Friday, November 12, 2004

My free trip to Las Vegas Bellagio (Thanks, KT!)

(I shall be playing catch-up here, as I have many things to report on, starting with the Vegas trip that I won by getting my friend hired at Yahoo!)

So I packed swimwear, all excited for what I thought would be hot weather, but Vegas turned out to be very overcast and even a little cold and drizzly toward the end of the weekend. But lucky for us, Vegas has lots of indoor entertainment!

View from the Bellagio roomMy guest and I got to stay at the very posh 5-diamond Bellagio hotel. We had an amazing view of the Paris hotel tower and the Bellagio fountains. However, we were very dismayed to find that the Vegas slot machines no longer use COINS!!!

Instead, when you play a slot machine, they patronize you with the fake sound of coins, and then it spits out a printout of a barcode, which you then take to the cashier to get your real money.

I tried to understand the benefits of its efficiency for the casino, but frankly, it zapped the fun right out of it. I mean, clanging slot machine winnings after seeing pretty cherries line up was the only part of gambling I actually enjoyed and they TOOK IT AWAY FROM ME. Even half the machines don't use real spinning wheels anymore! DAMN efficiency! Gambling is about blatant GREED!

Well,I really wanted to spend my free money on wacky Vegas shows, shopping, and fancy food anyway.

Paris Hotel JookSaturday morning, my bf and I decided to find brunch at the Paris cafe. There was a surprising line, especially when it seemed there visibly empty tables at the large cafe. When I perused the menu, I didn't see a lot of particularly French specialties, except for maybe 2 crepes, which was disappointing. But instead, they had Chinese porridge (aka "jook") on the menu! That actually sounded good to me, so I ordered the one with beef, calamari, and peanuts! The waiter said he had never heard anyone order it, but that it was a new menu. I'm sure this is to address all the happy Chinese gamblers that love Vegas. And really, how much can you screw up what is essentially soggy rice? I was happy to find that it was tasty, except that maybe the meat pieces could have been cut smaller. But they even had chili sauce and the right kind of porridge spoon!

During the day, we checked out the new mall down the strip. I bought a new furry wrap at Bebe, and stopped at the Sanrio store and picked up some hello kitty charms for my bracelet, a Monchan Monkey coin purse, and a cute phone case featuring Deery Lou.

After a rushed but fun shopping trip, we indulged in a super extravagant dinner at the famed celebrity restaurant, Michael Mina, which is conveniently located in the Bellagio (because all the good stuff right there at the Bellagio!). My date decided to go for the full-on premium chef's tasting menu. I was worried about overdosing on food, so I went for the "regular" tasting menu. It turned out to be just about the same amount of food but fewer dishes.

We started out w/ various appetizers, including soup and tartare. That part was tasty, but to be honest, I found the main entrees overwhelmingly large and too rich or salty for my taste. The part that really shined was our final platter, which included several little awesome desserts, including miniature root beer float! If you ever go, I recommend skipping the tasting menu and going all out on appetizers and dessert.

However, we were running behind to make it to the Cirque show, so my date and had to scarf down desserts Cookie-Monster style (all decked out in fancy apparel, mind you) and ran through the Bellagio casino to make it to see "O"!

Somehow we missed the ridiculously genious French pun in the title. ("Eau," the French word for water, is pronounced like the letter "O") Anyway, it was spectacular. I will not go into detail because I don't want to spoil the wonder of it for those who haven't seen it. The whole thing was amazing, except I could have done without the scary inexplicable model of the faceless torso hanging in the intro scene.

To make the most of our short time in Vegas, we also caught a second show, across the street at Bally's, called "Jubilee." "--where the dancers where millions of rhinestones, and not much of anything else!" That's what the advertising slogans were like on the billboards. The show featured the usual towering feathered headdresses and zany musical numbers w/ rhinestone bikinis and crazy costumes designed by Bob Mackie, king of gaudy glamour. Not to mention the various acrobatic acts between the musical numbers. It was funny stuff. The weird thing is that there were numbers where the central stage wasn't topless, but the side stages had topless dancers. They would have the same exact costume, but one group was allowed to keep their tops on. Not that it mattered too much to me, but it seemed oddly arbitrary. Anyway, I would still recommend the Moulin Rouge in the real Paris. That one features real animals and even more comedic acts!

We packed the activities in, and so we were pretty worn out the next day. We had a lot of fun, but we forgot how Vegas attracts sleazy sorts and tacky tourists. We noticed an old granny casually toking a cigarette w/ an inch-length of ash hanging off while watching her grandkid in a baby stroller. Classy. I think a weekend in Vegas is just the right length of time to stay there.

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