Have You ever wanted to go to Venice?

Venice, Italy is called one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But with all the unrest around the world, terrorism, plane crashes not to mention cost to go jetting about, how many will actually get out a pass port to take on an international adventure. I’m told I’m a chicken because I want to stay within the confines of the good old USA. But if I do that How will I ever get to see Venice?

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Why by going to the Venetian Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. This wasn’t even on our to-do list. The concierge at the Linq told us it was not to be missed. She really gave it high marks so after our morning at the Mirage we headed back out to the strip to wander down to the Venetian.

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I think I had to pick my mouth up off the floor when we entered the shops. The ceiling was a breathtaking mural! My head was back so far I almost fell over!

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Strolling  past the shops on the promenade we passed one of the human statues. The actor was very good. I got a good laugh when Joe jumped when he moved.

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Once again the ceiling was painted as a sky and each shop had a facade making it appear we were actually strolling through Venice. They even had a canal. And just as if we were in Venice we had to take a gondola ride. We shared our gondola with a nice couple here on “holiday’. He was from Wales and she was from London.

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The gondolier even serenaded us as we returned to the launch site at the end of our ride.

Our Gondolier and another couple that shared our ride.

Our Gondolier and another couple that shared our ride.

I enjoyed our little trip to Venice so much I had to bring a Gondolier home with me to serenade me when ever I miss Venice.

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The Secret Garden

You may have noticed the dolphin in my header photo. I bet you wondered what that had to do with January/February . You’re right, its no refection on Valentine’s Day or any other January/February holiday but it is from the Vegas trip.

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Ok Next question. We’re in the desert. Where did a dolphin come in?

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Well we had a lot of exploring to do on Monday. It ‘s our last full day in Vegas. We started the day off at the Hash House  A Go Go again. Location and convenience counts for something. I skipped the pancake this time but tried the waffle. Not bad but the waffles at the Sheraton in San Diego were better.

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After eating too much at breakfast we headed to the Mirage. For a desert, there’s sure a lot of water here.

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In the Mirage was the Secret Garden. The full name is Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. There are 3 interconnected pools and the dolphins can be found in any of the pools. You can also do “downstairs” and watch through viewing windows. There’s no show per se but the dolphins are trained to perform some behaviors so the biologists can observe them.

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I spend quite a bit of time watching the dolphins while JR went on to explore the rest of the Gardens. He found the Big Cats. He led me through the gateway to huge cages where retired cats from Siegfried  and Roy’s shows now reside in leisure.

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They appeared to be well taken care of but they looked sad to us. Still if they were free in the wild they’d be dead by now. Wild Big Cats just don’t live to be 20 years old. :( We took most of the morning among the animals and then it was time to move along.

 

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Las Vegas the Show

Even if it isn’t a Headliner this is a great show. We really lucked out for seating too. Apparently they forgot to advertise the 9:30 show so they weren’t even close to selling out. This worked in our favor when they moved everyone up in seating. We ended up with great seats facing center stage.

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The show opens in the Neon Graveyard, a collection of the most iconic signs of old Las Vegas. This was on our list of things to do right along with a visit to the Gold and Silver Pawn shop where Pawn Stars is filmed. It turns out that the props for the show was as close as we came to the real Neon Boneyard.

Anyway, Ernie, the protector of Las Vegas past , emerges from the shadows to lead the audience on a tour through the years.

The journey begins with the dawn of the “Nightclub Acts” of the ’40’s and ’50’s. Extravagant costumes characterized an era of beauty and romance. This was time of the feathered showgirls in scandalous skimpy costumes and rhinestones.

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The term “Lounge Lizard” was born while young people flocked the little casino town in the desert. Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, started in one of the little lounges. By the time I made my first visit in the ’70’s Wayne Newton was a headliner but the little lounges still surrounded the casino floor and offered excellent entertainment for the cost of a drink.

The show was a series of celebrity impersonators from Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy David Jr (the Rat Pack) to Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Sonny and Cher and soul sensation Gladys Knight and the Pips.

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Can Can girls and a Wedding Chapel medley captured the essence of the Old Las Vegas.

As the show reached its conclusion we watched the implosion of the famous landmarks that marked the original strip; the Landmark, the Sands, the Aladdin, the Stardust and the  Frontier.

