March 2015 Trip

Day 1: Monday, March 23rd
“Not what you’d call a great start”

United Airlines4 a.m., the alarm clock goes off really loud. Normally you’d need a small army to get us out of bed at this time but not today. Vegas Baby!! We jump out of bed, take a shower and get dressed. 5.30 a.m. our ride to the airport is here. We put our bags in the car and off we go. Our ride to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport takes about 1,5 hours, traffic is light. We already checked in for our flight online last night so we only have to drop off our bags.  We go through customs, stroll through the Schiphol tax free shopping area and walk to our gate. It’s been a while since we’ve been in Vegas for the last time so we’re pretty anxious to get on our plane. At 9.30 a.m. we are invited to board, at last, the journey begins. We’re flying to Vegas with United Airlines. Our first flight to Chicago takes about 9 hours and 15 minutes and is uneventful. Oh wait, something did happen. The onboard entertainment system broke down after two hours which made this a long, long flight. The remaining 7 hours were spent on some reading and a number of futile attempts to get some sleep.

United AirlinesWe landed at Chicago O’Hare on schedule but in the middle of snow showers. We found out immediately the airport was a mess. A large number of flights were either delayed or cancelled. When we walked out of the plane, another Dutch guy travelling to Vegas told us our connecting flight to Vegas already had a 1 hour delay. Our first reaction was: one hour isn’t too bad, we won’t have to rush to get through customs and security. Boy were we wrong! We took our time to get to gate D26 where our plane would be waiting. When we got there, there were 1000’s of people at the area where you could find gates D24 to D29. That’s when the shit hit the fan! To make a long story short 3 hours and 6 gate changes later (without any communication from United’s ground personel) we boarded our second flight to Las Vegas. Not too happy with United Airlines right now! To make matters even worse, our plane stayed at the gate for another 30 minutes waiting for the green light from traffic control to take off. But eventually, we were on our way to Vegas. Note to self: if we go to Vegas again in March, make sure not to travel through a North American airport where there’s chance of snow (better travel through LA or Houston).

8.30 p.m. We landed at McCarran Airport. It’s so great to be back. We can’t wait to get to the Monte Carlo where we will be staying during the first 3 nights of our trip. We walked to bagage claim, took our suitcases and ran out the door. The cab line was short so within 5 minutes we were on the road. What do you know, we get long hauled (exactly: tunnel & freeway). Cab fare was over $30 but we were in no mood to fight over this since we’d been travelling for over 24 hours. For your info, the cab fare back to the airport from the Monte Carlo at the end of our trip was $16, tip not included.

There was no waiting line at the Monte Carlo front desk so check-in was a breeze. We got our keycards for room 29-307. First observations when entering the room: nice and spacious. The furniture is all in one piece although it’s showing some age. The carpet is clean, the wallpaper isn’t peeling off and the room smell’s fresh. We have a nice Strip view overlooking the Showcase Mall, MGM Grand, New York New York, Polo Towers and Mandarin Oriental. Only minor setback: we asked for a king bed but got double queen beds. Ahhh, no biggy.

We dropped our suitcases, took a quick shower and went down to the casino to gamble a little. We started with Wheel of Fortune playing 5 quarters a spin. Lost $100 in about 10 minutes. Hmmm not a good start. Moved to the ReelMoney machines, inserted $20 and ran that up to $190. SWEET!!

Lost some of that money back and evevntually cashed out at $160. After that, lost another $100 playing a couple of different machines. After playing for about an hour and a couple of drinks we were down $60 and ready to get some sleep. Those 25 hours of travelling were starting to kick in. At midnight we went to sleep, happy to be back in Vegas even if getting there was a disaster, 25 hours of travelling was a little more than we asked for but tomorrow is a new day.

Day two: Tuesday, March 24th
“It’s good to be back”

Don’t you just love time zones? I am bright awake at 5 a.m. while Chantal is still sleeping. I’m anxious to find out what today is going to bring. I watch the local news on TV, wake up with the Wagners, and as soon as Chantal wakes up we both take a shower and get dressed. We’re out of the room at 6.30 a.m. This always happens the first few days of our trip. Because of the time difference with Holland (9 hours) our biological clock gets screwed up. I don’t know about you but when we wake up in Vegas we just HAVE to get out of bed. Somehow we don’t want to have the feeling we’re missing something. Does that sound strange?

We took some pictures for our website here and there and at 7 a.m. we decided it was time to try the Monte Carlo Buffet for breakfast. We got the buffet comped through the MyVegas Facebook game. The buffet area at Monte Carlo looks very clean and well maintained. We’re one of the first people to get in today (I guess that’s no surprise) but it’s amazing to see how many people come in to have breakfast at 7 in the morning. There’s a good variety of foods even though the Monte Carlo buffet isn’t the biggest one you’ll find in town. Here are a couple of examples of what you can eat: pancakes, muffins, fresh fruit, brownies, omelets, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, French toast, waffles, donuts, sausage, potatoes, etc. There’s also a selection of Asian and Mexican foods.

All in all, the Monte Carlo breakfast buffet was way better than expected. A detailed review with a large number of pictures will be posted on our website at a later moment (let’s just stick to the TR at this moment). The service was great, the staff was very friendly. Tables were cleaned immediately when somebody left so there were never any dirty dishes on deserted tables. In other words: we certainly recommend the Monte Carlo breakfast buffet.

