(it was actually 46.5hrs but 48 had a better ring to it!)
It was the end of Jonas and I’s summer festival tour in Canada and we had a couple of days to fill before Jonas went back to Europe and I went to New Zealand for my 6 weekly MS treatment. We had just finished the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival and coincidentally Jonas’s birthday was coming up the following week. One of the cheapest flights out of Edmonton was to Las Vegas… so I guess we were going to Vegas baby!
Swoop Airlines From Edmonton, CAD $340 CAD return with only a backpack under the seat in front
That, written in a nutshell, looks quite simple doesn’t it! We were all set to fly at 5PM the day before Jonas’s birthday (27th August) but somewhat unsurprisingly due to booking with an ultra low cost airline our original flight was cancelled. Wonderfully our flight to Vegas was automatically changed to 2hrs before our flight back out of Vegas (I know right, who doesn’t want an action packed 2 hours in Vegas!) but we were able to change it online easily enough. We were scheduled to depart from Edmonton at 5PM on the 28th of August.
But then we were delayed x3 times at the airport…
And then just as half the plane had boarded everyone was instructed to immediately disembark because the plane now had - get this - a FLAT TIRE.
A flat tire…! I was beginning to question the universe and whether this was a sign to not go to Vegas? But alas, by 7:30PM we were speeding down the runway en route to Las Vegas.
(Once we made it)
WHERE WE STAYED
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $154 USD + $100 refundable deposit (broken down that’s $42 a night + a $35 resort fee) there are legit flamingos walking around the hotel grounds two lovely swimming pools
They love a good neon sign in Vegas
As soon as Swoop cancelled our flight I extended our current Edmonton AirBnB for an extra night and called the Flamingo Hotel. I got through to a lovely man at the Caeser’s call centre who said there was no stress to cancel the first night, we wouldn’t be charged and what time would we be arriving instead? I said between 7 and 9PM the following day and he said as long as you arrive before 10PM there won’t be a problem.
And then the flat tire on the plane happened and we didn’t end up landing until 9:30PM. By the time we navigated our way through the airport carpark to find the Uber pick up area it was getting extremely close to 10PM. I called the hotel to let them know and again, no stress, we’ll see you when we see you.
Our hotel booking was cancelled.
The receptionist had no idea what I was talking about but somehow managed to restore the booking in the system and we were on our way to our home on the 19th floor for the next 2 nights.
MS TIP: The heat and walking really affected my legs (pain and tingling) and by the time we got back to the hotel room I wasn’t in the best shape. There were ice machines on certain floors and Jonas was able to easily get there to fill up my drink bottle full of ice so I could cool my legs and body down fast. I suppose a cold shower could’ve worked too? But I find ice to the legs super helpful when you’re still busy doing things!
We had another call centre mishap where Jonas called at around 1am to get a late checkout and the guy said that was definitely doable but please call again in the morning to book that in. We called and apparently the hotel was completely full (all 3,626 rooms?!) with a conference happening and there was no way we could have a late checkout. That was the fastest we’ve ever gotten ready I think.
There are luggage storage facilities outside the hotel by the carpark/rideshare pick up area, but don’t be an idiot like us and have literally ZERO American dollars in cash between us so we couldn’t tip the luggage storage workers on our way out. Gah. What a mess.
Cocktails were too expensive so it was cans for us haha
We had two full days and one night to get as many Las Vegas activities in as possible. Looking back I’m really impressed with what we managed to get through considering that Vegas was going through a heatwave and both days reached 43C. It was a dry heat meaning we weren’t left super sweaty but my eyeballs were sizzling behind my sunglasses and I was convinced we were walking on the sun.
Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE @ Mandalay Bay we paid $95USD per ticket prices vary from $69 - $179.99 USD
Originally we wanted to see Cirque du Soleil’s Kà at MGM Grand because we had heard so many amazing things from our friends, but they don’t play on Thursdays and that was our only night to catch shows. Jonas was a huge MJ fan growing up and because we were here for his birthday we decided on ONE instead and booked the cheapest ticket at 2am for the following evening.
Little did we know that the following evening was Michael Jackson’s birthday! As soon as we arrived at Mandalay Bay and collected our tickets we were greeted with hundreds of people wearing MJ costumes and an exclusive pre show party with a birthday cake and everything. I felt extremely out of place with the fans but bought a commemorative cup anyway. I’m a sucker for some merch.
We had only just found our (very average) seats in the auditorium and were settling in for the show when a stranger tapped us on the shoulder
and asked if we wanted to move to a better seat. Jonas, always the skeptic, asked what the catch was, but there wasn’t one. We followed him down to the Best. Seats. In. The. Whole. House where we were left to feel fancy next to the other punters who had paid close to $300 NZD for their seats.
Opium - Las Vegas Variety Show @ Cosmopolitan tickets from $69 - $129 USD
We were gifted comp tickets for the show (xoxo Lisa & Craig for hooking us up) and absolutely loved it!
