Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Las Vegas 2011

We have been greatly blessed with grandparents who can't get enough of babysitting their grandchildren, thank goodness!! Last week, thanks to four of those grandparents, Stephen and I were able to take an adult-only vacation to Las Vegas, where we hadn't vacationed in about 8 years, I think. We went twice before we turned 21 and we hadn't been there since then, so we were curious to see how different this trip would be from others.

We were supposed to fly out of Raleigh at 11am on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, (after mom and dad had already made their way to our house to begin their babysitting stint) our flight got delayed due to high winds in Philadelphia, where we were connecting. It was only delayed to noon, so we went on to the airport. Once we got there, we found the flight had been delayed yet again to 1:30... and then again to 2:30. At that point we finally switched our flight. We were supposed to be in Vegas at 12ish their time, and it was already creeping up to that time! Switching flights meant we would fly from Raleigh to Charlotte, and then Charlotte to Vegas. Fine by us, we were just ready to get there!! So we boarded the looooooong flight from Raleigh to Charlotte (about 25 minutes) and then had an hour and a half to kill in Charlotte. The Charlotte airport is super nice, so we headed for the USO, which is basically a little getaway for military members. We holed up in there, checked our email, got some snacks, and watched a movie. The time there went really fast and we were finally on our way to Vegas! Due to the lengthy flight and direction of the winds, we didn't reach Vegas until about 9:45 or 10pm their time (about 1am our time). Once we checked in we were still pretty wired (and Stephen had gotten a good nap on the plane) so we just decided to sight-see. We were staying at the MGM Grand so we just walked around... I mean in this one hotel there are approximately 25 restaurants, 8 nightclubs, a couple of theaters, a lion habitat, and of course an insane amount of gambling tables! So there was a lot to see! We finally headed to bed some time after 1am which is a big deal for us Stephen.

I did find some pictures of our hotel that I took:

We were up around 7:00 or so the next morning, feeling great and rested even though we only got about five hours of sleep, which I guess was due to it really being 10am by our internal clocks. We headed off to Starbucks (I normally do not advocate Starbucks but I knew without some caffeine I would crash later) and then just started walking the strip. There is so much to do in Las Vegas. We had planned our trip very carefully to get in everything we wanted to do, but we wanted to be able to make "side trips" along the way as well. So we just started walking!

This is the pub that we ate lunch at. It's called Nine Fine Irishmen and is in the New York New York casino. We were at New York New York anyway because they have this really cool outdoor roller coaster which is actually on the roof of the casino. Actually, I do have some pictures of the coaster, although it doesn't really give you that good of an idea of the track or length or anything. It's actually a fantastic coaster which would rival anything at most amusement parks. It's even cooler because you're flying around on top of a hotel...

One thing our hotel had was a restaurant called Rainforest Cafe. It was very cool and definitely a great place to eat if you have kids. It had a huge aquarium (I took pictures and they're all blurry), snakes that drop out of trees, monkeys that swing in the trees, huge mushrooms you can eat under, just to name a few things. Very fun. We didn't eat there but it was cool just to walk around it.

Like I said, our hotel had a lion habitat which was a free thing in the lobby. You just walked past these lions that were chilling with their trainers.

I have no clue how many casinos are actually in Las Vegas. I know there are more now than there were the last time we were there. We tried to stop in almost every one, because they all have something different to draw you there. And it's such an easy walk along the strip, I mean, what else did we have to do?

This is probably what Stephen dreams about every night:

Dad and I could probably eat this whole Statue of Liberty between just the two of us! (It's made out of just Jelly Belly jellybeans!)

Excalibur hotel:

This is inside the Excalibur casino:

It's not just anywhere that Superman is just walking around. Although Stephen did wonder why he was taking the bridge rather than flying...

This is inside the Luxor hotel/casino. If you know anything about Criss Angel, you know he loves motorcycles. There are motorcycles he owns all throughout the hotel. You can't really see this picture but this is just one of them. They are very fancy.

We went to a shark aquarium inside the Mandalay Bay hotel. It's the only predator-based aquarium in North America. This fish was about three times the size of my hand. I love aquariums but my pictures always come out really dark or really blurry, so I don't have many pictures from this part of our trip.

Outside the Luxor:

Paris hotel/casino:

I know this is weird, but these are the bathrooms in the Paris hotel. Very fancy!!

Huge H&M along "Miracle Mile" in Planet Hollywood casino. Like heaven! (I love H&M)

The Miracle Mile is a string of stores in the Planet Hollywood casino. We stopped in several stores, but one of the cool things is that they have an indoor thunderstorm every hour. When we arrived it was two minutes to the hour, so of course we hung around to watch it. There was a lot of lightning and thunder, and then it started pouring rain over a designated area! I videotaped it, but I'm pretty sure most people have seen enough storms that you wouldn't want to watch the whole thing...

One of the casinos we lingered in was Bellagio. It has a conservatory that is open to the public for free 24/7.

This is the ceiling:

The outside of Bellagio:

The Cosmopolitan casino/hotel:

Very cool bench inside the Cosmopolitan:

The chandeliers that stretched from the ceilings to the floor (this is from the second floor but they start on the fourth)

When we got to Vegas we were supposed to get free show tickets to see Terry Fator. Unfortunately, something happened with our vouchers and he was sold out on the night we wanted to go, and we couldn't get tickets. They said we could see any other show, so we chose to see Criss Angel. Just sayin', if you ever have to pay to see him, you're probably going to regret it. Our tickets were included in our package so we didn't feel any great loss.

Of course we had to eat at one of the many famous buffets in Vegas! We ate at the Mandalay Bay so we could get a package deal with our aquarium visit. It was soooo good! Leila always reminds me of how many pounds of crab legs I put away the last time we ate at one of these. This time I think I ate more cake and sushi than anything else! Mmm... just thinking about it makes me hungry!

We left Vegas on a dreary, windy day. We flew back to Charlotte, where we were supposed to have a three hour layover. We got there and Stephen was itching to get home, so we switched flights to one that was leaving a couple of hours earlier than ours.

Oh, by the way, on the flight from Charlotte to Vegas, we were seated on the airplane next to a guy who brought his dog on the flight. How interesting.

And for those who are keeping score, yes, we left Vegas with more money than we had when we arrived. Success!

1 comment:

Jennifer Kirby said...

What a great trip! You really packed in a lot of stuff AND you left in the black -- not a lot of people can say that. I love the pictures, especially the Bellagio ones. Those fountains are one of my favorite things about Vegas. Love you!