We have just returned home to Scotland after our 20th annual fortnightly trip! Our main priority is going to as many shows as possible ( 10 this trip!), then jointly between spending time gambling and eating! If we hadn't enjoyed so many shows, we'd seriously be considering never returning again!!! Our travel was a nightmare, our gambling wins practically non- existent and the food prices and even show prices have rocketed!!!! TRAVEL 3 flights coming over, Edinburgh to Amsterdam straightforward, Amsterdam to LAX okay, although we weren't given the seats we reserved months ago and the plane was quite small, but the fun began in LA! With 3 hours to connect to our Vegas flight, we were slightly concerned about killing time, but thanks to the time spent getting through immigration and customs, we ended up running wild- eyed in sheer panic, only just catching our connection! It took over 2 and a half hours queueing up before we spoke to an agent, in between times we scanned our passports through a machine, had iris scans and fingerprints taken, all on a self operated monitor and eventually went through the exact same procedure with a real person! All of the airport staff were universally rude and ignorant, hindering rather than helping us and I ended up white as a ghost, my wife scarlet, both sweating profusely, having sped past Usain Bolt I swear and both upset and furious! On our return journey (4 flights), I was informed by email that I would be leaving Vegas at 7am, alone, and that my wife was booked, alone, ln an 11.30am flight! We travelled Vegas to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Detroit and this time the drama was on our Detroit to Paris leg. About 2-3 hours into the journey, an announcement came over the PA were there any doctors or paramedics onboard? A woman a few rows ahead of us had passed out unconscious and the medical staff spent a couple of hours treating her, even putting her on a drip, then clearing a centre row of 5 passengers to allow her to have a sleep. Thankfully she seemed to recover well. On the final flight, a man carried a large Dalmatian puppy on board,in his arms, not in a crate or carrier and it sat at the front of economy for the trip - didn't realise that was allowed these days, not that it borhered us as animal lovers! HOTEL In March last year, we booked a package deal for flights and standard accommodation at the Stratosphere . Most tourists wouldn't entertain this hotel due to the awkward position and the dodgy local clientele of beggars, homeless and addicts. We found it fine though, ideal for travelling by Deuce bus either to the Strip or Downtown. Admittedly there were some down and outs, but they never bothered us unduly. In September a close friend won £1m. on our lottery and very kindly upgraded us to a Star Suite at The STRAT . and we were very pleasantly surprised at how nice this was, Obviously, it can't compete with luxurious Strip properties, but it had a huge bed, 2 large flat screen tvs. very large shower and tub and separate seating and dining areas. Worth looking up. GAMBLING Each and every year, we have had some form of success on slots, but this year was a total wash-out! Strip, Downtown, off- Strip properties, all swallowed up our money like there was no tomorrow! On the first night my wife won $ 90, and halfway through, I won $100, but on every single prior trip we have had several days where we won $ 100 plus on a handful of occasions. Its one thing to find tight slots, but to end up expecting to lose in every casino you enter is demoralising! You fully expect to win some, lose some but this was just a horror story! FOOD Just as disappointing as the gambling losses was the sky-high food prices. We are realistic and fully appreciate that Strip prices have been increasing steadily over the years, but we felt ripped off continually. One day, we wete at the MGM food court and wren't too hungry, so shared a " 5 pieces of Original Chicken tender and fries meal" worh a small drink each - $20!!! The pieces of chicken were so tiny we needed a microscope and even the portion of fries was far less than in previous years! The buffet prices are soaring too, with the rip- off Champagne Sat and Sun offerings an excuse to boost yheir takings, sad all round. SHOWS Thank goodness we enjoyed most of the shows we went to! Reviews as follows, my marks out of 5 stars. THUR. 19th Jan. TORUK, THE FIRST FLIGHT ( T MOBILE ARENA) 2 STARS We have seen most of the Cirque shows, with mixed feelings, when they are good they are brilliant, when they suck, like this one you weary of life! The 2 stars are purely for the special effects, which are impressive, but this doesn't typify your usual Cirque show of breathtaking acrobatics and gymnastics. The entire focus is on the plot, which is based on Avatar, a film we'd never seen and definitely won't ever see!! Half of the giant arena was used, many empty seats and a feeling if the Emperor's new clothes syndrome as a significant part of the crowd rose for a standing ovation - why???? Other slight gripe is that the drinks holders on the seat backs in front of us proved uncomfortable and many by us also complained they were completely in the way! FRI. 20rh. Jan. TENORS OF ROCK ( HARRAHS) 4 STARS This show features 5 British finalists of the X Factor singing covers of artists and bands such as Guns n' Roses, Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, B on Jovi etc. etc. All of the group started off life performing in London West End musicals like Les Miserables, We Will Rock You type shows. All of them have fantastic voices and enjoy coming out into the audience regularly to perform. They really excelled on 3 numbers in particular - Bohemian Rhapsody, Bed of Roses and Music of the Night ( from Phantom of the Opera). In