- The plane finally arrives in the terminal and as my girlfriend and I walk out we are greeted by my good friends, who's plane arrived at the airport about 20 minutes before us. We get our baggage, get on the bus for Dollar Rent-a-Car, and go pick up our ride for the next 3 days.
After this experience I highly recommend going the rental car route
if you plan on seeing both sides of Vegas (High Profile Strip, and Downtown). The car came in handy when we were exhausted from walking up and down the strip and it gave us the freedom to checkout other hotels a little off the strip such as the Rio, Hard Rock, etc. Plus at the rate of about $22/day for an intermediate level car you can't go wrong, one taxi ride will almost set you back as much. Oh, and in Vegas the parking is FREE.
Our first destination, since we couldn't check-in the hotel until around 3pm, was the Hoover Dam
. I've been to Vegas two times prior to this trip, but the Dam was something I never had the chance to check out. It is definitely something worth seeing, especially if you have the free-time in the morning like we did
. It's an easy 30-40 minute drive from the airport, and the scenery on the drive is pretty incredible. Lots of good photo-ops available so be sure to pack that camera.
Once we got to the Dam we took the Discovery Tour, which is the only tour they have now. It'll set you back about $10/person and includes a little video to introduce you to the Dam's history. Afterwards, you'll go down and see the generators that make the Dam work, and walk through some of the tunnels made. Then you get to go to the top of the Dam, and see the view from that perspective. It is pretty amazing up there. The guided tour is a little long and will take you about an hour, after which you have time to check out their exhibits. If you're like us though, you'll probably want to skip the exhibits and get the rest of your vacation started. It's Vegas, there's tons to do.
The four of us all get back in the car and head to the Mandalay Bay
, our hotel for the first two days of this trip. We check in to our room which is pretty nice, but don't expect anything incredible. I've stayed at the New York, New York and the MGM Grand, and the rooms are all comparable. Don't get me wrong they're nice rooms, with big bathtubs and lots of room. Just don't expect Plasma TV's and contempory styled furniture/decor with rain/multi-jet showers.
We did have a nice view of the Mandalay Bay Beach and Pool area which was a plus. And because of that, we decided to make that area our next stop. To the pool....
Now, I was hyped about the Mandalay Bay Beach/Pool area
. The hotel will boast about it's wave pool, lazy river, and multiple pools in its sales literature, and that's what sold me on this hotel. I thought it'd be nice to spend some time at a mini-Wet'n'Wild if you will, that would give us some entertainment outside of the casino.
With that state of mind, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the Beach/Pool area. The wave pool they had only did one wave about every 5 -10 minutes.
As opposed to the wave pools I'm more accustomed to at Wet'N'Wild, Schlitterbahn, Noah's Ark, or any water park I've been too, that will do continuous waves for like 5 minutes, break for 10 mins, then continuous waves again for 5. So that right off the bat was a little disappointing. Still fun, but just not what I was expecting. The lazy river also was pretty small, especially compared to MGM Grand, whose pool area I would definitely recommend
. I was expecting the river to be a pretty long "float," if you will, taking me around the whole park. Instead it was just a mini 3-5 minute loop adjacent to the wave pool. Since we're talking about pools here, my buddies and I did check out the Hard Rock Pool one of the nights, even though it was closed, and I must say thier pool area looked pretty money. It was very substanstial, and posh, but I hear it gets crazy crowded on the weekends too, especially for Rehab on Sundays (which could be good/bad depending on your style).
So, I guess you got to take your chances and pick what suits you best. Once again, I'm not trying to be a downer on everything, I had fun here, the pool area has great scenery, beautiful palm trees everywhere and is setup very nice. It just didn't quite live up to my expectations. The Bay does have plenty of Cabanas, with Plasma TV's in 'em that you can rent out and hang by the pool also, if that's your thing.
OK, we got our pool time in, time to move on. We headed back to our room, and got ready for the night. My girlfriend, and my friend's wife got tickets to Mystere
, a Cirque De Soleil show at Treasure Island
. So they had to get some dinner before that. We needed something quick, casual, and moderately-priced and Raffle's Cafe
in Mandalay Bay fit that need. This restaurant is going to offer you your standard American Fare, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, fish, fajitas etc. Things you'd find on the menu at a Chili's, TGI Friday's, or other casual joint, you'll find here. The quality is also about this level as well, and average entree price is $8-12.
After the dining, we got in our rental car, and drove the ladies to the Cirque Show. Good tip if you find yourself driving in Vegas. Stay away from Las Vegas Blvd, aka The Strip. It'll take you 15-20 minutes to go a few blocks. Get on the Frontage roads instead, you'll save tons of time and it seemed like nobody used them when we were there.
While the girls were at the Cirque show, my buddy and I did some more gambling and casino-hopping. Not much more to add here, except always bet on black.
Time to meet back up with the girls and get the night moving along. The girls loved the Cirque show, and definitely said it was worth the money
. I recommended the Mystere show to them from some reviews I read. It sounded like the show that had the most talented, athletic performers and judging from their comments this seems to be true. It is also cheaper than Ka, or O, so I would definitely recommend it. My girlfriend isn't easily impressed, and she loved this show. So take that for what it's worth.
Back at the hotel, we decided to hit a club in the hotel. We had some free passes to Forty Deuce
from a coupon book we got with our hotel reservation. So we we checked it out. This place is kind of like a burlesque, jazz club. There's not much real estate in the place, and it was packed so it was tough to get around. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this place, but a few minutes after we got there one of the walls rotate and there's a three person band (guitar, drums, sax). They play some fifties style music, like Private-Eye theme sounding stuff, so it puts you in kind of in a cool, snazzy mood. Not long after the band starts up this girl comes out from the curtain and starts doing a strip-tease dance. She doesn't get totally nude, and you don't see anything, so most people wouldn't get offended. And plenty of girls were having a good time here, because the performers are very talented dancers. Overall a good time/experience was had here. Worth checking out for free.
The Forty Deuce concluded our first day in Vegas. Girls were tired, My buddy and I were tired, so we hit the hay. But not for long.