Las Vegas | MGM Grand Buffet, exploring the Strip, Luxor Hotel, meeting a Pawn Star & watching Matt Goss
When travelling we like to make the most out of every day. You never know when you may pass through a country again (if at all) so our philosophy is to be like Jon Bon Jovi and ‘sleep when we’re dead’ :-). This often means we are knackered but in a nice way. If we are worn out at the end of the day it usually means we have made the most out of every opportunity.
Over the course of a couple of days we:
- Had brunch at the MGM Grand Buffet
- Headed downtown to see where we were getting married in a couple days time
- Explored up and down the Las Vegas Strip
- Went to the Pawn Stars store and met Chumlee in his sweet shop
- Picked up our hire car SUV
- Had dinner at Diablo’s Cantina in the Luxor Hotel
- Watched Matt Goss play to a small audience at the 1 Oak Club at the Mirage
Here’s a short video which sums up nicely what we got up to.
One of the things we love doing in America is eating at an ‘all you can eat buffet’ in a nice hotel.
Last time we were in Vegas we ate at the ‘Bellagio buffet’ which was a fantastic culinary experience. Pretty much all of your bases are covered food-wise so if you have varied tastes and like to eat a lot then this is for you.
We decided to spend our $50 food and drink voucher (kindly given to us by the guy on reception at our hotel because we told him we were getting married) at the MGM Hotel buffet. The Signature Hotel we were staying at is part of MGM Grand so it made sense for us to redeem our voucher there. We had to pay an extra $14 so the full price for both of us was $64 for the brunch menu which isn’t too bad for a buffet but you need to be hungry to get the most out of it.
In my humble opinion the MGM buffet wasn’t as good as the Bellagio buffet but it was still very decent food. The Bellagio buffets food was of a higher quality and there was even more to choose from.
Obviously we stuffed our faces and rolled out of the buffet about 2 hours after we arrived. We then headed downtown by Uber to check out where we were getting married in a couple of days.
And here is the scene of the crime. Vegas Weddings. A ten minute express drive thru service, drive in, get married, drive off. Lovely Jubbly.
Next we headed back in to town by Uber again and went for a walk around the famous Las Vegas Strip. We eventually ended up in the Luxor hotel. The interior really is quite enormous and amazing. You can guess by it’s name that it has an Egyptian theme.
We stopped for a bite to eat at the Diablo Cantina restaurant and had a starter portion of nacho’s with extra chicken and a beer which came to $25 plus tip. Very nice it was too!
We then took in the night air on the strip and waddled back home to our lovely hotel.
A note about food and the US:
Unless you are a vegan, vegetarian or just not greedy buggers like us who like our food you are going to put weight on when you visit the US, just accept it. Don’t worry about it though, you only live once. The next leg of our trip sees us travel through Asia where the food is a lot healthier and a lot less fattening so we’ll lose weight there instead (hopefully!).
We were awake at the crack of dawn again. Bloody jet lag, always gets me.
We cooked breakfast in the suite; scrambled eggs on toast and porridge which was lovely and I drank about a gallon of coffee. I have to say as a coffee aficionado I never had a bad cup of coffee the whole time I was in the US.
As we were getting married at a drive thru wedding chapel we had to have a car to do it in so we arranged the hire of a rather nice SUV from Hertz. We had to go to Ballys Hotel to pick it up. When we got to Ballys the Hertz reception was closed so we had to go to the Paris Hotel a short walk away which was a bit annoying.
A very nice lady at Hertz sorted us out and told us we were getting a Ford SUV instead of the GMC SUV I thought we were getting but it wasn’t a big deal. The GMC was the size of a canal boat so it was probably for the best.
We told the very nice Hertz lady that we were getting married the following day so she let us off the cost of hiring the GPS/Sat Nav which would have been about $36 (the marriage dividend pays out again)!
She seemed more excited about us getting married than we were 🙂
The whole process of picking up the car seemed to be a lot more relaxed in the US than in the UK. Someone had already checked the car over and because we had the full insurance package it didn’t really matter what condition it was in but she advised us to check it over and take pictures just in case which we did.
I don’t mind driving abroad. Ive done it before in the US and other countries around the world but it’s still a bit nerve wracking when you are driving a massive SUV in 5 lanes of traffic on the wrong side of the road in a country where you aren’t particularly familiar with the laws of the road.
Anyway I just got on with it and after a few tense minutes slid back into it. Most cars/SUV’s are automatic in the US so make sure you are happy driving an automatic or ask for a manual if you need to; but you might pay more for a manual.
