Thursday, 11 August 2011
Viva Las Vegas! Part 2 - Bellagio buffet, brow-furrying cabs and a whole lotta slushies
These 'hot babes' trucks are everywhere.
Anyway, continuing from the previous post where we'd left off - dehydrated, very tired, and also kinda dusty from all that desert wind. We got up around 9am which was really quite good considering the 8 hour time difference (meaning we got up like 5pm UK time - sloths), and by the time I'd covered myself in moisturiser, sunblock and make-up, I felt ready for another nap. Husband didn't allow this, and so I dragged my reluctant (gladiator-clad) feet out of the comfort of the Bellagio (whoop) and towards the 40 degree heat.
Bellagio by day
Bellagio by night
The famous fountains which came on every 10 minutes
Around the fountains were these speakers blaring out a mixture of classical music and Rat Pack combination which made for very relaxing strolls. The first picture on the left is actually the Louis Vuitton shop - these shops were everywhere.
Kinda confusing if you somehow were a little tipsy, thought you were in Vegas, and somehow see the Eiffel Tower in front of you.
With the Statue of Liberty somewhere towards the right.
While walking down the Strip, it was almost easy to be blasé about how OTT and extravagant everything was. Like, another giant statue made completely of gold? Pffft seen that just a few metres before.
What? A giant bowl made completely of silver, filled with white chocolate covered goldfish, and with hoola-hooping cats jumping across the bowl? Tsk, not another one.
Nothing is cheap here. No, not even the buffets. Not to me, anyway. Before I arrived here, I thought that casinos were meant to ply you with cheap food, free drinks and pretty much anything you wanted, just so you could remain gambling there. Little did I know that that was still the case for high rollers (re: not me) but for the other peasants like us, it was pretty much pay-your-own-way at the buffet, and Drinks If You Stay Long Enough.
What is Drinks If You Stay Long Enough?
Well, let's put it this way. You and the waitress play this waiting game.
First, you find a machine, the cheapest one you can find on the casino floor (1 cent is about as cheap as you can go). Then, you get yourself some dollars and put the first one into the machine. On the lowest number of lines (ie 1) and the cheapest bet you can go (ie 1 cent), this equates to 100 pushes of the Spin/Bet button.
On average, this gives you a good 3-5 minutes of the machine, if you play it cool. When you're just about to go to 0 cents, the machine usually throws in 20 cents or so for good measure just to hook you back into the game.
Anyway, about US$2 later, a waitress will somehow appear and ask if you want some drinks (they come by and go by VERY swiftly so make sure you get your order across).
Then, just to ensure you spend a few more dollars on the machine, the waitress will take what seems like forever (even though it's only about half an hour or so) to get back with your free drink, upon which you have to tip her a dollar or two.
Not the easiest way to get a free drink, but certainly one of the most fun.
MGM Grand trivia facts (from Wikipedia) - because I am running out of stuff to write about:
- The MGM Grand is the second largest hotel in the world and largest hotel resort complex in the United States in front of The Venetian
(clarification: I don't know if they mean the hotel is actually situated in front of The Venetian, or if The Venetian holds third place and MGM Grand holds second place, or the other way around. Anyone?)
- The MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993
- The MGM Grand was one of the casinos featured in the 2001 film Ocean's Eleven
- There is a glass-sided lion habitat in the casino area, and up to six shows are shown everyday (lions don't live there, they live at their trainer's ranch outside Vegas)
Because nothing is cheap in Vegas (and certainly nothing is free in Vegas except for the smiles and hot hot heat), we had to venture out of the Bellagio and forage for food elsewhere - which usually happened to be within the malls. There were 2 malls which we visited quite a lot:
- The Fashion Show Mall (kinda down the other end of the Strip from where we were but they had quite a few good shops in there)
- Miracle Mile located within Planet Hollywood resort (across the road from where we were so we went there quite a lot)
Within the Fashion Show Mall was this huge food court (pic above). My husband has this fascination with Sbarro, as we only find it in some airports in the UK, and he ate it quite often when we were in NY. It's kinda like comfort food, fast-food style, and Italian. Irresistable combination.
Despite only having had breakfast at McD's half an hour prior to this, we had to get the pizza and stromboli for takeaway. It looked delicious, and I'm pleased to say that despite only eating it about 8 hours later in the hotel room, it still tasted fab. In fact, we continued eating some the next day and it tasted OK.
When we finally decided that we were hungry enough to tackle the Bellagio Buffet (one of the main things to do during our trip), we joined the hungry crowd queuing up for some unlimited food intake action at around 4pm. That's quite an OK time to go for a buffet as you get to miss the lunch crowd, and also get to be there before the dinner crowd. The dinner service generally starts at about 4pm, so it's not that ludicrous having dinner at that time. Not in Vegas anyway.
The queue after we'd finished our turn in there - it stretched for about 100 metres, no kidding, maybe even more. Like this is part 2 of the queue, the first part was within the restaurant area going all the way around until there was no space left so these guys are waiting outside.
Despite the number of people waiting outside, it was surprisingly not too crowded in the restaurant. There wasn't any queue getting to the food, waiting staff were always on hand with drink orders, and it seemed nice and calm.
That is, until you saw the Prawn Mountain. All logic and polite behaviour out the window - gimme some prawns. Gimme all the prawns. All prawns mine!
With the most ridiculous amount of prawns ever seen on one plate, I gingerly made my way back towards the table - a delicate balancing act of seafood vs human.
There was more battle to be raged. The king crab legs lay waiting to join their prawn friends at the table. I didn't disappoint and they didn't, either. Each crab claw had an enourmous chunk of juicy, crunchy crab meat in them; sweet and fresh to the bite.
The meat selection was just OK, compared to the other buffets I've been to before, though, admittedly, those buffets were in Asia where I guess they have to be a little more competitive than a buffet in Vegas, where queues go out the door and more. What you see in the picture above is of sausages and onions. Sausages were kinda hard, but they'd probably been left there some time grilling on the plate. OK for a bit of nibbling.
The tuna tartare which was marinated in an 'Asian' marinade, from what I could tell. I don't know why they chose to mask the taste of the fresh tuna with the strong taste of sesame oil, chilli oil, spring onion - all the stuff you do a stir fry with, certainly not marinate fresh tuna with.
Anyhow, I ate it for the texture since there was nothing much that the taste did for me, and it did satisfy the fish craving a little.
Desserts were pretty much the main feature of the buffet selection. With mini portions of a wide variety of little goodies, that part of the meal was the most fun. Our favourite was the slightly out-there combination of bread & butter pudding with some caramelised banana syrup below it.
Proud to say that despite having half the ocean's prawns supply, and eating my way through more desserts than I should have, I didn't actually feel too full. Self-control in full force.
We've heard that the Bellagio Buffet is one of the better ones in Vegas, and while it's best value in town at US$25pp, I can't say it's THE best buffet I've been to. It's certainly good in terms of seafood, beef and desserts so if you like all that, maybe you should try this out - fresh food, lots and lots of it, though you might have to stand in queue for a bit before getting to the prize.