Las Vegas - December 30 - January 2, 2003

Freemont Street Experience New Years Eve Party

We had a blast. This was the first time I have ever celebrated a New Years and was not disappointed. We had watched the 5:00 news in our hotel room and an announcer said that they had sold approximately 15,000 tickets which was up from $13,000 they sold last year. I had been reading on the net they expected about 30,000. Big difference. Though there were lots of people, it didn't feel too crowded. Unless you were trying to get a drink from one of the street set-up bars or at La Bayou or Mermaids. That's where most of the people were. I got 2 yard drinks from Mermaids - took about 20 minutes and then later went to Golden Gate's bar or Golden Nugget's bar and asked for a double which filled up the yard glass. They had one band set up on First Street and another set up on 3rd Street, so most of the people were around one of the 2 stages offered. We were on First Street with Love Shack and .38 Special. Never heard of Love Shack before, but they were really good. Young group playing hits from the 80's. Great personalities that played to the crowd. .38 Special was just as good, but they closed their set about 15 minutes 'til midnight. I thought they'd at least stay to bring in the New Year. At midnight, the canopy did a light show with fireworks and music. Then confetti dropped. A lot of the non-paying people just hung out around the gates that blocked off the Fremont Street. So if you really didn't just want to be in the middle of it all, the $30 p/p wasn't worth it. You could hear the music and see the light show, just couldn't get into the bar areas. Didn't experience any problems and met a lot of nice friendly drunk people - like ourselves - having a good time.

Restaurants/Bars

Hugo Cellar - Big disappointment after reading wonderful reviews. Hubby had the sirloin and I had Cellar's chicken. Thought both were just OK. Did not like the tomato pesto stuffed in the chicken. The side vegetables were way underdone and inedible. The escargot was very good. The salad was good. The dipping fruit consisted of 2 chocolate covered strawberries, 2 figs and 2 pieces of dried fruit. Couldn't make out what kind of fruit it was. The crème brulee was good except they scorched the brown sugar so it tasted burnt. Scraped it off and the crème part was good. Won't eat there again.

Center Stage - Made reservations for New Year's Eve 30 days in advance and was told that they were not offering a special menu. We we got there we were informed there was a special menu. $40 p/p got shrimp cocktail, salad, steak/lobster, baked potato, asparagus, and strawberries with crème. There were other choices, but this is what we chose. All was very good. Hadn't had that good of lobster in awhile. Saw 2 shows from the Freemont Street Experience and they have the accompanying music piped in. Very good view.

Mon Ami Gabi - Another big disappointment. Made a reservation for 5:00. Showed up at 4:45 hoping to get seated early since we had a show reservation at the Mirage for 7:00. No they "seat promptly at 5:00, please wait outside." The hostess was snotty so didn't leave a very good first impression. Decided to take advantage of the facilities and when we returned there was a very long line to get in. They "promptly" opened the door at 5:15. We both had the rib eye. I know that a rib eye is supposed to be marbled, but these were down right full of fat and the sauce it was cooked in was sweet and just plain yucky. Also had the onion soup. It was OK. I've had much better. It also had a sweet taste, I prefer bullion based onion soup. The cheese on top was good. The crème brulee was good. Won't eat there again either.

Golden Gate Deli - The Deli was just yummy. We ate there twice. Corned beef on rye, french dip and the .99 cocktail shrimp were wonderful. Also liked that it's open 24 hours. We went after the New Year's party for a snack and it was great and convenient.

Main Street Station Breakfast Buffet - It was OK. Big room with lots of variety. The omelet line was too long to stand in. Really liked the decor/theme. For $5.50 p/p it was worth it.

Plaza Breakfast Buffet - Very small standard fare, but really good. Liked the scrambled eggs with mushrooms and cheese and the danishes.

Kahunaville - Great place. Went for lunch and wasn't crowded at all. Nice decor. Food wonderful. Hubby had the big Kahuna burger and I had the chicken fettuccini. Very good, healthy portion. Meal was $20 and change. Great value.

