How much does a trip to Vegas cost? Monday, Jan 26 2009 

Since the last Vegas trip, tons of my friends have been asking me how much a trip to Vegas costs.

Well, first of all, IT DEPENDS.  It can cost a lot less than what we paid and it can cost a lot, LOT more.  It all depends on the kind of trip you want to have.

Here is what my friends and I pay.  I’m purposely not adding it up because it will freak me out if I do.

Hotel and Flights

In June, we paid $609 each for air from Boston (connecting flights) and four nights at TI (Treasure Island) with two people to a room.  In January, we paid $542 each for direct flights on US Airways and four nights at TI, this time with three people to a room.

TI is a fantastic hotel.  It’s one of the cheaper ones, but it’s really, really nice, with gorgeous rooms and comfy beds.  It’s also in the perfect location, right across from the Venetian and the Palazzo.  Also within a few minutes’ walk are the Wynn and Encore, the Mirage (next door!) and Caesars Palace.

I wouldn’t stay anywhere more low-end than TI, but some cheaper places include the Monte Carlo, New York-New York and the famous IP.  If I had unlimited funds, I’d be living it up at the Wynn!

Also — tipping the desk clerk $20 has gotten us a room with a great view of the Strip both times.  They usually charge $20 or more per night for that when you book online.  Great investment.

Food

We usually ate two meals a day.  We would always hit up a buffet for brunch, which costs around $20.

At night, it’s whatever you’d like.  I spent $80 on my meal at Bouchon (I had veal with freaking sweetbreads!).  I spent $8 at In-n-Out Burger.  We also like the Grand Lux, which is similar to the Cheesecake Factory and open 24 hours.  It’s at the Venetian and the Palazzo.

Gambling

Whatever you’d like.  I barely gambled this time around.

There are $5 blackjack tables in TI at 5:00 AM and in some of the more ghetto casinos throughout the day.  And penny slots are always open!

Shows

Tix 4 Tonight is a great place for buying day-of tickets, which you can get for 50% off.  There are stands at the Fashion Show Mall, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and the Hawaiian Marketplace, all on the Strip.  Keep in mind that popular shows sell out immediately, which is how we missed Wayne Brady.

What we’ve paid for shows:

Chippendales: $25 at Tix 4 Tonight

Hypnotist: $35 at Tix 4 Tonight

Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE: $130ish, I think?  (You won’t find Cirque for less than $50, and you usually won’t find these at Tix 4 Tonight.  Cirque is a splurge, but well worth it.)

Madame Tussaud’s: $15 at Tix 4 Tonight

Clubs

This is where it gets really subjective.

If you’re a group of girls, you shouldn’t have to pay cover, ever.  Call the club for guest list in advance.  There are cards in resort gift shops that give free or reduced admission on certain nights — look for some of those.  Beyond that, I have no idea how people get by in Vegas if they don’t know people.

Drinks like vodka tonics or rum and cokes cost around $12Vodka Red Bulls are more like $14.  Martinis soar into the atmosphere.  Shots were usually bought for us by guys.  Don’t ask me about beer — I have no idea.

(Drinks at casino bars and other bars are much less expensive.)

Also, if you’re an all-girl group, Tryst is a great place to go.  Both times that we’ve been there, my friends and I have been pulled into SO many VIP booths!!  And those guys are just begging to pour you drinks.

(I’ll be blogging more on Vegas nightlife later.)

Cabs

It depends on where you stay and the time of year when you go.  Lisa and I walked all the way back from Drai’s to TI in June because it was warm out, but it was so cold at night in January that I couldn’t do the walk back from Caesars to TI!

Most trips along the Strip cost us $8-15, including tip.  Keep in mind that the Palms, Hard Rock and Rio are off the Strip and will cost more.

Extras

Again, it depends, and it’s up to you.  You’ve got plenty of options — spa treatments, fabulous shopping.  Last time, I got a massage and bought some Michael Kors sunglasses.

We always get a limo from the airport — it’s a great way to celebrate the trip!  Presidential Limo does it for about $60 and it’s worth it for the champagne and bottled water they give you alone.

