Las Vegas: Day 1

Two weeks ago, Mr. Burgher and I went to Las Vegas for his birthday weekend. I was lucky enough to be sent there for a work conference, so it was perfect timing (neither of us had been). Before we left, everyone who’d ever been to Vegas, read about Vegas, saw a movie about Vegas, or wanted to go to Vegas was super excited about our trip. We heard lots of “you have to do this” and “this was awesome, you will love it”. All the thoughts were welcomed, but they prepared us for something LARGER THAN LIFE and the MOST AMAZING THING YOU’LL EVER DO. Maybe our first day we were just really tired, but neither of us really saw the “BIG” thrill of it. Sure, we had a great time, but when you’ve traveled to the Holy Land (Mr. Burgher) and France (Mrs. Burgher), it’s hard to beat that. Even though we’re not gamblers or attached to Vegas, we would definitely go back. Mr. Burgher and I would love to share with you some of our memories, tips, and thoughts about Las Vegas.

Our Vegas Rule #1: Always get sleep! We knew there’d be a crazy time adjusting to the time change (Vegas is three hours behind Pittsburgh), but the night before, we could care less. We had to leave our house at 5:15 to pick up my cousin and get to the airport for our flight. We went to bed at about 2 AM. Mistake, of course. There was always the flight to sleep on, right? Wrong. We had a connection, so our flight was broke up a little. On top of that, we were flying through storms and 170 mph winds, so I was pretty nauseated by the time we started our descent. It took us until Sunday night (three full days in Vegas) to get used to the time, and Mr. Burgher left early that next morning.

Our Vegas Rule #2: About the Taxis… It was my third time ever to ride in a taxi, so this took some getting used to. Frankly, taxis are expensive, and there are many other great options for getting around town (The Deuce–the bus system on the strip, the Monorail–at the back of the strip, hotel shuttles). After we grabbed our luggage, we went to grab a taxi. The system at the airport is actually pretty speedy–cabs wait in a long line to take passengers to their destination. There is a slight fee above and beyond the cab fare for trips from the airport (1.80), but frankly, this is the time you probably want to use a taxi. The shuttles to the hotels cost money (nothing in Vegas is free, lol) and are supposed to come every hour (but don’t necessarily). Take advantage, atleast this one time, of a cab. Another side to this rule–we stayed off the strip at the Rio, which was a fun hotel with nice enough rooms (they claim they are suites, but they’re really just big rooms). This choice had its pros and cons, but we saved money on the room and took a shuttle from the Rio to Harrah’s or Bally’s to get to the strip (and then took a monorail if needed). This was a good plan for our first time.

Vegas Rule #3: Traffic Honestly, this is one of the things that shocked me about Vegas. I was picturing constant 5:00 Friday evening New York-style traffic. The picture above was the strip at 5:00 on a Friday–nothing like the gridlock of the Big Apple. Sure, there’s traffic, but nothing crazy that we don’t have on 28 or the Parkway. Traffic is traffic. According to Rule #3, we didn’t really have any issues with traffic. Rule 3a: Be Prepared to Walk Alot of people warned me about this. Sure, we walked alot, but it wasn’t like I’d never walked before in my life. I wore a pedometer and my steps ranged from 15,500-34,000 steps per day; however, I don’t feel like I walked anymore than I would have for a day around Kennywood. I was fine wearing flip flops, flats, and tennis shoes at different points in the day.

A butterfly inside the garden at the Bellagio.

Our Vegas Rule #4: Explore! We really loved getting a chance to just take everything in.
After getting settled in the hotel, it was time to head into town for dinner. We had plans to dine at the Bellagio, and just walking to the restaurant was a great experience. Believe people when they say there is tons to look at. Everything is beautiful, even in the “cheesy” hotels. Take it in–it’s free fun!

Our Vegas Rule #5: Eat! If you refer to rule #3a, you will know that you need substanance. Buffets are usually over $20 and have a decent amount of choices, but you can get a quality meal that feels you up for just about the same price. Some of the meals are worth splitting (like Gallagher’s King Cut Prime Rib), but others are worth getting one that you want and that they want and tasting a little of this and a little of that. This way, you get a mini buffet and enjoy good food. Our first dinner was Mr. Burgher’s favorite of the trip–Noodles (at the Bellagio). Rule 5a: If you have a Smart Phone, use the FourSquare app for good tips as to what to eat.

Our Vegas Rule #6: Make it your own! We spent this weekend in Vegas with our friends from Colorado and my cousin, all three of which had been to Vegas several times before. Cousin J prepped me for Jean Phillipe’s, a chocolatier in the Bellagio which she gave a 10. Frankly, I would give it a 4–but I didn’t buy any chocolate there. Not that I am a chocolate snob, but I just didn’t want to shell out $8 for a piece of chocolate that (to me) looked “lesser” in quality than something I could’ve got at Sarris’, Market District, Oakmont Bakery, or Godiva. But hey, if Cousin J is good with the chocolate there, great! She made it her own experience, and I had my own. That’s one of the great things about our country–you are free to have your own opinion. Use it!!! The pic of above I LOVE! It is of S “drinking” from the Chocolate Fountain at Jean Phillipe’s, which I was under the impression was 3 stories high. It’s not, but it is pretty big. Sadly, you can’t touch it–it’s surrounded in glass. Again, it’s all in how you want to experience it!

Our Vegas Rule #7: Bring your ones…and find Elvis! We were totally unprepared and only had $20 bills on us. NOTHING is free in Vegas. You need to tip pretty much everywhere you go, and impersonators usually appreciate a tip for a picture. We didn’t see too many Elvis impersonators, so cherish the ones you see. This one, the first one we saw, was probably the best. He was really fun and could actually sing.

Our Vegas Rule #8: Be Prepared. It’s a great rule from the Boy Scouts, and you should listen to it. Before going to Vegas, I bought a book and checked a few out of the library. I downloaded apps to my phone, and followed Vegas Twitterati. Following tips from seasoned vets is crucial (but remember rule #7, make it your own). I post this photo of the MGM Lions that was taken while we were speed walking through MGM to get me to a monorail back to Bally’s to catch the shuttle back to the Rio so I could pump (I can’t even begin to give out #bfing or #pumping tips for Vegas–I did good for me, but it was a bit stressful). We knew the monorail stop was in MGM, but the signs point you to walk all over the casino (smart) when it may not be necessary. Just be prepared, and know your personal schedule. The monorail stops are at the BACK of the hotel properties, even though the signs are right out front. It will take about 14 minutes to get from the front to the back of the property, so give yourself that time. Mr. Burgher and I ended up figuring out routes that didn’t involve the casino grand tour, which was beneficial. Just know before you go.

Our Vegas Rule #9: Enjoy your hotel! Our hotel had a fun, free Mardi Gras themed parade/show every hour during the night. It also had a great pretzel shop (which was good because we’d eat a pretzel and one big meal each day). I hear our pools were great, but the weather wasn’t warm enough for me to convince Mr. Burgher to go for a dip. We also signed up for the rewards so that we (hopefully) get deals in the future for trips. Why not? Figure out what’s in your hotel, and take advantage. 🙂

In no way do Mr. Burgher and I consider ourselves Vegas pros, but we did learn a bit about each other while learning about Vegas. Can’t wait to share with you Day 2 and Day 3 memories (including the Dolphin Habitat, Gondola Ride, spa, and nighttime Vegas). Feel free to chime in (in the comments) with your Vegas thoughts!