Sunday, August 24, 2014 / No comments

Damn Hoover and Viva Las Vegas!


Let me start out with this confession: I am not a party-er. I am strictly a stay-at-home-finishing-a-good-book-on-the-couch-with-a-glass-of-lemonade-with-my-cat-purring-at-my-feet kind of girl. Not that I don't like a fun outing with my friends, but I'm not the girl you go to because you want to find out where all the hip parties are.

Random person I made up for this fictional conversation: "Where is it raging tonight?"

Me: "I don't know, at an infectious disease hospital? Or possibly an STD clinic?"

Despite me being a hermit, I do want to travel to so many different places. And last week I got to travel to a place I had never been before and wasn't too far away either: Las Vegas, Nevada!

Going to Vegas is something I think most people have on their bucket list. I mean, why wouldn't they? It's Sin City where anything goes: gambling, drinking, clubs, hookups, hookers, you name it. It's a place to go hog wild! Which obviously made it the perfect place for a sort of family reunion, right?

Not exactly. But my parents wanted to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin in California but we wanted to do something different. How about a trip to Vegas? someone suggested. I had never been unlike everyone else in the family so I was all for it. Sure, it wasn't going to be the most wild and crazy vacation in Vegas ever, but I'm not one to turn down a trip to Las Vegas!

So on Monday morning we headed out at around 10am, me and my mom and dad. The drive was pretty boring but we did stop at the Hoover Dam! (Is it bad that whenever I try to type "dam" I always seem to add an "n" at the end? My fingers know my vocabulary too well) We didn't take the tour or look in the gift shops. We mainly stopped to see this gigantic dam and use the bathroom (Port a Johns, but who the hell cares when you're close to bursting??) It was quite impressive (meaning the dam and the river, not my desperate need to relieve myself). I took a few quick pictures and tried not to think about accidentally falling over the edge and going SPLAT:



Sufficiently impressed, we were back on the road and hours later we finally arrived in Vegas! We stayed at the Excalibur, which I am quite pleased to say, has it's own food court, which includes a Starbucks and an Auntie freakin' Anne's! Talk about dangerous. (And yes, I did partake in purchasing something from Auntie Anne's. Twice)


After a delicious dinner at Baja Fresh, my parents, aunt, uncle, cousin and myself decided to explore the Luxor, which conveniently is right next to and connected to the Excalibur.



I thought the Luxor was one of the coolest hotels ever. It was such a fun throwback to when I was in Egypt. I loved the decor, the giant Sphinx outside (with a nose!) and the carved hieroglyphics on the walls. Some of the exhibits and shows that were there were the Bodies exhibit (featuring real dead bodies preserved in a kind of plastic and posed in different poses), the Titanic exhibit, Criss Angel: Mindfreak Cirque du Soleil show (complete with a mini Luxor with a model of Criss Angel posed on top inside the Luxor) and Carrot Top (eeek!).

Next, we ended up going into Mandalay Bay and looking around at their shops. We spent a lot of time just walking around, people watching, and window shopping. Let me just say though, that the big winners that night (at least in my eyes), were any candy store and the Sock Market (yes, all they sold was socks. And it was AMAZING). Told ya we liked to party!


 After all of this exploring, my mom, dad, and I were tired from the day and the drive, so we decided to call it a night at a rather early time I would not like to disclose (ahem). My aunt, uncle, and cousin, however, young whippersnappers that they are, decided to head out and explore the city. Apparently they walked as far as Paris Paris and the Bellagio!

The next morning, we all decided to head out and explore New York New York, which like the Luxor, was kind of connected to the Excalibur (we see what you did there, Vegas). My relatives suggested we check out the Hershey's Chocolate World and I just about died when I got to the Reese's section of the store. And then I died again when I saw their bakery where they had all sorts of baked goods made with Hershey's chocolates. One thing that really spoke to me was a peanut butter chocolate chip Reese's peanut butter cup cookie sandwich. And I kick myself for not buying it then and there because the night before we left I went back to buy one and they were OUT. That is the one regret I will always have to live with...

After walking around New York New York's downstairs where the casinos and eateries are (incredibly cute, by the way. Like walking in the streets of New York), we decided to cross the street and head to M&M's World. But there was a detour right before we got there.