After breakfast we took a walk down the Strip to burn some calories. We absolutely love early morning walks down the Strip. It’s nice and quiet, no timeshare hawkers bothering you, no “street performers” clogging up the sidewalks, no porn slappers and you can walk at your own speed without people “being in your way” constantly. Again we took some new pictures for our website and shot some footage of Bally’s Bazaar.

We were back at the Monte Carlo around noon: pool time!!! We spent the afternoon at the pool enjoying some cocktails in the sun. The lazy river they have is fun and the wave pool too. Something to keep in mind when visiting the Monte Carlo pool. The beach volleyball area in the back gets the most sun and it takes until about 2 p.m. (at least in March it did, don’t know about summer) until the complete pool area is in the sun. The Monte Carlo hotel is blocking the sun. So, if you definitely want to be in the sun, get there early and get yourself a chair near the beach volleyball area. There’s just a small thing we didn’t like about the Monte Carlo pool area, the chairs are too close to eachother. There’s literally no space between them. So when you order a drink you constantly have to hold it.

We stayed at the pool until 5 p.m., got back to the room, took a shower and got dressed for the night. We took another stroll down the Strip. We wanted to get some gambling going so decided to have a quick meal at Panda Express.

After dinner we went to the Cosmopolitan. During our flight to Vegas we received a number of Cosmo coupons from United Airlines. We each had a $25 free play coupon and wanted to use that. Walked to the Identity desk, got the $25 loaded onto our players cards and played a Quick Hits machine at $1.50 a spin. We turned our $50 free play into $51 cash. Not a bad deal.

We cashed our Tito bill and walked back to the Monte Carlo to gamble there. Our host had been great to us in preparation for this trip so we thought it would only be fair if we gave the Monte Carlo most of our play. We received $125 of free play through our Mlife account and played the ReelMoney machines at $1.50 a spin. Turned that free play into $150 in cash. Again, not a bad deal.

Ah well, it all went South after that. We played for several hours at ReelMoney, Wheel of Fortune (dollars and quarters) but couldn’t catch a break. All we did was lose, lose a little more and lose the entire bankroll for the day. So we actually lost our bankroll + the money we won with our free play. At 11 p.m. we threw in the towel. We were both so incredibly tired after that long trip to Vegas + the 18 hours we had been awake today. It was time to get some rest. Lights out at midnight!

Side note:

Being OscarWhenever we go to Vegas, I take a number of books with me. I love to read but somehow I never seem to allow myself the time to relax and enjoy a good book. So I basically only read during vacations.

Through the years I’ve bought a ton of books about Vegas. Stories about when the mob was running the city, stories about hookers, gamblers & gambling, cab drivers and the homeless. I also like to read books about the people who shaped and changed Las Vegas into the city it is today. Men like Benny Binion, Steve Wynn, Bob Stupak and Oscar Goodman.

Two days before the start of our trip I began reading “Being Oscar”. I always thought Oscar Goodman was a fascinating man. He spent years defending high profile mobsters in criminal courts all over the US. Men like Lefty Rosenthal and Antony Spilotro counted on Oscar Goodman to keep them out of jail and he did. After his very successful career as the mob’s mouthpiece he served as Mayor of Las Vegas for 12 years. Oscar Goodman is a character for sure. He’s flamboyant, a straight shooter, intelligent and he likes to drink & gamble without being mysterious about it. He’s passionate about Las Vegas and his family. I already respected the man a lot before reading his biography but respect him even more after finishing it.

In “Being Oscar” you’ll read a lot of details about the how’s and why’s of being a mob mouthpiece. Information about how the judicial system worked during the mob days of Vegas, why the black book is unconstitutional, how the police and FBI harassed Goodman’s clients (and himself for that matter) with illegal tactics and how passionately Oscar hates “rats”. A very educational piece of work telling you “the other side” of Las Vegas mob history.

In the second part of his book, Goodman tells about his work as the Mayor of Las Vegas. What were his goals, how did he brand himself (a Mayor with a showgirl on each arm, always holding a martini) with public appearances, small parts in movies and TV productions. Goodman is a man who loves himself and isn’t shy to show it. He has clear views on legalizing drugs and prostitution and he’s very passionate about everything he does. He loves to drink and gamble and doesn’t have a problem telling the whole world just that. He lives for Las Vegas and had no problem clashing with the most influential people in the US (or the world) to get Vegas what it needs (or what Oscar wants). And last but not least, Goodman has a great sense of humor. When I started this book I couldn’t lay it down anymore. I finished it within 3 days and it was a magnificent read. If you like to read about Vegas and you don’t have the book yet. Go get it, you won’t be disappointed!!

Day Three: Wednesday, March 25th
“Starting to adjust to Vegas time”

I woke up at 6 a.m. and Chantal at 7 a.m. I always like to watch the sunrise over the Strip. It’s still dark enough to see all the sparkling lights but in the background you can see the sun slowly rising from behind the mountains.