Bottled water is expensive at the casinos.  Make a trip to Walgreen’s by the Hawaiian Marketplace to stock up on water and other assorted hangover food — Saltines, Goldfish, Vitamin Water, etc.

Free Things

There are actually things to do in Vegas that are free!

First of all, check out the casinos.  The interiors alone are spectacular.  Walk along the canals at the Venetian and see the lions at the MGM Grand.  Take pictures of yourselves everywhere.

See the Bellagio fountains.  I still haven’t seen these up close.  Go check out the pirate show at TI (it’s awesomely bad and unintentionally hilarious).

And don’t forget the one thing that’s always free in Vegas: sleep.

In Conclusion

Vegas is awesome, but you probably already knew that.  And it costs a lot of money.  But if I have any advice to give, it’s not to do it if you’re going to do it dirt-cheap the entire way.  Keeping to a meager budget might end up stressing you out more.

But every dollar you spend in Vegas is WELL WORTH IT.  Vegas is like nowhere else in the world.

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Vegas: Debauchery is a Mild Word Sunday, Jan 25 2009 

Vegas was absolutely amazing.  This trip totally blew the last trip out of the water.

I could go on for days, but at least a few things need to stay in Vegas.

The highlights:

  • Four hours of sleep a night, supplemented by far too much Red Bull.

  • Meeting people you become best friends with for a few hours, then tastefully ignoring them when you run into them the next day.

  • Never paying cover.  EVER.  Never waiting in line.  EVER.

  • Comped dinner and subsequent partying at Tao.  Love my Tao guy!

  • Eating things you’d never eat at home, like fish with a head on it and sweetbreads.

  • Getting dressed up in designer dresses, black sparkly eyeshadow and fake eyelashes and not being overdressed.

  • Meeting characters at buffets.

  • Hanging out in the casino until 5:30 AM, not even gambling, your fake eyelashes now a moustache.

  • Molesting the statues at Madame Tussaud’s.  (Then, karma: getting molested on stage by the Chippendales in front of everyone.)

  • Also: here’s the one thing in Vegas to NEVER, EVER do.  DO NOT GO INTO THE HAUNTED HOUSE AT MADAME TUSSAUD’S.  PEOPLE JUMP OUT AT YOU AND IT’S SO SCARY.  Lisa was in the fetal position afterward.  Beth and I were in similar states.

  • Getting pulled into VIP booths at Tryst all night.

  • Drinking giant drinks just because you can.

  • FINALLY trying In-N-Out Burger!!!

  • The odd celebrity sighting; also, magnificent chi-chis.  Ice-T and Coco!!!!!!!

  • Getting to spend time with your best friends from high school: The Brood.

  • Never going to bed your last night there.

  • Making friends with bachelor parties.

  • The best part: here’s what we did on Saturday night.  After Chippendales and primping, we headed over to the Bank nightclub at the Bellagio.  We walk past a line of people who have been waiting for hours and walk right in, no cover or anything.  We hang out at the club for 20 minutes, decide it’s lame, then decide to head to Pure at Caesars Palace.  Again, we walk past a line of people who have been waiting for hours; again, we walk right in, no cover.  Later, our host feeds us shots at the bar.  The day before, we do the same thing with an all-you-can-drink party for ladies at Jet, then we head to Tryst.

And so much more that I can’t publicize.

We’re going back in June.  😀

Inaugurating President Obama Wednesday, Jan 21 2009 

There’s so much I could say about this.  I could go on for days.

I’m so proud that my country elected Barack Obama — that they saw in him what I’ve seen in him from the very beginning.

I’m so proud that the candidate I supported from the very beginning was not only the Democratic nominee, but actually elected!  (That’s a first.)

I’m so proud that a black president was elected not only in my lifetime, but at such a young age.

Just hearing people on the news say “the President” and “the First Lady,” it takes a moment, and then it gives me a jolt to realize that they’re talking about Barack and Michelle.  God.  It’s true.