Now, initially, I always said that if I were to ever visit Vegas, I would love to see a Cirque du Soleil show. Years ago when I was visiting Sea World with my family (let's not even go into the Blackfish debate right now), Cirque de Soleil had a little show there and I was entranced and vowed that one day I would actually see a full length performance. This time visiting Vegas, I thought I would never be able to afford to see a Cirque du Soleil show. I've been trying my darnedest to save money for upcoming travel adventures (which I cannot reveal quite yet!) and thought that I would be just happy exploring Vegas.

But as we were walking towards M&M's World, we saw one of those discount ticket sellers and my cousin and I, after the previous night we had talked about how we wished we could see Cirque du Soleil (we both agreed that we'd either liked to have seen the Beatles' LOVE or Zumanity), looked at one another, saw that Zumanity had discounted tickets for that night (LOVE was off that week) and decided to stand in line for about the next hour and bought tickets. It was spur of the moment and even though the tickets were discounted, they were still a pretty penny and I felt a little guilty after buying them (so much money I could be saving for my future travels!), my cousin reminded me: "Well, we are in Vegas!" So true. I see what you did there, Vegas!

After standing in line and buying the tickets for what seemed like forever, it was lunch time and my mother wanted to check out a Middle Eastern restaurant. After filling up on pita bread (I don't like Middle Eastern cuisine), we headed back to the Excalibur, where everyone else went swimming, but I had an Auntie Anne's pretzel and read in me and my cousin's hotel room (I was in the middle of a good book, what other choice did I have?).

Later, a delicious dinner at In n Out finished, my cousin and I walked back to New York New York and were ready for Zumanity!




Zumanity was hilarious, sexy, and awesome. Definitely something that couples go to see, so it was a little weird seeing it with my cousin, but we had a great time. The acrobatics were gorgeous, the music was beautiful and it was damn funny. Towards the end of the show when they pulled two people up from the audience, my face hurt so much from laughing/smiling. Plus, our seats were great after an upgrade when we were at the Zumanity box office ("Well, we are in Vegas..." Vegas did it again!); right in the center, 4th row from the stage! All in all, I highly recommend Zumanity. Well worth the money and such a fun experience! Two thumbs waaaay up! I'd definitely go see it again and maybe I'd try to get a seat up in the front row and see if the performers would interact with me. I mean, if I ever got my courage up!


Next, I finally got to experience Vegas nightlife with the help of my cousin- complete with people dressed in non-licensed costumes for you to take your picture with (for a fee). I'm not gonna lie- the person in the homemade Minion costume from Despicable Me kind of scared me a little. There's homemade and then there's serial killer. 

Anyway, we finally got around to M&M's World! I was a little disappointed. Though the wall of M&M's, different colors, flavors, and sizes was pretty fricking impressive, the rest of the store ("We have four floors," as the poor employee droned as we walked in) was just every kind of M&M merchandise you could think of: clothes, including PJ's, shoes, school supplies, webcams, lunchboxes, kitchen utensils (I have to admit the M&M oven mitts were pretty cute). Very overwhelming and once you saw the first two floors it was all just one M&M's blur after that.



Onward we went to check out Planet Hollywood! We got lost in the shopping center but I got to check out one store of the Sugar Factory. So fun and then we checked out a couple of stores including Tatyana, the cutest vintage clothes store. And I had to take a picture of the Britney store. Slay, queen! (By the way, my cousin and I taught each other some new slang. I learned what a "thot" is! Look it up on Urban Dictionary. You won't be disappointed)


After all of this walking and dodging bachelorettes, drunk people, and people handing out cards for escorts, I was pretty tired and we went back to the Excalibur. I slept soooo well that night!

Wednesday morning was super busy! My cousin and I once again stood in line for discount tickets for Madame Tussaud's. But since we had bought the day before we got to go into the express line- much faster! We also bought ourselves bus passes for the day, so we could go up and down the strip as we pleased. 

While our parents were busy looking at something (honestly, I've totally forgotten what they were doing, haha), my cousin and I stopped by the Coca Cola store, because rumor has it, that you could try different samples of Coke products from around the world. So you'd be damn right if that's what you thought we did!


