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18 June 2009 @ 02:21 pm
What happens in Vegas, stays...  
...on livejournal? Or something like that.

Vegas was awesome. In fact, so many fun little things happened, I started keeping a list, so I wouldn't forget to journal about them!

We stayed at the Venetian, in one of their Bella Suites. With the addition of the Palazzo, it is, apparently, now the largest hotel in the world! I believe it. Even with signs everywhere, you would be amazed how easy it is to continually get lost in this place. And people, with a few notable exceptions, pretty much suck at giving directions. ("The Walgreens? Take the door underneath the up escalator and you're there." Actually, no. You take the door just past the escalators, turn right, and walk for about a block. Just FYI.) We came to the conclusion that we needed to stop approximately every five feet and ask for directions, and in this way mostly found everywhere we were going.

But on our first night, we were on our way to dinner reservations at Canalettos, and had NO IDEA where we were going. We asked for directions, and got the usual badly phrased or vague answer. We got off an elevator on the wrong floor, ended up going back to the elevator and getting on, and then holding the doors for a very nicely dressed older gentleman in a suit and tie, with the sort of air about him that indicated he was very highly placed with the hotel or casino staff. It was fairly obvious from our conversation that we were lost, not to mention the fact that the button we kept trying to push didn't work. "Why won't it work?" we wondered. "Because that floor is staff only," said the well dressed gentleman in a very cordial and business like tone. He glanced up from his papers, and asked "Where are you ladies headed?" We told him, and he gave us clear and concise directions.

We thanked him, and found our restaurant with little trouble. Speculation about who he was abounded on the walk there. CEO? Pit Boss? Who knows?

The food, btw, was fabulous. And our waiter was this highly amusing older man who was quite a character.

The next "getting lost" incident occurred shortly after dinner. We were wandering the shops, looking and killing some time before going to see Ka, and we needed to get something from the hotel room before we left. Rather than all of us go back up, two of us decided to, while the third member of our party waited in the lobby to save her feet (she was wearing fantastic looking heels). From the shopping area, we split up to head our separate directions. Except in our wanderings, we'd unknowingly ended up on the Palazzo side, which is like another whole hotel connected to the Venetian. It has its own casino and everything. We were dressed up for the show (in my new corset, which I sadly have no pictures of yet - we were always too rushed to take them, or forgot), totally lost, and wondering aloud which way would lead us back to our hotel, when this accented voice from behind us asked "Where are you ladies headed?"

A very nicely dressed Italian gentleman, a few years older than us, had been walking behind us. We told him the Tower Suites at the Venetian, and he smiled and said "Follow me, then." And he walked with us, making pleasant conversation, asking us where we were from, if we'd ever been to Vegas before. He was a lawyer from Italy, and he comes to Vegas frequently. I got the distinct impression from his manner and clothes and some of the things he said, that he makes a LOT of money as a lawyer. He would often touch our shoulders (he even took my hand and admired my wedding ring at one point), but it wasn't creepy or sexual - I got the feeling his culture is just more into casual touch than Americans tend to be. Once we got back to recognizable ground (the Venetian casino floor) he veered off to his high stakes poker game (private room, from the looks of it) and waved as we made our way on to our room. He was really nice, and really helpful, and it stood out for us.

I would highly suggest if you ever go to Vegas, pack your comfortable shoes. Don't wear the awesome looking ones that hurt your feet, no matter how fantastic they look - you'll end up with blisters, and spend much of the trip bandaging your war wounds, and limping. We saw many, many a person hobbling around on bare and bandaged feet, or girls carrying those awesome six inch heels while wearing a new pair of flip flops with that cocktail dress.

Speaking of which - we grew kind of desensitized to it by the end of the trip, but early on it was really noticeable how many members of the twenty-something crowd come to Vegas to party. Girls would walk around in flocks, all wearing super short cocktail dresses in varying colors and styles, paired with six inch heels. Guys wandered in packs, drinking from beer bottles or cups, mostly drunk already as they admired the scenery and tried, with varying degrees of success, to pick up on the girls. It was rather amusing to watch, actually. After Ka, we were waiting in the taxi line, watching group after group of these girls go by (on their way to clubs), while some guys stood together nearby, watching the girls a little more attentively than we were. Finally, one turned to his buddy, and said "Is it just me, or are all the girls in Vegas really hot?"

It was pretty amusing.