We were out the door at 8 a.m. We walked to the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood to have breakfast at Earl of Sandwich. In the past we would often go to Subway for a sandwich. Not anymore. We absolutely loved Earl of Sandwich and the quality of the food is so much better than at Subway. Chantal had the Earl’s Club Sandwich and I had Thai Chicken Salad. The food was delicious and the bill was $21. Great start of the day.

We went on our morning walk down the Strip and wanted to take some new pictures for our website. First we visited The Cromwell. We hadn’t been there yet since our last visit. I must say we absolutely love what they’ve done with the place. Beautiful use of color, great design and it’s got an upscale feel to it. It’s a giant step up from the former Bill’s Gambling Hall. The combination of carpeting and tiles works perfectly. They really thought about this one. Don’t you hate how you have to haul your luggage up to your room right through a huge carpeted casino? It can be quite a hike, especially over that carpet. It makes it so much heavier. Well, you won’t have that problem at the Cromwell and I applaud them for that. Good thinking! Also, the bar in the center of the Casino looks great and has very comfortable couches.

Also walked through the Flamingo, the Linq Hotel and the Linq Promenade to take pictures and shoot some video footage. Liked the Linq Promenade and all it has to offer. We will visit it again on our next trip to spend some time there during the evening. It was pretty early so there wasn’t much going on at that time.

We were back at the Monte Carlo around 11 a.m. and got into our swim suites to go to the pool. We enjoyed the sun, did some reading, had a couple of frozen margaritas and stayed until 4 p.m. We had to take a shower and get dressed because at 6 p.m. we were having dinner with our good friends (resident blogger) Nicole and Brandon Marshall at Double Barrel Roadhouse in front of the Monte Carlo.

Double Barrel Roadhouse is one of the new restaurants at the Monte Carlo with a big open patio style front. You can sit outside and enjoy your meal overlooking the Strip. We had made reservations so we were seated immediately. The place was very busy which is always a first good sign. Our waiter asked if this was our first visit to Double Barrel. We said it was and he informed us about their huge portions. We were free to share meals to make sure we wouldn’t order way more food than we could handle. That’s the kind of service we can appreciate!

We took some time to study the menu and ordered some starters: BBQ Pulled Pork & Beef Loaded Nachos with BBQ Baked Beans, Cheddar Cheese, Tomato, Jalapeno, Sour Cream, Cilantro and Scallions. We shared two portions between the four of us at $34 in total. The nachos were incredibly good, very tasty and they were right about the portions. We just couldn’t eat it all. But man, you can wake me up at 3 a.m. any time for a plate of these nachos!!

Our main course was the 17 pieces of Fried Chicken with Garlic Fries, Mac & Cheese and 4 biscuits on the side. There was a selection of chicken breast and legs and the pieces were huge. All of the chicken was crispy without being dry. The Mac & Cheese was very delicious with a crispy cheese crust on top. All of this for just $39. All four of us ate what we could but in the end one bowl of Mac & Cheese and 9 pieces of Fried Chicken were left. Service at Double Barrel was great. There was one little mishap with our drinks but that got corrected immediately. The staff was very friendly and the place was packed. You do have to keep in mind that this place is loud. They’re playing loud music and they cater to groups. So while you’re eating, a group of people might be playing beer pong just a couple of feet away from you. We can appreciate a loud place with a party atmosphere once in a while so it didn’t bother us at all. But if you are one of those people who like to have a quiet meal, sit down, relax and talk for a while: Double Barrel is not for you.

After dinner we drove to Town Square to enjoy a couple of drinks and catch up with Nicole and Brandon (Brandon & Nicole, thank you again for showing us such a great time. We’re so blessed to have you people as our friends!). We were back at the Monte Carlo around 11 p.m. Chantal was tired and wanted to get some rest. So she stayed in the room while I went downstairs to gamble a little. I forgot to bring my camera to the casino but looking back at that evening I really didn’t miss it. Yeah, it was one of those nights again. The gambling Gods hadn’t been with us so far so we could use some luck. Well, no dice! I hit one decent spin at the Wheel of Fortune machines (playing dollars) for $200 and that was it. It was just enough to keep me playing a little longer. So again, I lost our daily gambling bankroll completely and went back to the room to get some sleep at 2 a.m.

Day Four: Thursday, March 26th
“Time to Move”

It’s moving day today. We’ll be staying at the Luxor for two nights using comps from the MyVegas game on Facebook. We packed our suitcases, took a shower, got dressed and were on our way at 9 a.m. We left our luggage at the bell desk and walked to MGM Grand to get a frozen yogurt at Blizz. Bill was $20, strange breakfast (we know) but we liked it anyhow. Next thing we just had to do is go to Tropicana and see the most lovely pool girl Las Vegas has to offer, our sweet friend Emma. We enjoyed a couple of hours at the Tropicana pool, catching up with Emma, enjoying a couple of their Miami Vice cocktails (man are they delicious).

At 2 p.m. we walked back to the Monte Carlo to get our luggage and take a cab to the Luxor to check-in. When we arrived at the Luxor the check-in line was insane. All positions at the front desk were staffed so we still only had to wait for 10 minutes, not bad at all. This time we would have a Pyramid room with king bed and since I heard a lot of bad stories about them I tried to get us moved to a Tower room. Well, they wanted us to pay $30 per night for that “upgrade” so we passed. We were prepared for the worst. A torn down room with dirty carpet, broken furniture, mold in the bathroom, etc.

