Our flight left JFK at 8:20pm and arrived in Vegas at 11:15 pm. We took a cab to our hotel, Bally’s, and ended up wildly over-tipping the driver because we were so tired. Oh well. We check into our room, which was very nice, and went straight to bed.
Despite having been utterly exhausted, Jess woke at 7:30 am (which, to be fair, was 10:30 am to her body). After lazing around the room for a bit, she got in the shower. Eventually, Jer dragged himself out of bed and got ready too.
We headed across the street to the Victorian Room diner at Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon. We had a satisfyingly greasy-spoon experience. Jess ordered a John Wayne (eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast and juice) and Jer had a skillet breakfast (eggs, bacon, potatoes, peppers and onions). We both washed it all down with tea.
Sated, we headed out onto the Strip. It was in the 90s with high humidity for Vegas (30 percent or so). Though people had warned us that it isn't really walkable, we decided to walk to the Venetian anyway, just to see the sights. We went past Caesar's Palace, the Flamingo and a few others before arriving at the Venetian. It's quite classy. We made for the gondolas and were thrilled to find that there was no line and only a 20-minute wait.
Jess loved the gondola ride, and Jer enjoyed it too. We rode with a couple from the Bay Area, and our gondolier serenaded us with everything from opera to rap, in Italian, as he motored us along the blue-dyed canal. The whole thing was silly and over-the-top, but very worth $30. Afterwards, we stopped at New York Pretzel so Jess could get a caramel apple.
We braved the heat again, this time heading for the Mirage. After wandering through the rainforest-themed lobby, we found Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Encounter. We had to wait a few minutes before we were allowed in, but the evaporative cooling system made it okay. The Dolphin Encounter was made extra cool by the presence of a 2-1/2 month old baby dolphin, Sgt. Pepper! The other dolphins were neat too, especially when viewed in the underwater viewing area. The Secret Garden was small but filled with beautiful felines — white lions, white tigers, leopards and a panther — plus, randomly, alpacas looking quite toasty in their fur coats. One of the leopards and two tigers were striking poses, and we were mesmerized by the white tigers' blue eyes.
We took the monorail back to Bally’s and stopped by our room to freshen up. We then crossed the walkway to Paris Las Vegas for a very late lunch. We settled on La Creperie, where Jer had a forestière (spinach, mushroom and cheese) and Jess had a bayonne (ham and cheese). Both were covered in bechamel and fresh basil and were tasty, particularly with Orangina. We wandered around the shops a bit, but managed not to buy anything. We did peek into the wedding chapels, though. The smaller one had a painted garden theme that didn't do it for us, but the bigger one was kinda nice.
We caught the monorail south to the MGM Grand, then went out to find a drugstore. Along the way we got to see the outside of New York New York, which was funny. It involves truncated versions of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge, among others, plus a rollercoaster whose cars look like taxis! After making our purchases at Walgreen's, we headed back to the MGM Grand and made straight for the lion habitat. We were quite surprised to find the two lions stretched out on the glass roof of the viewing area, lazily gnawing on rawhides. It was quite fun to see them from below, stretching their big paws and yawning.
Finally, it was time to make our way to the KA theater for our Cirque du Soleil show. The whole spectacle was awesome, combining serious gymnastics, swordfighting and fire. The sets were fantastic (and rotated vertically, as well as horizontally!), as were the costumes. We would highly recommend it, and we may have to come back for another Cirque show someday!
After the show, we headed to the Rainforest Café for a light dinner. Jess had never been before and she was quite taken aback by the animatronic animals. We had bruschetta and lemonade (Jer's was in a souvenir multicolor LED-light lightning glass). It was fun, but somehow in Vegas it didn't seem as wacky as it did when Jer visited the one at Tyson's Corner.
Jess was getting sleepy, so we decided to go to the Bellagio and watch the fountains, leaving the other nighttime attractions for another night. We caught the tail end of one "performance" (set to music), and stayed to watch a second one. It was beautifully done. Then we returned to Bally’s and watched a little TV before crawling into bed.