We thirty-something gals did get some appreciative looks when we went out in our corsets. Usually from our own age group or older, not the younger crowd walking around in a constant near-drunk, or just drunken, haze. (Seriously, I am not even exaggerating about the beer. We passed one group of guys wearing sunglasses inside the casino, and drinking from giant Bud Light bottles. I was like "Really??? You come all the way to Vegas, and all you can manage to get drunk with is the same cheap beer you and your frat buddies drink at home?) In my case, I garnered enough attention from Italian men in particular for it to be something of a joke - my husband is, after all, Italian! :)

Speaking of Italians, we ate dinner one night at an upscale Mexican place inside the Venetian. At the end of our meal, a swarthy gentlemen surrounded by men who were obviously plainclothes security of some sort (we were wondering if a celebrity had come into the restaurant) asked us how our meal was as we exited the restaurant. (Incidentally, there are Italians everywhere in the Venetian! Working, visiting. Considering how very little it resembles the real Italy, it was kind of...odd.) We told him it was very good, he smiled and nodded, and we went on our way, wondering if he was some sort of old Vegas mobster (the security were, as I said, quite obvious.) Later on in our hotel room, we were reading one of the magazines provided for our entertainment, and came across a full color picture of the very man in question, and discovered he was the head chef of the restaurant! Why he had security with him, yet remains a mystery.

We had some interesting customer service experiences as well. At one point, we stopped in front of a jewelry store, Ben Gioielli & Co, a fine and vintage jewelry designer. (I, of course, stopped at nearly every jewelry store to look.) This young Italian man (remember what I said about me and Italian men?) working the store came over as we were admiring one of the display necklaces. We were attempting to guess the main black stone utilized in the necklace. I guessed black garnet, or perhaps spinel. Both have become popular in the jewelry world in recent years. But the young man corrected me. "No," he said. "Look at the sparkle. They are black diamonds!" He then, over my shocked (and not very hard) protests, put the necklace on me, while explaining it has over 150 carats in black diamonds, and costs over $150,000, accordingly.

So, for approximately 30 seconds, I wore a necklace of black diamonds worth over $150,000. They were nice enough to let me snap a picture of it when we came back by later. Not the best possible pic - you have no idea how much it sparkles in real life. The nice young man who helped us actually asked me if I wanted to buy the necklace. It was courteous of him to assume I even could. :)

This was, quite obviously, a highlight of the entire trip for me.

By complete contrast, ten minutes after this incident, we walked into a couture shop, Lior, where they had absolutely stunning clothing - and ridiculously awful service. It was exactly like one of those movies, where the staff look you up and down, and decide you don't make enough money to frequent their store. One woman literally walked over to a mirror to primp herself while we shopped, tossed her long dark hair over her shoulder (I'm sure she was Italian. Apparently my power doesn't extend to the female half of the population), then rolled her eyes and smirked at us as she turned around and walked away - to do what, I don't know, since we were the only possible customers in the store. It was absolutely unreal.

A note about transportation - the taxi drivers in Vegas are insane! kistha said they weren't quite as bad as the ones in New York, but close. She actually asked one if he'd ever driven cab in NY, and he was very curious why she would ask, but never directly answered the question. He might have been the driver who very matter-of-factly told us it was perfectly legal to run down pedestrians who foolishly cross the street where and when they aren't supposed to (there aren't many crosswalks along the strip.) He said they would be tickets, not him (presuming they lived through the experience, which I find doubtful, given the speeds at which we zoomed around corners.) We were extremely careful thereafter to pay close attention to when we could safely cross a street.

The best cab driver we had was actually the one who picked us up from the airport. He told us when taking taxis on the strip, to tell the cab drivers "don't take the strip" to get from one hotel to another. The back ways are quicker, and therefore cheaper. We forgot the first couple of times, and once, a cabbie actually ignored our request, and took us on the strip anyway. He did not get a tip.

The buffet at the Bellagio really is as good as they all say, just FYI. But make sure you get there by 5:00pm, or you'll find yourself waiting in a line that might be as long as an hour or two. We were there by 5:15, and waited maybe fifteen minutes. But when we left a little over an hour later? The line ran the entire length of the casino, as far as they eye could see. However, the jumbo shrimp cocktail, prime rib, and pretty much everything they had were absolutely fantastic. Also, best bread pudding I've had in quite some time. ("Mmmmm. Green beans!" <-- this is something of an in joke, as poor kistha is allergic to milk, so while L and I were waxing poetic about our bread pudding, she was eating the last of her bean salad and replying "Mmmm. green beans!" It became a catch phrase for the rest of the trip.)

Let's see, what's left - Cirque de Soleil was so awesome, it rates it's own post, complete with as many pictures as I can find. We saw both Ka, and Mystere. Amazing, both of them!

