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Doin' Downtown. The oldsters return to Vegas.

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Ace-n-Lucille, Nov 7, 2016.

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  1. Ace-n-Lucille

    Ace-n-Lucille Tourist

    Joined:
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    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    My Trip Report

    Let's see if copy and paste will work. :)


    We are oldsters celebrating both our 40th wedding anniversary (!!!) and Ace’s 60th birthday, and we haven’t been to Vegas in 10 years. Our trip was Sunday Oct. 23 2016 through Thursday Oct. 27. I chose downtown as a home-base because we have one seriously bad back and 3 bad knees between us. We can get around but have to be sensible about it or medical bills will ensue. Main Street Station it is.

    Getting around: we were all over the place in this category, spending extra money here and saving money there, and it all worked wonderfully. SWA with a customer-of-size fare for Ace (he’s a big ol’ boy). Pre-boarding privileges for both of us so I could sit with him. He was able to be comfortable, other than the legroom, and being smaller and with short legs I felt like I was in a first class seat! Kudos to SWA for not only having these fares, but for having a website that clearly explains all about them and how to book. Both flights were issue-free and on-time. At the last minute (Sat. evening) I booked a hire-car for our airport/downtown transfer, which I would unhesitatingly do again. OMG it made all the crowds and confusion easier. I booked an SUV online with BellTrans and it went flawlessly. We followed the signs to taxis/limos and there was Joe with Ace’s name on the ipad and from there on it was smooth sailing. Joe wouldn’t let us touch our luggage, there were no crowds or lines or long walks, the SUV was grand and pristine, he insisted he’d make it easy when I was waffling on whether I wanted to go to the trouble to stop and get some water for the room - and he did - and delivered us to the proper MSS door closest to registration. Easy peasy and worth every penny ($70ish plus tip) (note to self: send kudos/review to BellTrans and Yelp or somewhere giving Joe his due.)

    We rented a car Tuesday for our running-around day (Advantage, right there at MSS), expensive ($107 all-in for one day), but it worked for us. A full-size Camry. Ace did great on the freeways – though I did have to help him peel his hands off the steering wheel a couple of times. :D

    I had pre-purchased 3-day bus passes ($20/ea.) which we used to ride the SDX route twice round-trip downtown/strip. I figure we saved $40+ in taxi fares with just those two rides, and we enjoyed the bus. In fact, you would be hard pressed to convince me that a taxi or Uber would be significantly quicker. If we had gotten more opportunities for bus rides we would have saved even more money. I would definitely plan on using the bus system again on future trips.

    In the interests of saving our legs (too far to walk to the bus stop) we taxied twice while on the strip, TI/Bellagio and Wynn/Cromwell, both trips being $8 plus tip and had no issues. And we needed a taxi for our departure MSS/airport transfer, were collecting our luggage from the bell desk and discussing needing to ask the bellman to call a taxi for us when this guy walked up and said he’d overheard us, he had a taxi right out the door, and if we’d wait 2 minutes he’d have us on our way. And he was the nicest taxi driver, an older gentleman who was friendly and witty and easy to talk to. $25 plus tip and a lovely last Vegas ride.

    (note: we got our first smartphones 9 weeks ago and I’m well behind the curve on using one, which is why I didn’t try Uber/Lyft.)

    Accomodations: we both loved staying downtown, though Ace said he wouldn’t necessarily choose MSS again. I would. The rooms were super clean and had everything important to me: a nice-sized room, great mattress and linens, mini-fridge, comfy armchairs for lounging, and housekeeping was taken care of daily and well. And the price! I reserved us 2 rooms so we could have a “suite with a living room”, and the cost for 2 rooms for 4 nights was $390 all in (I booked 6 months out), not including the $20 tip I gave the nice check-in clerk for help accommodating my wish list (smoking, connecting rooms, nearer the elevators). No line for check-in, in fact I never saw a line at registration and I was through there a lot! No waiting for elevators. As for the trains, we heard them but it was just a case of wondering what that noise was then going back to sleep. No problem. A casino that’s nice enough and large enough but not TOO large. The walk down to Fremont Street was quick and easy and a total non-issue. I think Ace in his older years has decided that if he’s in Vegas, he prefers the total Vegas experience with a little luxury and classier public restrooms, you know? :D Nothing wrong with that.

