Viva las Vegas!

We had a great time with niece/cousin Tara in Las Vegas! She welcomed us into her home, gave up her bedroom to us, and drove us around to some of her favorite spots. We had a tapas lunch and blood orange mojitos at FireFly, happy hour at Red Rocks, brunch at the Cracked Egg. We scored tickets to Absinthe, a fantastic burlesque/ Cirque de Soleil/ comedy show. It's housed in a tent pitched in the garden of Caesar's Palace, and seating starts right up next to a circular stage with a radius of only 15 feet. We were in the second row! Everything they did was right in our face! One wrong move, and all those 15 chairs stacked up on top of each other would topple into the crowd. The strong men were incredibly strong and half naked. Most of the performers were half naked, actually, and the jokes were bawdy. A man and woman team came out with ill fitting leotards and thongs to comically perform on the hanging ribbons. The woman kept getting her legs tripped up and the man slid down the ribbon too fast and planted his face right into the woman's crotch. It was hilarious.

But the highlight of the show was a Russian rollerskating duo, spinning round and round on the tiny platform. The couple would spin each other, at arm's length, so fast that they were just a blur, and then he would lift the woman up and wrap her legs around his neck. He would let go, arms out at the side, at dizzying speeds, and all you could think about was the girl flying off the stage and nailing someone in the face with her roller-skates. It was heart stopping.

The next night, when Tara had to go into work, she dropped us at end of the strip and we spent all afternoon and night walking through every casino. We really weren't inspired to stop at any and have a drink. There are very few happy hours at the casinos, can you imagine? When we did finally stop for a drink at the electronic poker bar at the Bellagio, mainly to rest our feet. The bartender told us we could only have free gin and tonics if we maxed bet on the machines. Don't do us any favors! We weren't going to play $5 a hand for electronic poker just for a lousy gin and tonic.

We made sure to visit the new Swarovski crystal draped lounge at the Cosmopolitan and the Chihuly glass gallery at Aria. We only stopped, grabbed a chair, and ordered some drink when we reached the Parasol Down at the Wynn. It was so nice to be a casino that with happy lighting, windows to the outside world and integrated outside spaces. Parasol Down is outside, next to small lake with a giant white wall that serves as a waterfall backdrop. We were just taking our first sips of our Heritage Sours (a "carnivorous cocktail" with Basil Hayden's Bourbon, applewood smoked bacon infused St. Germain, housemaid maple sour and Paychaud's bitters) when the music died, the lights dimmed, and a giant mechanical frog rose above the waterfall and sang Lowrider. That secured the Wynn as our favorite of the day.

After such a long day, we hopped into a cab and headed out to the M Hotel, were Tara is the F&B Manager of Veloce. The gorgeous restaurant is on the 16th floor, with ceiling to floor windows that overlook all of Las Vegas and the entire strip. We had sushi and dumplings and cocktails, chatted with the delightful bartenders and enjoyed the view. Just before closing time, Tara brought out a desert tray. We protested, saying that we would never be able to finish all that deliciousness. . . but, we did. Ate it all. Tara really, really spoiled us rotten! Isn't family great?

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