Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vegas day 3: Playing favorites & final thoughts!

(If you missed them, here are recaps from our first and second days in Las Vegas.)

When we woke up on Sunday morning, we were feelin' pretty green... because it was St. Patrick's Day!  Coincidentally, we both ended up donning outfits with green in them, too.  Sadly, Rachel was feeling a bit green in the other sense of the word due to an oncoming cold (just to clarify that we weren't sick for other reasons).  Thankfully, we had a low-key day planned before we hit the road to return to LA.

After checking out of our room using the TV (whaaaaaat?!), we headed down to the lobby of the Paris Hotel to explore breakfast options.  In minutes, we were seated at a table for two at Le Cafe.  We considered eating there the day before but there was a long line, so we headed to Sugar Factory.

I'd told Rachel the day before that I was really in the mood for a comforting and carb-y breakfast the last morning of our trip, and my order totally reflected that: vanilla bean brioche French toast.  Despite the fuzzy picture, my feelings about this dish were crystal clear -- best French toast of my life!  I've heard that once you've tried French toast made with thick slices of sweet and eggy brioche (think a little heavier than Jewish challah bread), you'll never be able to look at standard bread French toast again.  True story, folks. I'm currently looking for a brioche recipe to make at home.

The best!  Rach ordered a waffle with fresh berries and whipped cream... and, obviously, a chocolate croissant.  It was a particularly chocolatey and gooey one.  Needless to say, we were both very pleased with our breakfasts.

From there, we hit the pavement concrete of The Strip to see the hotels we'd missed on yesterday's excursion.  First up, The Cosmopolitan, which was a pretty classy establishment.  I made that judgement based on two observations: 1. The thick stench of smoke we'd grown used to in other casinos was absent, and 2. The place was decked out floor to ceiling in stunning crystal curtains, chandeliers, etc.!  Ultimate luxury.

There were also countless pieces of art and abstract sculptures all over the place, including this giant shoe and new-age couch.  I didn't spot a "don't touch this" sign, so you can bet I gave the latter a test drive sit.  Conclusion: I still prefer my average La-Z-Boy couch to this artistic one, so don't expect to see one in our apartment anytime soon :)

Onward!  We visited both the Aria and Monte Carlo hotels, which were more of the same.  Nice swanky interiors, upscale stores, and slot machines.  Knowing what hotel was next, we spent little time in these and headed outside into the Irish sunshine.  Crowds of people, dressed in green, were everywhere; young, old, sober, and quite jolly.  We couldn't believe how many families we saw out celebrating.

Can you guess where we went next?

We heart NY!  Considering both times I'd visited Rachel in the city at grad school it had been the dead of winter, I really enjoyed the city in the summer -- the temperature was in the mid 80s on Sunday, whew!  We indulged our inner Irish folk and jigged a little as we made our way through the hotel, which was designed to look like the streets of Manhattan.  Theater lights, delis, Coney Island arcade game, and even a rollercoaster going through the upper level of the lobby to the outside adjacent to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.  Fellow travelers weren't kidding when they said we'd feel like we trotted all over the globe after a weekend in Vegas.

We waved to the medieval Excalibur hotel and did a 180, headed back toward Paris.  But, we weren't bound for France.  We only had eyes for the Bellagio!  It'd become obvious that this was our favorite place and who could blame us?  One glimpse of the fountains, and we were practically giddy.  We were in time to catch another show before heading inside, where the lobby and gardens rendered us speechless.! 

We sauntered through the gardens and made a bee line to another place I'd been raving about since the moment we booked our trip: Jean Philippe Patisserie!  Speaking of gorgeous, can we pause for a moment of silence at the sight of these chocolate fountains?

And the mile-long display of pastries?  Gush!  I could've spent hours circling counter just staring at them.  Croissants the size of my head, the freshest berries around, and barrels of gelato in every flavor.  Hands down, the most beautiful food I've ever seen.  Rachel took a few candid shots of me in a sugary dream state, totally unaware of anything else around me. 

After collecting myself (seriously, it was a task), we approached the counter to order gelato.  Mint chocolate chip for her and pistachio for me.  Like I said, feeling green in spirit and sweet tooth. 

An aerial view.  Not only was this so smooth and sweet and creamy, but it was chock full of whole pistachios.  JPP doesn't mess around, and I applaud that.

Business = taken care of.

With a lunch of gelato under our belts (quite literally), we were about ready to leave.  Many folks warned us that traffic was heaviest in the morning and around dinnertime, so a 2:00 departure seemed perfect.  And it was... after we enjoyed one last fountain show in front of the Bellagio.  Obvs!  The music.  The gushing water.  The bright blue cloudless desert sky.  Like a dream!  We couldn't think of a more picturesque way to end our fabulous vacation. 

"We'll always have Paris!" we said as we waved goodbye to Sin City and our playground for the last 48 hours.

Some final thoughts on Las Vegas, in case you are looking to plan a trip there:

1. Two days (48 hours) is the perfect amount of time for a visit.  We saw almost every hotel, made lots of time to eat, slept in, and walked everywhere at a very leisurely pace.

2. For the best deals on hotels, check each hotel's direct website.  Expedia, Priceline, and other third party sites will actually yield higher prices for rooms.  We were told Las Vegas is the one exception.

3. Long-term self-parking is free.  We parked at the garage shared by Bally's and Paris, which is connected to both hotels.  Call ahead to ask your hotel for the nearest garage.

4. As far as dining goes, the options are endless.  As high brow as $75 per entree at a few places to $1 hot dogs from a street vendor and everything in between.  We made reservations for both dinners and flew by the seat of our pants for all other meals.  I recommend doing the same.  

5. And last, but not least, Las Vegas is whatever you want to make it!  Folks seemed shocked when I told them where we were headed and questioned "what on earth" we'd do there since we don't gamble or drink.  To be clear, I'm not judging anyone who does enjoy these activities; to you, I say treat yourself!  We discussed prior to the weekend what we wanted out of the trip: to see all the sights of the bustling Strip, to walk outside and savor the weather, to indulge and eat fabulous food without any guilt, to free ourselves of everyday obligations, and, most importantly, enjoy time spent together!  Mission: accomplished because we had a blast :)


  1. The chocolate fountains did me in. I thought it was going to be the french toast (particularly THIS week), but alas ... flowing chocolate is the way to go. Do I hear second honeymoon, anyone?

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