San Diego/Las Vegas Trip Day 7 + 8

Day 7 Shirt of Choice: American Apparel Poly-Cotton
3/4 Sleeve Raglan Shirt

Day 7 started off with breakfast at the popular Bellagio Buffet. There was a lot of food, a custom omelet bar, and tons of pastries and fruit. But if I am being honest, it was pretty standard breakfast fare. 

We then headed toward the MGM Grand to purchase tickets to both The Phantom and The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil. We were able to get tickets to The Phantom but was unable to snag any for LOVE. So we spontaneously decided to buy tickets to a 12 hour guided tour of the the Grand Canyon. Crazy!

Following our ticket buying frenzy we did some further shopping at the Primm Fashion Outlet Mall. We spent about 3 hours there and then we made our way back to the strip to do even more shopping at the Miracle Mile Mall. At this point I was all shopped out and couldn’t wait to get back to the Bellagio to freshen up for The Phantom. Back at the hotel room we had about an hour to spare before making the mad rush through the crowds to the Venetian were The Phantom was playing.

Coty Posing

That American Apparel 3/4 Sleeve tee looks good! I want to pick up a couple more now.

The Phantom was defintely an exciting and haunting experience. I was thoroughly impressed by the Phantom theater, which was custom built to house this specific show. If you’ve seen The Phantom of the Opera at another venue, it’s worth checking this one out because of some of the welcome changes. First of all, there is no intermission. Secondly, they’ve added a few extended scenes. And lastly, the falling chandelier is breathtaking. I’d suggest sitting on the balcony, you’ll get a great view of all the action and the ticket prices are not as expensive. 

Phantom: Be Seduced

That’s me just about ready to enter the theater. Right after we snapped this picture, the usher yelled at us! How dare!

Iron Chef’s Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante was our pick for dinner on this particular evening. B&B Ristorante had some big shoes to fill since the food at Bobby Flay’s MESA Grill was superb. Unlike the Mesa Grill’s southern infused fare, B&B was more of a traditional Italian eatery. I had the Lobster Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives, Sweet Garlic and One Pound Lobster. Michelle had the Grilled Pork Chop with Cipolline, Artichokes and Vin Cotto. I really enjoyed the Spaghettini and the lobster portions were quite generous. However, in the end, we both decided that the food at the MESA Grill was indeed better!

Tomorrow: The Grand Canyon

Day 8 Shirt of Choice: Mack Hated Mondays

Our last full day in Las Vegas involved waking up at 5am in the morning! It was Grand Canyon day so getting an early start was imperative. This would be a 12 hour trip to and from the Canyon through Comedy on Deck Tours. We left the Bellagio and headed across the street to Bally’s to catch our shuttle. Our tour guide was named Jodie and she was both friendly and welcoming as well as informative! Once we hopped on we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Boulder Dam Hotel in Boulder City en route to the Hoover Dam. What’s interesting about Boulder City is that it was built for the people who had worked on the Hoover Dam. As for the hotel, our tour guide mentioned that it’s ranked as the 4th most haunted hotel in the US. I didn’t see anything! But Dennis McBride, author of Midnight on Arizona Street noted that ”One of the people who owned the hotel in the 1980s used to do night work at the desk, and she said several times she would see a man standing in front of her only from the waist-up. He was gone from the waist down.” One famous guest was Howard Hughes, who recuperated here after a plane crash at Lake Mead.

One we left Boulder City we made a quick drive thru and stop at the Hoover Dam and then headed toward our first Grand Canyon stop, Eagle Point. The road to Eagle Point was, quite literally, bumpy! 14 miles of unpaved road with just a landscape of Joshua Trees made for an interesting ordeal.

The Grand Canyon

And that’s the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s so impressive in person!

