Our trip began bright and early on a Thursday morning--Thursday, September 4, 2008 to be exact. But this wasn't just any Thursday morning, or any September 4th--it was my baby sister Jenny's 21st birthday, and around 7:30 AM she, our other sister Christy, our cousin Katie and myself all piled into the car for the hour and a half drive to the Charlotte airport.
|Me, Katie, Jenni (the birthday girl!), Christy & Lauren waiting for our flight|
We got there early, met up with our friend Lauren (who was flying from Connecticut) and after a [very early] lunch, settled in to wait for our flight.
One thing about traveling is that if you have bad luck with the flight portion of your vacation, that can pretty much throw you for a loop and mess everything up. But from beginning to end, this trip was destined for greatness--despite the fact that we were flying on one of the worst airlines (US Airways) and from one of the top ten worst airports [for on-time departures] in the country (Charlotte, NC). We had a smooth trip out to Vegas, landed on time and didn't even have to wait for a cab.
Vegas tip, here--be a geek and talk about your past Vegas trips as soon as you can, once you're in a cab. Whether it's calling someone on your cell or striking up a conversation with your driver or fellow passengers, just do it. I don't even care if you've never been to Vegas. If you haven't, lie. Two out of my three trips, this saved me from getting screwed over by a cabbie who decided to take "the long way around". I won't get into that third time and how this bit of mine failed, because that's another story for another entry.
Check-in at the Mirage was quick and painless...or so we thought. The one complaint I had from this trip is that they couldn't seem to get our room keys right. We had five girls in two rooms and at one point or another, anywhere from one to three of our keys just wouldn't work. Obviously we traveled in a pack for the most part, though, so this was more of a mere annoyance than anything.
As we made our way through the casino to the elevators (those Vegas tycoons sure know how to build a place that draws you into gambling!), we were stopped by some Mirage employees. We were, after all, a group of young and attractive women, so of course we were blessed with free passes to Jet (the Mirage's nightclub) and Bare (the Mirage's adult--a.k.a. topless--pool).
The rest of Jenny's birthday was a blur. Food and yard margaritas and a free shot of tequila for her at La Salsa in the Shops at Caesar (love that place!). Cab to downtown Vegas for $5 blackjack at Binion's and shopping for cheap souvenirs. (Speaking of which, oops--don't take a cab to or from downtown Vegas in the late afternoon/early evening on a weekday. Like any city, there is such a thing as rush hour traffic there.) Dinner at the Mirage buffet, which was probably the worst decision of the trip. Despite it being rated one of the top ten Vegas buffets, none of us was impressed with the selection or the food itself, and this solidified my anti-Vegas-buffet stance...at least in regards to dinners. Those champagne brunches are still a big GO in my book ;o)
|Jenni and I with our "Cali Boys" at the Mirage lobby bar|
|Katie and I with our Eiffel Tower pina coladas...yum!|
The rest of that day was spent eating an absolutely amazing dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris, viewing the Bellagio fountains and grabbing some gelato before heading back to the Mirage for an early bedtime. Jenny, Katie and I had tickets to a tour of the Hoover Dam pretty early on our second and last full day, and we didn't want to be exhausted for it.
|The view from our table at dinner at Mon Ami Gabi|
The one tip I have is that if you go through the Hoover Dam Tour Company (which we did)...just do the regular tour. The stop at Ethel M. and its "botanical gardens" (really the only actual addition when doing the deluxe tour) is really nothing to brag about...that was just time that we would have rather had as free time.
|Katie, Jenni and I at the Hoover Dam|
|The girls all dolled up for our last night in Vegas|
|Back in our matching t-shirts, running on fumes after an amazing trip!|