    Sightseeing: Sunday we strolled Fremont Street for about 3 hours after lunch while waiting for our room to be ready, but didn’t make it back out again. Gambled the rest of the (early) night at MSS and the Cal. Between being too excited to sleep the night before, having to get up and out of the house at zero-dark-thirty, and the stress and excitement of traveling and hitting Vegas…..we were beat! Some takeout food and in the room by 9:00.

    Monday we took the SDX to the strip and wandered/gambled the Palazzo, Venetian, Mirage and TI. I got us lost at the P/V as I have every single time I’ve stepped foot in the place. :D The Palazzo in particular is gorgeous and we enjoyed watching and listening to the singing gondoliers at Venetian. We walked for what seemed like miles (through completely empty-of-patrons high-end stores) to find my choice of lunch restaurant, then rejected that restaurant, then got lost trying to find my second choice. We were worn to a frazzle by the time we finally got to sit down to relax and eat. After lunch we strolled the outside of the Venetian, then across the street. The walk up the sidewalk along the fountains to the Mirage was lovely, and after another gamble/walkabout we took the tram over to TI. Caught a taxi from TI right about dark and headed down to Bellagio which we didn’t even go into, a fountain show was starting just as we got out of the cab so we watched that (as lovely and romantic as ever) then walked over to see the Cosmo. Nice place, enjoyed seeing the Chandelier bar I’d read so much about. Wandered and gambled there, then walked just across the street to catch the SDX in front of the Eiffel Tower back to MSS. Too much walking today for us and knees were screaming, though we ended up doing a small walkabout for food. Achieved goal of seeing the strip at night and it was as awesome as we remembered.

    Tuesday we had the car and started at the Shelby Museum. Ace loved it, and it’s small enough that it only took him 45 minutes or so to be done with it so I wasn’t mind-numbingly bored for too long. :D (He said he would definitely recommend it for any car enthusiast.) We then headed out to Hoover Dam and the new bridge, going through downtown Boulder City for lunch on the way. Seeing the dam is incredible and all, but that new bridge! It’s both beautiful and magnificent. Oh how I wish the planners had put some sort of tourist parking/pull-in below the bridge where the pillars are. That’s where we were blown away the most, driving along the curves near the pillars. Incredible to see. Next up was the Stratosphere where we headed up to the Level 107 lounge and had a couple beers while taking in the stunning daylight views (who designed the seating up there? very uncomfortable.) It was Ace’s first time up there and he loved it. (an aside: in the area before the elevators they have a shop/stand selling 3-D photo crystal cubes and whatnot. We stopped to marvel over them and ended up sitting for a photo to purchase one. We had it engraved “40 Years…and Counting. Las Vegas 2016”. I wouldn’t have spent the money myself ($107 all in) but Ace insisted, and I’m so glad he did. It is a totally cool keepsake of our trip. I would have sworn that the man didn’t have a bit of romance left in him after all these years…..I stand corrected. :kiss:) Headed back to MSS to park the car in its allotted slot, then walked over to Fremont Street and had a blast there for several hours.

    Wednesday SDX bus again to the strip, starting at the Wynn. The Popeye statue was every bit as awesome as I thought it would be, and not that hard to find. I feel fortunate to have gotten to see it in person before it gets sent overseas or whatever. Of course we accidently entered at the “shopping arcade” and had to walk through miles of once-again empty high-end stores to get to the casino – how DO these places stay in business?! The Wynn is gorgeous and I loved seeing it all. Lunchtime hit and Ace chose the buffet, after which we grabbed a taxi down to the Cromwell, which was still Bill’s last we were in town. Beautiful remodel, you’d never believe it was the same place! A little playing then over to Bally’s for a walkabout (nostalgia: Bally’s was our first Vegas hotel back in…..1993?), then through yet another miles-long shopping arcade to get to the Paris. We arrived in the casino parched and thought we’d die before finding a simple iced tea, but we finally thought to play machines a while and a cocktail waitress found us. Rejuvenated, we were deciding whether to move on or head back downtown when I realized that we were in the casino LOOKING at the Eiffel Tower girders, which meant our bus stop was just out front. So back to downtown and another bodaciously fun night.