The Grand Canyon is definitely a stunning natural marvel to look at. Its powerful and intimidating landscaping stretches over 18 miles wide and consists of over 277 river miles. We did a tour of the West Rim of the Grand Canyon that consisted of Eagle Point and Guano Point. Eagle Point is known for the recently opened Skywalk which is the first-ever glass bridge and suspends visitors 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon floor. The views here were spectacular and truly breathtaking. And I got to scratch off yet another item off my Things To Do Before I Die list!

We then had lunch at the Grand Canyon West Ranch, a 1,060 acre working cattle ranch, did some activities and rode a horse wagon around the property. After lunch we made the trip back to Vegas. Spending a day away from the strip and at the Grand Canyon was definitely worth it! If I ever come back, I’ll be sure to hit up the Grand Canyon Caverns. Our wagon driver mentioned that this was a 230 feet drop below ground level that consists of 60 miles of limestone caves. There is no humidity down there and as such he mentioned that anything that stays there is preserved. 

Once we arrived back on the strip we made a mad rush to The Mirage to see if we could get some last minute tickets to The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil. It was ourlucky day! We scored two tickets to one of the hottest shows on the Las Vegas strip. 

But before the show we wanted to eat at one last Food Network star’s restaurant. This time it would be Chef Emeril Lagasi’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand. Emeril’s probably had the friendliest bunch of waiters of the three big restaurants we dined at while in Las Vegas. There was a constant flow of bread and drinks! We started off with the New Orleans Blue Crabmeat Bake with Baked Blue Crabmeat & Pickled Sweet Piquant Peppers with Herb Crust served with Emeril’s Spiked Crostini and Creole Tomato Glaze. For entrees, I had the Emeril’s Sweet Barbecued Scottish Salmon on Andouille Sausage & Brabant Potatoes with Spicy Onion Crust and Emeril’s Homemade Worcestershire. Michelle had the Herb, Sea Salt & Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna on Homemade Sopressata Sausage, & Italian Cheese & Spinach Ravioli with Basil Pesto, in Tomato Olive Stew and Balsamic Extraction. The food here was so good! I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the environment and the service! The waiters were quick, efficient and friendly. In the end, though, we decided that Bobby Flay’s MESA grill ruled supreme amongst our tier of culinary challenges during our Las Vegas stay.

The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil

If you decide to watch a Cirque Du Soleil Show in Las Vegas, I would highly recommend that you see this one. It was seriously spectacular!

And for the final major spectacle of this epic trip we watched The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil at the Mirage. It was a full house and I quickly understood why. The show was spectacular and covered a ton of Beatles hits like Elanor Rigby, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Help!, Blackbird, Hey Jude and All You Need Is Love. In total, the show consisted of 26 Beatles classics. The exuberance of The Beatles was definitely channeled through the youthful, urban energy of a cast of 60 international artists. The panoramic sound and visuals made for an excellent end to a wonderful trip.

Departure Shirt of Choice: Pyknic Logo Tee

I can honestly say that this was one exhausting trip! We squeezed in a lot of exciting and fun things and for that I have to thank Michelle for planning. What can I say, she’s an excellent planner!

San Diego/Las Vegas Trip Day 5 + 6

Day 5 Shirt of Choice: Bears, Beets, Battelstar

The San Diego Zoo is one big zoo and it houses an extraordinary amount of animals! But I’m getting ahead of myself. We first had breakfast at Hash House A Go Go, a place were big food is the norm. The portions at Hash House A Go Go are, in the words of the New York Times, gastronomic! And from firsthand experience, I know that they aren’t kidding. The portions here were huge and definitely a little daunting. It’s a great place to go on a hungry stomach or to share a plate with a friend. I ordered the Andy’s Special, which consisted of Ham Steak and a biscuit on a bed of mashed potatoes topped with spinach, tomato, ham, scrambled eggs, cheddar and covered in chili cream. The dish was good (and a little on the spicy end) but for some reason I probably did not enjoy it as much as I should have simply because of the enormity of the serving. 

Hash House A Go Go

That monstrosity is the Andy’s Special at Hash House A  Go Go!