Oh, yes, that's right - the Chippendales' dancers. We didn't go to the show. There was an incident involving my camera and a hard tile floor on our last day in Vegas. As the focus was retracting, it hit the floor, bending it so it couldn't retract, or take pictures. The nice lady at Madame Trousseau's wax museum directed us to a friend of hers who worked at a Kodak store. The store might not fix it, but if Moshi was feeling charitable, he might for us. (The wax museum has some great pictures I'll d/l for my picture post, too, although sadly, no Johnny Depp! There are pictures of wax!Johnny to advertise, but no actual Johnny in the museum. It was very disappointing!) So, after leaving the wax museum, we made our way to Harrah's, and the street carnival behind the casino. Our directions said the kodak store was right beside the Starbucks at the carnival.

The Chippendales guys were evidently doing some promotional stuff right at the beginning of the carnival. We made our way past them, trying not to oggle too much (they were very, very fine looking young men.) And promptly saw no indication of a Starbucks anywhere.

In keeping with our usual Vegas directional experience, I said "Every five feet, right? We should find someone who works here, and ask where the Starbucks is."

"Oh," said L, "you mean like those Chippendales guys?"

Me: "Um..."

But it was too late. L was already walking back to them, so kistha and I followed. L asked them where the Starbucks might be, and the one with the amazingly gorgeous green eyes (seriously, his eyes were so fantastic, you noticed them before the rest of him, and that's saying something) motioned us closer. We were a little skeptical, and he smiled and said "No, really. You can see it if you step over here." So we did. And lo, there was the Starbucks sign. We were very appreciative, since our usual experience would've been "Go that way!" with a vaguely waved hand.

Also, they smelled really, really good. The Chippendales guys. Just saying.

The other one wore sunglasses, so I can't comment on his eye color. And he was very quiet, almost shy. We got the impression maybe he was new, and the other guy was mentoring him. We made some comment about them working for Chippendales, and Pretty Eyes said "You wouldn't believe how often people ask us 'Hey, are you Thunder from Down Under'? and I'm like 'Do I sound Australian to you?" So that became another catch phrase of the trip - "Do I sound Australian to you?" :)

We thanked them profusely for the really good directions, and as we left, they jokingly said "Hey, bring me back an iced coffee!" (Pretty eyes.) "And an ice water!" (Sunglasses.)

So, we totally did.

They were totally shocked. Like, jaw dropping shocked. Then they tried to give us money, which we refused. Then they hugged us, and thanked us about twenty times, and as we walked away, I heard Pretty Eyes say to Sunglasses (I really wish I'd asked their names!) "That was so cool!" As though no one has ever done them a nice gesture while they're working before. Maybe they're used to women treating them like objects, or something. But it was very cool. It made us feel good, and them feel good.

Um. I'm sure there's more stuff I'm missing. But I plan on at least two more Vegas posts. One all about Cirque de Soleil, and one with some pictures. All in all, it was an awesome, amazing trip. I definitely plan to go back.
Current Mood: tiredtired
jomadgejomadge on June 18th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you had a blast!

Vegas gets an older crowd in the cooler months. I love to go on or around Thanksgiving.
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 19th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
Oooh, that might be a good time to get the husband to go! He gets part of that week off work anyway. :D
jomadge: P&T - dancejomadge on June 20th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
OMG, do! Maybe I'll see you there. :-)
Ambassador of  Awesome: callmelydia Pamamphetamine_47 on June 19th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Sounds like you had a great time!

...and WOW is that necklace gorgeous!
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 19th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
It was about 1000 times more gorgeous in person! Truly amazing. :D
seven minute dance party: fandom | campaignvoleuse on June 19th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC)
Awww, that's a sweet encounter with the Chippendale's guys.

And YES, I adore the Bellagio buffet. We usually go at breakfast, but the line is about the same length no matter what.
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 19th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
I've heard the breakfast buffet is awesome. We hit a grocery store right after we got there, so our breakfast was bagels and cream cheese in our room, plus my super awesome coffee. :D

Yeah, the Chippendales encounter was pretty cool. They were sweet guys. :)
L.A.: himymfrenchroast on June 19th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC)
You know, I've never cared about it before now, but reading your post has made me want to go to Vegas. It sounds like soooo much fun!
rhienellethrhienelleth on June 19th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Heck, I haven't even talked about Cirque de Soleil yet! Yeah, I totally recommend going at some point. :D
jomadgejomadge on June 20th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
The prices are amazing right now. Deals everywhere. They also get really good around certain holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
jomadgejomadge on June 20th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Of course, it's like a million degrees there right now. *g*
L.A.: himymfrenchroast on June 20th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)
Well, right now isn't exactly the best time for me to go as I'm departing for a French study abroad program next week, and that's already breaking the bank. But maybe there will still be some good deals when I get out of grad school. I'm going to need to go somewhere to celebrate!
Patron Saint of Pessimismwoodrunner on June 24th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
I finally read your post!

Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing time! Lots of good little stories and experiences in there, too!

J and I have talked about going, but haven't looked into it too hard. The price for flights to Vegas are pretty reasonable, even from way over here where I am.