Vegas - the retro diary: part 2

If you missed Part 1, click here. Here's Part 2.

8:55am – Beep.  Beep.  Beep.

8:56 – What the hell is that damn noise????

8:57 – Dammit!  Yep, my alarm had gone off because I needed to return the hire car.  Suddenly, the awesomeness of driving a convertible mustang to Vegas disappeared faster than a speeding bullet.

Basically, Dave and I were meant to return the car last night but we completely forgot.  And, since I was the one that hired it, I was the one who had to return it.  Once again I was staring at Dave, fast asleep and snoring, like I wanted to kill him.

9:02 – After throwing on some clothes and heading down to the Casino, it was like I was in an alternate reality.  The slot machines were still ringing, the crowds were still cheering, and there were still half-naked waitresses sending free drinks at anyone who was gambling.  Unbelievable. 

I quickly composed myself and headed for the concierge who greeted me with one of those “Wow, you look TERRIBLE!” grins.  I somehow managed to croak out “Where’s the car hire return?” and he showed me where it was.

9:05 – I have no idea where this damn place is.  The beauty of our hire car arrangement was that we could return our car directly to the hotel.  Unfortunately, nobody within an earshot seemed to know where the car hire return was.  In other words, my plan for making a swift hire car return had disappeared faster than Kevin Rudd’s credibility.

9:15 – If you ever meet a guy named Jay who works for Bellagio, give him a high five.  And a tip.

Not only did Jay spot me wandering around like a homeless man, but he offered to escort me back to where I’d parked my car, drive me down to where it should be parked, fill out all the necessary paperwork for me, bump me to the front of the queue and help me be done with my thoroughly unpleasant early morning duties.

Being the rookie and woefully tired man I was, I didn’t have any money to tip him.  Jay merely shook his head with another “I can’t believe this guy” grin and said that as the Group Manager of Bellagio Concierge, he really didn’t need a tip.

Yep, one of the 10 most senior employees at Bellagio helped me return my car.  Who knows why?  All I know is that it saved me from killing someone.

11:33 – Somehow I trundled back to my room and fell asleep again.  Now I’m being woken up by a showered and looking way-too-healthy Dave who tells me we should really get moving.  Especially as we have a lunch booking for 1pm.

11:35 – Yeah, yeah… I’m up

11:55 – Dave and I set off down the strip, me wearing my newly purchased ‘sailor’ outfit and Dave wearing some of his new purchases too.  We’re not exactly feeling at the peak of our powers, but we’ve come a long way in the last 20 minutes.

12:01pm – We make a pit stop at Olives, our lunch restaurant, to confirm our booking.  The good times begin because it seems our princess from the night before, Anna, has indeed come through with the goods.  We’re booked into the most exclusive restaurant in the Bellagio for 1pm.

We decide that, since the sands of time seem to have swung in our favour, we should push our luck.  We put on the most charming Australian accents we can muster and appeal to the old lady reservations manager that we need to sit out on the balcony overlooking the lake.  You know, only the most sought-after dining seats in all of Las Vegas.

She looks at us like we’re crazy (and really, we were crazy for asking) but assures us that she’ll “see what she can do”.  In other words, “How about you go back to McDonalds, boys?”

Well, that’s good enough for us and off we go.  (More on this later).

12:15 – We head off towards Caesars and take a few photos of dubious importance before realising that we haven’t eaten in over 12 hours.

It’s amazing this moment of realisation.  You’re not hungry until it springs to mind, but as soon as it does, you’re screwed.  We are now both absolutely famished and decide that even though we’re eating lunch in 45 minutes, we’re going to find some food no matter the cost.

12:18 – Dave has developed an obsession for Denny’s and declares that we’ll be eating breakfast there.  He claims to have some knowledge of a location for the closest Denny’s but I have my doubts.