When we walked into our room we were pleasantly surprised. Our room was in very good condition (better than the Tower room we had during a previous trip). It was very clean, the furniture was in decent condition and we had a great view of the pool area. We were completely ok with the room since it exceeded our expectations. The elevators in the Pyramid are close to rollercoaster rides though. Yeez, they don’t go up straight and they shake like there’s no tomorrow. After a night of partying those things can really screw you up.

So we got settled in our room, took a shower and got ready to go see Blue Man Group. We had tickets for the 7 p.m. show so when we arrived at the Monte Carlo at 5.30 p.m. there was still some time left to do some gambling. Well, that turned out to be more of the same. Played ReelMoney for an hour and all we did was lose. Guess this is just going to be one of those trips.

We didn’t have high expectations of the Blue Man Group show. We kinda thought this was not going to be our cup of tea. But the fact that they do 2 shows a night, 6 days a week (and have been around for years) should have been a very strong indicator for the quality of the show. This is without doubt one of the top shows in Vegas. We were absolutely blown away and had so much fun.

There was a lot of interaction with the audience and they did a sketch with a twinkie which was just hilarious. The first rows of the audience get poncho’s before the show because there is a possibility they will get sprayed with some undefined substances. The Blue Man Group use a lot of water and paint during their show, they turn the theater into a complete mess. They are very talented and the show isn’t just entertaining, it’s a lot of fun. At the end of the show the audience plays volleyball with giant balls. On top of that, the Blue Man turn the theater into complete chaos by shooting about 8 different kinds of confetti into the showroom and long colored paper strings. Add loud percussion music and an explosion of strobe light and you have no idea what’s happening to you for a couple of minutes. The show lasted about 1,5 hours and after the show you can meet the Blue Man and their supporting band for pictures. Awesome experience! We know 100,000’s op people have already seen this show since it’s been around for a long time. If you’re one of those people who haven’t seen it yet: GO! Blue Man Group is a must see, you won’t be disappointed.

After the show we walked back to the Luxor because friends from Colorado were arriving tonight, staying at the Luxor as well. We were very excited about that as you can imagine. Since we’re on opposite sides of the world we don’t get to see each other that much so the next couple of days were going to be a lot of fun. We found each other at the Luxor lobby and jumped in the car to go to the Miracle Mile Shops. We had dinner reservations at Pampas Brazilian Steakhouse at 10 p.m. and we were all hungry.

When we arrived at Pampas the place was packed. That’s a first good sign! We had purchased a voucher through Travelzoo for a $98 Rodizio Steak dinner for 4. It was an all you can eat meal and included one drink. There was a salad bar with a nice selection of foods like peppers, green pies, olives, rice, mozzarella cheese with tomato, cucumber, melon, green beans, chicken, pasta salad, beets, cheese bread, etc.

About every 5 minutes one of the servers would come to our table and bring us a delicious piece of sirloin steak, sausage, garlic steak, rack of lamb, chicken leg, tri-tip or chicken rolled in bacon. All the meats were tasty, tender and seasoned to perfection. All I can say is we had a delicious meal and were completely stuffed when we were done. We will post a detailed review of Pampas on our website at a later time. Total bill was $112 without tip. At regular price our meal would have been $250 without tip. Since we had such an extraordinary meal and great service, we left a $50 tip.

We got back to the Luxor: time to do some gambling. We found a bank of ReelMoney machines and for the first time this strip we didn’t bleed money. We played for about two hours without losing much. We got a lot of bonus games that paid enough to keep us going. But still, no impressive wins to report so at 2 a.m. we cashed out. Time to get some sleep.

Day Five: Friday, March 27th
“R&R at the Luxor Pool”

We woke up around 8.30 a.m. Another bright and sunny day in the Las Vegas valley. We showered and got dressed, let’s get some breakfast. Since we had a late dinner last night with a lot of food we only wanted to have a small breakfast. We went to Backstage Deli at the Luxor and had a tuna sandwich with a soda. Total bill was under $15 and the sandwich was very tasty.

We were at the Oasis pool at 10 a.m., got four chairs in the sun and enjoyed some reading until noon. Our friends Dale and Chris from Colorado joined us, time for us to order our first round of frozen cocktails. 32 oz in a souvenir cup at $22 a piece, refills were $15. We had Pina Colada and Margaritas. Around noon the DJ booth was all set up and the party started. We spent the entire afternoon at the pool, sipping our cocktails and catching up since it had been 2 years since we last saw each other. A very enjoyable afternoon. At 5 p.m. we went back to the room to have a shower and sober up a little.

At 8.30 p.m. we went to Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas. It’s a replica of the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich (Germany) and they serve traditional German food. They have a Bavarian band playing traditional German music and the waitresses are dressed in original dirndl dresses.

For starters we had a sausage tower. They all had a lot of flavor, exactly what you get when travelling to Germany. Our main courses were the Breaded Jägerschnitzel with Spätzle and a burger with bacon & onion, French fries, tomato and lettuce. The Jägerschnitzel was great, the Spätzle not so much. The burger was thick (half a pound) and very good. Our waitress wasn’t exactly a happy camper. She did her job, she did what she had to do but had to force herself to smile once in a while. We shared an Apfelstrudel for dessert which was delicious.

