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  • nvh
    Ok... trip report...

    Day 1 - (27th May)
    Stayed in Hilton connected to Gatwick airport cos we had tesco clubcard vouchers we could use and made it really conveniant for us. Got there the day before (6:30pm'ish) to do twilight check-in and managed bag the exit row seats at the front on the right-side of the plane - just £75 (£37.50 each).

    Anyways, headed over to the airport form our adjoining hotel, and scarily there was no queue for going through security (unlike the hour it took us last time 'off-peak'). Flew through there and went and waited for a plane... boarded and waited... and waited... and waited. Pilot came on saying there had been a 'problem' with one of the passengers and they had missed their 'take-off' slot. Airtraffic control told him it would be another hour but he came on not long after saying he had sorted it and we were off.

    In-flight movies were all a bit naff for me (only heard of cloverfield and wasn't bothered about watching that), so just watched Simpsons, Red Dwarf etc etc.

    Got there not long after we were due to arrive, and managed to dive straight off so one of first in queue result

    Got bags (eventually! ) and went off to our hotel for the first 3 nights... New York New York.

    Got a deal equating to $100 per night in a 'Park Avenue Strip View' room - as seen below.

    Apologies - forgot to take a picture inside the room but as you would expect, very nice - even if we did end up with 2 queens instead of 1 king.

    Really tired, so headed to CVS for suncream, moisturiser and all the other stuff we couldnt be bothered to bring with us, then went back to 'Gonzalez Gonzalez' (NYNY) for a 'Gonzalez Platter' which we shared. Very nice: tortilla's, chimis, fried queso etc (

    Knackered so off to bed @ 7pm...

    Day 2
    No surprise with such an early night that we were up at 5:30 - watched a bit of TV and just lay around for a bit, before going to Il Forniao (NYNY) for breakfast (we had a 2 for 1 voucher).

    After lunch, needed to go buy some clothes (i decided to use this trip to 'refresh' my wardrobe so only really took some socks and t-shirts! ) so needed to buy some new shorts. Also needed to pick up La Reve tickets so decided to go Fashion Show Mall (all hail Macy's... official suppliers of my holiday clothes).

    Really hot for 9am (due to hit 40 that day) but decided to walk down. Stopped at Planet Hollywood cos we hadn't seen it since they started to refurb it as Aladin... looked a lot nicer inside we thought.

    Anyways, onwards to spend lots of money on clothes, and pick up our VIP tickets and hit 'Californian Pizza Kitchen' (best pizza's ever ), then a taxi back down to NYNY as we had a strip tour helicopter flight booked that evening. ( ) - only a 10minute flight (which i filmed so no photos) but it's something we had really wanted to do last time (when it would have been darker @ 7pm (december)) but never got round to.

    Not bad for the price really, and a 'free for all' on champagne and snacks before we got on so that was good. Also got a free bus back to any hotel we wanted (even though it wasnt included in the package we bought)! Decided to hit Mandalay Bay.

    Stuck $20 into a Monopoly machine - couple of goes and ended up winning $120, before going on a goldfish machine and winning some more

    that was tea paid for!... house of blues (another place i wish i'd been before) for a fried chicken burger (gorgous!) and some alcohol... quite a cool ceiling in there too!

    headed back through luxor + excalibur... blimey luxor has changed! Casino looking a lot more nicer and modern... then to bed by 10:30pm

    Day 3
    Up at 6:30'ish. Decided to skip breakfast as fancied Mandalay Bay buffet... something we had actually done before (we wanted to try to make this trip 'things we didn't do last time' as much as possible) but the lure of Mandalay Bay buffet just couldn't be ignored!

    Decided to go to the pool @ 9am and lounge about for a bit, sun had come around by 10:30am but by 12noon it was just too hot so decided to go and shower and change to go on the NYNYcoaster as we had a 2 for 1 voucher (another one we had been given on check-in!). Enjoyed that even if the missus was screaming in my ears!

    Did the buffet which allowed me to try some of the following for the first time ever...
    Prime Rib

    All things i had never had before (ever!) but this allowed me to sample without spending a load of money on a 'mains' dish that I may have left.

    i like this buffet as i owe it gratitude for showing me the light last time with 'Seabass'

    Tried 'slotgolf' ( ) against the missus (apologies, i can't remember who on MSE is responsible for that but i bookmarked it at the time!) and I was victorious! Rah!