Go for a walk around the Casinos & Hotels
Personal faves: The Venetian (had legit canals inside the building with gondolas and bridges, the roof was painted like the sky to pretend you were outside and there was “outdoor” dining! Insane! You HAVE to go there!) and the Luxor Hotel (the whole hotel is shaped like a pyramid?! It’s quite fascinating standing in the middle and looking up at all of the floors) but every hotel has something wonderful about it. I could’ve spent the whole day walking around the hotels and wouldn’t have regretted it!
The Fountains of Bellagio
A mesmerising light, water and music show outside the Bellagio Hotel. It’s a daily occurrence with shows every 30 mins from 3pm - 7pm & every 15 mins 7pm - midnight Monday to Saturday (starts at 12pm on Saturdays though) Sundays they mix it up a lil: every 15 mins from 11am until 2:30PM.
If you haven't seen this James Corden & Celine Dion water fountain clip before…You have to right now!
Skip to 11:42 for the Bellagio Fountain show!
High Roller at The LINQ the world’s tallest ferris wheel $23.50 USD each
(it’s a little cheaper online but we were lazy and just booked at the main office)
I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this but we lucked out and had the whole carriage to ourselves! We went early afternoon if that had anything to do with our luck. The commentary that runs the entire time is really informative and interesting and I especially loved seeing the hotels from above. Bonus that it had air conditioning!
Also, a top tip: walking along The LINQ Promenade towards the High Roller you will find a fake Las Vegas sign outside a souvenir shop! Again, it was hot and we were pressed for time, so a couple of photos in front of this one made up for not making it out to the infamous instagram hot spot.
Play the slot machines & get a free drink
You can tell we were working on a budget here! You can play the 1cent slot machines and ask the servers that are walking around for a drink. The drinks are free (just remember to tip the server) It’s important that you maintain hydration while gambling away your hard earned dollars ya know!
I won at the Cosmopolitan Casino and when I went to cash out I warned the lady that “ohhhh brace yourself, it’s a big one!” I sauntered away with $11.70 in my pocket and quickly lost it all (and some) back at the Flamingo. What happens in Vegas literally stays in Vegas.
Circus Circus free circus acts every hour/45 mins check the schedule and the lineup here
Our hotel was in such a great location and we really felt like we were in the middle of it all. On our last day we stupidly decided to walk the 2.5kms to Circus Circus…. In 43 degrees. Circus Circus is quite far south along Las Vegas Boulevard and a little out of the way from the hustle and bustle. It was worth the trip (but definitely not worth the walk! Get a taxi/uber/whatever) for the arcade games and to just soak up the atmosphere. I wouldn’t want to stay the night there but it was fun for a couple of hours.
Literally finding any amount of shade to get to Circus Circus alive!!
The Good and The Very Very Bad
There’s probably an area in Vegas that has all of the amazing food but we only had 46.5 hours to do everything so traveling for food wasn’t a viable option when we had places to be and shows to see! I did receive a few instagram messages explaining where the good stuff was but because we were so pressed for time we stuck to places around our hotel and The LINQ Promenade. If that's you too, here are the reviews:
Flour & Barley A brick oven pizza & craft beer joint along The LINQ Promenade
Flour & Barley boasted “award winning gluten free pizza dough” so obviously it would’ve been rude to not test it out. The owner could sense my inner gluten free food critic and personally delivered the pizza to the table and eagerly waited for my verdict. The pizza was square and the dough was thick but airy, and it was actually quite good! I would like to say I didn’t have the heart to tell him how advanced the gluten free pizza dough technology is in New Zealand and Australia though ...but I did. It was definitely a great gluten free margarita pizza for Vegas, but an overall only 3.5 stars from me.
Here's the award winning gluten free pizza, and yeah, Jonas is a freaking monster
Maxies The website says “a new dining hotspot in Las Vegas serving breakfast, lunch and dinner!”
I need a coffee in the mornings before I can function for the day and we rang room service but it was going to take 1.5 hours for x2 black coffees to arrive, so we quickly found somewhere for coffee and breakky. We ended up Maxies. Look, it was fine, there was coffee, and air conditioning, and we were starving, but I did eat the worst gluten free pancakes ever and spent nearly $25NZD + a tip on them and was really disappointed and went on about it so much I swore to never go on about those pancakes ever again. Until now. I decided you don’t come to Las Vegas for quality gluten free vegetarian food, ya know?
Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar “Authentic and innovative Mexican fare + world class tequila”
It was fun here. The waitress that welcomed us was super lovely and asked a lot of questions about our accents. We explained we were from Sweden (Jonas) and New Zealand (me) and, bless her, she said, “oh yeah they’re really close to each other right?” We wish! That would certainly make life a lot easier! Like all of the restaurants around this area it wasn’t cheap but we grabbed the corn chips + salsa and guacamole and weren’t disappointed.
I think I then just lived on coffee, pepsi and fries for the rest of the meals.
And that's everything! A whirlwind trip to Vegas.
I was convinced I was going to melt into nothingness and it certainly was an unforgettable 46 and a half hours in Las Vegas. Jonas had a great birthday and I was amazed at how much of Vegas I was able to see with very limited time. I can’t wait to go back again!