All in all we had a decent meal but it wasn’t great. It was average but at the same time we had a great time because we were with great friends. We travel to Germany regularly (have been there twice this year already on ski trips) so we know what to expect. I have to say we’ve had better meals in Germany but still the meal was better than just ok.

We were back at the Luxor at 11.30 p.m. so it was time for some gambling. We found a spot at a bank of ReelMoney machines and guess what, this turned out to be a good choice. Yes, we actually won some money for the first time during this trip. We played for 1,5 hours and at 1 a.m. we went to bed with more money in our pockets than we had at the beginning of the day (about $400).  Considering the money we spent during the day, not a bad score at all.


Day Six: Saturday, March 28th
“A change of scenery”

Woke up at 4 a.m. since there was some gang style party going on in the room next to us. A bunch of homies (as they called each other) were exchanging tough street stories and were just being loud and obnoxious. Since Chantal had a terrible cold and was sleeping I decided not to call security because that might wake her up. So after 3 hours of sleep, my time to rest was over. I get really, really annoyed when people in hotels don’t give a rat’s ass about the people around theme. Sorry for my rant but I was raised differently and I just can’t figure out how people have become so egotistical.

When Chantal woke up, we took a shower and packed our stuff again. We were going move to Mandalay Bay today. We hadn’t stayed there yet and we wanted to give it a try since we heard very good things about it. Many people don’t want to stay at Mandalay Bay because of its location. It’s too far South and too far away from everything. I can understand those emotions but if you’re willing to stay at Tropicana, Excalibur or Luxor it really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

Our friends Dale and Chris were going to pick us up at 9.30 a.m. to go have breakfast. After breakfast we were going to visit Red Rock Canyon and we were pretty excited about that. We absolutely cherish the time we’ve spent at the Valley of Fire in the past so there was no doubt we were going to like Red Rock Canyon.

We had breakfast at a little place called Roberto’s Taco Shop. It’s located about two blocks away from the Orleans and they serve some very nice Mexican food. We met one of “Vegas’ finest families”, husband and wife with two small children who obviously hated their lives and even hated each other more. They were fighting in front of their children and gave their kids a hard time over the diaper bag and sippy cups. We felt sorry for those kids! Nevertheless, the food was great. Chantal had the Breakfast Burritos and I had Carnitas. The food was very tasty and the meat was so tender it just fell apart. About an hour later we hit the road with full bellies.

We drove to the Red Rock Canyon visitors center and decided to drive the scenic route through the park. We thoroughly enjoyed the park and took lots of pictures. We still think it’s amazing you can find all this peace and tranquility only 20 minutes away from the Strip. One of the most beautiful things we have ever seen and if you haven’t been to Red Rock Canyon yet, we strongly suggest you go see it on your next trip. The weather was great, it was actually a little cooler than at the Strip (with a little breeze). When we left the Strip it was 84 degrees and no breeze, at Red Rock Canyon was had 80 degrees and a little breeze.

On our way through Red Rock Canyon we drove past Bonnie Springs Ranch. There were some wild burros close to the ranch so we stopped to take some pictures. We decided to have a closer look at the Ranch and see if we could have a nice cold drink. Cute little place with a nice bar and restaurant. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a couple of cold Fat Tire beers. We left a souvenir dollar at the bar, letting people know some Dutch people were in there (as if anyone would really care haha).

At 3.30 p.m. we were back at Mandalay Bay to check in. They were no people waiting so we received our keys to room 10122 within 5 minutes. When we entered the room it was love at first sight. What a marvelous room. Large King bed, a sofa and desk with glass top, a closet for him and her, big LCD TV and bathroom with separate bath and shower. Even the toilet was closed off from the rest of the bathroom. The bathroom had a small tv in it so Chantal enjoyed a bath while watching some of her favorite shows. We had a view of the Mandalay Bay porte cochere and McCarran Airport. The room was in great condition, it had class and was fresh and clean.

Around 5 p.m. we got ready for drinks and dinner. We walked over to the Luxor to meet Dale & Chris at the Flight Bar for a complimentary drink. After our drinks we took the car and drove to the Palms to try their buffet. We had a deal through Travelzoo: Buffet dinner for two with unlimited beer and wine for $39 (regular price is $52). Well this was a major disappointment. The food was average at best and the service was bad. Dirty dishes remained at the tables a long time after people had finished their meals (or left the buffet altogether). If one of the staff members dropped something on the floor it would stay there for a long time. Several other staff members would walk by and just ignore what was on the floor. Chairs were not pushed back under the tables when people left. In other words, the place looked like a complete mess constantly.

The Buffet had a very limited selection of foods compared to most other Vegas buffets. A lot of items lacked flavor and some dishes were placed under those heaters for too long. The quality of the seafood was disappointing, the shrimp were watery and had no taste at all. Most of the desserts tasted stale and old. Let’s just say we won’t be coming back. We wouldn’t even take the time to drive over to the Palms if the buffet was comped. Totality not worth the money even if it was cheap.

