Wednesday December 12th, 2012

 

The morning started off as all others typically do on my trips. Not enough deep sleep, and a lot of tossing and turning. I again manage to beat teh alarm clock to it's buzz, and get moving early. I make my way out of the house without causing any ruckus and started the dark and early drive to the airport. I did manage to slow down for three deer crossing the street just outside my neighborhood. Yes, I live in Nebraska, but I promise you that we have paved roads, and running water. First time I've seen that...

I park in the garage and wander across the street and check in with ease. As I'm standing in the security line, a lady in front of me makes some small talk regarding the lethargic pace at which we're going. A few sentences later she asks if I'm a drinker. "Um....yeah?" was my response as I was sort of taken aback since I didn't see that topic popping up in our casual banter. She hands me two Southwest drink tickets she received when booking her flight to Chicago. Score. I thank her, and after getting groped by TSA, I was at my gate. The bar wasn't open this morning, despite it being 7:00 AM. COME ON! Oh well.

I board the flight, and it's about 75% full. I didn't have a row to myself, but the seat between me and the female passenger at the window remained vacant. I was looking forward to a quiet flight out, but about halfway through the gal on my right struck up a conversation. Eh, what the hell, I had two free drinks to work on anyway. Ironically she works as a masseuse at the Casino across the river from me in Iowa in their poker room. I guess she was there the night before, and gambled with a "friend" of hers who had a decent back roll. I guess he "gave" her some money to play with and they both did rather well. Her story goes that she won a couple of grand which he "let" her keep. The whole story sounds fishy to me, so I'm sure she probably blows the guy on a semi-regular basis (at least). Our conversations covered most topics... Vegas, family, jobs, etc. Before too long we were landing, and I was glad to be away and on my own.

Thanks Julie!

Typical breakfast.

Blurry bloody Marys.

Worst apocolypse ever....

Unibomber in red is eyeing me.

Luggage is retrieved and I'm off in a cab. I told the driver just to take the fastest route not caring if I'm tunneled or not. After all, how much could it add to the bill right? Whoops.... I ended up having a $27 ride to Cosmopolitan after tip. Lesson learned.... Dumbass....

I drop my bag off, and check in. A room isn't ready yet, but am told they'll call my cell when one becomes available. In the mean time I wander around Cosmo and snap a few pics along the way to waste some time. In short order I meet up with BeeeJay at the Book and Stage bar for an early morning drink. He's finishing up the tail end of another BeeeJay style trip, and I'm just getting started. We banter for a while, and once my $11 rum and coke is finished we soon after part ways until the next time our Vegas douchebaggery schedules once again align.

I didn't get the captions, so my fault.

From before my time. :)

Steroids....

I've dated girls that could make that fit....

Down towards the buffet.

Cool, I guess.

Must be hot out there....

On the way to Aria.

Since my room still wasn't ready, I venture over towards Aria and stop at their cafe for some real breakfast.  Something was telling me airline pretzels and peanuts weren't going to be cutting it.  After scanning the menu, the first thing I did was order myself a god damn watermelon juice.  Hell yeah! 

Watermelon juice and water.

Mixed berries.

Whole scene.

Nice and spicy bloody Mary.

And there's your recipe...try it.

I went with the sensible mixed berries and just soaked in the atmosphere.  While I was sitting, my phone rang and it was Cosmo advising that my room was now ready, and gave me my room number.  I opted to add a spicy bloody Mary for "dessert" and it didn't disappoint.  I paid in short order and made my way over to my new home for the next two nights.

My key worked on the first try on room 3988 in the West tower.  I had my luggage brought up and just took a few minutes to acclimate and contemplate what I wanted to do next.  I took advantage of the walk in shower and soaking tub just to relax for a little bit.  I had the music going so it was a nice way to settle into the room.  Before too long, it was easily an hour and a half that had passed, and I opted to venture over to Bellagio and check out the scenery there.

