The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Vegas Recap

OK, so this is roughly a week overdue, but better late than never, right? Anyway, our flight from BWI to LAS was delayed over an hour so we didn't get to Treasure Island until the ungodly hour of 2:30am. Going with the trend of the evening, our room apparently wasn't ready due to an overbooking of the hotel despite our reservation that was made months ago. Unfortunately, they had to upgrade us. Bummer. First off, whenever your room has double doors as its entrance, it's usually a good sign. Holy crap, when I opened them I was greeted with a gargantuan room which had a two piece sofa, king size bed, flat screen TV, and Bose Wave Radio. Not surprisingly, internet access was still a luxury item with the mere asking price of $12.99/day. The bathroom, which included terry cloth robes and slippers, had marble floors and a walk-in shower. However, we stumbled upon another set of double doors that surprisingly led us to ... an even bigger bathroom! This one was equipped with a Jacuzzi bathtub and was immediately dubbed our favorite of the two. Sucks we were only allowed to stay there for one night, but at least it was fun to pretend to have assloads of money and stay in a room like that.

We checked out the pool during the day Friday and I'm still having difficulty putting the experience into words. All I can say is that Treasure Island isn't the family resort it used to be, that much I know. It was like Spring Break in Cancun, just replace the ocean with a highly chlorinated pool, older women, and 115 degree heat. Free shots were given out, a DJ was spinning 90s Hip Hop (like "Rump Shaker" and the prolific Tag Team classic "Whoomp! There It Is"), and everyone in the pool had some sort of beverage in their hands. It was a tad surreal. Some drunken douche tried to pick up Rachel in the pool and make out with her while I was getting a drink at the bar, but after she pointed him out, dude was already getting rejected left and right by every other girl he tried to confront. I don't think the ladies were turned on by his "I'm going to throw up on your face at any moment" look. Poor guy.

After observing a few hours of GGW debauchery at the pool and getting scolded at by the gf for occasionally staring, we grabbed some tapas at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba for dinner which was just a few blocks from our hotel. Located right off of the Fashion Mall, the prices were very affordable and the service was terrific. We got a pitcher of blackberry Sangria and split a few plates between the four of us which proved to be a perfect meal after we previously gorged ourselves at the TI buffet for lunch. Afterwards, we headed towards The Mirage to catch Love. If you're a fan of The Beatles (like I am, 'natch) then you would downright enjoy this show. While you won't be witnessing the insane acrobatic stunts or the mind-blowing contortionist acts of other Cirque de Soleil shows such as Mystere (more on that later), Love held its own. The excellent soundtrack, cast, and overall production of Love was top-notch and I highly recommend it if you're ever in Vegas. Afterward, we hit the tables at The Mirage and found none other than War as one of the casino offerings. Seriously, War. After playing $10 hands for about half an hour, we left the table up $60. It has to have one the best odds in all of Vegas. I honestly can't think of one advantage the dealer would have in this game. War!!!

Saturday night we went to Envy the Steakhouse which was absolutely incredible. It also helped that we had a $75 off $150 gift certificate from, but I digress. If you're a steak lover I urge you to check this place out. It's right off the strip and located inside the Renaissance Hotel. Anyway, I got the signature bone-in prime rib eye which was worth the hefty price tag. The service was impeccable, especially when one of the steaks was served overcooked (ordered medium-rare and arrived on the well side). The waiter not only brought back a newly cooked (and somewhat larger) steak, but also apologized several times and included a free side of mashed potatoes. I've never been to a Morton's or Ruth Chris before, but I'm just going to assume that this steakhouse was most likely eons better than those two chains. After conquering 14 ounces of beef, we went to see Mystere back at Treasure Island. Excuse my language, but holy shit, what a show. If you saw Knocked Up, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd's facial reactions tell the story right there (sans the shrooms, we didn't have any of those). During the hour plus long show, you might caught me either a) shaking my head or b) watching my jaw drop while watching what some of these guys were doing. It was that good.

Unfortunately, we made the ill-advised choice to check out the free Sirens of TI show after Mystere which brought my euphoria from the Cirque experience to a crashing halt. Back in the day, Treasure Island used to have a very entertaining pirate show before they reformatted the entire resort into "TI." What we saw that night was arguably the most atrocious piece of crap I've ever witnessed. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Pussycat Dolls, mix in some pirate ships, special effects, and shitty songwriting, and you've got yourselves a fucking abomination. Seriously, you should've paid me to watch this train wreck.

You haven't been to Vegas unless you've been to the Wynn. I honestly cannot believe places like that actually exist. This casino/resort has its own country club and Ferrari dealership for crying out loud. After walking around and feeling like a second class citizen, we went to its Broadway-style theater to see Spamalot which featured John O'Hurley (of Seinfeld, and to a lesser extent, Dancing With the Stars fame). I've always wanted to see this show and it didn't disappoint. In fact, all there (!) shows we saw that weekend were phenomenal. We thought it would be wise to take a break from the action of the Strip and checkout Fremont Street instead as it was our last night in Vegas and all. It's a completely different scene from the Strip which was not only a great change of scenery but a lot of fun as well. Downtown Vegas is where neon illuminates everything and $9.95 prime rib dinners are the norm. We even learned how to play Craps for the first time. In fact, when it was my turn to shoot, I must've rolled at least ten times before ultimately hitting 7. You know you've done the table well when they not only applaud you for your hot streak, but when the guy next to you wants to give you a huge hug for helping him win a ton of money. Hey, what can I say, I was flattered.

After the casino decided to close down the Craps table for the night, I suggested to the group that we head towards The Griffin, just a few blocks down Freemont Street . I read about it in the Vegas alt-weekly as having one of the best jukeboxes in the city and, let me tell you, it did not disappoint. First off, the place was amazing. The gothic ceilings, leather couches, and two fireplaces created a very unique environment and really set it apart from other bars I've been to. Oh, and the jukebox. Man oh man was this thing fully stocked. The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, The Stooges, the list goes on and on. It also helped that the bar was gamble-free (which was a nice touch). Bottom line - if you're ever in Vegas and want to escape the craziness of the Strip, then The Griffin is your destination.

Our final day was spent primarily at the over the top Bellagio lunch buffet. We went all out on this one since we were saving the best for last (but do yourself a favor and skip the Luxor, there's a reason why it's one of the cheapest buffets). Between the inordinate amount of carving stations and the incredibly rich variety of desserts, we really didn't eat the rest of the day (and we didn't even get back until Tuesday morning technically). Overall, Vegas was a great time and as a first-time visitor, I already have the fever to go back.

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