blanket, prawns wrapped in bacon and wonton wrappers and deep fried. Both were good, but the prawns were amazing. For our entrees, my partner had rad na with chicken and I had the northern pork stew. Both were wonderful. We couldn’t finish the rad na so we took it back to the room for a late night snack. After dinner we drove back to RR and called it an early night. The next day we were moving to Palazzo. All in all, we felt that the service at RR has not been very good the last few visits. We love the comped rooms, but are thinking that the lack of service is not worth it. 12/24: I woke up first, so I headed down to the coffee shop at RR to get breakfast to bring up to the room. I got my partner her favorite, wheat toast and bacon. I had corned beef hash and scrambled eggs. The hash was really good, not salty like it so often is. After a lazy morning, we packed up and headed to the strip to check in to Palazzo. We got to the Palazzo and breezed through check-in. Again, no luck with a comp upgrade. I did ask for a room on a higher floor not too far from the elevator. I was feeling in the holiday spirit so I slipped the clerk a $20 even though she didn’t upgrade us. We headed to the room and were pleased to find our room on floor 43 and not far from the elevator. The view was to the south with a perfect view of the Mirage volcano. We quickly took a few pictures before we messed up the room. I called down for our luggage and was told it would be there in 15-20 minutes. 40 minutes later I called again and was told they had not received a call for the luggage so it would be 10-15 minutes. After another 30 minutes I called the priority service line and let them know I had been waiting over an hour for my luggage. They sent me to the bell desk who said it would be 5-10 minutes. After 20 minutes I picked up the phone and as it began to ring the luggage arrived. I must say that every time I called for anything at Palazzo I was put on hold. A couple of times the hold was over 10 minutes. I know they were busy, but that is too long to wait. We headed down to get the car and head over to NYNY. We stopped first at the liquor store to stock up. We hadn’t paid close attention to the time and suddenly realized it was about 3:30 pm. We had 5pm reservations for CarneVino and knew we wouldn’t have much time at NYNY, so we called and pushed back our reservations. We have stayed at NYNY a few times in the past but decided on Palazzo this time instead. Last visit we were disappointed with the service and the construction. The construction was done and the place looks great. We really like the more open feel of the casino. I have always done well playing craps at NYNY, so we headed straight for the craps table. We played for awhile and couldn’t do anything. We still had time before we needed to head back to dinner, so we sat down at a bj table. We both were not doing very well, and then all of a sudden our luck changed. We left up and headed back to the Palazzo. We dropped our “supplies” in the room and headed to CarneVino. http://www.palazzolasvegas.com/carnevino.aspx We had dined there last Feb. Unfortunately my partner had a terrible cold on that trip so she really didn’t enjoy the meal. I felt it was one of the best I’d had anywhere. I was really hoping that this dinner lived up to all the hype I had been giving since our last visit. We were seated in the wine library, a smaller room off the main dining room. The walls are lined with library style glass covered shelves filled with wine. The first item to arrive was the amuse bouche (sp?)a cheese puff filled with a variety of Italian cheeses. It was light, fluffy, cheesey and salty… just what you need to get your appetite working. We both ordered a blood orange cosmopolitan. All I can say is MMMMmmmm!!! For an appetizer we ordered the beef carpaccio. For those who don’t know, carpaccio is very thinly sliced raw filet of beef. It is frequently served with olive oil, lemon, capers and parmigiano cheese. Here the beef is topped with a garlic aolio. It was delightful. For our pasta course we ordered the farfalle with sweet shrimp and herb pesto and the orecchiette with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe. The orecchiette was good, but the farfalle was to die for. I had a glass of white wine ( don’t remember the name) that went perfectly with the pasta. For our main course we had la Fiorentina, a classic Florentine porterhouse steak for 2. The steak was cooked perfectly and was masterfully carved by our waiter tableside. The steak is beautifully plated and topped with some exquisite extra virgin olive oil. The steak simply melted in your mouth. I have never had a porterhouse with this much flavor or anywhere near this tender. We ordered the garlic spinach as a side. We barely touched it. I had an awesome glass of Barolo wine (again I can’t remember the name). We were unable to finish the steak, but you better believe we took it up for a midnight snack. We were too full for dessert. They brought a tiny bite of a fruitcake type thing that was a perfect end to the meal. I have to say this was the best meal I’ve had anywhere. My partner says it was wonderful, but still thinks Manny’s (in Minneapolis http://www.mannyssteakhouse.com/index.php ) is better. Don’t tell her I said so, but she is wrong! After dinner we headed to the Club Grazie counter to sign up and receive our free play credits. The line was about 10 deep, but I didn’t want to miss out on our daily credits, so I sent my partner up to the room and I braved the line. It didn’t take too long. I opted for slot credits rather than match play credits. The agent told me that the match play had to be played in $100 increments and I didn’t really want to put $100 of my money up at one time. We did pretty well on the slot credits… until we decided to try a $10 slot. Oh well, at least I can now say we’ve played a $10 slot machine. Lol Off to bed. 12/25 Christmas Day: We slept in and finally woke up around 10am. We had picked up a nice bottle of Moet & Chandon to pop on Christmas morning as is our tradition. Rather than going out for breakfast, we