Thursday, August 30, 2012

buying stuff you regret

When I'm at home and I decide to buy something, say a dress, then I'll dither over it for ages in the shop.  Often I ask the assistant when the shop will shut as she'll probably find me still contemplating in front of the dress as she's about to lock up.  Then I'll go away and come back the next day and maybe even the next before finally deciding.
But when I'm on holiday, all my home rules get thrown out and I turn into some impetuous buying hurricane.  I don't think twice about buying stuff.   I can't remember ever buying anything on holiday that hasn't caused supreme anguish when I return.
My Vegas trip was no exception.  Bags, were my downfall.
I only travel with cabin luggage, the same old tried and true small backpack that when comfortably full weighs 5 kg, and stuffed full goes up to 7kg.  Into this bag, I slot a tiny fold-up even-smaller back-pack that I use as my 'getting-around' bag.
For some obscure reason, within days of arriving in Vegas, I bought a multi-coloured patent leather (what a grand name for 'plastic') bag.  Within an hour of buying the $38 bag, I hated the thing.  It was too big, and wouldn't fit into my cabin bag, along with all my other gear.
I went to the UPS store to see about sending the bag home.  It would cost $120.  I vowed to throw it in a rubbish bin.
But then I fell in love with a black glitter (Victoria's secrets) medium-size backpack.  Prior to leaving, I'd told my friends not to let me buy glitter in Las Vegas.  What use is glitter for a retiree in Wellington?  Curse you, friends, for not being there for me....
Then I bought a trolley-dolly wheelie cabin bag at an outlet shop. A Calvin Klein travel bag.  I got it for $70, reduced from $180. 
Now, I had three bags that I didn't want.  Plus, I didn't want to get rid of my own backpack-cabin bag.
So ....   I dumped four tops, a pair of shorts, a pashmina, a cami, a jacket. my 'getting-around' backpack, and my nightie to make room in the Calvin Klein bag for my own cabin bag, plus the multi-coloured bag, and the glitter bag..
At weigh-in at the airport, I was told I was 1.2 kg  (8.2 kg) overweight and between weigh-in and the plane, I would have to lose a kg. 
I didn't, and quivered in fear my entire journey plus plane changes back to NZ.
And I hated the dolly-trolly Calvin Klein bag. I felt like some useless female towing it behind me. It wouldn't turn properly, it toppled over, and got caught in the toilet door at Brisbane. Oh, for my backpack!
I now have three stupid bags that I'll probably never use.  Sigh. 
 I'm going up to Auckland to see 'Mary Poppins' in November.  Guess which bag I'll be taking?:  yes, my ancient old cabin backpack  The other three bags will remain hidden away forever at the back of my closet..

Moral:  think twice before buying stuff on holiday.

Photo below:  top row, left to right:  my old cabin bag, my new Calvin Klein wheelie travel bag.
bottom row:  left to right: my new glitter bag, and my new multi-coloured bag.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

sixth swim - hooray!!

Today J and I did our sixth swim for August.  Our aim has always been three swim minimum through the winter months this year.  And now for August, it's been six.  six.  SIX!     We are the champions-lah-de-de-dah......  We wanted to hi-five each other after the swim but decided it was too difficult because it would have required a hi-six, ie. four fingers and two thumbs.
There was a wee bit of debris muck in the water surrounding the steps and wimps that we were we stood there in the cold debating whether to go in or not.  But we'd already 'looked at the water' and so we had to go in (another of our rules).  The sea was quite choppy.

shows I went to in Vegas

This year in Vegas I went to three and a half(!) shows.  I saw Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace.  The stage was soooooo wide, and went sooooo far back.  She had a 36-piece orchestra on stage with her.  The show was crammed choc-full of special effects, lasers, holograms, screens, cranes lifting her up and down, mist, etc.  No doubt about it, Celine is a good singer, but would everyone have come out of the theatre on such a high if it had just been her on the stage without all the added effects. Mind you, on that huge stage, just by herself, she would have been lost.   She wore tight sheath glitter dresses with split leg or one shoulder look, changing several times during the hour and a half show.  This show was real Vegas and as such truly worth a look.
When I got back home again, there was an email from her thanking me for attending the show, and also a one-only-look video of her also thanking me (well, thanking a show attendee, not me by name).  A very good publicity touch.  I appreciated this.
The second show I saw was "Surf - the Musical", at the Planet Hollywood theatre.   A brand spanking new show with  a story centred around The Beach Boys' music.  I loved-adored-fell-in-love-with-this-show!   I think it is also the way shows will be in the future.  The scenery background is a bank of screens:  the beach, sea, trees, apartments, fairground.   I will repeat what most reviewers have mentioned - the ferris wheel scene was spectacular!  The theatre-goer is truly made to believe the 'lovers' are on a real ferris wheel.   The dancer/actor/singer who played 'Rhonda' was truly a stand-out, as was the young actor who played 'the young brother'.  Everyone in the cast acted with enthusiasm.   There is not enough publcity for this show, and I'm scared it may be taken off.  It deserves to go to Broadway. Probably twenty or so in the cast.