general they were exceptional, with only one or two slight blips. Firstly, they have a habit of altering the beginning of classic songs, sometimes so much so that it takes a little time to work out which song it is but then build up to a rousing crescendo, and just like in Rock of Ages, they will start off a fantastic rendition of old favourites, but then quickly move to a completely different song and leave a sense of anti climax, Well worth attending, but a little frustrating too! SAT. 21st. JAN. HUMAN NATURE JUKEBOX ( VENETIAN) 5 STARS We've seen this group advertised for many years, bur as we aren't particularly Motown fans, resisted seeing them before. We were blown away by how fantastic their voices blended together and they can really deliver on all genres of music. They do excel with Motown numbers, but provide a really wide variety of music, with great warmth and wit and even although I am not a ballroom dance fan, the couple who perform throughout the evening are mesmerising and highly expert. Will definitely go to see them again, no matter if it is a Motown only show or this current variety of styles. SUN 22nd Jan. GOSPEL BRUNCH ( House of Blues, Mandalay Bay) 3.5 STARS First and foremost, we have to say the buffet was delicious!!! Never been to anything like this before, it was a little strange to begin with but great once we settled into the swing of events. Everyone was friendly, the singers were very talented, but as many other reviewers have stated, far too long spent on dedications for birthdays, anniversaries etc. Also, the sound system wasn't ideal which ruined proceedings a little. Inspirational when the sound was sufficient, I'd recommend this experience at least once. MON. 23rd Jan. BRONX WANDERERS (Ballys ) 4.5 STARS Advertised as "if you like Jersey Boys, you will love this", we loved this family act of father, 2 sons and other band members. Harmonies were perfect, great sense of fun and really enjoying themselves, a real treat! Full of energy and the crowd happily joined in throughout. Wouldn't hesitate to revisit this show in future. Varied setlist, with some surprises thrown in, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Billy Joel. At the very end, any women who wanted to were invited up on atage to dance - an elderly Chinese wiman of about 70 hobbled on stage, grabbed the lead singers crotch three times, goosed him from behind and finally flashed her breasts ( not wearing a bra!). Quite a finale! TUE. 24th Jan, MJ LIVE ( STRATOSPHERE) 5 STARS Over the years, we have seen many Michael Jackson tributes, but this guy is by far and away the best! His dancing looked better than Jackson's, his stamina was unbelievable, a good strong voice and very witty and personable too! I nearly hesitated about giving this 5 stars but considering the effort he put in, you can even forgive the fact that the entire show only lasts one hour! THU. 26th Jan. PURPLE REIGN WESTGATE 3 STARS We saw this show last year dor the first time and rated it a 5 star show, but unfortunately this was a huge let down! Firstly, the crowd was very poor, maybe a quarter full . This alone seened to depress " Prince" who appeared ro be performing on auto pilor for much of the evening. Last year was a full house and amazing audience interaction, this year was a samp squib. I recognised nearly every number last time round, but there were several numbers aimed purely at diehard Prince fans and this loweted the mood even further. He also didn't play When Doves Cry and we ended up very disappointed. FRI. 27th Jan. COMEDY DAREVEVIL ( HOOTERS) 3.5 STARS This was a throwback to the old carnival or circus sideshow acts, where the act performs stunts such as sword- swallowing, piercing his nose and eyes and holding weights suspended from hooks attached to body parts, balancing chainsaws, inserting a power drill into his nose, balancing a lawn mower using his teeth kind of show! This show is in a very small ahowroom at Hooters, which helps the atmosphere and is really one you'll love or hate depending on how string your stomach is! Very likeable couple. SUN29th Jan. ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING ( ORLEANS) 4.5 STARS Full crowd, although a very much older crowd, fantastic Elvis impersonator , so we thought..... He covered a very wide cross section of Elvis' material, many numbers we had never heard of before but still really enjoyed. Near the end, he exited stage left, then two seconds appeared stage right in a completely different outfit - cue my wife and I having a Eureka moment and saying simultaneously " Ah, there' s 2 Elvi!" Last number of the night, dirst one, then two and finally a third Elvis sing on stage together!!!!! In our defence, we were sitting right at the back and they did look alike! Deserved a livelier crowd, MON. 30th Jan. ROCK Fantasy ( HOOTERS) 4 STARS We only discovered this new show by chance while queueing at the Hooters box office for tickets for Comedy Daredevil. It is basically a " Rock" version of Legends - instead of 4 tribute acts in an evening you get 3 and the plan is for the lineup to vhange fortnightly. On the night we went, the first tribute was Axl Rose( he looked the part but his mike was malfunctioning and his voice was very ropey, Steve Perry( lead singer of Journey) who had a fabulous voice and finally Elton John, who was excellent too! Future acts planned include Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, Billy Joel, Pat Benatar, Bowie, Stevie Nicks and many more. Great intimate atmosphere, wonderful concept, we only hope they canget more publicity going and keep going long term. SUMMARY We'll be back next January, mainly because of the shows, surely the gambling can only get better and we will save up for a mortgage for food! Hope you enjoyed reading!