Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Vegas Will Make You Go Back Every Single Time

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Vegas Will Make You Go Back Every Single Time

Las Vegas is one unique destination. Glamor, glitter, and gambling are magnets for travelers. What's more, airfare to the city is usually low, lodging is inexpensive (especially on weekdays), and the food is awesome. No wonder it was voted the gathering place for my reunions in 2018. I have had three in a row since January 2018. After all three, we will go back again even if Bill again has to drive that 5-hour stretch through US 93 that connects Phoenix to Vegas. Having done so six times in four months, he can already do it sleeping. I have realized how Vegas will make you go back every single time.
Eating Our Hearts Out

The first was requested by my daughter Claudine who turned forty last February 7. She found great deals for the weekend of January 26-29 and convinced us to join her in a landmark celebration. Her family (husband Arnold, children Enzo, Kai, and Jax) and my eldest Trisha and her family (husband Deejay, children Krishna, Yeye, and Kenji), and Bill and I all congregated in adjoining rooms of Circus! Circus! My youngest, April and her family live in Melbourne and could not join us.

It turned out to be a weekend of gastronomic delights. The clear highlight of our stay was the Buffet of all Buffets for $60 pp. This entitles one to as many buffets as you want from Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris, Planet Hollywood, and Rio within a 24-hour period. We started with the Le Village Buffet in Paris for our Saturday lunch, then for dinner we upgraded to the best Vegas buffet, the Bacchanal Buffet in Caesar’s Palace with an additional $35 pp, and then finished off with the Sunday brunch at Harrah’s Flavors, the Buffet.

With Vegas nights always ending in the wee hours of the morning, we just couldn’t squeeze in a breakfast buffet! Regular prices for each of the three buffets we took are $25, $60, and $25 for a total of $110. We still saved $15 pp. It would’ve been $40 savings had we been up in time for Sunday breakfast. We did not regret the decision to do this food indulgence but our tummies surely did! The Flavors Buffet was okay, Le Village was good, but Bacchanal was great. If you are going to choose just one, let it be Bacchanal, the #1 buffet in Vegas! It includes things like bone marrow, lechon (roast suckling pig), all kinds of seafood, steak, and lamb, and different styles of salads and desserts, etc.

at the Bacchanal Buffet

Reminiscing our Hearts Out

The International School of Manila (High School) 50th Reunion had been in the making for a year. We all got our acts together and met on March 15-19 at The Orleans Hotel and Casino. The first two days were the mini-gathering among a group of friends who sang together in high school. They called themselves the MJs (Marie, Miel, Mimi, Jo, Joy, Jean, and Judy). We couldn’t find Marie and Miel could not make it. Even if I was not part of the original group, I joined as a legitimate M-Me!

On the last three days, Alice, Florence, Stephanie, Hank, Ernie, Lynn, and Elmer joined us. We had a Senior Lounge where many pictures of fifty years ago were pasted onto the walls. It became our gathering place for the weekend. We had a welcome dinner and farewell cocktails at F&B outlets in our hotel but the main event was a celebration of all those who had passed on and a grand Filipino dinner bought from one of our fave Filipino food hang-outs in Manila, Goldilocks!   

And that was the distinctive feature of this reunion...a trip down memory lane. It wasn't just about friendships but also of Filipino food! The MJs looked for Max’s, Jollibee, ChowKing and Red Ribbon, all standard fast food places in Manila. So we had a fill of all the comfort food we had been missing. In fact, we all took home lots of goodies like ensaymada, sans rival, and empanadas. I suppose this happens not just to Filipinos. Vegas features all kinds of ethnic cuisines.

the Class of 67, ISM

Gambling Our Hearts Out

Four friends (and their spouses) from I/ACT, the Institute of Advanced Computer Technology in Manila, decided to just hang out together in Vegas from April 21-23. Precy, whom I had not seen for thirty+ years has retired in the Sin City with husband Pat. Fides, who still works for Microsoft, and husband Benjie flew in from Seattle. Loy, who still works for an IT consulting company in Chicago, flew into Phoenix and drove with Bill and me to Vegas. I/ACT no longer exists but we always feel the urge to see each other again, whether in the Philippines or in the US. It was just that type of company where people become friends for life.

One of the things we did after the office hours was to play Chinese mahjong. In fact, Precy and I did so from Friday after office all the way to Sunday afternoon, non-stop at a friend’s home, just alternating taking naps and eating food. So we played mahjong on the first night, right after we all arrived and after dinner, until the wee hours of the morning, at Precy’s Paris suite. I lost heavily ($2.50), Fides lost some ($.60), Loy was the big winner ($2.50) and Precy won some ($.60).

The following night, after a Japanese buffet lunch, walking the strip, and having cocktails at Planet Hollywood’s Diamond Lounge (Precy is a member), we tried the Fremont Street Experience with its computer-controlled roof spanning three blocks. Then we went back to The Strip, contributed $20 each, focused on one slot machine in Paris and alternated pressing the Play button. It was a major team effort, including in prayers. Although we lost all our money, the innovative way to gamble gave us a thrilling hour of anticipation, screams, and despair. In the wee hours of the morning, we consoled ourselves by feasting on Giordano pizza at the suite, courtesy of Loy. Then we triumphantly climbed into the High Roller at the Linq. Yes, we feel we deserved the name. We gambled our hearts out!

riding the High Roller

As I said Vegas became our venue for eating, reminiscing, and gambling our hearts out. My three reunions combined gave us a taste of the consummate Vegas experience. Unfortunately, I added two pounds to my weight which will take me a couple of months to shed. That is unless another reunion of some kind is scheduled again in the Gathering Place for all Reasons and for all Seasons! And I wouldn't mind going back at all. Vegas has enough to make you go back every single time.

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