Monday, May 29, 2006

Las Vegas May 3rd- May 7th 2006

Wednesday 3rd May- Flight to Vegas
As usual, I was working right up to the last minute, so I was glad to get to the airport. Atlanta's airport is horribly busy, whenever you go. This time I was leaving from the C gates, flying AirTran for the first time. About an hour before the flight I sat down to listen to my Ipod when I noticed the case was covered in blue ink! A pen had exploded inside my bag. Luckily it was in a pocket, so I spent the next 45 minutes trying to clean it out, and suddenly realised my flight must be boarding! It was, but I was ok. The flight was very full, and I was sat next a woman who was travelling with her mother to go and see Celine Dion in concert. She was very excited.... The flight attendents were very friendly and helpful, though I wasn't happy with just a pack of crackers for a four hour flight. This saving money lark by the airlines may well backfire, as no food means that those who drink (and pay for every one) get drunk much quicker as the guy sat in front of me proved. I think the scantily dressed lady who sat next to him regreted her choice of clothing by the end of the flight!

The first thing I saw was the slot machines in Las Vegas airport! The airport was very clean and new looking, relatively quiet, and yes, some people were gambling. I was meeting up with Carl and Tracy for our limo ride to the hotel. Dick had flown in earlier that day and raved about the stretch limo that collected him- we just got a town car.

The Aladdin Hotel is ungoing a renovation, so it was a bit confusing finding the hotel lobby even. It seems the priority is to get you into the casino first, and then you find the lobby later! Dick met us near the lobby and after going to our room we were back downstairs walking through the mall area of the hotel which was meant to look like the streets of somewhere in Arabia. We sat in a bar, and tried to stay awake having gained three hours in the time zone change.

Thursday 4th May- Topcoder and the strip
The whole purpose of this part of the trip was because Dick was invited to cover the 'Topcoder Open' for his 'Java Posse Podcast'. So we were up eating a very nice breakfast with the competitors first thing the next morning. The Topcoder guys were very friendly and didn't seem to mind that I was joining Dick. They made us feel very welcome right from the beginning. Tracy and I left the geeks to do their thing while we explored the hotel (the spa!) and then walked down part of the strip. Tracy had been to Vegas before so she was a great guide: a mini Eiffel towel outside the Paris hotel, gondala's being guided around the pool at the Venetian, both inside and out, and more slot machines than I have ever seen in my life! After lunch we decided we couldn't take any more of the strip, so we relaxed by the pool in a wonderful breeze under a palm tree. What a life!

'Topcoder' know how to treat everyone well, and this time they gave the geeks the perfect down time by inviting everyone to dinner and an evening of gaming at 'Gameworks'. We each had a unlimited gamecard for 3 hours on everything from racing games to Dance Dance Revolution. I have never been into gaming of any kind, except the occasional 'Tuxracer' at Christmas (penguins racing in downhill races!), so it was a whole new experience for me, and I had a great time. We raced cars, motorcross (my favorite!) and even horses, and shot zombies and terrorists for about two hours! The noise was what finally got us. Noise is something that is not easy to escape from on the strip. Next stop was New York and hot dogs! Every landmark you see in New York was there, including all the people. So we headed back to the Bellagio to see the fountains and Joe sweet talked us into a bar on the terrace for the last two shows of the night.

Friday 5th May - Topcoder and more of the strip.

Tracy and I opted for a more relaxing morning and had coffee and a walk through the mall while our geeks continued to report on the competition which was heating up. After lunch, we explored further down the strip and saw the cheesiest moving statue show in Caesar's Palace.
Tracy and Carl were leaving that night so we all met at the hotel Mexican restaurant at the end of the day for a Cinco de Mayo margarita.

That night we were invited out by Bruce Eckel, a past interviewee of the Java Posse, to go into the real Vegas (ie downtown and NOT the strip) with his friend Brad (who turned out to be the City Attorney of the City of Las Vegas). Brad explained that the strip was in county limits and not even in the City of Las Vegas. We went to an area that was having a street party, a monthly affair, and then had dinner at Mexican restaurant. Brad then kindly gave us a full tour of the strip by car, and told us bit more of the history of the area.

Saturday 6th May - The geeks hit Vegas
Dick and I breakfasted in Paris on crepes and coffee, and then took a taxi to a local camera store. The lens on my camera had given up the ghost, and I had been without a camera all the time, and we didn't want to go on the rest of the trip without a camera. $500 later I was a very happy lady, and we took a local bus back to the other end of the strip. Joe had talked about the new Wynn hotel so we went in there, and it was beautiful, their flower display rivalled the Bellagio. We found a bar with a view of a cascading waterfall, and relaxed whilst waiting for Joe and Dez to join us for lunch.

After lunch we went and explored TI (the new name for Treasure Island) which was very disappointing, and discovered that Dick had left my old camera lens back in the Wynn hotel. So we double backed and booked a show for the evening- La Reve, similar to Cirque du Soleil.

Bruce joined us for dinner at the Wynn at a very nice but expensive restaurant whose name I can't remember. Then we headed for the show, only to discover that the show had been cancelled due to a faulty stage. Disappointed, we took the Monorail to the MGM, and walked over to another free monorail to connect to the Mandalay Bay resort. This time we rested in a Russian Vodka bar where the main bar was frozen in order to keep the vodka cold, Dick had a chocolate peanut martini and a big smile on his face for the the rest of the evening.

Sunday 7th May- Enough of Vegas, time to chill.
Following a late breakfast, we headed for the pool to listen to Ipod's and chill. Only in Vegas would a band be playing and deafening everyone on a Sunday morning, so we didn't last too long.

Joel and Stevie arrived mid afternoon from Los Angeles, and were staying at TI. They picked us up and we went to the MGM for dinner at the famous 'Emerils' restaurant. Unfortunately their name is better than their food and the only thing special about it was the price!

We headed back to TI to see the show outside on the pirate ships, hoping to see a swashbuckling pirate show, only we should have guessed by the title 'Sirens of TI' that it wouldn't be the case. Instead we were treated to scantily dressed 'sirens' luring pirates into their lair by some terrible singing- just dreadful, and certainly not a show for kids!

Our reward was ice cream at the plaza in the Venetian, and a walk back to the Aladdin.

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