Friday, September 18, 2015

Las Vegas: Day 1, Night 2

We got a few hours of sleep from our first night in Vegas (read more here) and woke up early-ish to get a start on our busy day. We did A LOT of walking up and down the strip. We walked through the casinos (we didn't do more than the penny slot machines), walked through the hotels, shopped, ate, and sweated in the afternoon sun. 
We didn't have a strip view from our hotel room but we still had some magnificent views.
We grabbed breakfast from the Pyramid Cafe inside of The Luxor. This brunch began my theory of no bad food and no weak drinks in Vegas. I got a veggie omelet, hashbrowns, toast, and one (or two) mimosas. It was wonderful! I was slightly shocked when our waitress asked me if I wanted a to-go mimosa. Why yes, yes I did.
After brunch (and with a mimosa in my hand) we checked out the casino in the Luxor and tried a penny slot machine. We won a whole .14 cents. Before leaving the hotel we stocked my backpack purse (an essential for this trip because it held everything we needed plus it looked cute) with bottles of water and headed out to walk the strip and visit as many hotels as possible.
View of The Luxor and New York New York. 
New York New York Hotel was really cool inside (and out). This was our second favorite hotel to walk through, our first being the Bellagio.
The Bellagio Conservatory was one of my favorite things. Actually, Matt and I loved everything about this hotel. The architecture and art was amazing, plus it had the best little cafes and restaurants. The next time we head to Vegas, I informed Matt I want the Bellagio vacation: eat, sleep, drink, and (mostly) play at the Bellagio with a day to hike in the mountains nearby. 
The ceiling in the Bellagio lobby.
Every girl needs a chocolate fountain. I highly recommend trying one of the dessert crepes at Jean Philippe Patisserie (our's were a late snack/late dinner/very early breakfast on night 3).
My absolute favorite thing to see in Vegas were the Bellagio Fountains. I could have watched them all day every day that we were there. Something I didn't know but discovered as we watched is that each fountain show is different and set to different music. Just amazing! 
The only thing I didn't love about the Bellagio was the amount of people soliciting right in front of the hotel/fountains. But I got my picture taken with a minion so it wasn't all bad. I could have done without the people handing out cards to strip clubs though.
From Bellagio we walked next door to Caesar's Palace. That hotel is massive! We loved the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. However, by the time we were done walking through the Shops and hotel, I was more than ready to see a real blue sky. I never knew I got claustrophobic until we spent so much time walking indoors with massive amounts of people.
The shops with an awesome ceiling. I still prefer a real blue sky.
From Caesar's Palace we walking over to the Venetian Hotel. Truth be told, the only reason I wanted to see this hotel was because it has a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in it. In January, as we were leaving the airport in Phoenix, AZ (read about my Mom Break here) I happened to stop at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to take a latte on the plane. I've been craving their coffee ever since. Even more impressive than my Mexican Chocolate Latte in January was my blended Caramel Butterscotch coffee drink. We also took a much needed rest in the coffee shop and people watched.
I got the Caramel Butterscotch and Matt got the Black Forest Ice Blended Drink. Heaven in a plastic cup.
When the caffeine from the coffee took effect, we walked around the shops in the Venetian Hotel. It reminded me a lot of the shops at Caesar's Palace, but with a canal in the middle.
Fall decorations were up at the Venetian.
Views from the Venetian when we walked out of the hotel. We passed right by Madame Tussauds wax museum as well. I stopped for a picture with Johnny Depp. He's a shorty.
We slowly made our way back South on the strip. We stopped at the Paris Hotel, walked around the inside, and ate lunch at a restaurant recommended to us by several people. Mon Ami Gabi has amazing food, service, decor, AND  a view of the Bellagio fountains. We sat on the patio under fans so we could hear the music that went along with the fountain shows. 
My lunch/dinner: grilled chicken on blended arugula, arugula with a lemon vinaigrette dressing (which was also on the chicken), and Frangria (a French twist on Sangria) to drink. I literally want to go back to Vegas just for the food.
We got back to The Luxor late afternoon/early evening and cleaned up a bit to head downtown to Fremont Street. By cleaned up I mean showered and changed out of our nasty sweaty clothes from walking 20+ miles in 107 degree dessert heat. Note to self: stick to Vegas in the cooler months (locals say from mid-October to February is a great time to be there).
Then came our real adventure: the public transportation. After doing some research, we decided the best way to get downtown would be to take the bus. A 24 hours bus pass was only $6 a person and seemed totally worth it after walking 20+ miles in a matter of 7 hours. We walked next door to Mandalay Bay (to the bus stop) and bought a pass. Easy enough. Then we boarded the bus. Nearly everyone on the bus was very friendly and we spoke about everyone's plans while in Vegas. The bus door closed and we were off....a whole 2 ft. (I'm not exaggerating one bit here). The bus stopped and the driver yelled to everyone "get off my bus! Get on the next bus." Ok, odd, but no biggie since the next bus was right in front of us. When we attempted to board that bus, the driver informed us that he was on break and wouldn't be leaving the stop for at least 7 more minutes, but we were more than welcometo catch the bus three blocks away. So we walked, hopped on the bus, and were told to immediately take a seat and they'd come around and check tickets. We did get to Fremont Street, but we had several experiences like this with the bus system in Las Vegas. 
We heard from other bus riders that the taxi service was not much better about things and quite costly. Moral of this story: rent a car (which we did the next day, but still needed to use the bus service a couple of more times because driving on the strip is not ideal). After speaking with other travelers and locals it seems everyone knows the public transportation in Vegas is terrible. I was pretty shocked by this considering Las Vegas is a good sized, spread out city and gets a lot of travelers.
We kept it cool on our "fun" bus rides.
We got off the bus right in front of the Golden Nugget.  Before heading to the Fremont Street Experience, we walked around the hotel. This was easily my second favorite hotel in Vegas. It had some fun bars and restaurants and the pool area takes the cake. I wish we had more time to spend in this hotel (and the surrounding area). Next time Vegas. Next time.
I was disappointed I didn't wear my swimming suit! They had guards around the pool making sure everyone was wearing proper swimming gear, otherwise I wouldn't have had an issue jumping right in!
We were able to walk through the casino to Fremont Street. Fremont Street was so much fun and definitely a must when in Vegas! There was a band playing, lights, street performances, very little soliciting (which was the complete opposite on the strip), and bars right on the street. My favorite attraction on Fremont Street: Slotzilla. A zip line running the length of the lights. Matt is afraid of heights but I talked him into trying it out with me. At only $20 per person ($40 for the higher zip line, which I could not talk Hubs into) it was well worth the 1 minute thrill and a highlight from the trip.
The light show was amazing (and really loud)!
The band was playing 80's music! How perfect is that? Anyone that knows me knows this is perfect.
Our picture from zip lining. We are going zip lining again soon.
We tried to make it back to the Bellagio to see the last night fountain show, but missed it by 7 minutes. The adage "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" applies for the last few hours of our night ;) 
Details of Day 2, Night 3 to come soon.