28 May 2008
27 May 2008
- If you like it "on the rocks," just ask for it to be served over ice cubes. European bartenders do not uniformly understand the phrase "on the rocks," regardless of what language is used.
- Think before asking for salt on the rim. They generally just use regular table salt, which really doesn't have the same effect as the rock salt normally used. Might be better to just skip that part.
26 May 2008
25 May 2008
15 May 2008
14 May 2008
12 May 2008
11 May 2008
Let me set the scene...
KR, German woman who lives a few blocks away
and her 1 year old son, F
KH, our English upstairs neighbor and her 4 year old daughter, R, and her nearly 1 year old son, D
We are sitting around the living room after dinner enjoying Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble with ice cream. The little ones are getting tired, a bit cranky and slightly clumsy. In one move, D throws his hands out and tumbles forward off of his mother's lap, hitting his forehead hard on the coffee table. He immediately starts to scream and a large bump begins to form on his forehead.
KR (running for the kitchen): Quick, I need a knife!
GL (running after her): A butter knife?
KR: Yes, where is one?!!
GL (handing her the knife): I also have a package of frozen vegetables!
KR, looking at GL as if she is insane, lays the flat of the knife against the growing bump.
KH runs back into the room, having just returned from upstairs: Here, I have a Mr. Bump!
KR and GL both turn to stare at her in puzzlement.
Later, after the screaming has stopped, we each had to explain our choices to each other. KR had never heard of using a package of frozen vegetables to ease the pain and swelling of a bad bump. GL had never heard of laying the flat of a butter knife against a bump to do the same. Neither of us had ever heard of a Mr. Bump. KH had never heard of the Knife Method, but had heard of the frozen peas. However, the English Method of choice is a small, fish-shaped frozen gel thingy called a Mr. Bump.
All of our cultures end with a "Kiss to Make It All Better."
What is your culture's form of Boo Boo Treatment?
PS: R, the 4 year old, and GLH calmly continued to eat their desserts and wisely stayed out of the way of the frantic women.
10 May 2008
09 May 2008
08 May 2008
And sometimes he starts glancing at his watch in order to determine how much more Special Birthday Consideration he is required to give me.
But I digress...
So when it is my birthday, it is all about me!
By the time my birthday rolled around on Saturday I had gotten tired of the whole Casino Scene and determined there would be minimal casino time spent that day.
It had to be minimal instead of non-existent because it is actually impossible to stay in Las Vegas and not have to at least pass through a casino. Heck, the gas stations and pharmacies had slot machines in them. Even at the airport there are rows of slot machines ready to go any time of the day or night. You literally cannot get away from the gambling!
So to have minimal casino time I decided we would actually leave Las Vegas for the day, returning in the evening for my Special Birthday Dinner at Alizé, described in the previous blog post.
We briefly discussed driving to the Grand Canyon, but it is a 3-4 hour drive and we had both seen it before. So we settled on a couple of places closer to Las Vegas itself.
We began at Red Rock Canyon, a mere 20 miles west of the Las Vegas strip. But a whole different world all it's own. I kept expecting Roy Rogers or John Wayne to come over one of the hills on a horse. (Please note the Joshua Tree in the foreground, which many have heard of because of the album by U2.)
The red sandstone was formed during the age of the dinosaurs over 150 million years ago when the area was an enormous, ever-shifting sand dune. As the sands shifted, the bottom layers were compressed into rock and were gradually built up over time. As the land came together at fault lines, parts were pushed up to form the multi-colored layers of sandstone you see today. The red is caused by the iron in the sand rusting with time.
You can hike, bike, climb or ride a horse through the canyon. We chose to drive along the scenic route. 'Cause it's the desert and it's darn hot and sunny. (Have I ever mentioned I'm not a fan of hot and sunny?) But we were very glad to have seen it!
We next crossed back through Las Vegas via the interstate and drove 50 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip to the Valley of Fire National Park.
Whoa! This one blew us away. Unfortunately, my photos cannot do justice to the vast, sweeping landscape that makes you feel as if you have landed on Mars or some other planet which does not look anything like Earth!
Made in the same manner as the Red Rock Canyon, but here the fault lines created a much more dramatic landscape.
The pre-historic people who lived in what is now known as Nevada considered the Valley of Fire (named because of the red sandstone, of course) to be Sacred Ground. You can still see the many petroglyphs they created throughout the park, even though their occupation of the area ended about 1150 AD. Here's a petroglyph of a fish:
What was perhaps the most unbelievable aspect of this National Park is how close it was to millions of visitors to Las Vegas, but it was practically empty. Look at our rental car, sitting alone in one of the of the parking lots with a fantastic overlook.
If you come to Las Vegas, do not fail to come here! It could even have been done in a quick trip of 3 hours or less. Take a break from the Flashy Lights of Las Vegas and go see something truly amazing!
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.
This is the interior of the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's an enormous black glass and steel pyramid. The photo is of King Tut's statue. You can see the shape of the pyramid on the ceiling above. Too bad I didn't know of the project before we left Las Vegas, otherwise I would have done an outside shot as well!
Anyone else want to play? Just a post of photo of a pyramid-shaped object and link back to Lulu's site. She's going to post them all in a collage.