    And now: Fremont Street. I told Ace before we left, after a raft of research, that it seemed to be a case of you either love it or hate it. I didn’t see much in between. And I really couldn’t predict which side we would fall on.

    We loved it.

    Our first day, Sunday afternoon, Ace repeated to me a sentence he’d overheard walking by another tourist: “On Fremont Street, EVERY night is Saturday night.” We laughed but didn’t think too much about it…..till after Wednesday night and all the fun we’d had we remembered the quote and went “YEAH. “ The lights, the people-watching, the crowds (but not too bad on the weeknights we were there – I think a Friday or Saturday night would be too much for me) the excitement, the drunken dancing tourists, the street acts, the canopy show, the zip-liners flying overhead…..well, we loved it all. We loved having a variety of easily-accessible casinos to pop in and out of, not to mention all the easily-accessible bars to get a beer from. Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a talented young magician (and I made sure Ace put a $10 bill in the kid’s tip hat), Tuesday night I don’t remember anything specific beyond getting toasty and having fun, but Wednesday night we had an absolute blast listening to Frank and the Steins. Great live music and dancers that made me think we’d paid big bucks to see a show on the strip. Fabulous dancing and smiles, they acted like they were having fun and were engaged with their audience. Excuse me, I haven’t “put my hands in the air” in 20 years, but hey I’m in Vegas and the band was insisting so I was putting my hands in the air like nobody’s business. :D We stood watching them for over 2 hours and really enjoyed their show.

    Yep, there were beggars and homeless people sleeping on the street and disgusting street performers. It was nothing worse than we saw on the strip, or in any big city. It wasn’t dirty. We never felt in any way unsafe. We had a blast. I now officially don’t understand why people denigrate downtown . We would definitely stay there again – though Ace would probably choose a hotel like the GN.

    Dining: My food category just didn’t work out. My main disappointment in an otherwise perfectly awesome trip. I am a foodie wannabe, and Ace appreciates good food, but doesn’t want - or is physically able - to put in the footwork/trouble to get to it. I had lists of casual-but-maybe-awesome lunch restaurants to try depending on where we might be, had read reviews and recommendations till I was blue in the face, and envisioned divine gourmet small-plate evening snacking. Oh well, the research and dreaming was fun!

    That said, we had some good eating. Our arrival day we walked down to Pizza Rock for lunch and man oh man! The best Caesar salad and the best pizza we’ve ever had! (And I consider myself a pizza connoisseur. :)) We shared the salad and The Butcher (I think) pizza and both were incredible. Killer pizza crust and toppings. We agreed we would go out of our way to eat at Pizza Rock again. With beers $42. That night we ended up getting takeout from Aloha Specialties at the Cal and it was excellent. Their menu is exactly our favorite type of fast food, Hawaiian/oriental-ish. Two plates of marinated mahi mahi and pork and beef and I don’t remember the exact names of what we had but huge plates with rice and macaroni salad. $20ish and we would be returning.

    Monday was where I wore Ace down with finding finer dining. :rolleyes: We were walking Palazzo to Venetian and he chose my fried chicken option which we finally found after our miles-long walk – Yardbird. We were eventually seated at a table with chairs that hardly fit MY butt, so certainly too small for Ace’s broadness. And the noise! I couldn’t hear myself think it was so noisy in there, uncomfortably so. We decided we wouldn’t be able to enjoy ourselves and regretfully left. Much more walking later we found Buddy V’s which we enjoyed though were only partly wowed. The calamari appetizer: WOW. Incredible. Best calamari we’ve ever had and something I will dream about in the months to come. Our mains of my orecchiette/Italian sausage and Ace’s Italian philly steak sandwich were certainly tasty, but unmemorable. $54 . Around 11:30 that night we headed for Aloha again, which was closed, then down to try the Market St. Café, which had a long line, so we walked down the street for a drunken late-night breakfast at DuPars at the GG. We were underwhelmed after all I’ve read about it. The pancakes WERE delicious (you know I just had to try them), but sorry, ANYTHING drenched in a scoop of melted butter is gonna be pretty good. Ace’s omelet plate was good but overall we thought it just typical good diner food of the type we could find at home. $25ish.

