Fri 9/11 6:30p.m. Leave Milwaukee on America West flight. America West offers the cheapest flights from here to Las Vegas. It's a no-frills airline and if you dont expect much, you won't be let down. Service from ticketing to baggage was good and the flight was fine. A little over three hours in the air, the Las Vegas Strip appears out of the dark-nothingness. While three of us wait for our bags I run off to the Allstate car rental counter. In minutes we are standing at the rental desk at the Allstate car lot. Within seconds we are driving down Rent-A-Car Road on our way to the Strip. I should let you know that most of our reservations for this trip were made over the Internet. Every reservation went through and without a hitch. LVRS.com for a really cheap rate at the Tropicana, lowestfares.com for the car rental(I think it was them)etc., etc. I have read many times that Allstate was THE place to rent a car in Vegas and it really was(National runs a close second...read on). We are spending three of six nights in a time share resort called The Polo Towers on the Strip. We will stay at the Tropicana and then later because of a dream-come-true miscue, we will stay at the Stratosphere. After checking in at The Polo Towers we decide to act on a tip and go get some grub. We drive up to the Stratosphere and eat at Sisters Cafe. Good basic menu selections that are not over priced. Food is very good and service is o.k. Play Reel 'em In slots for awhile and then head back to the Polo. Scott and I leave the girls at the condo to rest and head over to the Monte Carlo to try our luck at the Wheel Of Fourtune slots. We stroll around for awhile and then call it a night.
SAT 9/12 We woke up one at a time and went up to the pool for a few hours. This is a great way to start each and every day. Catching your breath and just relaxing next to the pool with a good book. Not too long though. After everyone was changed and ready we headed over to the Rio for lunch buffet. Carnival World Buffet was packed as usual. It was also awesome as usual. We played a little at the Rio and watched the Masquerade Parade In The Sky. The rest of the day we just spent walking around the Strip. We had pretty good luck at The Imperial Palace on the slots but haven't sat at any tables so far. Saturday night we ate at Tres Lobos in the Stardust. A cab driver turned us on to this place in 97 and it's been great everytime we have been there. Great Mexican food, decent prices. Never real busy. The service is great. We went from the restaurant to Drink Too for some tasty beverages and a little dancing. Great place to hang out and people watch. Drink Too has kind of an unfinished dungeon look with candles burning everywhere. There are seperate rooms you can go in that specilize in say, Vodka drinks. Music, loud. People, hot. Drinks, good. Place, great! Cushy couches, just like in "Friends".
SUN 9/13 We woke up and headed over to Holy Cow brewpub to have breakfast and watch our beloved Packers play on Sunday morning. Halfway through the game we drove over to the Draft House(a sister restaurant to Holy Cow). The waitress said the Draft House was the home of the G.B. Packers fan club and it truly is. One word...insane! This is the place to watch the Packers play in Vegas...it really is nuts! After the game we drove over to Sams Town. This is where the locals play(or so they say). Pretty cool place that is really laid back. It's never real crowded and never too smokey. There was an art exhibit going on in the courtyard and it was nice to just stroll and check out some of the locals works. We also took in the animated wolf on the waterfall. We did pretty good at Sams as far as gambling goes but we had to move on. One of our favorite things to do is take the Lake Mead Desert Princess dinner cruise. This is a great way to relax(see review under Desert Princess 9/98). After the cruise we stopped in at the Reserve Hotel and Casino. This is on the way back to the strip, coming from Lake Mead. A real nice place, big time safari theme, that was made alot nicer when I hit for 1800 nickels, my second spin at Reel 'em In. We played there awhile without much more luck so we headed back to the Strip, but not before checking out the Orleans Hotel and Casino. This had you guessed it, a Nawlins feel. Played some slots and Roulette but no winnings to speak of. From the Polo, J.,S. and M. walked down to Bally's to try their luck. Hot and cold we left Bally's at about 1a.m. We strolled over to The Barbary Coast and played the nickel slots for awhile. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the Victorian Room at the Barbary Coast. They give you a coupon book when you sign up for a casino card. In the book there is a coupon for $1.99 breakfast, buy one get one free. You can not go wrong with this late night breakfast. Two really great tasting eggs or pancakes, hash browns, bacon or sausage and some of the best tasting toast we have ever had. Yes, I said toast. It was a nice suprise and we are still talking about it to this day. S. and M. ate there two or three more times during the week.