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The impersonations were great, the music outstanding and the costumes breathtaking. Watching the demolition of Old Las Vegas was sad but the show isn’t intended to let you feel down. It is a tribute to the true spirit of Las Vegas. The talents and personalities who built this mile stretch of desert into the “entertainment capital of the world” are showcased and immortalized in “Las Vegas the Show”!

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Dinner on the Miracle Mile

The show we reserved for this evening, “Las Vegas the Show” didn’t start until 9:30 so we had time to find a place for dinner.

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The show was inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.  The first thing you notice is the sky or roof or…well, it’s a beautifully painted ceiling that looks like blue sky. It’s easy to forget that you are inside.

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The first thing I spotted were glittery lighted columns.

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They bordered the escalator which was topped by a huge disco ball that changed colors. Pretty impressive.

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As we entered the Miracle Mile Shops it was like entering Disney. Do you notice a trend here? I think I said that before but really, the sky, the buildings, right out of a Disney set.

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We had a free dinner at one of 3 restaurants. I picked the Italian restaurant. We were seated “outside”  but since it was play-off season flat screen TV’s were conveniently located so everyone could watch the game. Go Pats!

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We had Pats fans sitting next to us but we were mindful of the “Atmosphere” and kept our cheers and fist pumps to a conservative level.

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Back to the free dinner, the meal was free if you chose from a limited menu. I had the chicken Marsala and Joe had fettuccine Alfredo. (I forgot to take a picture before we ate…oops)  It was very good. But we’re sitting in a lovely restaurant in Las Vegas so of course we had a drink   and since we didn’t have to pay for dinner we could indulge in desert, well bottom line our dinner bill was bigger than if we’d paid for dinner and skipped the drinks and desert. But it was worth it.

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Then it was time to wander back to wait for the show.

 

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Sunday in Vegas

Sunday morning rolled around. We decided to try the Hash House a Go Go for breakfast. It was right there in the hotel so easy to get to. The menu was well rounded. You could add a huge pancake to one of their breakfasts so we had to try. I made mine cinnamon apple.

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It was huge all right. No way was I going to be able to make much of a dent and between you and me, my apple pancakes are better anyway. Then it was back to the room to await my call for the sales presentation.

You may wonder why I bother with it but there were some really good perks to make it worthwhile. After a little back and forth the cab ride was arranged. The presentation was for a Vacation Club which was a little bit different from the time share and less expensive annually. It was very intriguing. I hadn’t heard of them before so I said no to the offer even though they offered me a $6000 credit for my time share. I wanted to do some checking.  The club is “World Wide Vacation” and the comments online were a mixed bag. Any of you had any experience with them?

Anyway I left with a handful of vouchers for dinners and shows and the promise of a week long vacation at an RCI resort of my choice. (that voucher to be emailed separately).

Back at the room I hooked up with JR and we looked over the promotions.

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We picked Vegas the Show for tonight and Divas for Monday night.

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We’d be gone on Tuesday. There were so many shows in town (as always). Elton John was playing, Olivia Newton John, Donny and Marie to name just a few. They weren’t part of the promotion (of course) There were several Beatles themed offerings. We needed more time and more money! :)

Once that big decision was made it was off to the monorail.

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We decided to ride it to the end and then explore stop by stop back up the line. At the SLS station we walked past a huge souvenir shop, the kind that sells tacky T-shirts 3 for $10.00. We didn’t stop as I was finding that the walking/ standing was still difficult from my never going away shingles. Instead we made our way to the Stratosphere. 

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The Stratosphere reminded me of the Space Needle in Seattle.

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One big difference was that you could bungee jump or take a thrill ride here in Vegas but not in Seattle.

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While I’m thinking of similar structures we can’t forget that even Gatlinburg, TN has a space needle.

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We spent a lot more time here than either of us expected. The views were awesome.

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By the time we were finished with all the sights it was time for lunch.

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We had a coupon for a slice of Pizza and a beer at the Stratosphere so that was our lunch.

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We had wanted to get to the Freemont Street experience which was a bus ride away from this stop on the mono rail but time was passing and we needed to get back to the hotel to change for the show. Joe did eventually find his was to Freemont Street which is the old Las Vegas. He said he wanted to see Feathers!