I also saw David Spade, the comedian from '8 Simple Rules', 'Just Shoot Me', and other tv shows.  He was at the Venetian Showroom, a small, intimate theatre, maybe seating about 500.  I didn't particularly care for his intro stand-up comedians, but Spade, himself, was truly good.  I enjoyed him.
Here is a view taken from the Venetian Casino &; Hotel balcony.  As you can see, they are really trying for the 'Venice look'.

I decided to go to see Penn and Teller (at the Rio), the magicians who expose other magicians' tricks.  They were also in "Neverwhere", the fantastic British tv series.  Penn has been host on several tv shows (I think he was on the American show where one has to guess people's jobs.  I think he was also on that guess-the-tune show).  Anyway, within half an hour, the lighting blew in the theatre and there was a power cut.  Penn and Teller gamely tried to carry on (the ushers  crouched down low at the front of the stalls  shining  torches up to the stage).  While Penn was trying to perform a stunt that was highly visable, Teller ran off stage to try to locate another trick that would be okay for a power cut.  After about half-an-hour, the pair gave up.  The show was stopped, and our money was refunded.  Penn and Teller do go into the lobby at the end of a show to talk to attendees.

Oh, P.S.:  J and I have managed to cram in another two swims this month. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Las Vegas food!

Re my holiday last week in Las Vegas:
  I was trying to get through the so-called ten best buffets in Vegas.  Only managed half a dozen.  After a time, strenuous eating takes it out of you.  It's such a drag trying to decide what to pile on your plate, what with such a myriad of choices.   Everyone kept telling me to take advantage of the "6 buffets in 24 hours for $44".  I knew I just wouldn't be able to manage that, so didn't even attempt it.

Apart from the buffets, I went to a place in the grounds of Caesar's Palace called "Serendipity 3" which is famous for it's frozen hot chocolate sundaes, and before I left home I was determined to have one.   But for some obscure reason when I got to Serendipity, I suddenly decided to go for a vanilla sundae  (see first photo) which turned to mush after about a minute.  The guy beside me ordered the chocolate one and left it sitting on the bar as he finished a newspaper and made a phone call.  His sundae stayed in pristine shape the whole time;  I was furious.

The other photos are of buffets.  I went to Bellagio (probably the best), Wynns, Wicked Spoon (at the Cosmopolitan), Paris, and MGM (twice).   Didnt care for the buffet at Paris (aside from the berry crepes).  It was supposed to be set in a Paris street, but it all just appeared dusty, grimy, and there wasnt much to choose from in the dessert area.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Third August swim! Yippeee!!

We've made it for August.  Didn't think we would manage it, what with me being away in Vegas for two weeks.  But today J and I completed our third swim for August.  We are right, slap-bang, on target.  Woweeeee!!!  
We did four widths.  Four.  In August.  In cold August!  In June and July we only managed two widths.  Because we just swim in our bathing suits, not wetsuits, we're always scared of hyperthermia (hypothermia?  Can't be bothered to look up the correct spelling, sorry).
I'm still terribly jet-lagged, but I pulled myself out of bed for the swim.
Now, we can relax.  Any other swims we might do this month are a bonus.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prince Harry, Coco at the Roxy, burgers, and Me

What?  Prince Harry was in Las Vegas last weekend?  He was wandering around the MGM Grand where I was staying?  Where I was also wandering last Friday evening?  And I didn't see him?  I didn't even know he was there? 
Mind you, there are over 5,000 rooms at the MGM.  It is reputedly the biggest hotel in America.  You get sore feet walking from one end of the building to the other.  It contains umpteen shops, a huge casino, many swimming pools, walkways, theatres, a stadium, monorail station, dozens of eateries (posh, middle-range, and a food court).  It has a "CSI Experience" where you can solve a crime - I did this easily by just studying the crime scene; didn't bother with all the laboratory stuff.  There's also an area where you help rate upcoming tv shows (yay, I got to rate the first episode of the new series of "Criminal Minds" where Gonzales, the ditzy blonde computer geek comes back from London and the Olympic Games).
The MGM have these huge 'pool parties' every weekend, and this is where Prince Harry was photographed. 
I notice that he was also photographed in his suite at the Wynn Hotel and Casino.  I went to a buffet at the Wynn Hotel.  I was trying to get through all top ten rated buffets in Las Vegas, and Wynns is rated by many as the top buffet.  It's also rated as the top and most expensive hotel.  Of course Harry would stay there.