So before we knew it we were in the car heading to downtown Las Vegas.
I’m a big fan of the Pawn Stars tv show on the History channel so I wanted to visit the store to see if I could get a silver wedding ring from there.
Serena programmed the sat nav and after a drive of about 20 minutes we arrived at our destination. As expected the main car park was rammed so we went to another one around the back. A scary looking guy with tattoos on his neck approached us, handed us a ticket and told us the car park was ‘free’ but asked if we could leave a tip in the box guarded by an equally rough looking gentleman wearing a hoody on our way out. Now, my spider senses immediately started tingling but it turned out that everything was legit. We gave them $1 on the way out which turned out to be a bargain for parking for an hour or so.
Fair play to the stars of the show. They all have their own sidelines now and by all accounts are all minted due to the success of the show.
Next to the store you’ll find a load of shops. Chumlee has his own sweet shop and Rick the owner of the pawn shop has his own bar and grill. I believe he serves in there on certain nights.
You can queue up to get into Chumlee’s sweet shop and have a picture taken with him. He normally pops in for a couple hours a day to stand there and chat with his adoring fans. He doesn’t look like he eats his own profits any longer as he has now had gastric band surgery and as a result has lost loads of weight; and I have to say he looks a lot better for it.
We bought some sweets, had a photo with Chumlee and left to go into the pawn shop. Unfortunately they didn’t have any suitable rings but it wasn’t the end of the world.
You can take photo’s but no video inside. It was packed as expected but it was nice to be able to say we’d been in there.
We drove back to the hotel and rested up for a bit before heading to Walgreens to get a snack before heading to the Mirage to see Matt Goss of Bros fame play in a small venue.
He didn’t disappoint. He’s had a residency in the 1 Oak bar at the Mirage for ten years now and regardless of what you think about him and some of the daft things he said in the recent Bros movie, the guy is a consummate entertainer and has an absolutely amazing voice which was a real treat to experience from a few feet away. There were only about 100 people in there. Drinks were fairly expensive but not crazily so.
He and his fantastic band, backing singers and raunchy dancers entertained us for about an hour and forty minutes without a break.
He came out into the crowd and shook pretty much everyones hand throughout the night. I shook his hand too. I have to say for a bloke he’s got very soft hands. Probably because he’s never done a days hard graft in his life 🙂 Mind you, neither have I 🙂 Just kidding.
It was a fantastic show, well worth the money – tickets were $120 for the both of us and there was no support act.
After the show we got another Uber back to our hotel and another day was over. Many new memories made and some great experiences, to me that is what travelling is all about.
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The amazing crystal chandelier and horse statue in the Bellagio, Las Vegas. @bellagio #bellagio #lasvegas #travel #travelphotography #travelling #travelgram #wanderlust #exploringtheglobe #wanderlusting #worldwonder #getaway #ig_great_pics #worldbestshot_ig #adventure_time #adventureseeker #beautifulmoment #blogtravel #vacation #wanderluster #dailytriphack #igs_world #inspiredtravels #passportforlife #picoftheday #mustseepic #photooftheday #natgeoyourshot #natgeotravel #photo #photography
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Chinese New Year exhibition at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. @bellagio #bellagio #lasvegas #lasvegasstrip #travel #travelphotography #traveling #travelling #travelgram #wanderlust #exploringtheglobe #wanderlusting #worldwonder #getaway #ig_great_pics #worldbestshot_ig #adventure_time #adventureseeker #beautifulmoment #blogtravel #vacation #wanderluster igs_world #inspiredtravels #picoftheday #mustseepic #photooftheday #natgeoyourshot #natgeotravel #photo #photography #instagood
JV’s Top Tips
- If you intend to go to a buffet (and I highly recommend it) go on an empty stomach. You’ll feel short changed if you go and don’t eat much
- Always have a a load of $1 bills in your pocket so you can tip the service staff (generally you’ll be doing this a lot in the US)
- Download the Uber / Lyft apps onto your phones. You won’t regret it. Sorry cab drivers. It’s just a lot easier and more convenient to get around by Uber if you have a distance to travel
- Uber trips will cost you a bank fee as well. I’m with Santander, they charge £1.25 for each card transaction which is annoying
- Always hire a Sat Nav/GPS with your hire car – don’t rely on offline maps or your smartphone
- Book your car online and in advance – don’t forget to get good insurance and bear in mind you may not get the car you want
- Make sure you can drive an automatic
- Watch a couple of videos on YouTube before driving abroad to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road
- Go and see a show – any show in Vegas, you’ll have a great time