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It was near the bus station so he got to go there on Tuesday after I left for the airport.

 

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Saturday Night in Vegas

When you think about it, JR and I  did an amazing job of coordinating our arrival  and finding each other amid the lights, bells , whistles and people in the hotel and casino.  As you can imagine after spending 3 days and nights on a greyhound bus, JR’s first priority was a shower and change of clothes. I was in better shape as I’d had a shower and fresh clothes before I left San Diego.

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The Hotel we are staying in is the LINQ, a part of the Caesar’s Palace empire. The Hotel was billed as one of the newest jewels in the Caesar Crown and I fell for it. I paid the upgrade because I wanted JR to have a great time as it was his birthday gift. It was a rip off. The hotel room was very basic. It didn’t even have a dresser or a coffee pot. The closet door was a curtain. The bathroom door was a sliding “pocket door” and it was shower only, no tub. Our cruise ship cabin was almost as big!

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About all I can say for it is that it was clean. The room was on the 18th floor but no balcony and security was tight. We had to show our room keys to a security guard whenever we went up in the elevator. At least that made me feel safe.

View  From Our Window , 18th floor of the LINQ

View From Our Window , 18th floor of the LINQ

We decided not to lug the cameras the first night and just roam around until dinner time. Anything interesting could be captured on the cell phone cameras and there was a lot of interest. One of my favorite things were the characters. It was almost like being in Disney.

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There was Olaf, Mickey and Minnie but there was also Elvis and Darth Vader, Marilyn Monroe and on and on.

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We enjoyed a very loud dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and wandered over to the Bellagio for the fountain show. Along the way we passed the Eiffel Tower and Paris and The Flamingo Hotel. For neon lovers, Vegas at night does not disappoint!

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On our return we stopped at the Linq Promenade for more colorful fountains and our first look at the High Roller, the biggest Ferris Wheel in the World! The pods make me think of Star Wars!

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LINQ Promenade and High Roller

Back in the hotel it didn’t take long to hit the hay.  I was  asleep before JR turned off the TV. Tomorrow I have the  obligatory presentation ( a 60 minute sales pitch) and then we’ll check out the mono rail and decide what we want to spend the day exploring.

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Las Vegas Baby

Then Saturday 1/17 rolled around. Another conference behind me. Prior to the conference work had been pretty slow. Of course when you make plans anything that can go wrong will and sure enough, the Monday before we left for San Diego work went nuts. I went from zero to 60 in less than 30 seconds. It was like we were in the height of our busy season.

This meant that some things trickled into the conference time. There was no way to avoid it but it caused me no little amount of stress. One side said ignore the work and the other demanded it get done. It was like having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other but it wasn’t my conscience, it was two different factions of co-workers.  I was glad to leave San Diego and work behind for a short break in Las Vegas.

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Other than changing planes in Vegas on the way to someplace else, I hadn’t been there in years! Boy has Vegas changed! But I’m jumping ahead.

I took a short hop on Southwest ( about 1 hour) to get from San Diego to Las Vegas. Once I had phone service again Joe (JR) and I began texting back and forth. He was on his way to meet me from Florida on a greyhound bus. It was neck and neck as to who would get there first. It probably would have been a tie except my shuttle went right by my stop and let me off at another hotel/casino nearby.

Lugging my 2 bags and winter coat I started trudging my way back to the LINQ. Being the klutz that I am I was due for a fall and sure enough it came on the escalator at Harrad’s Casino as I rushed to get to my hotel.

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I dropped the handle of my roller bag. I thought it was on the escalator with me but it was hung up at the top. When I realized what had happened I tried to scramble back up the down escalator (In case you didn’t know, that’s a big No No). Anyway, I tripped and fell on the moving escalator. Two other patrons helped me up and a nice lady with a camera brought my bag down to me. As the saying goes …Boy was my face red!

The 2 gentlemen that had helped me up took my bags and escorted me to the registration desk at my hotel. (I think they were afraid to leave me on my own) They were so nice. They refused a tip and they insisted it hadn’t been out of their way. I’ve seldom, if ever, been on the receiving side of such kindness.  Whoever you are, Thank you!

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Needless to say, Joe got there first. :)

 

 

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