Las Vegas - Jan. 17 - 20, 2009 This is our 9th trip to Las Vegas since 2001. We really like to go in January and watch/bet on the NFL games. I have a friend whom I work with that got us a room at the Imperial Palace through his slot host. We have stayed there previously in 2006 and we love the location. Convenient to everything. We previously stayed in a Classic room in the back tower over looking the sparse pool area, which was OK, but a long walk from the front of the casino. This time, we got a Deluxe room in the front tower, room 1886. Our balcony overlooked the Strip and Harrahâ€™s Carnival Court. The Classic Room and the Deluxe room are the same. The difference is the bedding. Horrid Hawaiian/Tropical bedding in the Classic room and gold/crÃ¨me bedding with cream furniture in the Deluxe room. Since our room was over the Carnival Court, at night it was pretty loud from the live band. That would bother some people, but we liked the music. We kept our balcony door open so we could hear it. Depending on the day, the band shut down between midnight and 3am. We would stay there again. We flew Southwest and had no problems. I really like that they donâ€™t have the check baggage fees like the other airlines. You now have to have drink tickets to get any alcohol. Luckily, I had another friend who gave us 8 tickets and we used them all. When we booked, about a week later the price went down $137.00. We could have canceled and re-booked with no fee and received a credit for a future flight, but that meant losing the direct flight and stopping in Albuquerque, so we didnâ€™t do it. We spent Sunday in various places watching the NFL games. Cardinals/Eagles we watch in our hotel room since we just ate a huge breakfast. We watched the first half of the Steelers/Ravens game in the Harrahâ€™s Keno Lounge. We played keno, received many drinks and watched the game. At half, we went over the Imperial Palace and watch the end in their sports book. I received two fee drink coupons for placing a bet there. At the end of the game, I went and collected my $400.00 winnings for both games. In other gaming, we hopped around various casinos to play video poker and hit several 4 of a kinds for $100. Cliff hit one in 3â€™s and one in Aces for $200 each. Other than that, no other wins this trip. Imperial Palace Spa - Iâ€™ve been to the spa before in 2006 and really enjoyed it. This time I booked a body scrub, 90 minute Swedish massage and foot scrub/massage with paraffin wax treatment. They were all very good and attentive. I didnâ€™t like that they have changed their products and no longer offer the wonderful smelling coco/mango body products. I also didnâ€™t get to pick the scent for the body scrub and the Vichy shower (a 6 head full body shower spray) was not hot enough. I asked it she could turn it up and she said it was set and couldnâ€™t be altered. I wouldnâ€™t do the body scrub again, but I would definitely do the massages. I also used the eucalyptus steam shower. I really enjoyed the spa and would go back again. Dining - Voo Doo Lounge at the Rio - Best meal of the trip. We had the skillet steak, capriccio, Caesar salad, baby organic veggies and strawberry shortcake. All was very good. The seasoning they put in the veggies was wonderful. Total price $89.00 + tip. While we were waiting for the main course, we went out on the deck where the bar/lounge is located and admired the view and took a few pictures. The lounge opens at 9pm, and we were told by the waiter that with our receipt from dinner, we could come back and gain entrance through the VIP section with no cover charge. We opted not to go back though. We wanted to see the Show in the Sky, but it was on break for that weekend. I wished I had seen that on their web-site and we would have came on Monday instead. We decided to go to McFaddenâ€™s in the Rio and check out their dueling pianos. It wasnâ€™t as lively or as fun as the dueling pianos in New York, New York or Harrahâ€™s. Most people were still eating their meals and talking among themselves and ignoring the music. We snacked on chili cheese fries, which were good. We also had a beer and a bourbon and coke. Total price was $23.00. Outrageous. Zeffirino Sunday Champagne Brunch - Venetian - We love the Sterling Champagne Brunch at Ballyâ€™s and have been several times, but I read up on it for this trip and itâ€™s been having some issues as well as the price is now just ridiculous, so someone was nice to mention on the boards to try Zeffirino. Great recommendation. We will probably never go back