Sunday, May 31, 2015

Memorial Weekend Trip 2015

I have no cute title for this trip.  Just can't think of one.  Plus I didn't take nearly the number of photos as I usually do.  Perhaps I'm losing my touch?

This is trip number 30-something with my mom, and we stayed at Harrah's again.  We found out after the fact that we could check in ahead of time like I'd done previously at Flamingo, but the email went to my parents' shared email and my dad neglected to let us know.  Instead, he wrote down the confirmation number and deleted the email, and told my mom after we were home from the trip.  How helpful.  (I seriously wish I had a Sarcasm Font.)

Friday, May 22nd

Little did we know then that South Texas was just entering the "flood period", but it was raining while we were waiting for our late evening flight.  Interesting person sitting next to mom on the plane.  I think - I HOPE - she was either a dental hygienist or a dentist, because the disgusting photos of peoples' mouths that she was editing during the ENTIRE flight should only be used for dentistry.  Bleh...

Using mom's Platinum Total Rewards status, we got a Carnaval tower room with a view of the High Roller and used the Diamond Check In (us lowly Gold players get no such things), then put our stuff away and went in search of a snack.  
Not a bad view.
The new Fulton Street Food Court is fantastic: choices of sandwiches, salads, soups, baked potatoes, pizza, frozen yogurt, snacks and drinks of all sorts.  We both just had soup, but it was GOOD and HOT.  I really liked the looks of the big salads and sandwiches, but I wasn't super hungry, so next time.  Also, we discovered that the bar area of the food court is converted into a restaurant during breakfast hours, so that is definitely convenient.  I was worried that there would be no option other than the buffet for breakfast now, but there it is.

Over to the Linq casino for some of my favorite True Blood slots.  NOT my best friends on this trip, anywhere!  I found the new Gold Fish 3 slots there, too, which I like more than Gold Fish 2 but not as much as the original Gold Fish.  Sometimes the original is the best, and change is not always good.  I also tried the Mad Men slots at Harrah's, and they were interesting and gave me some play.  I haven't decided if I like all of these new slots with the giant wheel, but they are not completely horrible.  I managed to stay up until about 2:30 a.m., so that's 4:30 a.m. San Antonio time, and not too bad considering that we have a new puppy at home, so I'd been up almost 24 hours.

Saturday, May 23rd

I could NOT sleep!  I was awake by 7 a.m., and tried to go back to sleep and/or keep quiet, but that didn't happen.  Mom and I were up, out, and on our way to the monorail by 9 am, where we enjoyed the MGM brunch buffet again, thanks to another myVegas reward.  Good as usual, but they didn't have our French toast casserole this time, which was disappointing.  More lunch options on the menu at 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. than last time, too.  I don't know if they're changing it or if that's just what they had that day.

I got to play the new Friends slot machine at MGM, and of course I love it because it's FRIENDS!  I sat next to a cute young girl who didn't know much about the TV show itself but who'd had a run of luck on these very machines the night before to the tune of $400, so we got along famously, and I was able to get three bonuses - the wedding bonus, and two of the same picking bonuses that I can't remember the name of but didn't do well on.  Still walked away with money doubled, so that's something.   
This looks impressive, but it's only $6.00, LOL!
Over at NY/NY, I found a Titanic slot that finally let me play AND get some bonuses, so I was able to play and enjoy it for awhile.  The only other time I've played Titanic was at the Venetian, where it sucked up my money and didn't give me anything in return.  Perhaps I like these.  I noted lots of Wonder Woman slots around, so much so that "Wonder Womaaaaannnnnnn!"  was going through my head most of the time, and I never played them because they were always full.
My heart will go onnnnnnn...
On to Monte Carlo.  I still absolutely love the feel of this casino and will end up staying there eventually.  I found the Ellen slots and played the one with the mystery boxes, and mom went around the corner and found the Dance Party version and proceeded to win $380 on it.  Go, mom!  I played out the money I won, unfortunately.
My version of Ellen had a "Know Or Go" bonus that I liked.
We used the Monte Carlo to Bellagio monorail to get back to our part of the Strip, and headed in to the Bellagio conservatory because I HAVE TO take photos.  I just do.  This was a much better display than they've had in the past few summers with an underwater theme that I enjoyed.  I only took daytime photos on this trip, but I will be back in 5 weeks and will take nighttime photos then.
Using my Miniature feature.
Without filter
With filter
No filter

No filter

No filter

Not filtered
I left mom playing Fireball while I took in the Faberge display at the Fine Arts museum using another myVegas reward.  It was one of the last days of the exhibit, and next up is Picasso from July through January 2016.  I'll be going to that one, too, but I'll wait until our September trip to go because I think it's not even going to be open until after my July 4th trip.  I enjoyed the display, and learned a lot of things about Faberge that I did not know, because I always assumed they made only eggs.  Not so.  Very pretty cloisonné parasol grips, animal miniatures, picture frames, and commemorative plates, among other things.  I still connect Faberge mostly with Czar Nicolas and his family, but I guess that's what I was raised on, so that's what I associate with it.  No photos, because they are not allowed.

