Las Vegas 2007 — 9/1/2007

We slept late-ish, getting up at 8:45 am. After devouring Jess's sticky, messy and delicious caramel apple, we took showers and got ready to brave the crowds. Happily, the line at the Cafe Ile St. Louis at Paris Las Vegas moved quickly and we were able to get our breakfast without too much delay. Jer had an Omlette Provence (with sausage, potato and onions) and Jess had Vanilla Bean French Toast. Both were good, though Jer's was better.

We caught the monorail to the MGM Grand, then took the walkway to New York New York. The outside was better than the inside, which didn't feel as Manhattan-y as we'd expected, though the trees and streetlamps helped. From there we walked to Excalibur, which had a fun Camelot theme. The entrance, with its fake stone, heraldic banners and suits of armor was well-done. Sadly, there was a wedding in progress so we couldn't see the chapel, but there was a recently-married couple in the foyer (in Arthurian garb) watching their wedding video. We loved it. The next walkway took us to the Luxor, whose Egyptian theme wasn't hugely obvious at the casino level. On the level above, though, we found ourselves standing inside the glass pyramid, looking at an obelisk (complete with LED-enhanced hieroglyphics), two sphinxes and an Egyptian cityscape. We considered watching an Egyptian-themed IMAX Ridefilm, but decided to carry on to Mandalay Bay instead. It's meant to be South Asian-inspired, but it mostly felt airy and expensive. It has quite a nice pool, Mandalay Bay Beach — we watched people lying on the sand and other enjoying the wave pool.

Eventually, we found the trolley stop and caught a ride to the Las Vegas Outlet Center. Our trolley driver played 'Name That Tune' with us, and no one on the bus was very good at it. Still, people were enthusiastic and it was amusing. Our shopping trip was moderately successful. Jess didn't find any clothes, but she did get a new pair of shoes. Jer got a bunch of his favorite spatulas (they're hard to find, so we stocked up). We also tried all the samples at Harry & David before purchasing Moose Munch and cranberry relish. The ride back on the trolley involved the same driver and a much more enthusiastic game of 'Name That Tune'. The driver told us we were the best trolleyful of the day, since we rocked out to El De Barge with him.

Back at Mandalay Bay, we made our way to the Burger Bar for a late lunch. Even at 4:00 there was a 15-20 minute wait. Once seated, we pored over the choices. Jer settled on a buffalo burger on a whole wheat bun with bacon, swiss and oyster mushrooms. Jess had American kobe beef with mozzarella and black olive tapenade. Our burgers were very different but both phenomenally delicious. We agreed that it was the best burger place we'd visited, because they were able to make very different burgers both delectable.

We trekked back to our hotel, taking the tram from Mandalay Bay, past the paws of the Luxor's outdoor sphinx, then back to Excalibur. We walked through to the MGM Grand and caught the monorail north. We popped into Lenotre Patisserie at Paris Las Vegas for breakfast provisions before returning to our room to rest our aching tootsies.

After a short rest we took the monorail north one stop, headed toward the Mirage. We made it in plenty of time to watch the volcano erupt, and we were surprised to find that it wasn't just lights and water jets, there were real flames too. Corny, but fun, and it was cute to see the little kids' amazement.

We then headed in to the Forum Shops at Caesar's. We oogled the expensive wares, especially the modern Easter eggs at the Fabergé store and the stunning opals at Opals and Gems of Australia (Jess's bank balance was saved by the scarcity of white gold jewelry). We watched the Atlantis fountain's animatronic fire-and-water spectacle, which was silly and cheesy but surprisingly impressive (much like the rest of Vegas)!

Then we headed over to Spago, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in the Forum Shops. We sat in the "outdoor" cafe and had a delicious light meal. Jess had gazpacho with cheese quesadilla, followed by a real chocolate soufflé with espresso ice cream and creme anglaise. (It was the best chocolate dessert she thinks she's ever had.) Jer had butter lettuce salad with heirloom tomatoes and blue cheese, which was tasty if a bit overdressed. His creme brulée was unconventional but fabulous — a square of egg custard on puff pastry with a caramelized sugar top and fresh fruit. We then dragged ourselves back to Bally’s and fell into bed.