Southwest Trip 2021

Vegas Day 2: What Happens In Vegas… Goes on the Blog

We got some good sleep after our late-ish night in Vegas. Not that we were up insanely late, but considering we’d been going to bed at like 9pm most nights after hiking, 1am felt like 5am. 

Our first objective was food. Daniel had looked up a well-reviewed breakfast place in the Linq, right next door to our resort. But good reviews came with a price. The waiting area of the restaurant was packed as tight as a sardine can. We pulled a U-turn out of there and found a different option in the Linq, Chayo, a Mexican cantina, that just so happened to be serving breakfast as well. 

And also bottomless mimosas. They were $25 a person, which was a little pricey, but not bad for Vegas. Still I was determined to get my money’s worth, so I definitely indulged. The food was actually pretty great too. Daniel got a breakfast burrito the size of Texas, and I got a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, and an English muffin. The potatoes alone were amazing. My mouth is watering as I’m typing this, I’m kind of hungry. 

After breakfast we set out to do a bit of exploring. I’d been to Vegas before, but I’d only seen one side of the strip. We stayed at Harrah’s, turned left out of Harrah’s, and saw everything in that direction. So from the Flamingo, we went right. 

We hopped through a few casinos, just to see the decor they had and any other fun sights. First we went to the Venetian, which was really cool inside. It also smelled amazing and was pristinely clean on the inside. So, basically, it’s nicer than real Venice. 

From there we hopped across the street to Treasure Island, which just kind of felt like a classic casino with some occasional piratey or Mayan theming. From there, we went to the Mirage, which was really nice—upscale and tropical. It smelled like a Hawaiian garden in there, and the air conditioning was on full blast. We decided to stick around for a bit and play a few games, mostly because we were tired and we didn’t want to go back outside yet, where it was hotter than a volcano caldera on a burning sun. 

Pooped from our walk, we decided the best way to spend the boiling hours of the day was by hanging at the Flamingo’s pool. The Flamingo might be one of the older, less-upscale casinos, but their pool was a hopping joint. Pink umbrellas, waterfalls, little concrete islands to rest our drinks on, and a playlist bumping all our favorite jams from middle and high school: this was what we wanted. 

The only thing that could have made it better was cheaper drinks. I mean, it’s highway robbery what they charge you. Daniel got a few hurricanes, and I got something called a “gummy bear,” which was basically a watermelon mojito. I ordered this drink solely for the reason that it was supposed to come with actual gummy bears in it. But when the bartender gave it to me, it came sans candy. It still tasted really good, but I wanted the gummy bears. I switched to a strawberry daiquiri for the next round, mostly out of spite. 

We hung out in the pool for two hours or so before heading back upstairs to change for dinner and our show. Thankfully neither of these destinations had dress codes, so we didn’t have to worry about making ourselves look any more presentable than normal. 

Dinner was at Battista’s Hole In The Wall, which may or may not be the best deal in all of Las Vegas. It’s a little Italian restaurant tucked off-strip, right behind our hotel. It’s really unassuming from the outside, just a little cement building. The inside is decorated like an old school Italian place, covered in fake vines and old wine bottles, and covered in pictures of celebrities from the 60s. 

Every entree came with garlic bread, soup or salad, house wine, and a cappuccino. So pretty much you order your dish, and all the freebies come with. And my god, everything we had was delicious. Daniel got manicotti and I went for the chicken parm. The garlic bread was perfect, the house white wine was even pretty good! And the cappuccino at the end of the meal was the perfect cap-off. I mean it tasted like a warm hug after coming inside from playing outside in the snow. This may have been the half-carafe of wine talking, but I thought it was delicious.

Anyways, we were thoroughly stuffed as we rolled our way over to the Bellagio for Cirque du Soleil’s “O.” We didn’t even need to buy drinks before the show, as we’d had more than our share of wine. So we waltzed right in, found our seats, (front row of the mezzanine, a perfect view) and waited for the show to begin. 

This show was their water show. The curtain opened to a gigantic pool that also had a stage under it that would rise and lower depending on the act. The set design alone was a visual marvel. And then on top of that, the acts were just mind-boggling. Highlights were: trapeze artists that performed on a rocking “ship” of monkey bars, swinging each other as the ship swung dramatically left and right; high-divers that performed Olympic-quality dives off of a series of platform swings that catapulted them into the air; aerial performers that swung from giant rings that kept dipping down and rising up from the water with more people attached; and contortionists that stacked themselves atop each other like Gumby totem poles. There were also two clowns that kept popping up throughout the show. And they were actually funny and cute, instead of being absolutely terrifying. 