And these are the people who made it happen — well over a million people were on the mall alone.

How amazing does Jill Biden look?  She’s smokin’ hot.

I want that coat.  And those boots.  And I want to look like her when I’m her age.

Joe Biden — a great American.  I knew I loved this guy since “a noun and a verb and 9/11,” and the more I learn about him, the more I like him.  He was my first choice for Obama’s running mate.

No matter who you are, if you’re an American, you’ve benefited greatly from Joe Biden’s work in the Senate.  And you know what?  Most of his major work in the Senate shares the same theme — standing up for victims and defending and protecting them.  I love that about him.

I can’t not mention this hat.

A great moment in United States history.

Budding photographer Malia.

Sasha is second to congratulate her dad after Chief Justice Roberts.

I can’t get over how poised and mature Sasha and Malia were as they walked out onto the podium for their father’s inauguration.  They’re like little adults.

Like much of the country, I’m looking forward to watching these little girls grow up!  They’ve got smart, caring and protective parents, so I’m betting they’ll grow up to be as well-adjusted as Chelsea Clinton.

(And they remind me so much of me and Sars.  They have the same age difference and they seem like they’re best friends.  Sars was the comedian; I was the serious one.  And we had a very close family that loved to joke around and tease each other.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it’s so nice to have a President and First Lady who are not only crazy about each other, but who see each other as equals.  That’s a rare find in a public couple.

I have to admit that I was disappointed by Michelle’s inauguration gown.  If it didn’t have those little tufts of fabric on it, I would have liked it much more.  That was the one thing that held it back.  The cut is great, the one-shoulder is perfect for the times, and she always looks great in white.

Once again…Jill Biden is smokin’ hot.  Beautiful gown.

Good morning, Mr. President!

Today, President Obama spent his day reading the traditional note left for him by former President Bush, calling several Middle Eastern leaders, attending a National Prayer Service at the Washington Cathedral, hosting the traditional White House Open House, meeting with his economic team, meeting with the Pentagon’s top brass, and meeting with several people involved with Iraq, including the country’s Ambassador and Commander.

In the days before the primaries, when it looked like Hillary was all but unstoppable, I remember telling myself that this was great, that I loved supporting Barack, and that I’d gladly support Hillary in the general election.

But every now and then, I’d offer myself a delicious fantasy.

What if, against all odds, he won?

What if?

Oh, and it would be fantastic, and I would be so happy to have him as my President…

That would be amazing — but it wouldn’t happen.

And despite the odds, he made it.  He’s here.  And he’s my President.

Images courtesy of the Huffington Post and Boston.com.

The Vegas Outfits — 2009 Edition Tuesday, Jan 13 2009 

I’m going to Vegas this weekend with some of my best friends — Lisa, Beth, Alexa (and Grant) and Jen.  I’m talking to some of my contacts, putting together plans and it sounds like it’s going to be AMAZING!!!  I don’t want to share anything yet, in case something goes wrong, but…it’s going to be amazing.  It SHOULD be amazing.

Lisa and I have started a tradition of posting our outfits online before we go.  Here are this year’s options:

(Oh, and just so you know, I do not own a full-length mirror, and this is me standing on my toilet, facing my bathroom mirror.)

(And I am wearing Spanx.)

(Or sucking it in.  A LOT.)

Bebe

Dress: Bebe

This is the dress I wore on my birthday and New Year’s Eve this year, but I’ve never worn it in Vegas.  Such a sexy dress!  I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing this to Tao on Thursday.

Nicole Miller via RueLaLa.com

Dress: Nicole Miller via RueLaLa.com

I love this dress, RueLaLa is amazing, and even though it’s a size too small, I’m looking forward to wearing it in Vegas, even though it’s a tad formal.

Roberto Cavalli via eBay

Dress: Roberto Cavalli via eBay

Ah, yes.  My beloved Cavalli.  Earlier this week, I was thinking that I’ve overdone it for this dress — I wore it on my other birthday celebration, and I wore it at Tao last time — but you know what?  It’s Vegas!  It’s by my favorite designer!  A similar one is on the cover of the Mamma Mia DVD!  As long as I don’t wear it to Tao, which I won’t, it’ll be great.