MON 9/14 We oozed out of bed and prepared to move on to our next stop...the Tropicana. We checked in and went out to the pool. We had awesome Daquiries and Pina Coladas poolside. The Trop has a great pool with waterfalls and a swim-up-blackjack table(they have a money dryer to dry the wet money). Really a cool place to hang out. Make sure to bring money with you for other reasons. There are pool attendants everywhere and it seemed we couldn't get a chair or towel without tipping one of them. We toured the famed Four Corners and ate at the Round Table Buffet at the Excalibur. With all the good buffets in Vegas, dont go out of your way to go to this one. Very basic. Slow service. Mediocre food. Monday night we spent Downtown. Nothing special, just Downtown. Saw the lazer show on the canopy, the Western one, and ate at the Lanai Cafe in the Fremont Hotel. They have a steak and lobster special for $9.99. Not steakhouse quality but also not bad. Played some Keno but have never had luck at that game.
TUE 9/15 Walked through MGM and NYNY. MGM is a huge sprawling monster that I am suprised we found our way out of. We went on the roller coaster at the NYNY, which is not your basic bring-you-up-drop you-down-smash your bones coaster but it is a thrill for $7, complete with corkscrew and a beautiful flash of the srip. After lunch in Greenwich Village we headed over to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. We walked that night from the Flamingo, where we ate dinner at Alta Villa, a wonderful Italian restaurant, all the way to Silver City and then took a cab back, chatting with Alex, our cab driver. He was very friendly telling us a story of a woman who hit on the Megabucks progressive slot, but didn't bet the max. His driving left a bit to be desired, but then taking a cab is always an adventure. We had stopped in just about every casino on the east side of the Strip having good luck at O'Sheas. O'Sheas rates up there as one of our favorite casinos. The service is great, the atmosphrere is relaxed and it's a fun place to be. They cater to the "low-roller" and that's right up our alley. Played blackjack and Roulette for a long time. During the week O'Sheas has .25cent Roulette and really low minimums on their blackjack tables. G. won $80.00 on a quarter Wheel of Fortune machine. We played there for hours and all did pretty well. So far we were up a couple bucks.
9/16 WED Lots to do. We did so much we couldnt even remember everything we did. Walked the strip during the day, taking in the pirate battle at the TI and checking the progress on Bellagio, Venetian, Paris and Mandalay Bay. At night we ate in the Trop, at the Calypso cafe. Again, basic menu, good prices. We had two for one tickets for the Comedy Stop at the Tropicana. These comedy clubs are a great source of a few good laughs. Price was $16.00 and included one drink a peice. Very funny comedians, kept us rolling through the whole show. After the show we all headed over to The Beach for a few drinks and dancing. The Beach is a really insane place where almost anything goes. This place is THE best nightclub to hang out in. Everytime we are in Vegas we go here a couple of times. You gotta see it to believe it. The drink girls where bikinis and the guys are in cutoff shorts. It's alot of fun. Scott and Melissa left early to walk back to hotel, stopping at a few casinos along the way, and of course yet another late night breakfast at the BC. Jason and Gina stuck around and people watched until 3 am, then headed back to the hotel for a late night swim.
