Las Vegas – ‘Absinthe’ & ‘Jubilee’

The lobby of Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

The lobby of Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

The next morning was a delightful sleep in until after 9am – so needed it (although we did have a late night). We took our time in getting ready and getting out – maybe it’s the enhanced luxury of being on a penthouse floor in a one-bedroom suite? (Vdara) Spent the cuspy time of morning and early afternoon at the South factory outlet – many bargains to be had, but minimal shopping done. I can see why the attraction, though – the factory outlets here actually have great bargains and savings, unlike the ones in Australia.

A very late lunch (at 4pm!) was had at Javier’s – a Mexican restaurant in Aria resort. Some of the best service ever experienced, and fantastic food! Definitely enjoyed the best Margarita of my life – they use a very high grade of tequila, and it makes all the difference!

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Decided to explore a little more of the Strip – this time south of centre – so we headed for New York New York. It was still cold and rainy, so after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, we ducked into the first entrance, which just happened to be the Hershey store! Quel coincidence! We needed to stock up on dark chocolate, cause the stash we brought with us was not going to last much longer! Found some dark chocolate coated blueberries and goji berries. Perfect!

From there we roamed the faux streets of New York, smiling at familiar landmarks located in the wrong place…and definitely much smaller than real life! But since we had another show to get to (and we had double checked the starting time of this one, so as not to have a repeat of the previous night’s mix up), we didn’t stay too long in the crowded streets of downtown ‘Manhattan’, and went back to the Vdara for a costume change.

The Spiegeltent was calling us, and we splashed our way through the rain and up and down stairs (the escalators still weren’t working) across to Caesar’s Palace. Entering the tent was a bit of a revelation for Vegas – more fringe festival than Vegas! It was intimate and crowded and so very relaxed. Drinks were ordered and conversations struck up with strangers, with everyone ready to have a great time. Absinthe was so very deliciously naughty and ridiculously hilarious! But it wasn’t “only” those things – the performers were incredibly skilled in their areas of expertise, whether it be the Gazillionarie and Penny pushing things well beyond the comfort zone of most of society, or the acrobatic sexiness of the many strong, flexible artistes. Loved every second of it! Would easily sit through that one again!

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All fired up on the Vegas vibe, we decided to follow another piece of advice and get tickets to see a traditional ‘showgirl’ show. So after, Absinthe we walked across the road to Bally’s casino to get tickets to Jubilee (the last of the traditional showgirl productions in Vegas). Can’t get over the difference between the east and west side of The Strip in terms of clientele (especially in the middle Strip). Walking in to Bally’s we were immediately highjacked by people wanting to direct us to buy Jubilee tickets, “great”, we thought. But it was a dodgy deal trying to take money immediately and not hand over tickets – they wanted to throw in a meal and gambling money (neither of which appealed to us) – bargains to be had for those interested in that, but no guarantee of what actual seats you get…which is just the opposite of how we operate. What we wanted was a backstage tour, and that was something he couldn’t offer us – only the actual box office could sell us that. Dumped that dude very quickly and found the official box office. Unfortunately, they were unable to offer us the tour either – the next tour is Saturday, when we will be on the Osa Peninsula. So we just got our very expensive seats for the following night, and left as quickly as possible.

Champagne slots in the Paris Casino, Las Vegas

Champagne slots in the Paris Casino, Las Vegas

Our escape from Bally’s was made through Paris. As with the other themed casino resorts, the streets of Paris are recreated in miniature and not at all accurately in a geographical sense. But it was still a bit cute to be wandering through Montmartre listening to the soundtrack of a piano accordion and thinking you’re on a backlot at Universal. Giveaways of our true location were the appearance of the slot machines and watching people order US size portions of supposedly French food.

The next day the continuing overcast and drizzle pretty much made the decision for us of how to spend our day. We ditched the idea of hiring a car and driving to the Hoover Dam for the tour, which was to be followed by the scenic loop through Red Rock Canyon. Instead, we decided to do some more inside touring of the yet to be visited behemoths that Vegas is famous for. We began by popping into the Bellagio to check out the Fine Art Gallery, but were dissuaded by the $17 entry fee. Thanks, but no thanks.

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Moved on to the Flamingo to visit the flamingos (of the feathered variety), in the casino’s flamingo habitat. The habitat was much smaller than anticipated, but the Chilean peach coloured birds were lovely to look at, and appeared content in their designer playground. This little retreat also houses two shy pelicans that had been rescued from a tangle of fishing line and hooks off the coast – permanent damage done, and unable to fly, they now live in Vegas. The waterways were home to many, many gigantic fat fish – koi, carp, goldfish – and numerous water birds, including ducks and black-necked white swans.

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Continued down the dodgy side of the strip to the Venetian to experience the Grand Canal Shoppes – quite a fantastic creation. And there seems to be just as many alleyways to get lost in as in Venice! Didn’t explore this fully, as our first (and maybe last) buffet experience awaited. For this we chose the Wicked Spoon buffet in The Cosmopolitan. And while I can see the attraction for carnivores and pescatarians and dessert fans, it was simply limiting in the choices for us vegetarians. Was particularly disappointed in the Asian bar – not one curry, stir-fry or sushi roll that was vegetarian friendly. We ended up bulking up on the salads, which doesn’t make the choice economical at all. Oh well, have experienced it now, no need to do it again. Did manage to pilfer 2 bananas for our rushed breakfast tomorrow morning before heading to the airport at 5:30am! Good old Delta – twice they have done this to us – we booked 2 different flights that departed at 10:30am, and over time the departure times have shifted so that they leave around 7:15am!

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From there we went back to the penthouse to rest, snooze, enjoy the views (and catch up on a little bit of blogging) before heading out to see the showgirl production Jubilee. And what a disappointment that turned out to be. I was expecting amazing costumes and sets and a wonderful sense of nostalgia – we got the first two, but the girls were almost like zombies – no energy, conviction or dynamics in their performances. But even if that was asking too much, I was hoping at least for dancing in unison…in time with the music! And “miming” to a tap dancing track?? Puh-lease! We left before it was over. Made me want to purchase a subscription to any community musical society to see something performed with more love and commitment!

Did our packing before bed, given our obscene 4:30am rise the next morning. Checked emails before going to bed only to discover a message from Delta letting us know that the flight would be delayed by an hour – YES! An extra hour’s sleep is gold!

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About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

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