thought why not enjoy the view from the room as we eat. When the food arrived, the waiter came in and asked if we wanted to eat by the window. Of course, we said. He pulled out a table cloth and set up the table like a fine restaurant. I had a ham and cheese frittata and my partner had a turkey wrap. She loves grapefruit juice and was so excited they had fresh squeezed she ordered a half liter and drank every drop. Doesn’t get any better than breakfast in your jammies with the one you love overlooking the strip on Christmas morning… all while drinking fine champagne. We lounged around, eventually showering and heading out to Hard Rock. We tried to stop by the sportsbook to bet on the Celtics/Lakers game, but the sportsbook was closed. Who woulda thunk it? Anyway, we enjoy playing craps at Hard Rock, so we headed over to try our luck. When we arrived, we decided to play a little BJ first. We sat down at a $5 table. There were only 2 other players at the table. I love to play 2 hands when I’m playing BJ. I seem to do better. The pit boss came by and asked if we had players cards. When we said no, she offered to sign us up. What the heck, why not. Neither of us were doing very well. We were both down about $100, and then my luck changed. I was on a roll. I was getting black jack after black jack. My partner was up and down, but I continued to win. I wanted her to stay and play with me so I handed her a stack of chips a couple of times. In retrospect, I should have upped my bets. I just kept thinking I didn’t want to jinx my luck, so I stuck with 2 hands @ $10 each. After about 3 Â½ hours I walked away up $400 and she broke even. We tried to go to Pink Taco, but they were closed. We left Hard Rock and decided to see if Jack in the Box was open. We both love their “nasty” 2 for .99 tacos and their egg rolls. I know it is not a very traditional Christmas dinner, but we can’t get JITB in Wisconsin. After filling up, we headed downtown to Golden Nugget. We played craps for about 45 minutes. I lost $300 of the $400 I had just won. My partner ended up winning $200. We were both tired, so we headed back to Palazzo to relax and watch some TV. 12/26: First one up gets breakfast… I headed down to the coffee shop just off the elevator looking for something light. 1 large coffee, 1 small fruit smoothy, 2 small fruit cups and 2 pastries… $34. Only in Vegas! We lounged around trying to decide what to do for the day. The only thing we knew for sure was that we wanted to go to Pink Taco. We headed over to HR and tried a little BJ. I was up and down. My partner got bored after losing $100 so she switched to craps. I stuck it out til I had dropped $400 and then went to find my partner. She couldn’t really get anything going at craps, so she decided to go hang out in the sportsbook. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I headed back to the BJ table. I played for a bit and was able to recoup all but $100 of my loss. I asked the pit boss for a comp for Pink Taco… not knowing if he would do it since I had just signed up the day before. I did think that 5 hours of $20/hand should get me something. He came up with a $35 comp. We headed to Pink Taco. http://www.pinktaco.com/ It was happy hour, so we actually had a hard time spending all of the comp. We both had a margarita (half price) and split the sweet corn tamale and chicken quesadilla appetizers (also half price). We then split the Pink Tacos (panuchos). If you haven’t had them, they are the best tacos, ever! The tortilla is filled with beans. The chicken is marinated and grilled and served with a slice of avocado and pickled red onions. The combination of the smooth beans, slightly spicy chicken, creamy avocado and tart pickled onions just sings in your mouth. Mmmmmm! Back to Palazzo. We had a $50 bar credit at Lavo, so we stopped in for a drink. We both tried the Uva Bianco, a martini made with grape vodka, muddled grapes and St. Germaine. Very tasty. Couple of those and we were ready for the room. 12/27: We slept in waking up about 9:30 am. I immediately called to see if we could get a late checkout. No luck. We figured, what would they do if we checked out on the TV and just didn’t leave right away. So, we packed and took our time getting ready to go. A couple minutes before 11 am, we checked out on the TV. Immediately the mini-bar locked and the fan on the HVAC unit shut off. I don’t know if the fan shutting off was a coincidence or not, but it seemed strange. We were out of the room in about 20 minutes. The housekeeping cart and staff were waiting for us to leave. One last drive down the strip and a last stop at Jack in the Box. We headed to the car rental facility, dropped off the Chevy and hopped on the shuttle to the airport. I am always amazed that so many people don’t tip the shuttle driver. These are the same people that drop all kinds of money in the casino, and can’t seem to find a buck or two for the driver. How inconsiderate. We were flying NWA and were very pleased to find their counter right inside from the shuttle drop off point. As we approached the counter, we heard two women speaking loudly at the Air Tran counter. We both thought they were joking around. As we checked in, we noticed that they were not speaking, but shouting. Soon we heard a few, “yo momma’s” and “F-you’s” come out. Next thing we noticed the agent came flying over the counter taunting the customer to, “come on, hit me.” They went back and forth getting more into each other’s face for a bit until 3 other Air Tran reps came across the counter to reel in their colleague. They coaxed her back behind the counter and the customer kept shouting. The agent hopped back over the baggage pass through and got right up in the customer’s face. She was screaming at the customer to, “come on, hit me.” Again the agent’s colleagues dragged her back over the counter and this time into a back room. We both looked around for the cameras. We figured this must have been an episode of Airline. This was totally one of the highlights of our trip. The flight was uneventful. As always, it was nice to get home and start planning the next trip!