I wander in and find an open spot at a Pai Gow poker table on the opposite side of the Baccarat Bar.  Luckily for me the limits were still $10 a hand, and I bought in and got comfortable.  I wish I could say something more interesting than "I played for a few hours here" but that's basically what happened.  About two hours into my session three fellows bought in next to me.  I couldn't tell if they were indeed speaking Chinese, but my uneducated ass would have to guess so.  Each one of them bought in for more than I had brought along for my entire trip.  They were betting around $200 - $500 per hand.  My meek $10 bets didn't seem to intimidate anyone.  The cocktail service was "okay" and each time she came around, I'd order another Tennessee Highball.  Unfortunately it didn't take much time before they were gulped down.  In any case, I had built up a rather healthy buzz in my 5-6 hour session at Bellagio.  I walked away up about $125 for my efforts. 

By now my stomach was telling me it was interested in more than just booze.  A quick call from my room to the Cosmo concierge yielded me an early reservation to Jaleo.  I clean up a little bit, and make my way down. 

I'm seated quickly and my first order of the day came by way of Jaleo's "Best Gin and Tonic You'll Ever Have."  Okay, fine.  One thing I was kinda "meh" about was the trend that seems to be taking place in Vegas of showcasing the drink menus via iPads.  Yeah, I guess it's sorta flashy, and it's probably an excuse for them to up the price, but I sort of rolled my eyes on the inside.  I don't want a five pound drink menu unless I can earn a free drink by destroying the king pig before ordering.  Anyway, I digress.

After my drink order is taken, I opt for the fried dates, and a Serrano ham selection.  The dates were awesome.  Sweet, crispy and hot.  The serrano, left me thinking "this is it?"  The sauce was sort of cold, and the bread wasn't anything special.  Sadly when eating it, I had the thought that I could duplicate the dish with some expensive meat, some store bought pizza crust, and a can of cold tomato sauce.  I wasn't impressed. 

Next I decide to opt for some over priced oysters in a champagne sauce with lemon.  I was again underwhelmed.  The oysters were certainly small, and the "champagne sauce" wasn't anything to write home about.  Finally I finished with Jaleo's Chorizo Casero which is basically chorizo in a bed of mashed potatoes with a cider sauce.  The spicy chorizo was good, and overall it wasn't a bad dish. 

Best gin and tonic, eh?

Skip the seranno.

Dates were awesome.

Oysters were "eh" at best. Over priced, even for Vegas.

Chorizo.

The final damage.

I could tell after everything was said and done, that I certainly wasn't the target audience Jaleo is aiming for.  Sure, they'll take your money as a single diner, but if you're in a party of three or more, you're going to be ordering more than one of any item you try out.  The portions are significantly small (smart on their part) and you almost need to.  I like the idea of a tapas style dining experience, but damn they're a little on the pricey side, even for Vegas.  Those oysters certainly weren't worth $4 each.  I dunno, I had higher expectations.  Maybe I didn't try the right dishes.  But if they manage to fill up any of their decent size tables, they'll be making money hand over fist. 

After leaving, I contemplate what I wanted to do for the rest of the night.  Mr. Scotch and I exchanged a few texts and contemplated meeting up.  In the end I pussied out, and opted for an early night's sleep.  As lame as I am, I think I was crawling into bed at 10:00.  I could try to be cool and stay I stayed out until 4:00 AM like a rock star, but it just wasn't meant to be this time around.  I went for the safe bet, and got an awesome night's sleep.

Being that it was a short two day trip, I'll continue my journeys on the same page. 

 

Thursday December 13th, 2012

I wake up early enough, and feel pretty refreshed and ready to go.  I take my leisurely time getting ready, and snap a few pictures of my view before venturing out.  I needed some breakfast food, and it seemed the buffet was the only option open at the moment. 

I still really have no idea what this building is.

MO, Veer Towers, Aria.

Aria / Cosmo

The other Cosmo tower.

One of the pools.

Street view.

Blah.

I walk up to the buffet counter, and as I'm getting ready to pay, the clerk tells me I somehow have enough points to have the buffet comped.  How the hell that happened, I have no idea.  I didn't gamble a single cent at Cosmopolitan yesterday, and I certainly didn't think I had accrued enough points from my stay in July to be worthwhile.  I likely wasn't going to have the opportunity to utilize them any other time, so I went for it.  Turns out my morning buffet also came with a cocktail, so I opted for another bloody Mary.

Salmon & Egg benedict, biscuit & gravy, braised short rib, and fruit parfait.

Duck ravioli, "gas station" quality sushi, various cheeses.

