For my birthday trip this year we decided to go to Las Vegas.
We made this decision for a few reasons: Bette Midler was performing at Caesar's Palace; I had never been to Las Vegas before; and it seemed best to do places not so child-friendly before baby arrives.
Unfortunately, after we booked the non-refundable airline tickets Bette decided to go on vacation for the ENTIRE MONTH OF MAY! Still a little bitter, but moving on...
We stayed at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, in a good location about in the middle of the Las Vegas strip. Given our SPG Platinum status, we were upgraded to the 38th floor with a view of the Bellagio fountains, which was kind of nice.
Other than that, the hotel was just ok. Although we did find the photo of Bruce Willis in the bathroom to be a tad disconcerting. No matter where in the bathroom you stood, he always seemed to be looking directly at you. I felt like I should cover him up with a towel while showering just for a little privacy.
Las Vegas is a very, very strange place. As our guide book stated, in most cities the hotels are located near attractions. In Las Vegas, the hotels ARE the attractions!
Where else can you stroll through the streets of New York...
Take an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower...
Ride a gondola through the canals of Venice...
And shop in the Roman Forum? All in one day?
However, the casino I enjoyed the most was the Bellagio. It is full of Chihuly's, which I loved seeing!
I have to admit I wasn't overly impressed with the whole Las Vegas Experience. I found it to be much too loud, flashy and smoky for my tastes. (Smoking is banned in most public spaces in Las Vegas except the immediate area in the casinos where the gambling actually happens.) I don't happen to care for gambling. Plus, I found the Slot Machine Zombies to be rather frightening.
But even though I do not gamble, I did manage to get us sorta kicked out of one of the casinos. How?
Well, since I do not like to gamble but GLH does, when we go to a casino I bring a book along with me. If the tables are busy I sit in one of the cafés and read. But when the tables aren't busy, I sit next to him and read while he plays Blackjack.
So I was reading at one of the Blackjack tables when the Pit Boss approached and said, "Is that a computer?" I tried to explain that my e-reader is not a computer and has no computing abilities whatsoever. I even offered to let him look at it to determine it is not a computer, but he didn't care. He just plain did not believe that anyone would come to a casino and read a book instead of gambling and was convinced that I was somehow counting cards with my book.
We left and went elsewhere. And managed to finish our vacation with $600 in winnings. Without counting a single card!
So what did we do instead of see Bette Midler?
On Thursday night we went to see Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE. I had never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance before and wanted to see what it was like. I actually enjoyed it quite a lot, although it did go on a bit long and I have no burning desire to see another one.
Then on Friday night we went to see Barry Manilow. Because what is more kitschy than seeing Barry Manilow in Las Vegas? (Liberace is dead and Tony Bennett wasn't performing that week.) We actually quite enjoyed the performance. Barry has a funny, self-deprecating humor and it was a great opportunity to sing-a-long to some hits from the 70's.
Watching him perform Copacabana was enormously entertaining!
But my favorite thing we did in Las Vegas? My birthday dinner at Alizé, the Michelin-rated French restaurant at the top of the Palms Hotel & Casino. Not only was the food fabulous, but the view from the 56th floor was amazing! (By the way, that glowing thing is the reflection of the candle on our table.)
So all in all, it was a good birthday trip. But I do not have any burning desire to return.
And I am glad we did it before baby arrived. Even though we saw tons of children there, I would not feel comfortable taking children to Las Vegas on a Family Vacation. Yes, they have activities for children in Las Vegas, but you have to walk past a whole lot of Adult Entertainment to get to them.