We were back at Mandalay Bay at 10 p.m. Gambling time! Our friend Chris had played a game called Hot Roll a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. She wanted to walk through the casino to see if the machine was still there so she could play it again. We found a bank of 4 Hot Roll machines which was nice so we could all sit together and play the game. When you get a bonus game you have to throw a couple of dice. For every number you throw you get a number of credits awarded. The bonus game continues as long as you don’t throw seven. A fun game when we had a look at it and decided to play it at $2 a spin.

This turned out to be our second lucky night. We invested $120, went up and down, but got a lot of play for our money. We got several bonus rounds close to each other. One of those bonus rounds gave us 23 throws of the dice for a total amount of $100. After that bonus round our cash meter showed a balance of $260. We increased our bet to $5 a spin and got another bonus around within a couple of spins. We rolled the dice over 20 times again. Yeah baby, another $435 win. We cashed out at $600 for a nice $480 profit. We had been playing for about 3 hours so a good moment to call it a night. Another great day has ended too soon. Only two more full days until we have to go back home.

Day Seven: Sunday, March 29th
“Saying goodbye to friends and a another friend coming in”

7.30 a.m. the alarm on our phone goes off. It’s time to get up and have breakfast with Dale & Chris before they leave. It’s also another moving day. We stayed at Mandalay Bay for just one night which is a real bummer. We fell in love with this place big time so there’s no doubt we will be back to stay here again. The casino was fun, our room was beautiful and our bed felt like heaven.

At 9.00 a.m. we went to Ellis Island at Koval Lane for breakfast. It was very busy and had to wait 20 minutes before we were seated. No big deal, we expected this since Ellis Island is very well known for their low cost quality food. We had been here before (with Dale during a previous trip). Chantal had the bacon & egg breakfast special with baked potatoes. I had the meatlovers skillet and Dale & Chris both ordered the New York Strip Steak Breakfast Special for just $6.99. Dale & Chris didn’t expect too much, how good could a $6.99 steak be, right? Well, the steak was perfect. The meat was tender, had no fat and was cooked to perfection. Both Dale & Chris thought this was the best $6.99 breakfast they EVER had. Our breakfast was great too, we knew what to expect and our meal was perfect (as before).

After breakfast we said goodbye and Dale & Chris dropped us off at Ballys. It’s always difficult to see good friends leave, especially when you don’t see each other that often. Dale, Chris, if you’re reading this: thank you for the wonderful time and great fun we had! You are the best!

We walked the Strip for a while, enjoying the great weather. We decided to walk back to the Monte Carlo to see if we could already check-in. There was no waiting line and there were rooms available at that time so we checked in and dropped our suitcases in the room. It was time to relax for a bit since we only had about 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night since were arrived in Vegas. So we went to the pool, ordered a frozen Pina Colada and a Strawberry Daiquiri, enjoyed the sun and did some reading. At 4 p.m. we went back to the room to shower and get dressed. We had just received a text message from our dear friend Lori from San Diego that she had just arrived in Vegas. We made plans to have dinner at Mon Ami Gabi so it was time to get ready.

We met at Mon Ami Gabi at 7.30 p.m. Lori had made reservations. There was an enormous line to get into the restaurant but they still wanted us to wait in line which seemed to be odd. We were seated at a table close to the outside terrace overlooking the Bellagio fountains. Chantal had the Peppercorn Steak, I had the Grilled Chicken Breast and Lori had the Salmon with Mashed Potatoes. The food was fabulous, the service was average. Our waitress did what she had to do but we weren’t overly impressed. During our dinner we watched several shows of the “Dancing Fountains” which added to the ambiance. Since we hadn’t seen each other in two years we stayed quite a while to chat. Lori, thank you for the great meal, you’re such a generous sweetheart!

We were all getting a little tired so said our goodbyes at 10 p.m. Tomorrow we would meet up again somewhere around noon. We went back to the Monte Carlo to see what the machines had in store for us. Yeez, it seems as if the Monte Carlo machines hate us because once again we had absolutely no luck. We tried different machines: Quick Hits, ReelMoney, Wheel of Fortune (dollars & quarters) but none of them seemed to appreciate our attention. They just ate away our money. We had one decent bonus at the Quick Hits machines and that was it. Around midnight we went back to the room. One more full day in Vegas and then we’ll have to go back home again. Time’s flying and we don’t like it one bit.


Day Eight: Monday, March 30th
“Last full day in paradise”

We wake up at 8.30 a.m. We’ve officially adjusted to Vegas time. One day before we leave. Ain’t that marvelous? We took a shower, got dressed and were on our way to Mandalay Bay to try the breakfast buffet (compliments of MyVegas). When we arrived at the Mlife players desk at Mandalay Bay we realized we didn’t take our ID’s. We’re a bunch of morons! Well, we didn’t want to walk back to the Monte Carlo to get our ID’s and return to Mandalay Bay again so we decided to ditch the buffet. Ah well, no big deal.

Time to do some shopping. Normally we take more time to shop but somehow this trip it just didn’t happen. Too busy I guess. So since it was our last day this was our last chance. We walked over to the Fashion Show Mall (yeah we like to walk) because Chantal loves to shop over there (and I love Chicken Connection at the food court). The weather was great, not too hot, so it was a great morning stroll.

