Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Geezer IX - Las Vegas

We arrived in Las Vegas around 2:30 and as usual we are staying at Harrah's.  We have been getting suites on our last few visits to Las Vegas, but today we were disappointed to be given a standard room, I guess we are getting spoiled.

Harrah’s has just finished a major renovation so we were looking forward to the upgraded rooms, but were a little disappointed.  The room certainly looked better than it did before, but it was still small (I guess even renovation can’t make them bigger).  The disappointment came because although the room looked better, it really wasn’t upgraded to make it a more functional and comfortable room and we actually found a lot of things to be more inconvenient.  I won’t go into the details as everyone’s taste is different, but in future visits if we can’t get upgraded to a suite we will probably start staying at a different hotel.  We are not so spoiled that we need a suite, but the standard rooms at Harrah’s are very small even by hotel standards.

So enough about my room complaints ... we got settled in the room and went down to the casino to do a little gambling before dinner and didn’t do very well.  For dinner we ended up just getting sandwiches at the Fulton Street Food Hall and then finished the night in the casino.

I’m not going to bother with a day to day run down of what we did in Las Vegas, I’ll just hit the highlights and lowlights.  First, the lowlights (mostly mine); I had the worst gambling time of my life.  For us, gambling is entertainment and we really don’t expect to win much, but we do expect not lose our money too quickly, we like to get some play as we lose (the entertainment part).  That didn’t happen to me this trip, I lost and I lost quickly.  I am pretty conservative and bank enough so I don’t go home broke, but there was nothing to bank and I lost every cent of my gambling money.  Oh well, we still had a good time and the good thing is, I can’t do any worse in the future.

On the other hand, after a slow start, Val did quite well especially on our last day.  She really likes to play the various editions of the Buffalo slot machines and she seemed to hit jackpot after jackpot.  I was happy for her, but I’ll admit I was a little jealous too, but that’s the way it goes as we seldom ever do really well or really poorly at the same time.  She didn’t come home ahead, but she did come home with a good part of her gambling money, which is really enough for us.

All those buffalo means Val has just won $432.
Now for the highlights ... we have seen Love (the Cirque du Soleil show based on the songs of the Beatles) in Las Vegas three times already, but we decided to go again this trip.  It is at the Mirage which is right across Las Vegas Blvd. from Harrah's so after a short walk, we were in the theater and on our way to our seats.

This is the 10th anniversary of the show and they have made some major changes so we wanted to see the new version.  A lot of the elements of the show were the same, but it had definitely been changed.  I don’t remember it well enough to list everything that changed, but I did notice a few.  The staging and background videos had definitely changed, but the most striking and impressive change that I saw was the lighting.  Technology has changed in the last 10 years and that was very evident in the sophistication and complexity of the lighting; it was very, very good.  The other thing that Val and I noticed was that there seemed to be less acrobatics and more dancing than before.  Except for the lighting I can’t say that the show was better, but it was still really, really good and we had a great time and enjoyed ourselves very much.  We sat next to a lady who lives in Las Vegas and has seen most of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas and I don’t think she really thought she would be impressed, but at the end of the show she enthusiastically said it was the best Cirque du Soleil she had seen.

We also ate really well on the trip so I’ll hit the highlights of that.  The night we saw Love, which is at the Mirage Hotel, we ate at the Border Grill next door to the Mirage in the Caesar’s Forum Shops.  We had eaten there for the first time on our last trip and liked it so we decided to go again and weren’t disappointed, it was very good.

We spent a lot of time in Linq Entertainment Promenade between the Linq and Flamingo Hotels and ate at several places there.  Since the Linq Promenade first opened, some businesses have closed and others have opened, but it seems to have stabilized and appears to be a very popular area.  Both day and evening there was always a lot of people strolling, eating and drinking, but especially in the evening.  I really like the area as there is a lot of variety in places to eat with many of the restaurants offering outdoor seating where you can watch the world go by.  We are not drinkers, but if you are there are also plenty of bars and pubs to hang out in.

We had eaten at the Yard House when the Linq Promenade first opened and went there for lunch again this trip.  The food and service are good so it is a good place to go for lunch; we have never been there for dinner.  For dinner we tried the Flour & Barley Brick Oven Pizza, which we really enjoyed.  It was a balmy evening and we sat outside and had a really good pizza, we definitely will go back.

The last place we ate in the Linq Promenade was Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips, which was having a soft opening during our visit.  We were expecting some really good fish and chips, but to be honest, we weren’t very impressed.  It may be a matter of taste as we thought the fish was a bit mushy and the crust a little too crusty.  The reason I say it may be a matter of taste is after talking to one of the staff we found out they use Atlantic cod, which is evidently different than Pacific cod that we are used too.  I complained about the fish and chips we had in Canada and on the ship on our recent cruise in the North Atlantic so now I think I know why.  I "googled" it and it turns out that Atlantic cod are softer, but have a sweeter taste as opposed to a firmer, but more savory taste for Pacific cod, so as I said it may be just a matter of taste.  We will probably try it again and hopefully we will like it better.  Gordon Ramsay was going to be at the grand opening, which was the day we left so we didn’t get to attend, but it probably would have been too crowded for us anyway.

We also had a couple of desserts after our meals in the Linq Promenade.  Val is an ice cream lover so we both had a hot fudge sundae at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop.  I’m not much of an ice cream eater, but I have to say it was really good.  The other place was Amorino Gelato, which was new since our last visit.  I didn’t order anything for myself, but I ended up sharing Val’s chocolate and coconut gelato with her.  It was very smooth and very good.

I saved the best for last, which was Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris Hotel.  We ate there for my birthday last year and had one of the best steaks we have ever had so we decided to go back and were not disappointed.  We started by splitting a Heirloom Tomato Salad, which was very good.  For our main course we both had the American rib cap waygu (kobe) steak that was amazingly tender and a seared crust that just tasted wonderful.  The sides are huge so unless you have a big appetite I would advise splitting them.  Val and I shared a baked potato (also very, very good) and an asparagus plate.  For dessert we shared a Sticky Toffee Pudding with brown butter ice cream, which was an amazing way to finish off our meal - very, very good.  By the end of our meal we were so full we couldn’t eat another bite, but wow, what a meal!  I’m not a big steak eater so I haven’t eaten at a lot of the better steak houses, but this is certainly the best I’ve had in my experience and not just for the steak alone, but for the whole meal from the bread at the beginning to the dessert at the end.  We will definitely be back.

As you can see I had a lot more to say about eating than gambling, which says a lot about how bad my gambling was, but also how much we enjoyed the food on this trip.  The weather was very moderate for Las Vegas so it was very pleasant outside.  This trip we spent 5 nights instead of our usual 4, and still didn’t have enough time to do everything we wanted to.  We definitely were ready to leave as Las Vegas can really tire you out (especially us old people), but we really enjoyed ourselves and had a great time.

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