    Picked up our hire car-keys (Grand Canyon tomorrow!) and went back to our room to let our food go down and got ready to go to La Reve.... got ready and went down to the times square bar just in time to catch the beginning of the dueling piano's... wasn't that impressed but they were only warming up i suppose (no use doing all your good material first when no-one is in there!) USed the opportunity to have our two free drinks (again, vouchers we were given at check-in!) After that, over to MGM for the monorail down to Harrahs, we then walked the rest of the way... stupid idea which meant we nearly missed the cut off and sweated to death!!! Taxi next time!

    La Reve theatre looked lovely. We were at the back, and got given complimentary (too right for the price!) champagne, and chocolate dipped strawberries, as well as our own 'lady' who poured our champagne all night. She was a 'dolly bird' at night but told us a 'teacher' during the day... teachers never looked like that in my day!!! (only 10 years ago admittedly!) Wish i went to school in America! haha. Anyways, as mentioned before, our seats had a 'TV' in the floor between them, which cut to different parts of the show 'off-set' to allow you to see what was going on... very interesting stuff!

    Good show - good length as well (just over an hour) - really enjoyed it

    Day 4
    Off to Grand Canyon today... out by 10am and as usual, a straight forward drive over there (though no snow to contend with!!!) - got there at 2:30pm despite a quick toilet stop on the way AND managing to go the wrong way round the car park just seconds after driving the car (and despite chanting to myself 'Drive on the right' as soon as i started off!). Managed to find our place for the night (Xanterra Bright Angel Lodge)

    Now i found this place really really nice and quant... and somewhat different from where we had stayed before... the lodges were like rows of chalets, but big enough for us inside and had a log cabin 'feel' to them (even if they didn't have that 'look')

    View from our room was pretty similar to this - i'd say about 10metres from the edge we were...

    Saw a lizard as i walked out of the room... cool! never seen a wild lizard before!

    Went around, took pictures etc and had a nice cocktail and meal

    Day 5
    Next morning... up and off! Bit of a trek ahead of us as off to Death Valley today... wanted to call into the Primm Outlet as well as i needed some more clothes for the days ahead.... probably left Grand Canyon at 9:30'ish, and got to Death Valley at 7'ish (although spent an hour or so wandering round Primm which was slightly out of the way).

    Got to death valley... 40 degrees still!!! but felt so humid... stayed at Furness Creek Ranch:

    Decided that we should go to the pool - lovely and warm and so scenic and peaceful golf on the worlds lowest golf course was a bargain as well! just wish I could play better!

    Nice tea again and then bed ready for the really long drive tomorrow

    Day 6
    Off to San Francisco today... wake up and put TV on... Universal studios is on fire in LA! Great - off there in a few days and already bought our park tickets. crikey... Tomtom tells me it's 8hrs'ish drive to San Fran... nightmare!

    Off we go... we were heading north which seemed odd (as checking prior to leaving england, i was sure we were supposed to go south and round to the west before going north), but not to worry. Anyways, the drive out of Death Valley to the north is crazy!!! I needed new pants cos some of those roads are so close to the edge and narrow...!

    i'd really wanted to go to Yosemite but on checking before we left, it didn't seem to be on the way. Anyways, off we went and next minute (well, maybe a few hours later perhaps) a sign is pointing towards yosemite and we're being told by TomTom to go that way!! Brilliant!

    Couldnt really look around but stopped as we drove through... will definitely go back there

    Eventually got to San Francisco

    Day 7
    Bit of shopping, rainforrest cafe for lunch (didn't realise they were a 'national thing' having eaten in the MGM Grand one on a previous vegas visit), bit of cable cars, Aqaurium at the Bay (+ behind the scenes tour), smelly sea-lions, 'night visit' to alcatraz... all very good. Couple of pics (don't want to bother you in a non-vegas thread with the other stuff)

    View from Alcatraz of Golden Gate bridge:

    View of Alcatraz from Boat:

    Day 8
    Bit more shopping, cheesecake factory, o'neills flippin irish pub, cable cars etc

    Day 9
    Napa Valley Wine Train - highly recommend... pricey but a 3 hour trip through the vineyards with a lovely 4 course meal and wine tasting... we went for the Vista Dome (glass dome roof carriage) :

    Went Muir Woods on the way back to look at some massive tree's... flippin massive they were!