    Tuesday we were on the road and no way Ace was gonna let me lead him around to find someplace great off my lists after Monday’s death march, so we drove through Boulder City on our way to the dam and ended up at a little place called Little City Grille. Great homestyle hamburgers on bakery buns with remarkable thick-cut bacon and homemade curly fries. Specialty fresh-ground coffee too. I would recommend the place if you were in town and in the mood for a burger. $26. And Tuesday night we ordered to-go from the 777 there at MSS and it was a big disappointment. We just ordered wrong I imagine. Fried green beans (decent), calamari (barely edible), and the burger sliders which we swore were nuked out of a Costco box. I would have liked to have given them another chance – I’ve read so much good about the place - but Ace would have none of it. :) $32.

    Wednesday was the Wynn buffet which was excellent. $58.That night we hit our wall while at the Plaza and everything was closed in their food court except Subway and McDonalds. Getting McDonald’s takeout in one of the world’s major food meccas –it seemed so wrong. :(

    Departure day we had time for the MSS buffet or Aloha Specialties so Ace chose that again. We enjoyed beef & broccoli plate (Ace) and a giant bowl of won ton min for me. Excellent again. $20

    Gaming: I play mostly VP with a little slots thrown in (deuces is my fave and 10-cent triple play Ultimate X deuces is my personal crack cocaine of gambling) and Ace is just the opposite. Overall he did better on the strip and I did better downtown. No royals or handpays :( but I did hit a couple of nice slot jackpots. $675 on a Buffalo Gold machine at MSS, and the night we spent an hour at the D every machine I sat at was good to me: $500 here, $100 there…..why can’t that happen more often?! We had the most fun gambling together at the Cosmo on a huge double-seat Buffalo something-or-other with cool animation. The wolves gave little kisses and the eagles flexed their wings and screeched…..we lost our stake but had a lot of fun doing it. We never did find that same machine again anywhere. At MSS one evening I was dealt 3 deuces on the bottom line of triple play – major excitement followed by major pissed-off-edness when of course I didn’t hit the 4th. :mad: Overall we came home with exactly half of our bankroll intact which is practically winning in my book – and gives me a good head start on saving up to get to go back.

    Misc.: When we were gaming separately anywhere I sat down to play I had cocktail waitresses plying me with iced tea or beer; Ace said he couldn’t find a cocktail waitress anywhere to save his life. He spent a lot more time and money than I did having to go to the bar to get his beer. We didn’t make it to the show I thought would suit us, Mac King at Harrah’s, and I was kind of hoping to catch Big Elvis too. And we missed SO much downtown that I had hoped to see and do: Eat restaurant and Carson Kitchen; and touring the Golden Nugget and seeing “the” golden nugget and the shark tank and everything (we walked into the GN a couple of times, but just played a bit and left. I don’t know why we didn’t get back in there for more of a tour.) We didn’t make it east of the canopy, so missed the El Cortez and Container Park and I was hoping for a craft cocktail at one of the trendy places; didn’t get to try Sigma Derby upstairs at the D….. well, we just have to go back. :D

    I’d asked on here about “checking” our gambling stash with the casino cage. I would definitely do that again if we carried our bankroll. We did it as front money, a little paperwork and exchange of IDs and we were set to just withdraw our daily allowance every day with signature and ID. Easy and secure and took about 6 minutes to set up. Also if anyone wondered about it, I corresponded with someone at Boyd who explained check cashing privileges. You just apply ahead of time the same as applying for casino credit only specifying you want check cashing, and when approved you’re set. They emailed the forms to me with instructions, but our trip was in such a state of flux the month before leaving that I just didn’t get this done.

