Em Miller writes

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Tag: travel

Three days in Las Vegas by Instagram

This time last month, Joel and I were in Las Vegas. It was ICSC RECon, and he is a commercial real estate agent. It also was our first wedding anniversary, and it behooved me to fly out and meet my husband.

We’re not much into gambling (too cheap) or shopping (too cheap) or nightclubbing (too cheap… also, not too good at dancing). But we did just about everything else there is to do in Vegas, and we had an incredible time. Here are some of those things:

  1. The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South. We stayed at The Mirage because we found a 10-percent-discount-and-free-buffet deal online. Also, it had a volcano, and it smelled like sunscreen and cookies inside.
  2. Le Cirque at The Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South. I met Joel on Tuesday, May 22, our anniversary, after his conference had wrapped up for the day. He’d done his research on this one: Le Cirque has a five-diamond rating from AAA and a Michelin star. (Picasso, another restaurant at The Bellagio, has two Michelin stars and a collection of Pablo Picasso’s work on the walls, but it supposedly is more stuffy; also, closed on Tuesdays.) We had wine and escargot and a chilled pea soup. Joel ordered Dégustation d’Agneau du Colorado, a trio of lamb, and I ordered Le Mérou Sauce Verveine, Chilean sea bass and artichoke in a lemon verbena sauce. All delicious, but I still wonder what could have been with the risotto “in the rhythm of the season,” with Rice Krispie-crusted frog legs. In the end, the waiter brought us a platter of desserts with “Happy anniversary!” calligraphed in chocolate sauce and “a present for madame,” a tiny gold box of truffles. C’est magnifique!
  3. The Fountains of Bellagio. We left dinner just in time to watch the water dance to Andrea Boccelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye.”
  4. Lotus of Siam, 953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite A5. I spent the day Wednesday in and around the pool at The Mirage (not the topless one) with a book and a frozen drink while Joel wrapped up his conference. Then we had dinner at Lotus of Siam, which came recommended as some of the best Thai food in North America by both real people and the InterWebs alike. Which you wouldn’t guess by appearances: It’s inside a seriously sketchy-looking strip mall. We ordered the prawns in a blanket, which the waiter assured us was his favorite. When I asked why, he started to effuse about the prawns and the crispy wonton wrapper, then said, “C’mon, it’s wrapped in BACON.”
  5. The Fremont Street Experience and The Strip. Joel and I spent most of the evening Wednesday wandering Fremont Street at the north end of The Strip and Thursday afternoon, exploring The Strip, about a four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. We walked several miles from The Mirage to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign at the south end of The Strip, stopping into the casinos along the way. My favorites were The Cosmopolitan, which is draped floor to ceiling in chandelier crystals and had a Monkees slot machine, and The Venetian, easily the prettiest casino and hotel in Las Vegas.
  6. The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil at The Mirage. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s the stories told through the Beatles’ songs. It’s the stories of the Beatles themselves, and the history of the 1960s. It’s trampolines and rollerblades and dance and acrobatics. Really, it’s the one reason I’ve wanted to visit Vegas, and my dad got Joel and I tickets for our anniversary.
  7. The Beatles Revolution Lounge at The Mirage. We didn’t really want to dance. And we definitely didn’t want to pay a cover. So we perched in the giant letters spelling R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N just outside the lounge and ordered drinks. Just don’t order Michelob. Not that we did, but our waitress said that is the one drink people always order that they don’t have.
  8. The Mirage Volcano. If the water from the Fountains of Bellagio roared as it crashed back on itself, the water and fire screamed from The Mirage Volcano. It’s not quite as dazzling as the fountains, but it was awesome enough we watched it twice.

Photos taken with Instagram. Click to embiggen.

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12 hours in the Quad Cities

The last time I saw Lewis, we were in Chicago eating Quad Cities-style pizza, a thing that does not exist. I know this because Lewis lives in the Quad Cities, and he said he had never heard of it. One of the PR folks at one of the schools I cover for The Courier-News also has lived in the Quad Cities. He said he thought it had to do with the sausage. (Evidently, it has to do with the way the pizza is cut — into long, thin strips, rather than pie slices or squares — and the admittedly delicious inclusion of malt in the crust.)

We also were agreeing Joel and I should visit the Quad Cities on a Thursday night in February, when Lewis would be playing music at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. And one Thursday night in February, the last Thursday night in February, that’s what we were doing.

  1. Figge Art Museum, 225 W. Second St., Davenport, Iowa. It’s no secret Joel and I judge a city by its art museums. We didn’t get to see any art at the Figge, though. Not even the gallery of Art and Devotion in Viceregal New Spain. Just its cafe, where Lewis was playing and everything on the menu inexplicably came with a side of ranch dressing. But I can vouch for the Quad Cities’ fine taste in music: One little old lady threw a crumpled $5 bill at Lewis and told him he was “delightful.”
  2. Jim’s Rib Haven, 1600 Tenth St., East Moline, Ill. Skip the pizza. If there’s one thing to eat while in the Quad Cities, it’s Jim’s Ribs, according to Lewis. The appeal of gnawing tough meat, dripping with messy sauce, off the bone is somewhat lost on me, I’ll admit, but the guys were in heaven.
  3. Rozz-Tox, 2108 Third Ave., Rock Island, Ill. ROZZ-TOX SERVES BROOKLYN EGG CREAMS. EGG CREAMS! Also, Ovaltine! But the thing Lewis brought us here for was Redband Stout by the Great River Brewery, based in Davenport. Redband tastes like equal parts coffee and beer, kind of like Coke Black. Remember Coke Black? It tasted like equal parts coffee and Coke. I never really decided if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It just was. Coffee-beer aside, Rozz-Tox is a genuinely cool, avant-garde place — a “cultural space” that combines café, bar, music venue, art gallery and bookshop — based on a genuinely cool, avant-garde manifesto.
  4. Village Inn, multiple locations. (Not pictured.) Village Inn is your typical Baker’s Square knockoff, brunch and pie and bottomless cups of coffee. But they had me at Eggs Benedict… on a potato pancake… southwestern style, with avocado and carnitas. I hear there is free pie Wednesdays. I also hear there is an open mic Wednesdays at RME in Davenport that features some pretty “delightful” music. Which means this likely won’t be our last visit to the Quad Cities.

Photos taken with Retro Camera. Click to embiggen.