Bay's Travel Blog

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Day 3 Las Vegas - Part I

SUBTITLE: Blimey! Bay Breaks Big Buggy!

(I'm starting this part of the trip report on Saturday night while Amy fixes risotto and my feet curse me. These trip reports are taking about three hours, including revisions, and I know that I will have far less time on Sunday to write at my leisure. Hopefully this early start will mean I can finish a very full, very complex, very action-packed, heartstopping day of adventure.)

I'm jinxed. Or -- I am a jinx. I'm not sure. But if you count the plane's rough landing on Thursday, I have now broken no fewer than five methods of transportation. Yes, we are all very concerned for Amy's beautiful new car. I have to go break a roller skate before she'll let me into the car again tomorrow. And I don't blame her one bit.

It all started innocently enough. We hung out at the house for a few hours this morning. I woke up around 8:00 -- amazing, huh? Six hours of sleep, and then I was as awake as I could be. I made coffee without breaking Amy's big honkin' coffee maker, and I started writing the Friday report. Amy got up, and she checked her email and took care of stuff, made birdie bread for the parrots, and we just generally relaxed. We thought we would leave the house around 1:30, but I think it was closer to 2:30 before we actually left for a day of touring casinos, window shopping, and riding roller coasters.

Today was cooler than Thursday or Friday, and I actually wore one of my turtlenecks and wasn't too hot unless I was in a stuffy place. Paired with my favorite jeans, the shirt was perfect clothing for walking outside.

First we drove through the historic Alta Drive neighborhood, where traditional, old-fashioned, classic Las Vegas casino owners lived for decades. The houses are extremely retro and surprisingly modest. Most are typical 1960's ranch houses. Did you ever see the movie "Casino"? Remember DeNiro's character's house? That's what those houses look like. People have been murdered in some of those homes, y'know. Coooooooooool.

Then we drove to the Sahara and parked in their garage. This was when I first broke something, and I picked the elevator. It took forever to get to us, and really rattled sort of alarmingly as Amy and I and a Japanese couple climbed in. The ride to the casino level took quite a while.

We passed through the casino and went on to the monorail station. I tried to break my digital camera while taking pictures of the Stratosphere. I wanted to take a picture of a monorail train that was covered with ads. The camera wouldn't focus for some reason. Amy worried about that for a while, but we turned the camera off and turned it back on again, and voila! It worked. By that time, the cool monorail had moved along.

I think the camera isn't really broken only because it isn't some form of conveyance or transportation. If it were a little red wagon, it would have been toast.

Amy purchased a 10-ride share-able monorail ticket, and we both breezed through the turnstiles. It's very easy, although no one in front of us could figure it out. Put the ticket in the bottom, it spits out the top, you take it out of the top and walk through the turnstiles. People kept trying to walk through without taking their ticket back, and the turnstiles fussed at them over that.

Within just a very few minutes, we were on the monorail, headed South. The monorail starts and stops at the Sahara. I'm not sure what's at the other end, because I don't think I'll ever ride it that far. Monorails are cool. I'm glad Las Vegas has one, but I wish it were on the Strip instead of behind the hotels on the Strip. The view is sometimes a little, well, unattractive. We passed the Hilton, the Convention Center (which already has a huge "Welcome to CHA" sign on it), and we got off at the Harrah's station.

Now, at the landing for the Harrah's station, I thought I saw one of the guys from the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters." Woodrow loves that show. So do I. Then Amy said that the Mythbusters were in town for the Skeptics convention, which Paul was attending!!! So maybe it was him! But... maybe it wasn't. We're still not sure, and I'm leaning toward, "NO, that wasn't him. It was some guy who wants to be him."

We headed down escalators and through the twisting, winding, turning, confusing casino. As we passed Toby Keith's bar, a couple stumbled out. The man carried a beer and walked on his toes, leaning forward precariously. Hey, man, it's 3:00 in the afternoon, and you're already plastered? Slow down!!!!

At the Strip side of Harrah's, we exited the hotel and turned right, going toward the Venetian. My friends Gail and Nina have met here for lunch many times, and I think the Grand Lux is Gail's favorite LV cafe. So we had a mission: Go to the Grand Lux and have the lunch that Gail has recommended soooooo highly. We traveled up and over the a road (not sure which one) via moving sidewalks.

Now. I am old and grumpy. I have absolutely no patience whatsoever with people who don't walk on sidewalks and stairs. In other words, moving sidewalks and escalators Are Not Thrill Rides. One should walk on those conveyances. Always. Unless you are really old. They're not that much fun, for heaven's sake, just WALK. And if you absolutely refuse to walk, get the heck over to the right so that those of us who know the difference between a flight of stairs and a roller coaster can *get somewhere*!!!!

The moving sidewalk to the Venetian was jammed with people who absolutely refused to walk and furthermore wouldn't move to the right so that I could barrel past them. Hmph.

