Las Vegas Trip Report June 5 to June 9, 1999

This was our first trip back since April 1998.

Once again we had a great stay there. We stayed in a jacuzzi suite in the
pyramid on the 22nd floor North West side with a lovely view looking out
over the towers and Excaliber.

It seems they have removed (and moved) a number of slot machines
we enjoyed playing last year. Probably because they were too loose. In
fact it seems theyíve tightened up the already tight slots there.

The only real problem we had was at check out. At 10:30 AM
on Weds there were huge lines of people waiting to check in which made
it tough for those checking out, and Gold Chamber was closed. Finally
someone came to the Gold Chamber desk and I ran to be first in line. It
turned out that it was good I didnít do express check out and just leave
because they really screwed up the bill. We were supposed to be comped
the first two nights and then pay $75 for the remaining two nights in the
suite (since the regular rate for a suite is $250 to $350 this was quite a
bargain!). However, even after this was confirmed when I checked in,
somehow someone managed to screw it up and there was a $125 charge
for the first two nights and a $89 charge for the 2nd two nights. I showed
the woman my confirmation letter and she very quickly and efficiently
straightened it all out.

The thing I noticed about the casino (which I didnít realize at first)
is that you donít hear the slot machine noise you hear at other casinos.
Itís quiet. And that means no winning noises either.
And yes, we saw a burly red coated bouncer deny access to
some woman with her kids despite a plea to "just see the lobby".

The lobby with its glass flower ceiling (Chihuli?) was wonderful.
To each side of the reception area are new works by Robert Rauschenberg
made specifically for Bellagio in which items in the painting represent
something about Bellagio.

The atrium outside the art museum is light, open, and airy with lovely
gardens. We were very impressed with the tile work. One restaurant
we were surprised but happy to see in the shops area was Olives. Apparently
itís an outlet of the original Olives from Charlestown in Boston.
(Where we're from.) Itís one of the most popular Boston restaurants
and considered one of the best in town.

Sometimes the best finds are the small things you have to go looking
for. Somewhere off in one of the corridors away from the casino is a little
place called the Gellato Café. The pastries and gellato were
to die for and the sandwiches on Foccacia bread were very good!

The Bellagio Art Museum
We went on a Monday and had only a 2 hour wait to get in when we
bought our tickets. (I should preface this by saying Iíve been to most
of the major art museums in America and Europe and minored in Art History
in college.)
I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed with
the museum and itís art.  The hushed silence when you enter is quite a
contrast to the bustle of the atrium area. There are two small galleries
seperated by a large wall and pre and post 20th century works.
The rooms are darkened and the paintings are illuminated by small spots around
the room. (There are also many of those little black camera globes too.)
The lighting was superb because I could view the paintings from many angles
without any glare from the lights which often happens at many museums.
Itís a very good survey of western art; samples from the baroque and
impressionist eras to 20th century modern works.
These aren't just token show pieces but masterworks
in their own right. We were particularly impressed with the Van
Goghs and two wonderful Renoirs which I never knew existed. One Renoir in
particular depected a palm tree pathway somewhere in Algiers and displayed
a style of Renoirís I had never seen. It was stunning.
Of course one of the ironyís of all this
is that everything in Vegas is a copy but in the midst of all that
are these originals. :)
They give you a hand held device in which you listen to Steve Wynn talk,
often at length, about the paintings.  Some of it is informative and other
times I just switched to the next painting. Once you hear it though his voice
is unmistakable. That night on tv I noticed his voice narrating an ad
for Sigfried and Roy.

In general it seems the strip hotels have tightened up their already tight
slots. It was like trying to squeeze water from a stone. We had much better
luck and a much better time at older casinos like the Riviera and the Lucky
Lady. There more often you hear the chink chink chink of change falling
down a chute than on the strip.

My brother heard it was a good place to play blackjack since they were
training their dealers and he was right. Within half an hour he won
a nice little sum of money.

Steve Wyrick at the Lucky Lady
If you want to see a good Las Vegas magic show without paying the high
prices of the strip then this is it! (With coupons from Bill Here we got $10
off per ticket and paid $23 each.) Steve is a nice guy with his own style
and his tricks are top notch. However, you can see that itís not a
polished show like the Lance Burton or S&R, and heís paying his
dues. He made a few mistakes but fortunately not when it counted. :)

Grigori Popovich at Circus Circus
One of the best shows in Las Vegas is also free! Itís Grigori Popovich and
his trained cats and dogs!! We saw him last year on Penn and Tellerís Sin
City tv show on cable. We love cats and knew we had to go!
I had forgotten his name and just called CC and asked when the
performing cats were on. They gave me show times for the next few days.
My wife is a cat fanatic and was totally delighted. It really is quite
something to see cats performing tricks that most people would say are
impossible; that cats canít be trained. We consider ourselves lucky to
have seen the act because he tours a bit.

Our big splurge (since we didnít go to new "O" and Lance Burton
was on vacation) was Emerilís Fish House at the MGM. I was surprised
at how casual it was. Plain old shirts (some Hawaiian) and slacks for guys.
What can I say except that the service and food was exceptional. The banana cream
pie, his specialty, was out of this world! Their wine list is staggering but
they have plenty of wine by the glass choices for between $6 and $10. Total
bill was $130 with tax and tip. We only had two glasses of wine.
It was a memorable meal.

For various reasons my brother hired an Elvis impersonator.
He found one named Brendan Paul who does the Elvis role at the
Imperial Palaceís show. The guy was very nice and did a great job.
If you need to hire an Elvis for your next wedding in Vegas, heís the
one to get! Heís not cheap but it will be worth it!!!
My wife and I would eventually like to hire him when we renew
our vows in Vegas for our 10th anniversary.  :)

Traffic seems to have gotten worse since we last visited. One day it took
us 10 minutes just to get past Circus Circus for no reason. Other than
perhaps bad light timing. Another day during the week it took 20 minutes
to drive the length of the strip from the Mirage to the Bellagio!!! After the
Bellagio traffic clears out. The night we went back from the Fremont
experience I figured Iíd take 15 and be up to the Luxor in a jiffy.
Wrong! We left at 10pm and ran into a tremendous
construction backup near Sahara. So we got out at Sahara and I figured
Iíd go up the strip. No such luck! It was the damn Circus Circus light
backup! So I turned around and went East down some road and then turned
South onto Paradise. It was smooth sailing until the Hard Rock in which
there was a huge backup again. It took 15 minutes to get past there and
there was no major traffic associated with the Hard Rock. It was just the
poor timing of the stupid lights there!!! Someone at City Hall needs to get
a clue!!!! We got back to Luxor at 10:45. I remember when that ride from
downtown up the Strip would take 10 minutes! HA! We felt this frustration
was fraying the magical veneer of Las Vegas.

But we'll be back!



Copyright 1998 David Weinstein,
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