When we arrived at the Fashion Show Mall we went to the food court first to get some breakfast. For most of you this will look completely crazy but we went to Chicken Connection. Chantal had noodles, bourbon chicken and shrimp, I had noodles with bourbon chicken, green bean chicken and pepper chicken. It was 11 a.m. in Vegas so 8 p.m. in Holland, perfect time for a hot meal if you ask us. We enjoyed our meal and took our time since it had been quite a walk from the Monte Carlo to Mandalay Bay to the Fashion Show Mall.

We spent about 1.5 hours to find Chantal some nice clothes. Enough to make me feel sorry for myself. I had to haul all of our luggage to the airport tomorrow. But whatever makes Chantal happy is fine by me. We also bought some nice items at Bath & Body work, our house is going to smell lovely until we come back to Vegas.

At 2 p.m. we met our friend Lori at the Mirage and decided to drive to Henderson to go see Green Valley Ranch Hotel & Casino. First of all, let me tell you how wonderful Henderson looks. Great view of the Las Vegas Valley, beautiful neighborhoods, well maintained houses enough shops and restaurants.

We were very impressed with Green Valley Ranch. An incredibly well maintained property, beautiful casino, classy hotel lobby and very nice pool area. On one of our next trips we might actually decide to stay there for a couple of nights and see what kind of offers our play will generate. It would be a nice hotel to relax the first couple of days after a 20+ hours trip to Vegas. We particularly liked their Mediterranean style since we’ve been to the South of Europe many times during our vacations.

Next to Green Valley Ranch you can find the District. There’s about 50 boutique style shops and restaurants. The layout and construction style is a mix between Tivoli Village and Town Square. Great dining opportunities and enough options for some early evening shopping. A nice bonus of staying at Green Valley Ranch could be the payback percentages of the machines. Off Strip locations often give you more play for your bankroll. Well that settles it. We are going to give them a try on one of our next trips.

We decided to have an early dinner since we had to be at the airport at 6.30 a.m. tomorrow morning and we hadn’t packed out suitcases yet. Lori recommended Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and let me tell you, Lori knows where to find great food. When we walked in, the place was almost empty (it was still early) but about 30 minutes later there was a 20 minute wait to be seated. Our waiter Tanner was a hoot! A fun kid who obviously loved his job. We had a great time chatting with him and service like his are a reason to come back. Chantal had the Smoked Beef Brisket & Portobello Sandwich, Lori had the Sliders and I had the Smokehouse BBQ Burger. It was actually the first and only burger I had during this trip. Our sodas came in glass jars and were huge (a quarter gallon). The service was way above expectation and the portions were enormous. Too much food for us to eat. Total bill was $50 and we left a $15 tip (did I say we had great service?).

After dinner Lori drove us back to the Monte Carlo. We said our goodbyes. Lori, if you’re reading this, thank you again for showing us such a good time. We hope to see you again soon! We went up to the room and packed our suitcases. When we were finished it was time to gamble one last time and see if we could win something decent.

We played for about two hours and as usual nothing worked. We played the Quick Hits machines and except for one decent bonus round all we did was bleed money. We tried the Wheel of Fortune machines and managed to lose some more. At 10 p.m. we started our “walk of shame” back to our room to watch some TV and get some sleep. Another great trip was coming to an end. We had a great time but the gambling sucked big time this trip. Ah well, at least we made Gold status at Mlife in one trip since we fell back to Sapphire after more than one year of Vegas absence.

Day Nine: Tuesday, March 31st
“You gotta love the airlines”

5 a.m., we get a wake up call. Time to get out of bed, take a shower and get dressed. Unfortunately we have to leave Sin City. We grab a cab and arrive at McCarran Airport at 6.30 a.m. We walked over to one of those computer terminals to do an electronical check-in. Somehow this doesn’t work. The United computer system tells us we’re too early. Hmmm, that’s strange. We walk over to one of the desks and a United staff member tells us we’re a day early. Say again? We’re not a day early, we have all the paperwork. We’re leaving today and we’re scheduled to arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport tomorrow morning. Maybe that’s the misunderstanding? Nope, in turns out our flight from Houston to Amsterdam was cancelled just 15 minutes ago. So what do we do now? At the United desk they told us we were now scheduled to leave tomorrow.

We suggested we’d stay a day longer if United paid for our hotel room and a meal. They said they couldn’t do that. The only thing they could arrange was a discounted hotel room. Yeah, guess not! So our response was something like: “then you’ll just have to arrange a different flight to Amsterdam today and don’t expect us to sit around the airport the entire day because we are not going to do that”. The United staff member was very understanding and considerate. He was able to get us on the first flight to Los Angeles. There we would have to wait 4 hours to board a KLM (Royal Dutch Airline) flight to Amsterdam.

Our flight to Los Angeles took 45 minutes and was uneventful. We had to walk to the international terminal and go through security again. That took us about 1 hour. We grabbed a bite to eat, walked to the KLM gate and when we arrived at the gate our plane just pulled in, a Boeing 747-400. Nice large plane.