I’d seen two Cirque shows previously, and this was Daniel’s first. I’d easily say this was the best production I’ve ever seen. And Daniel I think is still emotionally recovering he was so blown away by it. He’s a sucker for world music and colorful set design. 

From the show, we moseyed to the front of the Bellagio to catch the famous fountain show. We hadn’t seen it yet this trip, as we’d gotten back from dinner too late the night before. We caught the tail end of the fountain dancing to “This Kiss” by Shania Twain, but by the time we got a view, it stopped. So we waited 15 minutes for it to start back up again, hoping it would play a song we liked. The minute it started up we both gave each other a “no kidding” look, cuz it was dancing to “Your Song,” by Elton John, which is one of “our songs.” Gross, I know, but it’s a good song. And of course, the fountain did it justice. 

I caught a video of it, but the file was too big for WordPress, so if you’d like to see it, I put it on Instagram hidden somewhere in my Vegas post. 

We rounded out our night with just a bit more exploring. Paris is one of my favorite casinos, and it was right across the street, so we decided to hop around there for a bit. We planned on playing roulette, but the table was consistently full, so we gave up in favor of finding it at a different venue. At least we got to wander aimlessly in Paris for a bit. 

We stumbled into Bally’s for a bit more gambling fun, and flagged down a waitress for a couple of drinks. We played for just a bit, and while I started out winning, I wound up breaking about even. Better than a loss. 

We were a short walk from our pink room at the Flamingo. It wasn’t nearly as late as our night had been yesterday, but after a full day of exploring, playing around, and steadily ingesting alcohol, we were ready to collapse. And so we did, knowing tomorrow we’d have to gather ourselves and prepare for the journey home. 

**

The journey home would prove to be an odyssey. 

We packed up, checked out, and made our way to McCarran Airport via cab. We had some time to kill before boarding, so we grabbed some breakfast sandwiches and took our time.

We boarded with no issue and found ourselves seated in no time, bound for Charlotte, from which we’d catch our connection to Manchester. 

Or so we thought. 

We were delayed an hour and a half on the tarmac. I guess there was an issue with the direction we had to go on the runway? I don’t really get it. But all I know is that we had an hour layover in Charlotte, and that layover pretty much shrank down to zilch as we sat on the ground in Las Vegas. 

Long story short, a four-hour nail-biter flight led into a delayed flight to New Hampshire, allowing us to make our connection at the eleventh hour. Thanks, Charlotte thunderstorms. We made it onto that flight, but our luggage didn’t. But honestly we didn’t really care, we were just happy to be home. They’re delivering it to us tomorrow anyway.

***

On my last post for each trip, I always try to do a recap of sorts. So for this trip, I’m going to hand out some superlatives. 

Best National Park: Grand Canyon

I was blown away by the Grand Canyon. Not even just the canyon itself, but the surrounding forest, the cool western aesthetic of the resorts and shops in the park, and just the overall vibe of the place. I would absolutely go back in a heartbeat. 

(Daniel’s favorite was definitely Arches, but he’s not the one writing the blog.)

Best Hike: The Narrows, Zion NP

Again, coolest hike of my life. And it’s gotta be if I enjoyed it that much while also spending the day soaking wet from the knees down, with waterlogged socks and shoes, while also fighting the most excruciatingly sore throat of my life. But hey. Skinny colorful canyon=cool. 

Most Adventurous Day: Full Day in Arches

Oh man. My blood was pumping that whole day. Hiking, photography, venturing across all terrains to see some cool rocks. And then we ended it getting dive-bombed by hungry bats chasing their dinner? This is gonna be one of those days I talk about forever.

Best Food: Top of the World

I mean, it better be the best for what we paid for it. But it was worth every penny. I don’t know what other options we had for a “splurge” meal in Las Vegas, but it’s hard to beat first class dining with a rotating view of the strip 107 stories in the sky. 

Best Day: Full Day in Las Vegas

Now, don’t get me wrong. The national park days were amazing. As someone who is a self-proclaimed “indoor cat,” I thoroughly enjoyed all of our outdoorsy shenanigans. But we did SO MUCH fun stuff that second day in Vegas, and the fact that Cirque du Soleil closed us out just gave it an edge that the other days just couldn’t beat. 

Despite the issues returning home, this trip has been amazing. It was great to go on a long adventure with Daniel for the first time. I suppose he’s proved himself a worthy companion for future trips. 

It was also fun to explore domestically, as most of my journeys have taken me overseas. It turns out, you don’t have to switch continents to find adventure. There’s plenty to see in the good ole USA. 

With that being said, if everyone can hold it together and bring this pandemic to a close to I can go to Southeast Asia next summer, that would be ideal. 

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