    And per recommendations on here I went to speak to a host before checking out and she comped one room completely and the other for 2 nights, so we ended up only paying about $95 for 2 rooms for 4 nights. Awesome.

    Any questions just ask. Y’all were an invaluable resource in planning our trip and I thank you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
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  2. GamblingGolfer

    GamblingGolfer High-Roller

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    Thanks for such a detailed report and congrats on the anniversary. I guess we fit the same mold ... a couple of more years on the anniverary and a few more on the age. We usually don't stay downtown, but almost always visit. I love playing VP at the Boar's Head bar at MSS.

    GG
     
  3. Electroguy563

    Electroguy563 Over-Fried Gambler

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    Thanks for such a detailed report! Looks like you and your husband had a great time.

    Isn't it always the case where you plan out your trip to do this and that and it doesn't quite pan out that way. But like you said, more the reason to go back!

    I always stay Downtown, it just fits my style. Glad you like it also.

    And our VMB members are great! I'm glad you were able to use the valuable information that was shared here.
     
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  4. vegasdev

    vegasdev VIP Whale

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    great report. I still love downtown. for how much longer, who knows? change (for the worse) is inevitable. I don't know if you played at the Fremont, but the drink service there can be terrible, so I'm with Ace on that one.
     
  5. kkinwi

    kkinwi VIP Whale

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    Very much enjoyed your report....I think I arrived at MSS the day you left! I was playing at the triple play when a lady was dealt a royal playing dimes. $1200! So you never know.....
     
    Going to see Journey!
  6. bubbakitty

    bubbakitty Doing retirement again and happily so....

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    Hopefully the poor drink service was not on the floor of the MSS as my observation is their goal is to get you hammered if that is your desire. Any idea of coin-in at MSS on your stay? You got a good comp from the host it seems and just wondered for comparison purposes (your card score at the end of the trip would reflect this # ). Thanks for a great report
     
    Halloween vs Solidified-ween. What?
    NFL Wild Card--
  7. justchuck

    justchuck Low-Roller

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    That was a great trip report, really enjoyed it. We also happen to be Downtown fans.
     
  8. smerrian

    smerrian View from Bally's

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    Really enjoyed the TR. I think Downtown is the best party in LV though I usually only stay there for a couple of days on my 2 week trips...like Ace I like a bit more upscale hotel in which to lodge.
     
  9. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Great report and happy anniversary, also happy birthday to Ace. I can relate to bad knees, but it sounds like you guys did very well getting around.
    No secret that we are downtown fans.
     
    38th anniversary and keep taking advantage of the Companion Pass
  10. jENBEAU

    jENBEAU VIP Whale

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    Grea TR: thanks! Seems like you two had a great time
     
  11. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED The biggest Degenerate on VMB

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    good report and glad you enjoyed vegas, after a 10 year hiatus...it definitely is hard to fit everything in, even if you have four days!
     
    Back with a bundle! (OF CASH!)
  12. M0rtyC

    M0rtyC TBD

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    Thanks for a great report. Very well written and thorough.
     
  13. boxofbirds

    boxofbirds Royal Flushless

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    Thanks for the report. Lots of good info!
     
  14. Ace-n-Lucille

    Ace-n-Lucille Tourist

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    Appreciate the feedback.....I was hoping the report would be worth reading, but you never know.....

    Bubbakitty: sorry, I have no idea what our coin-in was. Ace's coin-in was larger than mine, since she comped the room I had in his name in full, and only half of the room that was in my name.
     
  15. Geogran

    Geogran texas yankee

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    @Ace-n-Lucille - Can't tell you how many times this happens to us! Foodie planning, research, visions of sugar plums dancing in my head - then we get there and time just slips away! It appears you guys really got around and thanks for the details and opinions on all the places you did get to eat! Really enjoyed your detail and good info!
    Congrats on that 40th anniversary and birthday celebration in Vegas!
    Geogran
     
  16. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice report! I'm disappointed to hear that Advantage really took advantage of you guys. No way a Camry should be $107 all-in for a Tuesday.
     
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