12:23 – In your face, Malloch!  We walked for five minutes and there, in all its glory, was a Denny’s restaurant.  The only problem is, the line for service is longer than the Nile.  It’s winding its way around corner after corner (really, is that all Americans want for breakfast?  Denny’s???) and we’re informed the wait is over an hour for food.

Well, screw that.  We’ve got a lunch booking in 35 minutes and decide that we’ll just skip breakfast.

12:55 – We’re back at Olives and decide to, once again, try our luck for that balcony seat.  The reservations manager rolls her eyes and says she’s still seeing what she can do.

Dave and I decide to wait it out and see what turns up.

1:15 – Still no seat.  Dave’s stomach is grumbling louder than an earthquake and my love of all things Vegas has disappeared faster than my mate James’ hairline.  Meanwhile people are walking into the restaurant and being seated at will.  What the heck is the problem, lady??

1:25 – Still no seat.  Dave’s losing patience.  I am too.  We’re ready to escalate this and get violent should the need arise.

Desperately I approach the lady and say, “Any chance of that table?”  Dismissively she says, “Should only be a few minutes” while giving me smile that could only be described as ‘non-existent’.

Dave and I decide to give her another five minutes before cancelling our reservation and hitting up the Bellagio’s all you can eat buffet.  We’ll also probably kidnap her children and hold them for ransom.

1:30 – “Excuse me, sir?”

I turn around in some state of delirium seeing as I haven’t ingested food in 14 hours and am about to die.  “Yes?”

“Right this way, please.”

Dave and I eye each other nervously as a cute waitress (surprise, surprise) sidles up to us and beckons us to follow her.  We wind our way through the restaurant and to our absolute shock, we’re led out onto the balcony.

Suddenly we’re driving in the fast lane.  But not only that, she escorts us to the very front of the balcony.  We’re literally sitting on the shore of the lake.

In other words, we’re now sitting at the best table, in the best restaurant, with the best view in all of Las Vegas.

Not bad for two muppets from Canberra.

1:55 – Oh man.  This is the life.

We have beers, we have sunshine, we have an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower… seriously, this is the greatest lunch of all time.

Glancing at the menu once again surprises us.  Not only is it very reasonably priced (seriously, $25 mains??) but since we’re hungry, we decide to order two mammoth entrees as well as mains – the finest pasta money can buy.

The only downside is that apparently the fountain shows (only the most famous attraction in all of Las Vegas) don’t start until after 3pm, meaning we’d have to kill another hour.  The waitress throws us a bone saying “sometimes they test them at 2pm?” but we don’t believe her.

2:00 – Yeah baby!

The fountains are going off just like the waitress promised.  Now we’re cooking with gas.  We get a great photo (see on the right) and promptly conclude that our luck has officially turned around.  All memories of a shellacking at the tables last night have disappeared and we raise our glasses in a toast to Vegas.  What a town.

2:35 – Now we can barely move.  Not only were our entrees the size of small children, but our mains have filled us up so comprehensively that we both resemble Clive Palmer.

Ok, we definitely don’t resemble Clive Palmer, but I just wanted to show that this blog references the big players from time to time.  Read into that what you will.

2:40 – We decide we don’t really need to stay for another fountain viewing (really, we made it to the top, why kill time?) and decide that more shopping is in order.  So off we head for Caesars again and to the depths of their enormous shopping arcade.

4:00 – With our pockets again considerably lighter we’ve headed back to the room for a final pit stop before tackling the evening/night.  We’re hoping to 1) Find the Monopoly slot machines Dave simply will not shut up about, 2) Learn how to play Craps, 3) place a bet on an NBA game and/or Sweet Sixteen game, 4) Lose a LOT less money than last night.

A reasonably ambitious plan, but like I said before, our luck had changed.

4:35 – We’ve arrived at the Wynn, possibly the most expensive Casino in the United States.  This is the site where Dave ‘bumped into’ Lebron James last time he was in town.  Hoping to improbably recreate that event, Dave has been keen to head here all trip. 