Express.

Top: Express. Shorts: Express.

Now, I know it’s winter…but Vegas is the only place where I’ve worn my bright red satin shorts.  Not crazy about this combination, though.  The top would look better with my short black skirt.

Local designer via the Garment District in Cambridge.

Top: Express. Skirt: Local designer via the Garment District in Cambridge.

I like this combination a lot — I wore the top in Vegas on Chippendales night (though it was FREEZING in there!) and a girl wore a similar outfit at Tao.  Not sure about the skirt — it might be better with the plain black American Apparel miniskirt.

American Apparel.

Top: Express. Camisole: Express. Skirt: American Apparel.

Yeah, not crazy about this (though the shirt needs to be ironed).  I wore this shirt with my red shorts to Pure last time in Vegas, and it ended up looking a little bit ridiculous afterwards.  I didn’t quite pull it off.

American Apparel.

Top: Wet Seal (Seriously). Skirt: American Apparel.

Now, this I like!  It’s so odd — this was a $20.00 shirt and everyone always asks me where I got it.  I think this would look better with a longer skirt, and that’s perfect, because I have a black American Apparel pencil skirt!  (It’s in the dryer at the moment, so that’s why I’m not modeling it.)

Target (word!).

Top: Express. Skirt: American Apparel. Leggings: Target (word!).

Whoa.  Way too aerobics instructory.

Ugh, I still don’t know!!!!  We’ll be going out four different nights.  What do you think?

Best Dressed at the Golden Globes Monday, Jan 12 2009 

This was one of my favorite Golden Globes shows.  Kate Winslet FINALLY winning — and twice! — Mickey Rourke and Tracey Jordan Morgan’s speech made it a great night.

As for the fashion, though, I thought this year was a bit lacking.  Not a ton of interesting gowns.  Lots of white.  Lots of gathering.  Form-fitting silhouettes.  I always love the shows when there are tons of people in bright colors.

(Speaking of that, where was Marcia Cross this year?  She’s living proof that redheads can look gorgeous in every color of the rainbow, including coral, fuchsia and white.)

Here are my picks for best-dressed at the awards:

Elizabeth Banks

My favorite dress of the night.  I love the shape of this — it’s very retro and romantic.

Sandra Bullock

She always looks like herself on the red carpet, even when wearing a gown as stunning as this.

Mary-Louise Parker

Awesome color, love the train, love the criss-cross pattern.  Definitely a standout.

Kate Beckinsale

I can’t stand her, but she looks fantastic here.  I absolutely love the neckline.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

If I had gone to an awards show, this is the kind of gown I would have worn.  Offbeat, retro and just toeing the line — you know half the people will hate it the next day.  But better that than to be boring and expected.

Eva Longoria

Ugh, I really can’t stand Eva Longoria, but this is a beautiful gown.  I didn’t think someone as short as her would be able to pull off the mermaid train, but it works well for her.

Miley Cyrus

Now someone I can’t stand at ALL!!  I can guarantee you that everyone at my former job detests her with a passion.  But honestly, this is one of the best gowns of the night.  And get your hand off her ass, Billy Ray.

Kate Winslet

Someone I adore.  I will see Kate Winslet (along with Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp) in ANYTHING.

This isn’t one of her more daring or unusual gowns…but I love it.  It’s the perfect shape for her body.  It’s mercifully free of cleavage.  And she looks fantastic.

And I have to single out the best-dressed male:

Mickey Rourke

He looks like he’s channeling Johnny Depp here, but it looks like he really means it.  I loved the sequined scarf!

An Historical Moment Wednesday, Jan 7 2009 

Today, all of the surviving presidents — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — met with President-elect Barack Obama at the White House.

Although all the surviving presidents (including Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford) were present at Richard Nixon’s funeral in 1994, this is the first time that all surviving presidents have met at the White House since 1981.

Since 1981!

That makes this day even more extraordinary.

