What Happens in Vegas…

JEM and I on Plane
JEM and I on Plane

As a reward for completing 36 orbits around the sun, and to celebrate the semi-anniversary of my current relationship, my girlfriend and I decided to escape the blistering San Jose heatwave and fly to Las Vegas.

That was smart…

So we left for Vegas on the evening of Wednesday, 26 July, from San Jose International (I refuse to call it by it’s official name – as I think it is silly to name things after living people, especially politicians…) We dined at the Burger King inside terminal C (the first terminal built in San Jose, the second being terminal A) and later had a drink across form our departure gate. Terminal C is an old fashioned terminal in that it has not “jet-ways” so we had to climb up the stairs to the airplane. I got the window seat on the way out.

The plane left around the prescribed time, just as the sun had set and all the city lights were coming on. On the way we came upon a brief electrical storm, which was neat. On our approach to Las Vegas we got to circle the city, and see all the lights. The trip took a little over an hour. Since we didn’t have any luggage checked in, we sped to the taxi stand where we caught a cab to our hotel: The Mirage.

The Mirage is a nice hotel, with a lot of things going on within it’s own walls. At check-in the back wall was an aquarium. The clerk at check-in gave us four “Love” badges when we asked about them, and she also noted that my birthday was during the trip – which resulted in a bottle of champagne being delivered to our room… Speaking of our room, which was on the seventh floor (and down a corridor reminiscent of the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) it was nice and comfortable, with a view of Caesar’s and the Palm.

On the first night we decided to do a little looking around. We had thought that we might go outside, but that didn’t last long – as it was hot (and we just left hot…) So we kept to the inside of the hotel. We stopped in at the Carnegie Deli for a snack, and got some nifty pictures of the exterior of the Cirque show “Love”. Since the shops and animal attractions were closed, and neither of us being excited about gambling, we went back to our room…

Thursday, 27 July (my birthday…): We woke up (showered, dressed, &c…) and went down to the Caribe Caf? for breakfast. After breakfast we went to see the white tiger, which mostly lounged on one of the stone elephants. Because I had not received any confirmation (other than a debit on my account) for the tickets to the Cirque show, we stopped by the box office and picked up our tickets.

We then ventured out into the hot Vegas daytime, and walked around “the Strip.” First we ventured to the Venetian, where our entertainment for the evening would be. We walked over the canals, and into the shops with it’s simulated outdoor Venice plazas. We found the box office for the Blue Man Group, and retrieved our tickets – and looked through the gift shop.

Back to the outside we went, where we passed by some construction, that we later found out was the Venetian expanding. Crossing on the pedestrian bridge, we made our way to the new Wynn hotel – with its magnificent waterfall, and high scale shops. From there we crossed over to the Las Vegas Fashion Show, which is the mall…

While at the mall, we discovered that the Blue Men Group would be making an appearance at the Swatch shop. It appears that the Blue Men have put out a new Swatch watch, and to commemorate they had those spin art things for people to have fun with, and at 4 the Blue Men would be making an appearance. So, with some time to kill, we walked around the mall, had lunch, and generally basked in the air-conditioned glory that is Las Vegas indoors. We saw the Blue Men at 4, and then left after they did. We decided to retire to our hotel room again, to rest up before our 7:30 show at the Venetian.

We arrived at the Venetian with plenty of time to spare for the Blue Man Group show. The show itself was fantastic. The Blue Men were strange, as was expected. The music was percussive, which was expected. The audience was part of the show, and some were dragged onstage to perform with them. In the end, we were all covered with paper.

From the Venetian, we trekked to the nearest monorail stop and took it to the most southern tip of the line so that we could have dinner at the new Hooters casino-hotel (this was my girl-friend’s idea.) We ate at the Damn Restaurant, which is a 50s style diner experience. It features Hooter’s $5.99 prime-rib special, which my girlfriend enjoyed. We then went to the gift shop to purchase a Hooters t-shirt (which has a very specific purpose…) We then caught a taxi back to our hotel, where we were surprised by a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our room, which was a nice end to my birthday…

Friday, 28 July: Like before, we got up (did those morning things) and headed out. Today we ventured up to the Hilton for the Star Trek Experience, and had breakfast (well, lunch) at Quark’s Bar. After our meal, we posed with the Gorn and salt vampire statues, looked at the gift shops, and then went to see the Experience. We looked at the exhibits, and made our way to the rides. We first went on the Borg Invasion 4D, then immediately after we zipped back to the Klingon Encounter. We then ventured out into the rest of the hotel. Looked at the shops, and then had a bite at Fortuna. Then we zipped back to the Star Trek Experience and rode the rides again.

Having gone through the experience a few times, we decided it was time to head back to our own hotel to rest up for our evening’s entertainment. So we hopped onto the monorail, and headed back to the Mirage where we looked at the white tiger again and then went up to our room.

Once again we arrived at our show with plenty of time to spare. The usherettes for Cirque’s “Love” were dressed as meter-maids, and the ushers were dressed like the Queen’s guard (but with a Union Jack pattern on the coat.) The pre-show included instrumental versions of Beatle songs (the focus of the production, if you didn’t know) and Cirque performers moving from section to section, doing their bits.

The show itself was amazing. The arrangements of the songs (by Sir George Martin and his son) were astounding, and also included sound bites of the Fab-four from the recording sessions. They utilized every aspect of the auditorium (including speakers on the back of every seat) and you could feel the music as you watch the performers bring to life the songs on stage. The whole experience brought me to tears through out, but especially during “Day in the Life” which dramatized the death of John’s mother Julia. And throughout the show, there were four curtains that would be lowered and silhouettes of each of the Beatles would be projected on each one. “A splendid time is guaranteed for all” and that’s a guarantee that is easily delivered.

After the show we caught a cab back to Hooters, to have dinner at the Damn Restaurant again – it’s that good… After dinner we walked back up the Strip, through the ticky-tacky souvenir shops, to our hotel where we had a snack before bed at the Caribe Cafe.

Saturday, 29 July: The usual morning routine, plus the packing of the luggage. We dropped off our belongings with the bell hops, and had breakfast at the Caribe Caf? (again.) After breakfast we thought we’d go to the secret garden and dolphin pool. To be honest, we were too cheap to pay for that (especially after some guys came out and warned us not to bother…) We puttered about the shops for a while, and then caught a cab for the airport.

We arrived at the airport fairly early, and our flight was running a little late. A lot of people were waiting for their flights, so seats were scarce and I decided to waste a few dollars at the slots so that we could both sit down. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything.

Our flight left the hot desert city, and deposited us a little over an hour later in a much cooler San Jose. This made us happy…