Walking through the foyer is a bit awe-inspiring.  It’s incredible to think how much money gets thrown into these places.  It didn’t last long though, Dave saw a Monopoly logo out of the corner of his eye, and like any good small forward, he didn’t wait to get involved in the play.

I blink and Dave is gone – the land of Monopoly was calling.

4:40 – They weren’t the ones he was after so I decide to call an ‘audible’.  In other words, change the play.  I’ve noticed some Wheel of Fortune slots and think that we’ve got to abandon the Monopoly dream and embrace the game show dream.

4:55 – Once again I’m losing money, although I’m keeping my bets small so it’s just like a paper cut, only if that cut never healed.  Dave isn’t having much luck either but he still has $1 in credit left.  I decide to ‘up the stakes’ and throw another $5 note.  Where else can you pay money into a machine with absolute certainty that you’ve just wasted it anyway?

4:56 – What’s that sound?

4:57 – Jackpot!!!!!!!

4:58 – *cue the Rocky music* Somehow I won $38 on my wheel of fortune slot and suddenly, improbably, slot machines are the greatest invention of all time.  I’m so happy!  Life is amazing!  WHEEL! OF! FORTUUUUUUUUUUUUNE!!!

5:10 – I walk away with $30 in winnings remaining and am walking on cloud nine.  Dave and I had also decided to raise the stakes in terms of what drinks to order so rather than simply asking for a run-of-the-mill gin and tonic, he and I have been ordering Piña Coladas.

It was then that we decided that it was now or never in terms of Craps.  Dave had played once before in his life but he didn’t learn much that time, and I’d never played.  Quite frankly, the odds of us succeeding were less than the odds of finding life on Mars, but in true Vegas fashion, we stepped up to the plate.

5:20 – After wandering around briefly we settle on a table with quite a few free spots.  To try and get a feel for the game we decide to watch a couple of rounds first.  This inauspicious behaviour caught they eye of a gentleman on my left.  The guy was big, black, dressed in a suit that probably cost more than I make in a year, and betting $200 a hand without even blinking.

Luckily this guy decided that he didn’t want to eat us for dinner, rather, he wanted to teach us how to play the game.  The table hosts were also a good humoured bunch and gave us advice too.  Pretty soon Dave and I had claimed $100 in chips each, placed a bet and it was time to throw the dice.

6:20 – I love Craps!  I mean, I really love it!  This is so much better than Blackjack.  For one, I’m winning (up to $150), and there’s plenty of table participation.  Everyone is hoping for you to win so, when you do, the whole table goes ballistic.

There’s a funky Asian guy at the end of the table wearing glasses so square their edges seem razor sharp cheering for us.  There’s a 50 year old male divorcee hitting on a 40 year female old divorcee.  (How did I know they were divorcees, I hear you asking?  Please.)  There’s the black guy in the suit who’s still helping us out.  And there’s the jovial dealers checking out every cute girl that walks past while cheering on the table.

In other words, there was no way we were losing.  As George Costanza would say, “I’m back in business, baby!”

6:50 – Crap.

The table’s turned cold.  Ice cold.

My first moment of realisation that things were about to go badly was when the 50 year old started making moves on the 40 year old that would make Mike Tyson shake his head in shame.  In other words, I was seeing the human desperation to mate in its vilest and purest form.  It was like watching a train crash in slow motion; you were horrified at the sight yet unable to look away.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, when you’re watching something like this going on at the same table you’re playing Craps at, you’re essentially guaranteed that either a) it’s the apocalypse and the four horsemen are just round the corner, or b) you are about to start losing.

Seeing as the four horsemen are yet to destroy a third of the planet, it’s reasonably safe to assume that option (b) kicked into gear.

It all started when the 40 year old divorcee got the dice and crapped out immediately.  This was followed by the 50 year old divorcee crapping out immediately.  This was followed by the funky Asian guy crapping out immediately.  All of this coincided with me, thinking I’d “got the hang of the game”, upping my bets.