No matter what your political views are, you have to agree that this is a significant moment in history.

Top 25 Photos of 2008 Saturday, Jan 3 2009 

Here are the 25 best, weirdest and funniest photos of 2008 — the ones that I think best represent the year.  God, this has been a cruisazy year.  Enjoy!

Arrival in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

I had a really difficult winter, mostly due to a rocky relationship, a bad breakup and being unable to shake a cold for two months.  My mom invited me to come to New Mexico with her and it was EXACTLY what I needed.  It was a time to heal.

I loved the color of this car.

Callie and I attempt to smile with our eyes, Tyra Banks-style, while at Ned Devine’s.

Lisa and I celebrate our Irish heritage in the form of Guinness, Jameson and Bailey’s on St. Paddy’s Day.

I quit my job of nearly two years!!  Here I am on my last day with my wonderful friends Jackie, Nadine, Esther and Michelle.

The weekend before I start my new job, I meet Josh.

This is the start of a crazy friendship and the first of our many, many adventures.

While out in Faneuil Hall, I befriend a bachelor party and end up jumping on their bus with them, partying till dawn.

In Las Vegas at Madame Tussaud’s, Lisa, Alexa and I give Hef a good time!

I then get stuck inside Frank Sinatra.

Ever sat in a guy in a wheelchair’s lap as he spins you around on the dance floor?  I now have.  This was also at Tryst.

This is probably my favorite picture of the year.  It’s definitely the funniest.  This is me and Lisa in Vegas at 7:00 AM after leaving Drai’s and walking back to TI while high-fiving random onlookers and yelling, “Vegas!” then going to play Blackjack for a few more hours.  This is around the time Lisa lay in the alley next to the IP.

Yeah…no explanation needed.

I spoon Beth (under the tarp) on the Esplanade in Boston on the Fourth of July.  It rained for part of the day.

Beth tries to help me discreetly change from shorts into pants on the Esplanade as Janelle looks on.  Yeah, we kind of failed at the “discreet” part.

If you’re napping, you might as well keep up the patriotism and the pimpin’.

This picture is so embarrassing.  I was convinced my hand was on his left outer thigh, NOT HIS RIGHT INNER THIGH.  I nearly died when I saw this — and Lisa, Beth and Janelle nearly died of laughter.  We met this guy at the Blackthorne in Southie and he went to our high school 15 years before us.

I reunite with my wonderful college roommate Kelly Anne at our friends Sean and Shannon‘s barbecue at their beautiful new house in Bridgeport.  (Sean and Shannon have since gotten engaged, which excites me to no end!)

The night before our shared birthday, I run into Hans at Mantra in Boston.  We’re smiling pretty big despite our disastrous weekend a week before.

Me and my lubly Sars on my birthday at 28 Degrees.

Me and my wonderful friends on my birthday.  These are some of the people most important to me: Kara, Carissa, Surina, Sars, Josh, Callie, Lisa and Beth.

I attend Barack Obama’s September rally in Manchester, New Hampshire — what an amazing experience!

I needed a popular, smart, topical and preferably political, yet not overdone (aka Sarah Palin), Halloween costume this year.  I fretted that I wouldn’t be able to find a good one — and then the PERFECT character swept into the news and into my life.  Ashley Todd.  One of my best costumes.

My first night in Buenos Aires and I’m getting licked!  Maxi unsuspectingly gets me when I was expecting a normal, smiling picture.  That’s a genuine expression of shock on my face.

Poor Louis…in Buenos Aires, food poisoning and parilla do not mix.

Carissa and I get borderline violent at Shabu Shabu Kaze in Chinatown.

Beth and I celebrate the arrival of 2009.

Top Five Adventures in 2008 Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

Well, the new year’s here, the world hasn’t ended, and the worst decision I made last night was not rolling around in a vomit-filled curb but rather deciding to go out for Chinese instead of grabbing a cab earlier, when I should have, and waiting forever in the freezing cold in order to get one.

Success.

Though it’s a tad late, I’d like to recap my top five adventures of 2008.

