Last week I was on vacation. For the first time. In 5 years. Alone.
Well, technically, I was with my Mom, Aunt and Cousin. But I was away from immediate family. No husband, no kids. Just ladies. We celebrated my cousin Stephanie’s 21st Birthday in Las Vegas. In our family, when someone turns 21, you go to Vegas. That’s just what we do.
When I turned 21, the economic situation in our family was very different. We stayed at a Best Western off the strip, and did mostly “Free” activities. There were no fancy dinners, and breakfast was McDonalds. I was grateful for that vacation. I was 21. My newly single Mom paid for it with a meager salary supporting my brother and I. Airfare alone was expensive, much less a hotel stay + meals. It was a fun trip none-the-less and a time I will never forget.
Fast forward 13 years, and things are TOTALLY different (This was my 10th time to Las Vegas). We stayed ON the strip at the Mirage in a two bedroom suite. We had a full living and dining room, and all the bells and whistles (+ a bidet? Those things are so weird to me.) Admittedly, I didn’t think the Mirage was going to be a super nice place because it’s a little older, but the updates they have made are totally worth checking out. The price was excellent, it was situated in the center of the popular part of Las Vegas Blvd. and the view was amazing (except for Trump Tower outside our window, that guy is a Dick).
I wasn’t planning on telling you ALL about my Vegas vacation, but I kinda feel like it now. So my coffee is hot, and I’m going for it.
We traveled on Southwest Airlines, which was OK, even better because I paid for an upgrade right before we got on. Totally worth it. Mom and I got the first row of seating in a brand new 737. Nice flight. Friendly staff. Internet was $8. I strongly feel in 2016 internet should be free. Just sayn.
Thursday, 3/31/16, was our first full day. We arrived in Vegas at 8:30am. I love flying in the early morning because weather is usually calmer, and airports are empty. Plus, you’re usually getting a well-rested pilot and crew. Win-win.
First, we checked out our hotel, The Mirage. Lots of places inside to eat, gamble and have cocktails. Plus they have a beautiful atrium, aquarium, dolphin cove and cirque show. Really no reason to even leave the hotel. We crossed the street over to the Venetian, and ate brunch at Luxe in the Venetian. We also walked over to Palazzo to see the gardens and waterfall. The gondola ride at the Venetian was cute, but overpriced (as all of Vegas is).
Stopping at Walgreens to stock up on water was essential. Being that our first day in Vegas was Steph’s birthday, we decided to have a nice dinner. The Giada Restaurant at The Cromwell was an excellent choice. The food was amazing, as was the staff. Special birthday cocktail + dessert was a nice added touch. The Cakebread wine was priced just right and made our seafood + pasta meal one of my favorites all weekend. We walked around for a bit, saw the Bellagio dancing waters + garden, then headed back. It was a loooong day.
Our second day, Friday, we hit the ground early. Breakfast in our room saved a bunch of time, and money. We purchased tickets to see the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show inside our hotel. Headed out to walk around for the day. We walked next door to Bellagio and did some shopping at Tiffany & Co. Then we saw M&M world, The Chandelier bar at Cosmopolitan, ate at Harley-Davidson restaurant, Hershey’s World, New York, New York, Mandalay Bay + toured the aquarium at Mandalay. We took a cab ride all the way back to The Wynn. The gardens at the Wynn were amazing. Took the pedestrian bridge over to Fashion Show Mall where we ate at Mexican Restaurant, Segundo. We headed back to Mirage (via a tram through Treasure Island). We saw the Beatles show that night and got a second wind. After the show, we headed over to Rhumbar (inside our hotel) and got a great table near Las Vegas Blvd to people watch, dance and enjoy some cocktails. This was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. Our night ended with California Pizza Kitchen + more gambling. We went to bed around 2am. Success.
Saturday was LOW key day. We were pooped out from the night before. Breakfast in our room again + shopping at Fashion Show Mall. After shopping, we decided to lay out by the pool for a bit. It was amazing. The pool area is really nice at the Mirage. I prefer it over some of the other places I’ve stayed at in Vegas. We got hot, so Steph and I had some frozen yogurt from the café inside, since she won our little bet we had going (highly recommend the froyo place). I was getting a little antsy, so suggested we do something like visit the Art Gallery at Bellagio. We got ready quickly and headed over to Bellagio Gallery. It was something Steph wanted to see as well. The exhibit was amazing – love walking away from a trip feeling like I learned something. In October, the hubs and I viewed Picasso and this time it was Yousuf Karsh, the well-known photographer. I can’t stress how much I LOVED this exhibit. His work is amazing. We had a simple dinner at Serendipity with yummy shakes for dessert. We walked back to the hotel, cashed in our winnings (I bet in the sports book and won $200, Steph had some slot machine luck). It was time to pack up.
This trip was exactly what I needed. A break away from the every day stuff. I came back feeling grateful for my family, friends and cozy home and a renewed appreciation for my family. I love that I got to spend time alone with my Mom, Aunt and Cousin, as the holiday times seem so inundated with the usual “how’s school/work/boyfriend” conversations. Truly, I am fortunate to be surrounded by such smart, loving, funny women in my family. I also have a lot more patience for the craziness of kiddos + their activities + the race of everyday. I’ve learned that I create my own stress most of the time and that nothing has to be rushed, I should take my time, breathe and be in the moment.
Mostly, I hope Stephanie had a wonderful birthday. I really think she did. Welcome to adulthood. Take risks. Fail. Stay out too late. Have the “good” wine on Tuesday. Travel. Go to a movie alone. Eat alone. Become so involved in a book you absolutely cannot put it down. Surround yourself with things you love and people that are positive and inspiring, that push you to be better. Have a solid group of friends you can ALWAYS rely on. Test yourself. Push yourself. Be brave. But mostly, be fearless. The 20s go by in a blink.
Cheers to many more exciting Birthday’s Stephanie. Love you.