9/17 Last day but we have a red-eye flight going home so we have awhile to walk around and to see some things we had missed. We had a late breakfast at I-Hop, boring I know, but always good. While we were eating I'm sure we were all wishing that we had just one more day. Suggestion, spend the $2 and take the tour of the Coke museum, sample Coca Cola products from around the world, all the soda you can drink. We also spent some time playing video games at Gameworks arcade inside the All Star Cafe building. It was nice to be out of the heat and they had some games we hadn't played since we were in grade school, Centipede, Tetrus, etc. Wanted to check out Grand Slam Canyon at Circus Circus, but got there after hours. Not too disappointed as we didn't enjoy being at the CC much. We had to cut our vacation short to six days because of our work schedule. While G. and M. had the whole week off J. and S. had to be back at work for Friday. We picked up our bags from the Tropicana bell desk and headed for the Airport. Use the bell desk to check your bags if you have any time before check-in or any time after check-out. We had 7 hours to kill between the time we checked out and the time our flight left. Leaving our bags at the bell desk saved us from lugging around our luggage all day. At the airport I jumped in line to check-in. When we got to the front of the line the lady behind the counter looked at me and said, "did you change the day of your flight?" After a casual "what!?" she very kindly pointed out that we were NOT ticketed for 9/17 but our tickets had us returning to Milwaukee on 9/18. The travel agent had just given us an extra day in Vegas. Big lesson learned here, look at your tickets and check everything. We are not travel rookies by any means but no one really LOOKED at our tickets. Options? We could be put on standby. No. We could maybe find another airline. Uh Uh. After the shock wore off we all realized that there is a God and he can hear really well in the clean desert air. It's what we all wanted, too bad we were at the airport before we figured it out. We needed to act fast because it was late. A few calls home to our kinda-understanding bosses and family and we were in business. The lady that worked for America West was really nice and very understanding. She told us this was not an unusual case and everytime I tell this story to someone, they know a person that just took it for granted that the dates on their tickets were correct. I'm sure she was just buttering up all of our stupidity but she offered to help with a room. It's Vegas, who needs help to find a room? Call a few places and we are in at the Stratosphere for $44.00. How do we get there? S. and I jet off to good old National car rental. Why? Short line to be honest. Best gamble I made on the whole trip. I wish I could remember the ladies name that took care of us at the rental desk but she deserves every penny she gets paid. In a matter of minutes we have four door 1998 Grand Am and because she felt sorry for us she gave us the AAA rate. I thanked her a zillion times and we went back to pick up G. and M. One word about this whole experiance so far, COOL.We checked in to our third Vegas property and settled in for a late night dinner at Holy Cow. It was at Holy Cow that night that we decided that we should start keeping a travel log. The four of us don't always travel together but this trip was one to remember.
FRI 9/98 Our REAL last day. We went to see Viva Las Vegas at the Stratosphere. It had its good times, especially their "Elvis impersonator". I believe I heard someone(who was not laughing)say, "it's blasphemy, it's just blasphemy." We all thought it was a pretty good show with a really funny ending. It was great for an afternoon show and FREE except for the required $4.50 drink. Had lunch at eh brewpub in the Monte Carlo. The pub was great, a bit pricy for an appetizer, some burgers and a small pizza, but try some of their homebrews. Spent some time racking up slot points on our Stratosphere card, the off to the airport and on the plane. Every year we have a list of things we would like to do. The only thing the list is good for is conversation on the plane on the way home, you know, what we can start planning for next year.
Tropicana....older hotel/casino that does not over charge for their rooms. Take a room at the back tower, it's a haul to get to but rooms are nicer. Pool is great even if you do have to tip a pool boy for a chair. Casino is always busy.
Stratosphere....Nice hotel. Nice price. A little out of the way. Rooms are very standard but they are only $40.00. Pool is small and on the roof of the building. Casino is never very busy, but we did manage to meet someone from Milwaukee. He had decided it was time to leave our Midwest winters and works behind a counter signing people up for club cards. Now that's a plan to keep in mind for the future.
Tres Lobos--Stardust....Good Mexican food. Decent prices. Good Margaritas.
Alta Villa--Flamingo Hilton....Good Italian dishes. Great prices. Great service. Overall, one of the best places we have been.
Carnival World Buffet--Rio....Always good! Great bargain.
The Mirage Buffet--The Mirage....Great buffet with alot of different selections. A little more pricey but worth it. Glasses and plates sometimes stack up before you can flag a waitress down to remove them.
Round Table Buffet---Excal....Very basic lunch buffet. You get what you pay for I guess $4.99.
If you're there for more than a few days, do try to get out of the city. In past trips we've gone hiking in Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire, swimming in the crystal clear and warm Lake Mead, even drove to Scottsdale, AZ to see friends (that is a whole other story). Even though Pahrump isn't much to speak of, it has a nice winery with an excellent restaurant. The production shows are first class, we've seen "Folies Bergeres" at the Trop, Splash at the Riviera and Legends at the Imperial Palace. If you're traveling with children, be sure to attend the earlier presentations as the later ones tend to be "topless".
Not our first trip, and definately not our last......
VIVA LAS VEGAS, BABY!