Vegas (round 3): Food, scenery, friends and music
What more could I ask for? Oh yes, sun. Lots of it! This was my third time in Vegas (third time’s a charm, right?) and I definitely partied harder and longer than the first two times there. In a nutshell, that was the most time I’ve ever spent in this desert city, but the least amount of sleep I’ve gotten as well. Sounds about right, I guess?
Summary of all the amazing gourmet I had a chance to try this time (I’ll try and post individually with more photos and detail later if I don’t forget):
- Spanish food on the first day at Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan. Nothing special, in my opinion, but the ambience was good and the paella on rotation was interesting. They run cycles of 2 paellas per day and depending on what you want, you may not get it. Best to call in advance to find out which ones they’re doing that day.
- Burgers and fries from B&B Burgers by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. I highly recommend the nutella shake if you like Nutella at all. You can even add a shot of alcohol to it to make you feel more like you’re in Sin City.
- Amazing dinner at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta (finally got to try this one and I highly recommend it!). I think this was hands down my favourite meal in Vegas. I had the creamy polenta to start and then the tortellini which was so light and yummy that the non-vegetarians loved it too (no lies). The bottle of 2007 reserve chianti we shared wasn’t too bold, but still full of flavour.
- una comida at Julian Serrano (that’s the second time I’ve been) and the black rice was the star out of all the tapas we ordered. Oh, and of course there was sangria.
- frozen hot chocolates (what the paradox) at Serendipity 3. Ever since hearing about these hot chocolates in New York, I couldn’t wait to try them. If you’re a sucker for almonds like me, the almond amaretto hog chocolate is amazing and it was even better cold.
- amazing breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi, which is definitely a place I’d return to. Benny of the day was brie, asparagus and mushroom on a baguette, need I say more? I also loved the atmosphere of this French style cafe.
- mind-boggling sized brunch at Hash House a go go where I finished less than half of my scramble. I saw others ordering mountain-like dishes of chicken’n’waffles and pancakes bigger than my face!
- Missed out on brunch at Bouchon but made it to DB Brasserie for déjeuner, where I had an excellent pea rigatoni. The dulce cherry bomb was less rich than I had anticipated, with its dulce de leche mousse which was oh-so-good and all the sweeter for my taste budes which were loving the cherry flavoured mousse.
- Had a ‘Shroom Burger at Shake Shack which had crazy long lineups in NYC but was much more reasonable here. Completely forgot about their secret menu, but I loved my burger. The patty is a fried portobellow with cheese that just oozes out. Excuse me while I go wipe my drool off.
Only managed to catch one show this time around, but it was Cirque de Soleil and it was great. Zumanity is the resident show playing at New York New York and it is sensual and open. Edie, the host of this production, and the rest of the crew took dance is sexy to the next level. If you plan to watch this though, keep an open mind. Definitely not for the conservative or faint-hearted.
Now that I’ve covered shows and food, let’s move onto nature-y things. Zion National Park is roughly 2.5-3 hours drive away from the Vegas strip and definitely worth a visit, whether you’re in Nevada, Utah or Arizona. We completed the 8 mile hike to the top of Observation Point under the blistering sun. I cannot stress how important sunscreen, water and a hat are for this hike. Especially if you’re doing it in the summer months. There is limited shade and it’s a major uphill climb (2000+ ft of elevation throughout the hike). The view at the end is beautiful though and you can even see Angel’s Landing in the canyon once you reach the vantage point (see feature image for the view).
We parked in Springdale and actually caught the free shuttle to Zion Canyon National Park, where we then hopped on the Zion Canyon Road shuttle (also free) to get to our trailhead. There are 9 stops along the Canyon Road which lead you to a variety of attractions and hikes. We completed one of the more strenuous hikes and if it wasn’t for our 2 seemingly tireless companions, it’s unlikely that I would have had the motivation to make it all the way to the top. It took us about 2.5 hours to get up with a lot of stops and 1.5 to come down with fewer stops. The last 1.5 mile was the worst on our way down since there might as well not have been any shade. Completing that hike makes me realize how unfit I really am. It’s sort of depressing and motivating all at the same time. I could blame it on heat and elevation since we certainly don’t get that kind of heat in Toronto, but let’s call it what it is. Time to work out (and hopefully get somewhere with it this time). In the mean time, here are a few more photos of the hike.
Oh, and like the love locks in Paris (which are getting taken down, Zion Canyon National Park had its own version. It’s a bit small, but at the top of that circle of locks, it says Hearts Together, Love Forever.
Finally, onto the music. Thursday night brought us to XS at Encore for Avicii, whose opener was Arty. That was the beginning of late nights in Vegas. The next few nights saw us at EDC in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Over the weekend, elevators were our entertainment and shuttles were the bane of our existence. The carnival itself was a massive production. Lights, rides, and stages that didn’t bleed music into each other. Creative art, music, crazy kids and throwing our hands in the air. All sorts of totems (someone even made a nemo one!!!), costumes and more skin (especially that t&a) than I’ve ever seen in one sitting. Here’s Kinetic, the main stage in all its glory. Eyes opening and closing all night long.
We checked out all the stages by the end of night 3 and I was impressed with the set up and the design. Some really elaborate set designing and production going on here. As for the music, some of the sets we caught were Above and Beyond, Arty, Kaskade, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Martin Garrix, Dash Berlin, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Calvin Harris, Gaia. From DJs who sounded like they were playing the same song over and over again to the ones who brought out some cheesy music or something else to get us going, it was just a lot of people throwing up their hands all around. Aside from all the mixes, you’re bound to meet some interesting people and have some interesting conversation in and around the event. I heard See You Again twice, but only briefly. I heard some good mixes that I’m chasing down. It was a great experience but probably not something I would go back to again, considering the healing my body needs to go through after to get back the rest it needs. For now, here’s one of my favourites from this weekend.