Let me start off by saying that most weren't that bad. Some were actually pretty delicious and fruity and even tasted like juice; I really liked the Smart Watermelon from China. But more were gross than good. The Sunfill Mint from Djibouti tasted like carbonated mouthwash; the Bibo Pine Nut from South Africa literally tasted like it was partially flavored with pine nuts (I love pesto, but let's not go crazy); but the all time winner for most disgusting was Beverly from Italy. Clear and carbonated, I can't even describe the taste. My cousin said it tasted like vomit, and I just thought it tasted ghastly. I sincerely hope that most Italians do not drink this drink. I still shudder thinking about it. Ugh. We had to drink from the other sodas just to get that retched taste out of our mouths.

Now we were off to the Venetian!

Before we got to the Venetian, I needed a snack and we stopped in the Wynn, hoping to find somewhere to buy a snack. Once we stepped inside and saw all of the fancy stores like Fendi and Michael Kors, we soon realized that they probably did not have a food court. We had fun looking at all the different rich people stores and the beautifully decorated interior design- including a gigantic carousal made out of flowers . Incredibly gorgeous!


Once we stumbled out of fancyland and were finally in the Venetian, we set out looking for a place for lunch. But my mom was on a mission to find the Vegas Carlo's Bakery- of Cake Boss fame! We found it right across the hall from Buddy's Italian restaurant (which we wanted to eat at but it was a little out of our price range). Carlo's Bakery was swarmed and we could barely get inside but I managed to snap a few pictures.



A quick lunch at Johnny Rocket's later (thank you, Venetian food court!) we explored the Venetian. Can I just say: GORGEOUS!! This is the closest I'm getting to Italy right now and I soaked it all in.



Beautiful though the Venetian was, we promptly were lost and a nice man working in one of the stores helpfully guided us to Madame Tussaud's.

I cannot say how excited I was to go to Madame Tussaud's. Ever since I read that the one in London has a wax mold of Marie Antoinette's severed head, I've been dying to go to any Madame Tussaud's. I find wax figures both fascinating and a little scary. Some are so lifelike, it's crazy!


We had so much fun posing with the figures! I was a little disappointed how quickly we went through it though. When we got into the gift shop, I saw that they sold trinkets with Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe on them. Which must have meant that they had wax figures of them there too, but maybe they were in storage. I would have loved to have posed with Audrey and Marilyn! I mean, who wants to pose with Fergie and Kathy Griffin? But if they had had a Benedict Cumberbatch figure, I would have been all over that....

We left the Venetian and took the bus to visit the Riveria (an old casino that still has that vintage vibe, unlike all of the new upscale casinos) and then to the Stratosphere. Sadly, going up to the top was a bit more money than we'd like to spend, but at least we could say that we'd been there!


 Our next stop? Paris Paris! Ooh la la! A quick stop into the Sugar Factory (too many cute things to buy. I had to get out of there FAST) and we had arrived!


Stepping inside was like stepping into another world. I thought New York New York and the Venetian were cool. I could have happily stayed in Paris Paris for the rest of the night!



Next time I'm in Vegas, I'm staying at Paris Paris. Cutest shops and eateries and bakeries. Plus, you can eat at the top of the Eiffel tower if you make a reservation! End of story. Prettiest and coolest place in Vegas! (But maybe this is just my mind's way of telling me I need to go to the real Paris. I would if I could!)

At the end of the night, we went back to New York New York for dinner (this was when I went to Hershey's Chocolate World's bakery and found that the Reese's cookie I was lusting over wasn't there. I still feel a pang in my heart every time I think of that. It will haunt me for the rest of my days).

When we arrived back in the Excalibur and were about to call it a night, I had one last thing I had to do: Gamble! I have never gambled, not even once in my twenty-five years, so I very maturely picked two machines that appealed to the adult in me: the Titanic one and in honor of my cousin who couldn't gamble yet, the Wizard of Oz one.
I'll never let go of my dollar, Jack. Oh wait. Oops.
I spend two bucks gambling and obviously, did not win anything. But it was an experience and now I can say I've gambled in Las Vegas. So basically I got the whole experience. Okay, minus seeing the Bellagio water show at night aka the Ocean's Eleven experience. Or see the Flamingo. Or go to a club. Or get one of those boozy slushies in the big drink holder that's so large that it has a ribbon so you can wear it around your neck so you don't even have to hold it. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to go back!

xoxo Emily

Question for other fellow travelers: I had a hard time finding the time to take pictures! I was too absorbed with everything going around me. Does anyone else feel like this??
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