Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blue Man Group, Dinner at Bouchon, and the Bellagio Fountain -- I heart Vegas

We had the best day today. After getting a great night's sleep last night, I was so ready to have some fun.

We started the day with breakfast at the MGM Grand Buffet. I think that at certain times they get huge crowds, so there are actually ticket booths and velvet cord lines set up at the entrance. You pay your 'admission' and then get seated. The breakfast buffet had everything you can imagine for breakfast as well as some things you'd never consider (crab salad? Um, no.). I had one half of an Eggs Benedict (they were all set out in a steam tray, yet perfectly made), smoked salmon, watermelon, canteloupe, and strawberries. For $13, it was a very good deal.

Our CEO arrived today from Toronto to do some sales calls, so a few of us went for a drink after work. I always panic when I need to decide what to drink, so I picked the first thing that I recognized on the menu: a Manhattan. This was a pretty strong drink to have on a empty stomach, especially when everyone else had beer or wine. We only stayed for one (good thing, since I was smashed) because Cameron had sweetly gotten us free tickets to see
Blue Man Group.

I had wanted to walk down the Strip a bit since I hadn't seen it at all yet. We started at our hotel and walked north in the direction of the
Venetian where the show was being held. Immediately across the street from MGM Grand is New York New York, which is an enormous hotel complex built to resemble New York City. I know this sounds gaudy, but the scale of it was magnificent. There were replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Chrysler Building, and Empire State Building. And the craziest thing was that intertwined in between the skyscrapers was a functioning roller coaster. We walked as far as Bally's and then hopped on the monorail that goes to all the major casinos on the Strip. We just barely made it to the show on time. We were literally running to the box office to get our tickets before the show started.

Blue Man Group itself was a decent show. The crowd was so into being there and participating that it broke my heart. I was much more subdued. The physical comedy was funny and the musicians were great. I think I had my expectations set a bit too high, but nevertheless we had a good time.

By the time we got out of the show it was 9:15 and we were starving. I'd read so much about Thomas Keller (head chef at the very famous and well respected
French Laundry), that I was dying to go to his Vegas restaurant, Bouchon, which was happily also in the Venetian. We had a bit of a hard time finding it at first. We wandered into a part of the hotel complex that is modelled to look like the Piazza San Marco in Venice except that instead of museums and cafes, you have restaurants and high end shopping. The ceiling is painted to look like the midday sky so it always daytime in there. There is also an actual canal that snakes in between the shops and restaurants where you can take a real gondola ride complete with gondolier. Insane.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had looked at some message boards to see what everyone thought of Bouchon. There were equal numbers of good and bad reviews, so I figured it was worth a try. And when else am I going to be able to eat at a Thomas Keller restaurant? The food was excellent and the service was friendly and attentive. Jeff had steak frites and I had slow-cooked veal breast with polenta and forest mushrooms. The veal was incredibly soft and flavourful and the mushrooms were meaty and delicious. We didn't drink at dinner tonight, so it was actually pretty affordable compared to last night.

We walked all the way back to the hotel and got to see all the famous hotels in their glittering nighttime glory. The weather here is so mild that it doesn't feel like you are outside at all. I think the air temperature is the same as body temperature. And the streets are so clean. Walking down the Strip feels like being on a movie set.

By chance, just as we were passing the Bellagio, the fountain display began. You may have seen it at the end of the movie Ocean's Eleven (the re-made version with George Clooney). They play music while the show is going on and I know it may sound cheesy, but it really was beautiful. I took two short videos of the display. The first one shows the more subtle part of the show and the second one displays the dramatic finish. We're hoping to see it again before we go, but on the right side of the street.

Jeff and I are planning on going to see the Cirque du Soleil show called 'O'. It's a show that can only been seen in Vegas because the set is a huge water tank. Apparently, the performers are world-class acrobats, synchronized swimmers, and divers and they perform in, on, and above the water. I'm so excited to see it.

Well, I'd better get to bed so that I can play hard tomorrow. I took tonnes of pictures today. If you'd like to see them, please click here.

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