The only thing that kept me from having a total meltdown was that the guy in front of us held a Brooks Brothers bag, and I was curious, so I asked him, "Excuse me -- what did you buy?" He turned out to be a really nice guy, and said he bought cufflinks. We said, "Oooooo," and he explained, no, nothing that exciting, he just forgot his cufflinks and he searched everywhere for a pair that cost less than $600. At which we laughed understandingly. If I had had any sense whatsoever, I would've asked him if he were getting married.

We were finally spit off of moving sidewalks, and most of the crowd went to Madame Trussaud's... er, Trousseau's... um, TootsieRoll's... Eh, the wax museum. The next moving sidewalk was free and easy to navigate. Finally!

Now, the Venetian is beautiful and ornate and quite detailed and impressive. I have never been to Venice, but I bet the Venetian is probably a lot like a condensed version of it ... only cleaner. It was *really* pretty. I gawked at oodles of things and really kind of wanted to wander around for a bit, but my tummy was complaining about a lack of nourishment. We asked at the info desk for the location of the Grand Lux, and were directed to go downstairs to the casino and toward the back right wall.

As we traveled down the escalator -- walking this time, thank heaven -- I spied the Grand Lux sign. We headed toward it and found the restaurant with ease. We did have to wait about three minutes before we were seated, but we got a marvelous table where we could see the casino.

The place was just lovely. Instead of actual tile and marble like at the Wynn, the Venetian has wonderful trompe l'oieil paintings everywhere. It looks very soft, very old, and very authentic.

Our waitress was a marvelous girl -- just wonderful, really! -- who was friendly and helpful. We looked at our menus, but I really didn't need them. I knew from Gail's descriptions that I wanted the Grand Club Sandwich and the Lemon Extravaganza for dessert, and I thought she had said we should split anything we got there. I asked our waitress if this was true, and she heartily concurred.

I did use the menu for one thing, though. I held it up and peered over it, and Amy took a picture of me with her camera phone, which we promptly emailed to Gail. I was hoping that she would forward it to some more friends, but it was a very, very dark picture.

We placed our order -- Grand Club Sandwich and a Lemon Extravaganza -- to be split. Then Amy's phone beeped with email, and there was a note from Gail! I'm not sure I was being nice to her by sending her that photo -- she really loves the Grand Lux and was pretty jealous of me to be eating there. I wish she had been with us. Her note included tips on what to order -- and I got it exactly right, including the iced tea!

I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I know how to take advice. Gail has always raved about the Grand Lux.

When our lunch arrived, I slathered Grey Poupon on my half of the sandwich. Then Amy and I both eyed our sandwiches warily and wondered how to cram it into our mouths. I took off a tomato slice. We both tried to squish the bread down. That thing was HUGE! We finally just dived in and took a bite -- and Mmmmmmmmmmm, it was gooooooooood! The fries were great, too. Gail was right! The Grand Club is a grand thing, indeed!

I asked Amy if she were enjoying her sandwich and she joked, "Can't talk. Eating." Conversation died out completely and we just stuffed ourselves.

Then the dessert came, and I wanted to send another picture to Gail. But they had dimmed the lights in the cafe, and the camera phone really couldn't get it, so we took a regular photo with my camera and used the flash. Darn it, I hate the flash. It's so unforgiving.

But. The dessert. The Lemon Extravaganza. Was. FABULOUS!!!!! It's lemon pound cake, smothered in some kind of lemon sauce, smothered in ice cream and whipped cream and lemon zest, and swimming in a lake of fresh strawberry slices. Talk about incredible -- I am usually a chocolate fanatic, but the Lemon Extravaganza was so good that neither Amy nor I could actually speak. We were just humming as we stuffed spoonful after spoonful of this glorious confection into our mouths, barely chewing the bites before we could get another one in.

Remember how much I loved the chocolate souffle the night before? Well, this lemon thing is just as good -- and much, much bigger!

We ate and ate and ate until a cacaphony of chaos erupted in the middle of the casino floor. We stood up to see what it was, and a Chinese dragon parade came through the casino, complete with drummers, cymbals, bells, and dancers. The dragon chased after a gold ball on a stick, which Amy tells me means the dragon is chasing the sun.

Ah ha, it's Chinese New Year's Eve!!!! I've seen stuff like that on TV, but never in person like that. I tried to get a picture, but they moved too fast and to the right -- all I got was a drummer's butt.

After the excitement, Amy and I did the only logical thing -- we returned to trying to devour that mountainous Lemon Extravaganza. We did ourselves proud, too. There was only a little cake swimming in melted ice cream when we finally threw in the towel, paid the bill, and moved on to exploring the resort.

The bill -- including tip -- was $32. And it was worth every penny, too!

Thanks, Gail. I think I'm going to have to make it a habit to come to the Venetian for lunch when I'm in Las Vegas, myself.

There's so much more to this day, but I'm going to stop here and post so I can split the thing into manageable bites.


At 14/2/07 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work »


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