On to Caesars Palace, where I should have just handed them my money instead of wasting time playing any slots.  OMG Puppies!, Elton John, and Lil Red - all poopers.  They took out my favorite Moo-La-Lah! machines there AND at Paris, so that makes me unhappy.  I usually love CP, but the lack of happy games and good bonuses made me ready to leave, so we headed to the Mirage.

At the Mirage, we discovered "Cash 'Em If You Can", and played a long while on these.  Kinda like Reel 'Em In, but more of those stacking wilds you find on the new Friends slots and the like.  I gave mom her choice of dinner locations, and she checked all the menus at Portofino, Stack, Japonais, and Fin before finally choosing Fin.  This was her favorite meal of the trip, and it is one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas.  
Cash 'Em If You Can
Mom had Kung Pao Chicken, and I had Singapore Noodles.  My noodles had more "pow" than her chicken, but she loved the flavor.  My noodles were fantastic, and I cleaned the plate.  I also tried my only alcoholic drink with dinner: a Singapore Sling.  It was more alcoholic than anything else, and I liked my Zen Mojito from my previous visit much more.  That was truly a delicious drink.  If you dine there, I highly recommend the Zen Mojito and the Singapore Noodles, but I don't think any of the food could be bad.
Mom's Kung Pao Chicken, and my Singapore Noodles.
My Singapore Sling is to the right.
After a little more gambling at the Mirage, we headed back over to Harrah's.  Phantom of the Opera was FINALLY showing me some love again, and I played for a long, long time and got tons of bonuses.  One of these days I'll complete the Masterpiece Bonus...

I played only one session of The Hangover on my entire trip on that night, and it was a bust.  That game will suck your money out soon quickly, and it did, so I gave up.  No bonuses at all.  I finally settled in to some Hot Hot Penny Reels O' Dublin for the night, and played until I was finally too tired to stay awake anymore, which was around 1 am.  After the previous night's lack of sleep, I was ready for bed.  Plus overall I was losing, so that didn't help anything.

Sunday, May 24th

We walked to the Venetian for breakfast at Bouchon.  I'd never been there before, and had never been in the Venezia tower, for that matter.  Beautiful space, and I love the detailing of this area of the Venetian.  We only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table at Bouchon, and enjoyed our copycat breakfast: omelets with hangar steak, mushrooms, and spinach, served with a side of fresh strawberries and sourdough toast.  Their strawberry jam was great, the toast was mom's new best friend, and we ate every bite again.  They serve fresh bread and butter at the beginning of the meal, and overall the whole experience reminded me of Mon Ami Gabi at Paris.  The prices, the atmosphere, the service - all of it reminded me of Mon Ami Gabi.  It's not as convenient as Mon Ami Gabi because you have to really walk to find it, but if you're on that end of the Strip and willing to walk to find it it's certainly worth a visit.
The walkway to Bouchon
Venezia tower ceiling
Hallway outside of Bouchon
Bouchon breakfast - times two
We did a little bit of gambling at the Venetian before wandering over to Palazzo.  Their Spring display was still up, and I enjoyed the lovely "dresses" on the ladies in the lobby and near the waterfall.  I always enjoy Palazzo's and Bellagio's use of natural elements in their displays.  I know Palazzo will have theirs changed soon for Summer/July 4th, so I'll be back again to check it out next trip.
Palazzo lobby
Palazzo waterfall area

Palazzo waterfall area
I found a Sound of Music slot machine and thought, "Great!  I LOVE The Sound of Music!"  No, no, no.  Crappy slot, weird features, no Julie Andrews, and no SINGING whatsoever - what the hell is this?  Me no likey.  Mom and I did find some nice, quiet, old-school Gold Fish slots in a back corner, and contented ourselves there for awhile.

On to Wynn, which I love as a casino, but never have much  luck in.  I found another Titanic slot that let me play for a good, long time, and took advantage of that while my poor mom bounced around from machine to machine, looking for something friendly.  Not too much to be found there.  Time to take a cab down to Planet Hollywood.
I'm the King of the World!
I figured it made sense to take a cab all the way down there and work our way back to home, so that's what we did.  After a quick run to Bubba Gump's to get my cousin a replacement keychain, we made our way around the PH casino to find something - anything! - that would entertain us.  I could find nothing.  All the Wizard of Oz slots have been removed, as well as the Godfather slots, my favorite old school Lobstermania machine...all gone.  So many of the newer slots have features that I just don't care for, or just don't hold my interest.  I finally found another Hot Hot Penny Reels O' Dublin machine that let me win and win and...well, I got it up to $60, so that's good.  Hard to do on a penny machine sometimes.

On to Cosmopolitan, where mom found some of her beloved Fireball machines, and I chose to see if True Blood was any nicer here.  It was not.  This is certainly becoming a pattern, and one I don't care for.  We didn't spend too much time gambling, because it was painful.  Instead I took mom to China Poblano, where I had eaten before, to try some sui mai.  