    Day 10
    Down to LA today... not a bad drive but quite boring compared to the other more 'scenic drives'. Staying for a few days @ Hilton Universal. Got there @ 5pm'ish, hit pool... ate etc etc

    Day 11
    Universal Studios today - carnage wasn't that bad - just King Kong destroyed and the backlot a bit messed up - 'clock tower' from BTTF not destroyed as was off-set maybe next time i'll see it!

    Day 12
    Hollywood, stars, Kodak Theatre, Waxworks (awful!), Beverley Hills etc
    Had tickets for LA Galaxy in the evening... what a circus! Thoroughly recommended just cos you'll never see anything like it in your life (as long as D.B is there!)

    Day 13
    Santa Monica Pier + Beach, hired 'tricycles' and went for a ride down the beach path... really good and nice day.

    Day 14
    Back to Vegas today! yay! Bellagio...

    Left LA and stopped at Barstow(?) shopping outlet on the way back - wanted to eat at Denny's cos i'm sure it was in Pulp Fiction (though on quickly reading now, it was a Denny's it appears, but was actually not shot in a Denny's!)

    Got to Vegas @ around 4pm'ish. Wow! What a hotel! What a room! Pool was a million times better than NYNY... we were in a Spa Tower in a Salone Suite (treat for last few nights)

    Absolutely amazing - i wouldn't be able to put it into words.

    Unpacked, marvelled at the bath, shower, seperate toilet, king bed... all those windows!!!

    Was cheeky at check-in and just managed to get him to do us a lakeview of the lake... this should have been extra ($50 a night i think) but he did it for us anyways. I think he may have expected a tip but i had no cash.

    Unpacked, off down to TI and another of our favourite places - Kahunaville for a 'bubbling cocktail' and a 'volcano' sampler (those that have seen them will know what i mean)... bit of gambling then off to bed

    Day 15
    Last day of car so a lie in and off to Ethel M's factory for some nice choccies. Was good as they provided free 'ice packs' for our short journey back to make sure they didn't melt.

    Was windy today but decided to go to the pool as still really warm. There for a couple of hours... got back to room to see the message on channel 22 (the music channel for the fountains) was stating it was too windy for shows and there would be no more today.

    Had voucher for Cafe Baba Reeba from, so went there for tea... as mentioned previously, fresh tomatoes were off the menu but didn't make much of a difference... food was nice but would've been disappointed without the voucher.

    Headed to the venetian for an outdoor gondola trip but they were cancelled due to wind... so went up to watch sirens of TI which were also cancelled due to wind...

    Went on some machines but everywhere were being stingy with the free drinks so decided to go to bed.

    Day 16
    Last full day today...

    Woke late and went 'Hawaiin Tropic Zone' in Planet Hollywood... loads of bikini clad women and football on TV... oh yeah, they did food too

    missus booked into the bellagio salon for all sorts of stuff (massage, manicure's etc etc) so left her too it and went shopping and gambling... they made up for last night and managed to get me battered by the time she was done!

    Went Planet Hollywood for tea at the Mexican in there (Yolo's) -

    Had champagne as last night and some fresh salsa (no-one cares if you get salmonella at the end of the holiday... just some extra days off work right?!)

    Worked our way up to Venetian for an outdoor Gondola ride (did the indoor one last time) and got there before they closed (10:40pm) but they were fully booked so will have to do this next time we come!!! Decided to go to TI to try to catch Sirens of TI again... wish we hadn't... what a load of pap!

    Went in some casino's again and the free drinks kept flowing... got battered and ended up eating at Cafe Bellagio at 4am in the morning!

    Day 17
    Last day... got up late (no surprise after last night!), we were going to go pool but needed to pack... i snuck over to Planet Hollywood for a free slot-pull (won a torch! woohoo) and a quick gamble of my remaining dollars while the missus packed her mountains of clothes!

    Off to the airport - was a bit late so no exit row seats together, and no opportunity to upgrade... nuts - but it was ok as i booked the two seats together at the back!!! great...!

    except we get on the plane and we're in the middle 4 seats! god know's how this got messed up as online i'd definitely 100% chosen the 2 seats... rubbish!

    was a bit of a ballache on the way back (always is coming back from somewhere nice) but refreshing to see Vport on our returning plane!

    Got back on time and through passport control quite quickly considering we were at the back of the plane...
    Last edited by nvh; 01-08-2008 at 4:16 PM. Reason: merged with posts 2312 + 2314
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