Carmel & chocolate cake, mint gelato, fudge.

Ooozing cake.

For the first round I came back with some of the standards.  An egg benedict (salmon), Cosmo's version of biscuit & gravy, a fruit parfait, and some braised short rib.  All were great, and filling.  Round two consisted of some duck ravioli, some sushi and cheese.  I don't know what it is about sushi, but if you get it anywhere other than a decent restaurant, it's "blah" to me.  Cosmo's sushi wasn't any better, and I was a little disappointed.  Anyway, I moved onto dessert and had one of their lava cakes and some mint gelato.  I wish I could have mustered up more stomach room to make another trip, but I was done. 

While I'm walking out of the buffet, I'm contemplating what the next stop for me should be, especially at this early hour.  One quick on my phone, and I confirmed that the Mob Experience at the Tropicana hotel should be open by now.  I take my half finished bloody Mary with me, and we wander towards that end of the strip. 

By the time I made it to Tropicana I was debating if I truly wanted to interact with the actors in the exhibit.  I was sort of in the mood to just keep to myself and wander through a self paced tour, and almost had second thoughts.  But I made my way in after being given the directions and a high level of what to anticipate.  I was told pictures were allowed as long as the flash was off, so I had every intention of taking advantage of that.  I haven't seen a lot of any pictures online of the tour itself, so hopefully you're in for a treat.

Actual wheel from back in the day.

Let me tell you's something.

Old school slots. No TITO here.

Howdy Par'dner.

Hooch shot.

Cheesy, but interesting hologram.

A shot of the Mob Attraction car.

Flamingo, early stages.

Office room.

About Hank Greenspun and the Las Vegas Sun.

Old print.

You again?

Listen up, wise guy.

Pay attention!

When you first enter the attraction, you're given a "pass" which had a barcode or otherwise notable unique mark on it.  There are motion sensors throughout the exhibit, so when you get to the right point, a screen, television or projection will turn on.  It's pretty slick and well thought out.

The actors, to my surprise, were pretty fun to deal with.  I won't give too much away, but I felt they did a really good job.  I didn't know what to expect, and knowing what I do now, next time I go through, things will be different.  They certainly get into their roles, and I was glad I checked it out.  They did a good job.

As you progress through, you learn about the various topics concerning the Vegas mob.  How it started, who the major players were, how they got things done, etc.  About half way through, you enter a large room with a few smaller rooms connected to it.  They each have various art work and "artifacts" (are they old enough to be called artifacts?)  from the big names you see on TV and in movies.

Replica blackjack table.

Showgirls!

That shitty wheel has been around for a long time.

"This is how we catch cheats."

Another shot.

This is where we take care of cheats.

Where's DeNiro and the hammer?

Now we're going to learn how to skim the take.

No records? No problem, take what ya want. Report the rest.

Count room.

Badass.

History about the El Co.

Interactive historical map.

Cool stuff.

Now THOSE are what gangsters look like.

Real gangsters.

Frontier snapshot.

Hooch formerly belonging to Meyer Lansky.

And the man himself.

Other personal belongings.

Medal from Truman in 1946 for Lanskys help with the war.

Operation Underworld.

Operation Husky.

The man's suits.

Mickey Cohen.

A gangster's gangster.

Some of his threads.

Mickey's rings.

As the tour concludes, you're led into a room where another hologram starts to play.  Without giving too much away, I'll just say I got whacked.  Turns out it seems that most people do.  I make my way out back to the strip and head back towards Cosmo.  Along my way I take advantage of the souvenir shopping opportunities and get the kiddo's back home some stuff they'll enjoy.  I drop my purchases off in my room, and wander over to Bellagio again for another Pai Gow Poker session. 

This session is much like the same, moving into positive money slowly.  Luckily I'm grandfathered in at the $10 limit once they raise it to $25.  At one point we have a near full table, and I take a moment to lean back for a quick stretch.  As I'm doing so, a girl at the bar behind me makes eye contact and gives me that hooker wave and smile that can't be mistaken.  As I lean back in to the table, I say to the gentleman on my left "I think a prostitute just waved at me."  Without skipping a beat he says "That's when you wave back!"  I didn't take his "advice." 