Changing subjects slightly.  I went to "Wellington on a Plate" yesterday.  They have a rate-a-burger competition at dozens of eateries around Wellington.  I had  my burger at "Coco at the Roxy" in Miramar.  A huge "Silence of the Lamb" burger.  Followed by a sundae.   It was a pity I'd just come away from a couple of burgers in Vegas 'cause the Roxy plate, portion-size, just couldn't compete, big though it was.
Above photos, from top to bottom:  1. my burger meal at an indoor restaurant inside Caesar's Palace Casino and hotel.  2.  The indoor restaurant (trying to pretend it's outside) inside Caesar's Palace where I had the burger.  3.  My burger meal at Wolfgang Puck's inside MGM Grand.  4.  A floral walkway inside Wynn's Resort in Vegas.   5.  A hallway, Wynn's Resort, Vegas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back from Las Vegas!

I've returned from Vegas.  What is it about me that I always get tested at Customs?  At all points I got frisked and also tested for explosives!  - they run a little brushie-thing over your clothes and across the top of your things in your case.  I figure it's because on the airport monitors they must be able to see how fidgity I am and according to all those airport security progammes I watch, it means I'm a smuggler.  What the silly airport folk don't realise is that all old folk fidget at airports.  We check that we've got our ticket/passport/itinerary/boarding card/money/hotel info etc.  Then we check again.  And again.  Then we switch stuff around various pockets and bags.  Then we forget which pockets and bags, and have to search through everything again.  And again.  
I also went through the new x-ray machines that show you naked.  You stand on a spot, and raise your arms. Happy viewing, airport folk.  I was the one with the Angelina Jolie figure.  Yeah, right.
I stayed at three hotels.  1  Paris Hotel, LV.  2  Rio Suites, LV.    3  MGM Grand, LV.
I took photos of Paris and Rio, but forgot MGM Grand.  However, they can be found on the web.
In the MGM Grand I was in one of their new rooms, which was smaller than the Rio and Paris, but very modern and I had a magnificent view of The Strip.  I left my (electronic) blind up every night and went to sleep admiring the neon lighting of all the casinos along The Strip.  Fascinating.
All the hotels asked if I wanted to upgrade for a better view.  I declined but I still got lovely views. 
The first three pictures are of my Paris rooms, the bottom three pictures are of the Rio Suites hotel (where every room is a suite).  The Rio is a little bit of f The Strip but there is a free shuttle bus.  I loved everything about the Rio, including the huge floor to ceiling windows, but hated having to take that darn shuttle bus.
I didn't like the fussy old tired Versarilles look of the Paris rooms.

The heat was very very (very) bad.  There all-time heat high was 112f.  When I was there, it hit 111f.  Goodness knows what that is in celsius but it's probably way into the forties.
You will be hearing a lot about my trip in future blogs.  Sorry about that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Two Swims!

Whooppeee, it's only 4 August and already we've been swimming at Hataitai Beach twice!  Yesterday and today.  Maybe we're used to the waters by now because it doesnt seem so cold and yet August is usually the coldest month.

I've suddenly thought "Oh, my goodness, I've never written down anywhere on this blog (I think) the words 'New Zealand'.  Well, that's where I am.... New Zealand.  If anyone thinks I'm in some Wellington place other than New Zealand, I'm sorry about that

Here's a catch-up:  Three years ago, J and I decided to swim once at Hataitai Beach during the coldest months (we swim like fish during the summer ones).  We were stunned by how cold it was, and were petrified of hyperthermia.,  Two years ago, we upped our winter swims to two times a month, and this year it's three times a month.  In our bathing suits, with just a light t-shirt on top as our concession to the winter cold water.  No wet suits for us.  Because of Wellington's notoriously bad winter weather, we have had terrible nail-biting times where we're down to the last couple of days of the month and no swim.

All our friends think we're "mad" - it's the most common term used!   One woman said to me the other day "You must come out of the water feeling so triumphant."  And she is so right.  We are brimming with enjoyment as we arrive on land.  We guessed that woman was a swimmer herself.