Napoleons - It was quite crowded when we went about 10:00 and had to wait by the door for a few minutes to get a table. There was a gentleman playing the saxophone. Really liked the music, but it was too loud for such a small room. I had the tasting champagnes - Sweet Surrender. The pink one was yummy, two was pretty good and the one with the lime on the side I didn't like - way too dry for my taste. Hubby had raspberry Martinis. Pretty good. Also had sandwiches from the carving station with dressings. Hubby really like it. And the cheese and bread plate. If you really like cheese its a good choice. Also saw the chef making shrimp cocktails. The shrimp were huge, but we were too full by that time. Thought the service was rushed. No menu of the food and drinks offered. If I hadn't done my research in advance I would have never known about the tasting champagnes. Read a professional review on Vegas.com were they were offered "foie gras, a variety of truffles, caviar and either chocolate or caramel fondue served with exotic fruits, marshmallows, French cookies and gummy bears for dipping. were served a complimentary bite-sized eggplant pate with our drink order". They did not have any of that, which I was looking more forward to than what they did have. Maybe because we weren't writing a formal review of the place?

Shows/Entertainment

Danny Gans - The show was really good and funny. He has a lot of talent and we had a good time. His 86 year old father was there and he sang for us. The talent is definitely inherited.

Eiffel Tower - Went to the top of the tower. OK to say "been there-done that". $12 p/p was way to much for it.

Luxor's Pharaoh Museum - Very interesting exhibit. Thought it was going to be bigger than it was. Liked the auto tape tour of the artifacts shown.

Gambling

We played a variety of video poker, keno and slots at the Plaza, Golden Nugget, La Bayou, Paris, and Mirage. Hubby hit 4 of a kind at the Golden Nugget on $1 video poker for $125. That was the "big win" of the trip. Left another donation of $500 + any return we received again.

The Plaza Hotel and Downtown

We had a standard room on the 19th floor in the North Tower over looking the tennis courts and swimming pool. It was OK, clean and served its purpose. Had two queen beds and a table with 2 chairs. Liked that the vanity was outside of the tub/toilet area, so I could use the sink and mirror while hubby took a shower. Full length mirror on the outside bathroom wall. Very nice. Great location for the New Year's Eve Party so we could just walk right to our room afterward. Downtown definately has a different atmosphere than the Strip. Though we did like it, we just like the Strip atmosphere a lot better. Many of the things we wanted to see and do were on the Strip so it was inconvenient to get there and back. Unless there is something going on Downtown we really want to see in the future, we probably won't stay Downtown again.

Observations/Comments

The weather was chilly, but not bad. Hardly any wind, so that helped a lot. I still like the spring, summer, fall months
The Strip was much more crowded than Downtown
The traffic on the Strip was horrible
We took a shuttle from the airport upon arrival (like we always do) and it took 1 1/2 hours to get to our hotel. Would have paid the $20 for a cab if we had known
We rode the Cat Bus during the day on New Years and it was free. At night they were charging again.
One bus that we were on, the car next to it hit the bus' driver's side mirror and knocked it sideways. The bus driver stopped the bus in the middle of the street to call the supervisor. The bus was crammed packed full of people, who got very agitated easily when the driver wouldn't let them off.
We rode the bus from the Paris back to Downtown about 1am, which drops you off at the Neonopolis, while walking down Freemont Street to get to the Plaza, we saw a bunch of teenagers get into a fight. Beer bottle and other drinks went flying and broke on the Street.
There was no way these guys were old enough to have alcohol drinks. There was a security guard standing outside of the Golden Nugget just watching and other people just stopped to watch. It finally broke up with cussing and threats. We just keep going.
Really enjoyed our trip. Can't wait to go back in April for my birthday. Already booked the Tropicana Jacuzzi Suites.












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