The Tennessee Highballs continue to flow, and I find myself sitting for another marathon session enjoying the personal dealers that Bellagio had on staff this particular day.  I asked the pit boss if I had enough points to get a comp into the fine art display.  After checking my status, he nicely laughs me off.  Meh, I need a break anyway. 

I get up, and venture over to Bellagio's gallery.  It's their Monet exhibit, and I pay the $16 to get in.  The room was a little more humid than the hallway prior, I assume to help preserve the art.  Two of Bellagio's more gorilla like security guards were keeping watch on us patrons inside.  I take my time reading the descriptions of the pieces on display.  I didn't dare consider using my camera, since I had a good idea of what the outcome would look like.

Once I've had my fair share of some of the finest art in the world I'm likely to ever see, I decide it's time for sustenance.  Sensi was on my radar for this trip, so I make my way over. 

I'm seated with no problem, and again given a five pound iPad to scan over their over priced drink menu (and AGAIN, not able to shoot any pigs with some upset birds).  I went with a berry martini of sorts, since it sounded a little fresher than the highballs I was slamming for the last few hours.  I snap a few shots of their impressive menu.

Little bit of everything.

Asian & Italian.

Sensi Rolls - Get these!

Seafood.

Sides.

Add ons.

Freshly made flan bread.

I was going to be treating myself today, so after receiving my cocktail, I started with a sampling of their specialty rolls called a "roll call."  It was one of each of their large specialty rolls.  They all sounded delicious and I couldn't decide on one over the other.  So, the "roll call" was perfect.  And let me tell you...  If you're a sushi person, even if you're not drunk you need to order those!    Wasabi, salmon, crab, lobster, soy, more spice, siracha, avocado, tuna.....  Oh man, there were so many flavors going on there.  Next time I hit up Sensi, I'm just going to get two (okay three) orders of the roll samplings and call it good.  I nearly licked the damn sauce from their perch presentations.

My manly cocktail.

Oh my god, they're so good.

Rotated around.

GONE!

Working on the flan bread.

My view right into the kitchen.

No more bread.

I'm not going to go through the trouble to name each of the rolls in the pics above for a few reasons.  One, if you truly wanted to know, you could check out the menu pictures above.  And two (and most importantly) I'm craving them at the moment, and have no easy access to get to them, which saddens me.  So yeah, if you're heading to Bellagio for whatever reason, get those damn rolls.  You won't regret it.

For my main order, I go with the spicy diver scallops, and opt to try the bone marrow on the side.  I've never had it, so I figured why not.  To entertain myself I snap a few pictures of the restaurant from my vantage point.

To my immediate right.

More of Sensi.

Kitchen shot.

Bone marrow.

Rotated view.

Spicy Diver scallops.

Done.

The bone marrow came with some toast, and it was a good choice.  Certainly not a low calorie side but the fatty richness was a decent choice and something I would order again.  Unfortunately for me the spicy scallops weren't anything special.  Frankly, for the price, I would have rather ordered two more "roll call" sushi selections.  It was a pricey meal for one person, but I found some new favorites on the strip and tried something new.  After the bill is taken care of, I take the opportunity to snap some pictures of the updated conservatory.

Walking into the conservatory.

Sparkles......

Tree and bells.

Bell close up.

Coca Cola bear.

Pretty cool.

High five.

Rocker.

Attention to detail much?

Getting ready to leave.

Bellagio lobby.

Behind the Bellagio check in desk.

One final parting shot.

I make my way back to my room, and send a few texts to Mr. Scotch.  We agree to meet up at the Book & Stage bar downstairs moments later. 

We catch up on our lives since it seems like it's been forever since our paths have crossed in Sin City.  After a while at the bar, we head up to my room so Mr. Scotch can get a lay of the land as he's never been up in a Cosmo room before.  We both enjoy the view from the terrace (sounds romantic doesn't it?) and just enjoy the current calm of the strip and our favorite city.  Before I turn on the Barry Manilow music, we say our goodbyes, and both agree that we'll have to over lap our future trips again, and hopefully it won't take three years to do so. 

The next day was the simple "pack your shit in a suit case, hope it shuts and leave" type.  Nothing major to report there, and it was a safe and quiet ride home.

 

Until next time, Vegas......