Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Las Vegas!

We just got back from a week long trip in Las Vegas. It was SO fun! We did a ton of stuff with the girls. Our hotel was the Tahiti Village. It's a condo style, so we had a bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and deck. That was good, because then we could eat a couple of meals a day in the condo and save some $$, and there was plenty of room for the girls to play. The hotel had a huge pool with little inlets and a fake sand beach, so the girls loved that, and then they also had a lazy river - that was WAY cool. They had innertubes and you'd float along the lazy river. There were little waterfalls and stuff that would spray you along your ride. We went to the pool and lazy river every day, and then part of the day we'd go to one of the big hotel/casinos, walk around, and eat a meal (usually lunch). The first day we got there, we had 2 hours before we could check in to our hotel, so we walked around the Caesar's Palace forum shops. Wow, those are AMAZING. It's like every single super high end fancy name shop you've ever heard of is in there - manolo blahnik, prada, etc... you could spend SO much money in there. We ate at the cheesecake factory there, and it was really delicious... we got the dulce de leche cheesecake for dessert! Mmmmm. The next day, we went to Mandalay Bay, because they have a huge aquarium and shark reef there. Lizzy is a fish nut, so she LOVED it. It is an enormous aquarium at the beginning, with tons of fish, jellyfish, stingray petting pool... the usual, and then the whole second half is one gigantic shark tank. It's got tunnels you can walk through with the sharks swimming all around you, and a gigantic viewing room in the middle of the tunnels with glass in the floor, too. They had hammerheads, and swordfish... it was so cool! Lizzy was just squealing with delight, and when a shark would swim overhead, she'd ask Jason to lift her up so she could touch the shark! After Mandalay Bay, we walked over to the Venetian and walked around and ate lunch at this little Italian "Tratorria" called "Reggiano." It was the meal of the trip... what a find! It was SO good. The best Italian we've ever had. First of all, they brought us bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, and I looked at the balsamic and realized it was REAL balsamic vinegar. Now, most of you have probably never had real balsamic. The stuff they sell at the grocery stores and serve in any restaurant that's under $100 a plate is going to be red wine vinegar with sugar and coloring added, and labeled "balsamic." The real stuff can only be found in specialty shops or ordered on line, it is EXTREMELY expensive, because it is only made in one little town in Italy by 2 manufacturors, and it has to be aged in wood barrels for 25 years. The real stuff is SO good... you could eat it straight with a spoon. They were selling the bottles of it at the restaurant for $20, which is a great price, so we bought one. Anyone who comes to our house for dinner can have some homemade ciabatta with real olive oil and balsamic for dipping. You won't believe how good it is. The day after that, we went to the Dolphin Encounter and Tiger Habitat at the Mirage. Now that was cool. You could walk right up to the edge of the dolphin pools and sit on them. The trainer would bring them over so they were right there in front of you and have them do some tricks. There was also an underwater viewing area where you could see them swimming around. Then, they had a big jungle-like area with tigers and lions. All kinds of them - the white ones and the gold ones. They were beautiful! They're the trained animals for the Sigfreid and Roy show. After that, we went to the Mandalay Bay seafood buffet and gorged ourselves on crab legs, shrimp, and fruit tarts! Ha ha! We didn't eat any dinner that night! The next day, we went to the MGM grand and saw the lions... that's a free exhibit and it was really crowded. The lions were just laying there, too, so it wasn't that cool. Then we walked over to New York New York and walked around there. That's a cool place! We ate lunch there at a little New York style (of course) pizzaria. We contemplated taking turns riding the roller coaster there, but it was $14 a ride, and so we decided not to do it. Same with riding the gondolas at the Venitian... it was going to be $16 a person for me, Jason, and Lizzy... so we didn't do it. The day after that, we went back to the MGM grand and ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It's a lot like the Mayan restaurant, except it's all jungle-y, with gorillas, elephants, and fish tanks. The animals would all animate and make noises every 15 minutes, and in between there was a "thunderstorm." The kids thought it was half cool, and half scary. The food wasn't so great... and it was more expensive than any other place we'd eaten, so we were disappointed in that. We recommend going to the cafe and ordering a soda (except even the sodas were $3.50 a piece!!) just to see the atmosphere. After lunch, we walked over to Excalibur, because Lizzy was SO excited to see the "Castle." We also walked through Luxor so she could see the "pyramid." Those two are cool outside, but not too cool inside. The last day, we went to the Paris for lunch, at their fancy buffet. It was really good... all kinds of delicious French food, and crepes made to order... we ate lots of roasted meats... lamb, duck, pork, chicken, and some exceptionally delicious clams and mussels. There was lots of delicious bread, and we ate creme brulee and eclairs for dessert. No dinner that night either! We also walked around the belagio, which was so cool... they have an indoor flower garden that is amazing! We took the kids outside the belagio too, and watched the fountain show... it was super awesome, but Rachel was scared. That night we had one last time at the Lazy river, and then we drove home yesterday. It was really a great trip. Here are the photos!

At Belagio
By the Lazy River

Gondolas at the Venetian

White tiger at the Mirage

Dolphin at the Mirage

Playing at our hotel room.

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