to Ballyâ€™s. First the atmosphere is so quite and peaceful. Not herds of people milling around and talking. We took the first reservation at 10am and there was only us and one other couple. They seated us at a table for two overlooking the canal. It was easy to take our time to go though the buffet and make selections. The food was excellent. The only thing I didnâ€™t care for was that the lobster was served chilled. I like it grilled/cook with garlic butter, but Iâ€™m sure if I would had asked them to heat it up they would have. You do need to request the oysters on the half shell if you want them. I know I drank a whole bottle of champagne by myself. We would defiantly go back. Total price $55 p/p + tip. Excellent deal for all the really good food, lobster, and champagne you can consume. Eiffel Tower Restaurant - Paris - We ate there before in 2001 for our 2nd wedding anniversary and had a very good rememberable meal, so thought weâ€™d spend the money and try it again. There menu has changed and they no longer have the really great bone in rib-eye. Cliff had the NY Strip and it was good, but he didnâ€™t like the sauce they put on it. I had the escargot, which was good, but remembered it differently from last time, which was better. I had the vegetarian plate, which was basically ravioli with purÃ©ed vegetable paste in the center. It was terrible. I did not eat it and I told the waiter it was awful. They offered to replace it, but I told them no as there was really nothing else on the menu that looked good. I was disappointed they would not take it of the bill, but instead gave us an extra dessert of chocolate mousse. It tasted like unsweetened coco, so we didnâ€™t eat that either. They noted â€œHappy Anniversaryâ€ on the plate in chocolate, but it wasnâ€™t our anniversary. We were married in July. We did order the crÃ¨me brulee. They still have the best crÃ¨me brulee I have ever had anywhere. Just the right sweetness and consistency. Red Square at Mandalay Bay is a good second choice. Also had 2 martinis and a glass of tea. Total price $156.00 + tip. We wouldnâ€™t return again unless we could just go and have the crÃ¨me brulee and a drink. Isla Mexican Kitchen - Treasure Island - We are used to Texas â€œTex/Mexâ€, so this was very different. Weâ€™ve been to Mexico several times and have not had food like this there either. The tortilla chips were very good. Didnâ€™t like the red or green salsa. The pico and guacamole was good. I had the shrimp crevice and it was OK. Had better in Cozumel. I also had the chicken tacos. The grilled tortillas were good and the chicken mixture was OK, but there was not any lettuce, tomato or cheese. Just tortilla and chicken. It was served with black beans and Spanish rice. I do not care for black beans or rice. What ever happened to the good â€˜ole refried bean? Had the flan for dessert. It was really good. Cliff has the chicken taquitos. He didnâ€™t really care for them. He also had a traditional margarita and he didnâ€˜t like it either. I had a regular mojito and it was perfect. Total price $83.00. Tequila flights start at $23.00. I really wanted to try one, but Cliff wasnâ€™t in the mood. We probably wonâ€™t go back. Margaretville for Breakfast - Flamingo - They now serve breakfast on the upper, top, open deck at 7am. Cliff had the huevas rancheros (again with black beans) with Spanish sauce and I had a regular breakfast plate of fried eggs, hash browns, bacon and French toast. It was all good especially the Spanish sauce. We would definitely eat there again. Total price $33.00 with coffee. Cheeseburger - Miracle Mile/ Planet Hollywood - I sure this probably is supposed to be Cheeseburger in Paradise as it was dressed up in a Tropical/Hawaiian theme, but they canâ€˜t use that specific name. We had the coconut shrimp and fish and chips with sodas. It was really good. Total price $36.00. The weather was perfect. It was actually very warm during the day and we didnâ€™t need a jacket at night. There were crowds and lots of people, but Iâ€™ve seen worse in the summer and during the holidays. I didnâ€™t see any recession going on. We were disappointed that most of the shows were on break that weekend, so we didnâ€™t see anything. Iâ€™ve said this before, but we would really like to stay downtown next time. Weâ€™ll see. Pictures are located at: http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn That site is having issues with their download program, so I havenâ€™t been able to clean them up or attach a description yet. Hopefully within a week or so.