Essentially I’d been floating around the $130 mark for sometime and was now, suddenly, down to $50.  Again, this was when I should’ve walked away.  Reckon I did?

7:00 – Nope.  I lost the $50 as well.


Still, I now know how to play Craps and it’s all kinds of awesome.  Next time I go to Vegas, and you know there’ll be a next time, I’ll be hitting the Craps table well before I play any Blackjack.

7:15 – It’s nearly time for the college basketball to start so Dave and I weigh up our options.  We head to the Wynn’s sports book only to discover it’s more crowded than a Tokyo train during peak hour.  We decide to abandon the Wynn (which, all things considered, had been pretty good to us), and head down the Strip.

We had no expectations that we’d find somewhere good.  We even considered buying some beer and heading back to our hotel room to watch the game.  Ultimately we walked a little further and our ‘Vegas high’ was starting to fade.

On a whim we pull into the Mirage and stumbled upon an outdoor bar serving nachos, beer, and showing both college basketball games simultaneously. 


We quickly race into the Mirage sports book and place two bets.  One on Dallas to beat Portland in the NBA (Dallas were generous outsiders), and a bet on one of the Sweet 16 games… I can’t remember which one.

Anyway, back we go to the bar and take our seat.  To our left is a bunch of frat boys on a dirty Vegas weekend who are hitting on the (undeniably cute) waitress with reckless abandon.  Dave and I thought of trying to ‘beat them to it’, but instead we settle in to watch the game.

10:30 – The games have hit a cracking pace!  Currently we’re in overtime and it shows no signs of slowing down.  Everyone in the entire bar is on the edge of their seats and the atmosphere just cracked State of Origin levels.  Once again we’ve unintentionally found ourselves in the thick of the action.

11:15 – Finally the game is over and WHOA!  What an unbelievable finish.  The game ended up going to triple overtime and a couple to our left nearly had a heart attack.  The frat boys had crapped out with the waitress (surprise, surprise) so it was just Dave, me, our beers, some cold nachos, some more lost money, having the time of our lives.

I should add, we were still in a packed outdoor bar that was living and dying on every possession.  When a player made a shot, it was like the entire bar had won the lottery.  When a player missed a shot, it was like the entire bar had just discovered their significant other had cheated on them with a Vegas ‘worker’.  In other words: it was awesome.

12:00am – We stumble back to our hotel considering whether to push on through the night.  Dave is far keener than me (side note – I realised on this trip that I’m officially old.  Dave consistently recovered fast and had the ability to survive longer than me in the partying stakes.  Back in the day Dave and I used to go drink for drink, effort for effort on a nightly basis.  These days, me going up against Dave is like Lex Luthor going up against Superman – a little effective at first but ultimately futile.) but since I’m seeing my family tomorrow, I’m not keen to destroy myself two nights in a row.

All in all this has been an unbelievably good few days.  Dave and I had built up our Vegas trip to the point of absurdity – we were expecting such greatness that our expectations seemed destined to be dashed.

What we found out is that Vegas is unlike any other city on Earth.  No matter how pumped you are about going; no matter how much you talk up the experience; it will still leave you wanting more.

That said, I think two/three days is enough time to spend there.  Too much of a good thing is exactly that: too much.  If we pushed on any longer we would have lost more money (shudder) and lost more brain cells (shudder) and possibly wound up in the middle of the desert with a shotgun in our face (massive shudder).

Of course that’s a tempting scenario, but when Dave and I flew out the next morning, we knew we’d just had a sensational time and were determined that we will be back.

As Bill Simmons would say:

Vegas, baby.


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Car Return
The Mustang was cool,
but returning it at 9am was not.

In case you were wondering -
yes, this was awesome
Craps at the Wynn was the one of the
best decisions we made all trip
The outdoor bar where we
watched the Sweet Sixteen