After breakfast we headed over once again to Balboa Park en route to the San Diego Zoo. Again, I cannot stress enough the size of Balboa Park, at just about 1,174 acres big, you would definitely need at least two days minimum to see (or try to see) everything it has to offer. We snapped a few pictures and then made our way to the zoo entrance and eagerly jumped onto the first of many zoo trails, the monkey trail. Our favorite part of the zoo had to be the new Elephant Odyssey, which had opened just a few days prior. It’s a massive area of the zoo that was created just for the elephants. By the end of the day we had done all of the trails, rode on the Skyfari Aerial Tram twice, did the guided bus tour and saw a whole lot of animals!

San Diego Zoo

Me posing next to an ancestor.

And finally, for our last night in San Diego, we walked to the Little Italy district, which was just 9 blocks or so away from The Sophia Hotel. I’ve been to a couple of Little Italy’s in different cities and this one was a little subdued compared to the others. We had dinner at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. What’s interesting about Filippi’s is that you must walk through their “cash and carry” Italian grocery store and deli, stocked with cheeses, pasta and a lot of various imports from Italy before ending up at the restaurant. The line was out the door, so we knew it had to be good! The servings at Filippi’s were huge. I ordered the Spaghetti with Sausage and Meatball and Michelle had the Chicken Parmigiana with Spaghetti. This Filippi’s is actually the first of this California chain and has been serving excellent pasta and pizza for over 50 years now. By the time we left Filippi’s, it was dark out and the Little Italy district had picked up steam, was lively and filled with people, drinking, eating and having a merry time. 

San Diego's Little Italy

Until I make it to the real Italy, these Little Italy’s will have to do for now.

Tomorrow: Las Vegas, NV

Day 6 Shirt of Choice: No shirt, just a standard polo :(

This was our last day in San Diego and our first day in Las Vegas! The morning consisted of some last minute packing, returning of the rental car and shipping some stuff back home via the United States Postal Service. After those errands we had a quick breakfast at The Cheese Shop were I had the breakfast sandwich and Michelle the eggs & sausage. 

The flight to Las Vegas was short, just about an hour, but was worth it considering that a drive to Sin City would take a considerably longer. 

It only take a few seconds after leaving the flight deck to be enamored by the Las Vegas lifestyle of cha-chings! Even in the airport you can hear people gambling their money away. We swiftly picked up our luggage, found our shuttle bus and headed to the Bellagio. After a mishap with the rooms, we found our way to our guest room in the Spa Tower of the Bellagio with a view of the famous Bellagio fountains, Bally’s and the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. The view from our room was superb!

The Bellagio Conservatory

This is a peak at the Conservatory within the Bellagio. It’s always packed with people. 

We spent little time in the room, though. After quickly unpacking we headed out to Las Vegas Boulevard and went straight to Caesar’s Palace for dinner at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Unfortunately, the place was packed and they didn’t serve tables of two until after 9pm. So instead, we walked to the Fashion Show Mall and afterwards checked out the Forum Shoppes at Caesar’s. By the time we finished shopping we were just in time for our 10:00pm reservations at Mesa Grill. I have to admit that the wait was definitely worth it! We both ordered steaks – I guess we were both craving some red meat! I had the Black Angus New York Strip Steak with Homemade MESA Steak Sauce. Michelle had the Coffee Rubbed Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Ancho Chile Sauce. My medium cooked steak came out so tender and juicy, it was an absolute delight! The bread was also a welcomed surprise. The bread basket consisted of a three types of breads with my favorite being the jalapeno parmesan. 

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

And my steak at MESA Grill. So delicious!

After dinner, we checked out Serendipity 3 in Caesar’s Palace for desert. Serendipity 3 is a New York based restaurant known for their deserts, especially their frozen hot chocolate. And I can honestly say that the frozen hot chocolate was a massively decadent mouthgasm! It was so good that we came back for more (but more on that later). 

Tomorrow: The Phantom and Mario Batali’s B&B Ristorante