Eclectic is the name of the game at China Poblano, which serves both Mexican and Chinese cuisine, and we had to a wait a few minutes for a seat at around 5:30 p.m.  Our service was spotty, as the waitress said she would bring out our food "as it is ready", and it was a random delivery at best.  We ordered chips and salsa to start, which I hadn't tried there before, and it was good stuff.  Mom had the Lucky 6 sui mai, and I had the scallop sui mai.  Mom also ordered a chicken chorizo taco and I ordered a mushroom and guacamole taco, which were both very good, but mom's taco came WAY after everything else.  For dessert we shared two paletas (ice cream bars): coconut and pineapple, and key lime.  OMG, those were delicious!  They had six total selections, and I can imagine that the others were just as good.
Mom's Lucky 6 sui mai, chips and salsa, and my Scallop sui mai
My mushroom and avocado taco.
Mom's chicken and chorizo taco came too late for a photo.
OMG!  So good!
Coconut and pineapple paleta on the left, key lime paleta on the right. 
Over to Cromwell for some gambling.  We hadn't spent much time there since it's been changed from Bill's Gambling Hall.  Mom found VP at the back of the casino, and I played Lobstermania2.  All so-so gambling.  The Drai's Beach Party people were all leaving, and that's the most crowding we saw.  The casino is so pretty, but there's not much to do in there, and it is very sparse as far as machines go.  I guess they are really set up for Drai's daytime and nighttime parties with several lounge areas for such a small casino, and I can't imagine paying as much as you would for a room there compared to somewhere else with a less expensive restaurant or a buffet and possibly a show of some sort at the very least.

Flamingo is a mixed bag, too.  That was our next stop, and it seems like they've taken out most of the games I like to play, which is unfortunate for me.  Margaritaville next door does have some games I like, but at least everything in this area of the Strip is close together so you can move easily from one casino to the next.

Back to the Linq so that I could play Gold Fish 3.  These are definitely growing on me.  I do like many of the games in the Linq, but they can get crowded fast because it's not a huge casino.  Mom went back and forth to the Sports Book to see if the Cavaliers were losing (unfortunately they came back and won that night), but we didn't stick around for too long.

I ended the night at Harrah's bouncing around from game to game and finally having a pretty good run on Phantom of the Opera, but nothing that helped replenish my lost funds, and I was still pretty down for the trip.  Mom and I tried the new Captain Nemo Treasures machine together, and we had a hard time understanding what the hell was going on.  A couple of bonuses, no likey.

Monday, May 25th

Going home day, but still an almost full day in Vegas.  Our flight didn't leave until 8:25 p.m., so we had time to roam.  First it was over to Bellagio Cafe' for breakfast, where mom had eggs over-easy and toast while I went all in for Maryland Crab Cakes Benedict, which were really yummy.  Served with hash browns that were perfect for dipping runny egg middles.  Mmmmm....
Maryland Crab Cakes Benedict at Bellagio Cafe'
I also tried the new Rolling Stones slots.  Even though I got a couple of bonuses, in the end I realized I can't get no satisfaction.
Lick 'Em wilds.  They are weird...
Over to Caesars Palace to see if any of the games were any nicer today.  They were NOT, so I starting playing penny 50 Play VP to stop the bleeding.  I forget how long 50 Play VP lasts at the penny level.  Still not enough for me to make any comeback, but better than killing myself with slots didn't particularly care for.
I had a Disney World Haunted Mansion moment here, but they never started singing.
One more try for the Mirage, where I staged a mini-comeback with new Lord of the Rings bonuses:
My precioussssssss...
We ended up back at Harrah's, and it wasn't too long after that I decided to take a long walk.  I was losing at everything I played, and it wasn't getting any better.  I left my mom to play VP contentedly by herself, since she was hitting 4OAKS on almost every machine, and walked down to Planet Hollywood, over to Cosmopolitan, and back again.

Once mom's VP fun was over, we switched to playing side-by-side Zuma slots before we headed to the airport.  At least they let us play for awhile!  Finally it was time to head for the airport, and another trip was almost in the books.
We're still smiling at the end of the trip!
Our flight was actually on time and uneventful, but the flight from Vegas to San Antonio before us was apparently full of issues.  They should have been taking off around 5:30 or so, but they left and landed about 5 minutes before us!  I'm glad I wasn't on that flight.  As it was we landed at 12:35 a.m. and had to wait for another plane to leave our gate, so I got home at almost 2 a.m. and had to get up for work at 6 a.m. for work.  I won't be doing THAT again!

Final thoughts:

Phantom of the Opera and Titanic were much nicer to me on this trip.  I completely enjoyed the Gold Fish 3 slots (though not as much as the original) and the new Lord of the Rings slots (again, nothing can replace my all-time favorite LOTR original).  

I'm looking forward to my July 4th weekend trip and hoping that there are few new changes to enjoy, with lots of new food discoveries, as well.