Our flight to Amsterdam was uneventful, service during the flight was outstanding and KLM offered a wonderful onboard entertainment system. We had about 50 movies to choose from, a large number of documentaries, comedy shows, travel shows, games, music, etc. We arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 9 a.m. on April 1st. Our ride was already waiting for us. Got home about noon, took a shower and a nap. It’s good to be home again although we wouldn’t mind going back to Vegas tomorrow. We had a wonderful trip and can’t wait to go on the next one.

United Airlines
“The aftermath”

While reading our trip report you must have noticed the troubles we had with our flights coming to Vegas and going back to Holland. Normally, we’re not the kind of people that complain easily. But since we had flight issues during a previous trip to Vegas (a 5 hours delay flying with United) we thought it was time to at least let them know we weren’t too happy with their customer service. So a few days after we came home we decided to send United Airlines Customer Service an e-mail. We told them about the issues we had during this trip and the previous trip and shared our thoughts about their customer service at various airports. After that we waited for a reply.

On Friday April 10th we received an e-mail from United with an apology for our inconvenience. They attachted two $100 Electronic Travel Certificates we could use towards a future trip. These vouchers could only be redeemed when booking a flight at the United Airlines website. These vouchers could not be used when booking through a travel agent.

Out of curiosity  we visited the United Airlines website and selected a date for a future flight. Total rate for the two of us for a return flight to Vegas was $1630. Then we visited the website of our usual travel agent and selected the same dates. Total rate for the exact same flight was $1260. So, after redeeming the Electronic Travel Vouchers our flight would still be $170 more when booking at the United website. Well, ain’t that special! As a way to apologize for our inconvenience United wants us to pay $170 more than we would usually do for our next flight to Vegas.

We decided to give United Airlines Reservations a call and see if they could explain this to us. First annoying thing about that phone call was we had to wait 30 minutes before we could actually talk to a reservations agent. The only thing the agent kept repeating is “travel agencies sometimes have special offers and thus lower rates. There is nothing we can do about that”. Because we somehow anticipated and answer like this we had checked 6 different travel dates before calling United and all these dates showed a substantial lower rate when booking through a travel agent. When we made that argument the United reservations agent offered to forward our call to a Supervisor. Again, we were on hold for 30 minutes. When this supposed Supervisor took our phone call we heard him talking to somebody else and he then just ended the phone call. Wow, we’d been waiting for an hour to get a straight answer and they just disconnected us. At this point we were actually pretty pissed. This is no way to treat customers, Milageplus members.

We decided to file a new complaint with United and e-mailed them again. We received a autoreply immediately stating that it would take them 7 to 10 business days to respond to our complaint. Two weeks to handle a complaint about a complaint. Well, in our mind that just proves United Airlines has very poor customer service and doesn’t take complaints seriously. The fact that they need 7 to 10 business days (so up to two weeks) to reply to an already existing complaint could only mean two things:

  1. They receive a tremendous amount of complaints
  2. Their customer service department is severely understaffed

Well, we’re not holding our breath. At this point it’s safe to say we will not be flying United anytime soon. We’ll just take our business elsewhere.

Thank you for reading!


17 thoughts on “March 2015 Trip

  1. Love reading your adventure. Most of all when I read I feel I could be there too. My wife and I are going in October, and reading this blog had been a huge help! Thxs.


    • Hello Lilstuie,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m sure you’re going to have a blast next October. If you want to do a detailed TR like we did, we’ll be more than happy to post it on our website for you…..Think about it!


  2. Loved your detailed report with tons of fantastic photos! Quite funny how I live only a state away (less than an hour plane ride) and still can’t manage to get to Vegas as much as you!! 😉 I hope to be there this summer. Have you planned your next trip yet?


    • Hello Rambletramp,

      We haven’t planned our next trip, we just got home a week ago haha. For now it’s back to everday reality. But, one thing is sure, we will be back! Thank you for your positive comments. We really appreciate it!


      • It might take longer to plan the next one, since you have to find a new airline. I’ve never flown United, and now I know I never will.


      • Hello Jane,

        Fortunately there are enough Airlines flying to Vegas from Amsterdam. We will now look at Delta, Lufthansa, British Airlines and American Airlines.


  3. We would love to meet with you, but probably could not keep up, but we would give it a try. Please let us know when your next trip would be – maybe we could all get together (Lori).
    Your report was just what I expected from your days at ELV – fantastic.
    We also loved GVR and go there each trip. And a visit to the Double Barrel is a must.
    Thanks for everything – it is so appreciated by us.


    • Hello Ken & Monique,

      Thank you for your kind words. Of course it would be fun to meet up and we’re certainly looking forward to that. Let’s stay in touch and we’ll find a way to make it happen and include Lori in the fun 🙂


  4. Great trip report, i’ll be heading over to Vegas in October with my gf. Flying from AMS -LHR – LAS so that should be a pleasant flight as well. Your trip report had some good pointers so i am looking forward to my third trip (girlfriends 1st).


  5. Always love reading about trips & tips to Vegas..My husband & I drove out (we live in Indiana)in married at the Little White Chapel & have gone back 2-3 times a year since… Planning a driving trip this year as flights & fees are sooo expensive we figured has to be cheaper in our Prius.. Hoping to do more venturing out & end our trip at Yellowstone. We love Vegas & hope some day to spend our winters out West.. Thanks again for your tips


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