Tea at the Mandarin Oriental

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Tea lunch

Tea at the Mandarin Oriental

A couple of years ago, I booked the Bellagio’s Afternoon Tea at the Petrossian for the first time. I was looking for an atypical activity from what people consider a “Vegas experience,” and afternoon tea fit the bill nicely. I went with the Bellagio’s because I’m more familiar with that property. But during my research, I heard very good things about the Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental, too. I promised myself that some day, I would try that one for comparison purposes. Some day finally came in June of this year.

The day of my appointment also coincided with the worst day of my head cold. That morning, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to put away as much food as is served in the Classic English Afternoon Tea (sandwiches, pastries and scones). So I phoned them to see if that was going to be a problem for them. They were very accommodating and reassured me that I could just have regular tea and order whatever plate I wanted.

Now all I had to do was find the place. I’ve been back and forth along that section of the Strip (between Monte Carlo, Aria, CityCenter and the Cosmopolitan) many times, but I had never actually laid eyes on the Mandarin Oriental. (You can tell it’s a pretty exclusive hotel when they make it hard for pedestrians to easily stumble across it.) I knew it was there somewhere, but where? I had to map my route from the Monte Carlo to the Mandarin Oriental on Google. Once I did that, it was easy to find. Continue reading

Feeding Sea Turtles at Mandalay Bay

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Sea Turtle

“Honu” is sea turtle in Hawaiian

When I was in Hawaii last January, I had booked a circle island tour that was supposed to go to the famous “Turtle Beach” on Oahu, but it didn’t. I was a bit disappointed by this, since I’ve developed something of a sea turtle obsession. I blame this on Crush, the surfer dude sea turtle in Finding Nemo, and on Hawaii itself.

On my first trip to the island, a local tour guide told us that the Hawaiian name for sea turtle is “honu” (pronounced “hoe” + “new”). He told a corny joke about them: “What would happen if you found a world that had nothing but sea turtles? It would be a honu world.” I groaned at the joke, but at the same time, I just loved the word “honu”. It’s so much sweeter than “sea turtle”.

So after my disappointment at not seeing sea turtles in Hawaii, I was very excited to read online that Mandalay Bay had developed some new behind-the-scenes tours at the Shark Reef–including one where you get to feed their sea turtles! I booked it on their website and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to on my trip. On the day of the tour, I went to the Shark Reef box office as instructed in my confirmation email.

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Billy Joel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena

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Panorama

MGM Grand Garden Arena

This might be hard to believe, but in the thirteen years I’ve been traveling to Vegas, I’ve only ever been in town once when there were concerts I actually wanted to see (who weren’t resident headliners).  You may remember from my “sneak peek” post before my last trip that I had a smorgasbord of concert choices, and ultimately decided to see Billy Joel. Because….BILLY JOEL.

Billy’s Glass Houses album was one of the first I ever owned. I played it ’til I wore it out, long past the time when most people got rid of their record players and made the switch to cassettes. (I’ve gone digital now; I’m not a total dinosaur.)

Arena Crowd

Waiting for the show to start.

I waffled for awhile on the price, because I was trying to make this a cheap trip, but finally went for a mid-range seat for $162. As far as I knew, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see him. Once I bought my ticket, I started to get excited. Continue reading

Pizza Rock. . .Rocks

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Pizza Rock

And it has a photogenic sign, too.

I walked into Pizza Rock around 3pm on a Wednesday. I’d been up since 3:30am EDT and flying all day to get to Vegas. I was beyond starving. Because Pizza Rock is on 3rd Street, the same block as Downtown Grand (where I was staying), it was a convenient place to stop and grab a bite to eat.

Inside the door to my right was a take-out counter, but I was looking to sit and have a real meal, so I looked into the restaurant. There were a couple of large, loud families with children at tables there. Eh. Was this a place I really wanted to stop and eat? I thought.

Then I spied the bar at the far end of the room (with a sign clearly indicating that it was Adults Only–hallelujah!) and made a beeline for it. It was nearly empty but for a couple and two men who kept staring at their smart phones instead of talking to each other, even though they were sitting right next to each other. Since it was Happy Hour, I was a little surprised there weren’t more people here.

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9 Ways To Get Your “Geek Fix” in Vegas

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Geek tee

Wear your geek label proudly.

Some people use the term “geek” in a derogatory fashion. Not me. That’s because I am one–and I make no apologies for it. I grew up reading comic books and watching Star Trek and Star Wars, and I never stopped loving those things. My favorite hangout in Las Vegas used to be the Star Trek Experience. I’ve been wishing that someone would open a scifi themed bar or resort to fill the gap ever since the Experience closed. Sadly, that hasn’t happened.

But I was able to feed my inner geek on my last trip to Vegas in a handful of spots. If you’re secretly (or not so secretly) into Marvel comics and Star Wars and UFOs and love to indulge your inner geek whenever you go on vacation, here are some places for you to check out in Las Vegas: Continue reading