  1. My solo trip to Buenos Aires. Despite the amount of travel I’ve done, I had never done an entire trip alone.  And I did it.  To a continent — nay, hemisphere! — where I’d never been.  In a country whose language I speak at a kindergarten level at best.  And you know what?  I had a BLAST.  I got into the nightlife scene.  I made tons of friends from all over the world.  And I dealt with my biggest travel issue ever — by myself, without freaking out.
  2. Going home with a bachelor party.  I ran into a bachelor party in Faneuil Hall this summer, and they invited me to get on their bus and go back to their house with them.  In a move out of a Lifetime movie, I accepted.  Alone — none of my friends would come with me.  EVERY guide tells you never to do anything REMOTELY resembling that — but turns out that in between all of us doing shots, me and the guys hanging off the stripper poles (fully clothed), and covering each other in red lipstick, we had a GREAT, chaste and surprisingly low-key time.  What a night.
  3. Crashing the Alpha Omega party. Carissa and I were at the Pru and saw a party going on at Alpha Omega.  We were dressed up nicely, so she sweetly talked us in.  Turns out it was a party for the jewelry line Carrera y Carrera.  Mojitos all night, fancy passed apps, awesome gift bags AND we got to meet Carrera himself and gush to him about how beautiful his jewelry is.
  4. Meeting a guy at a club and then going away for the weekend with him. I never wrote about this in the blog.  I don’t want the guy to be able to google himself to this page.  Um…of all the names in the world, his name is Hhaannss! (Double-lettered.)  And he’s very well known where he lives, in a popular resort area of Massachusetts.  And while I thought that going away with this random guy would be SPONTANEOUS and ROMANTIC and would make a FANTASTIC story…turns out, only the latter was true, because it was THE SINGLE MOST AWKWARD WEEKEND OF MY LIFE.  Yeah.
  5. Surviving Tryst night in Vegas with Lisa. Lisa, Alexa and I had an unforgettable night in Vegas — starting with Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE at the Mirage, then the Grand Lux at the Venetian, then heading to Tryst nightclub at the Wynn.  Well, shortly after Alexa left, Lisa and I did the following:
  • Spent only a few dollars each all night
  • Got pulled into countless VIP booths at Tryst
  • Sat in the lap of a guy in a wheelchair and got spun around on the dance floor
  • I did a long catwalk-style walk  in a straight line to convince the Tryst security guys I was still sober after they nearly threw me out for drunken behavior
  • Pulled random people into a cab to go to after hours at Drai’s
  • Left Drai’s at about 7:00 AM, high-fiving everyone we walked past on the Strip, yelling, “Vegas!”
  • Decided that it was a GREAT time to start (!) playing blackjack
  • Lost all our money…well, not quite all of it, but I lost a lot more than Lisa did.

Besides that, there were a ton of great things that happened this year.  I got a new job at a really wonderful company, all thanks to The Missus (my boss now!).  I’m very lucky to have this job.  I moved to the Back Bay with my sister, and we have a wonderful apartment.  Besides Vegas and Buenos Aires, I went to New Mexico and some places around here.

I played blackjack publicly for the first time ever (at Foxwoods) and made nearly $100 in six hands.  I got more press for my grammar blog.  I went to a lot of cool local events.  I made tons of new friends — most notably, Josh, who has a penchant for convincing me to make bad decisions that make hilarious stories the next day.

Well, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2009.

I need to figure out where to do my next big (and likely solo) trip.  I’d like this one to be two weeks long, but the timing will depend on a lot of things, including work.  The Greek islands hold my attention more than most.

And I’m going to Vegas two weeks from now.  😉  With Lisa, Alexa (and Grant), Beth, AND Jen, my dear friend who now lives in Chicago!  I can only imagine the ensuing debauchery…

My generic New Year’s resolutions are generic (though specific) — to walk more often and to drink less coffee.  But beyond that, I hope to enter 2010 having had countless new adventures, epic adventures, wild adventures.

This year is going to be fantastic.  Starting with Vegas.